Electric Six. Photo: electricsix.com
You know it’s gonna be a long night when you get to a venue and you’re not on “The List.” Well, perhaps you’re not familiar with this particular issue, but trust me: it’s never a good sign. Sitting in the Urban Lounge for an hour after a show “starts” before any actual music is played is also not a good sign.
When you’re sitting there with nothing but a tall glass of beer to distract you from the fact that nothing is happening, you have to look deep within the dark recesses of the night for anything that will keep you from losing your mind: like the stunning pair of maracas sitting atop the Marshall speakers, or the girl with the Pikachu hoodie, or even the guy playing on his iPhone who never touched his beer. You have to savor those priceless bits of people watching and take in the scenery to help yourself stay mentally balanced.
Then Mark Mallman started playing and I thought perhaps I had, in fact, gone insane, because this guy was bat-shit crazy. Don’t get me wrong; the music wasn’t completely horrid. Sure, the lyrics were full of clichéd phrases and the majority of the actual music was prerecorded, but whoever he had on drums was decent (and wearing headphones through the entire performance, which made me jealous that he was perhaps listening to something much better than what we were listening to) and Mallman had an energy that, while terrifying, was somewhat entertaining. From kicking his stool away with cowboy boots so he could play poorly on his keyboard to wearing sunglasses throughout most of his performance, hiding the fact that he’s really not aging well (think Richard Simmons mixed with Al Yankovic), to full-on mounting said keyboard while spinning his microphone cord around like a lasso, Mallman had a train-wreck quality about him and you just couldn’t look away. The bedazzled jacket and occasional Karate Kid stance (on top of the stool … while playing … badly) didn’t do much to help the situation. Let’s just say that his finale of raising his keyboard over his head, as if he were about to smash it, and then not smashing it, would probably make a great metaphor for his music in general.
Up next was the band Kitten. They set up quick, had decent music and played through their set without any delays; I like that in an opening band. Their barefoot singer, Chloe, has a kind of Florence Welch/Karen O quality to her voice, which probably won’t last if she keeps masochistically beating her chest with a tambourine and throwing her head around like she’s having seizures. The guitarist seemed a little green, but with a decent amount of potential, and the bassist maintained a perfect “hot and sweaty” atmosphere–there’s a fine line between sexy smolder and totally nasty, and for some reason bassists are infinitely better at keeping up the sex appeal appearance–it’s something to do with science, but I’ve never understood that stuff. All in all, I’d recommend checking out their music. It’s not horrible, and in this day and age, that’s saying something.
After the openers had been swept away and the stage hosed off, the night finally got started. A surprising number of men in their mid-to-late forties suddenly swept over to the dance floor, many wearing freshly purchased “Electric Six” t-shirts from the merch table. The members of Electric Six, all (as Neil Patrick Harris would say) suited up, took to the stage. Dick Valentine, the band’s lead singer and only remaining original member, wore a towel around his neck like a goddamn prizefighter and shouted, “We got a long way to go tonight!” If he had said that to me when I first arrived, it would have had much more meaning.
The band kicked into gear with “French Bacon,” a hot little song off their new album, Heartbeats and Brainwaves. Bolstering his usual cocky confidence, Valentine shouted, “[Salt Lake City] is the greatest city on Earth, don’t let anybody tell you different,” and the band shifted into “After Hours.” From there, E6 went through several songs from various albums (of which they now have eight), including “Pink Flamingos,” “When I Get to the Green Building” and “It Ain’t Punk Rock.” That stunning pair of maracas even got pulled out once or twice. A few drunken members of the crowd attempted some moshing, which was mainly just sad and embarrassing for all those involved. Halfway through the set, E6 broke out “Gay Bar” and sent the crowd barreling through nuclear explosion mode. They chased that down with “Gay Bar Part Two,” an entertaining song about the difficulties in putting out hit song after hit song.
Valentine showed off a little political prowess by diving into a rant about Utah’s own Jason Chaffetz, a congressman who apparently pisses off people both inside and outside our great state. After calling Chaffetz “a lunatic,” Valentine busted out “Danger! High Voltage,” easily E6’s most successful single. They played a few more songs and Valentine called it a night in his always sexy, eternally gravelly voice. The crowd called for an encore, but E6 only came back out after a particularly drunk young man stepped up on stage and shouted into the mic for more. They ended with “Dance Commander” and left the stage to chaotic applause.
If you’re not familiar with Electric Six, I recommend you check out Fire, their debut album from 2003. You’ll be hooked by the fourth track. For those of you who’ve dabbled in E6 before, pick up their latest album, Heartbeats and Brainwaves, when it hits store on October 11. If you missed the show and want to check out E6 live, just wait a few months, I don’t think Dick Valentine will stop touring until he drops dead mid-song.