Concerts: SLUG May 1992

Concerts: May 1992


Violent Femmes
Kingsbury Hall
April 13, 1992

Trading the immediacy of general admission for the Private Idaho of one’s very own stub seat—Milwaukee’s Violent Femmes nonetheless made Kingsbury less regal with their cathartic punk/folk that, like spring, returns every year to stroke teeny-something hormones and horny sarcasm.

All the classics were: “Kiss Off,” “Add It Up,” “Blister In The Sun”—yet, most of the sold-out crowd probably listened to their parents Neil Diamond when those young culture anthems first surfaced. I was one of the few of my advanced age group without a “real job” to wake up to in the morning—expounding the virtues of that new Grateful Dead recyclable to your boss, the same day. Yes, the Violent Femmes’ early-core of fans has evolved to higher planes, leaving the bare facts and impulses to “the kids.” Why, I was even asked by some zit-eating cringer, “Are toy security or just some weasley revier-type.” How’s that for fitting in?

Speaking of security, can the yellow jackets please carry something more substantial than penlights to harass the masses with? If those are penis-substitutes, it undermines the whole fascist power ideal (just a suggestion, don’t hit me). The crowd was boisterous, but certainly not into bum-rush or pogo on their seats. Though, one look at the three Stooges: Victor DeLorenzo THXed his hair like a Fugazi disciple, Brian Ritchie fresh from his gig with Gary Busey Good Time Rock n’ Roll Band and Cordon Gano who looked like a marginal Don Ho experiment and the potential for fruit-throwing or chandelier-swinging was ripe if not practically void.

Perhaps, the Violent Femmes red/blue lighting schemes fit their 26-song set best, for they make ice and fire into pure moonshine. 

Violent Femmes | SLUG May 1992

Flaming Lips 
April 20 and DV8

Long-time rockers Flaming Lips opened up this show at DV8 with an incredible show of guitar noise and grungy feedback. Performing more tricks on guitars than you could ever dream up at home, Flaming Lips built their own wall of sound and energy that set up the audience in motion and, hopefully, built some long-standing and well-deserved interest in the band. Making the break to the majors, having recently signed to Warner Brothers, Flaming Lips debuted songs from their latest single and their forthcoming album (due out at the end of this month). Everyone would certainly want to live forever if they could enjoy the Flaming Lips more often.

One of the few bands that could follow such an intense opening act is England’s own Lush. Lead by Miki Bereny and Emma Andersen on guitars and vocals, these women break down all the stereotypes of rock queens, with none of the pretensions, and play straight ahead, ethereal rock ‘n’ roll.
Live, Lush seems to generate even more energy than bursts out of their record. Using a variety of guitar and vocal effects, the live performance has all the distinction and unique qualities of their studio recordings, plus the added attraction of seeing the band play their fabulous music on stage in the middle of a frenzy of lights and movement.

Lush’s cool aloofness comes across as well, as Miki shook her head in disgust to cat-calls from male audience members and their shouts of “I want you.” It might work for Lita Ford boys, but Lush is out to make innovative and long-lasting music, their mark on the industry which has inspired countless other female musicians.
No glitzy, gimmicky performances here— just a heavenly performance by a band to be reckoned with. 

Swans | Machines of Loving Grace | Slug May 1992

The Swans
Machines of Loving Grace
April 27, 1992 at Bar and Grill


Tucson’s Machines of Loving Grace opened the billing, coming off as a cross between Nine-inch Nails and Red Hot Chili Peppers. What separated them—aside from the one of the most cramped stage shows ever (five in all)—were that these boys played their instruments. All the bass parts were slapped, the keyboards and guitars plugged-in but not programmed. Enticing a mostly male main floor audience to bandslam to their cool and furious “Rite of Shiva,” almost made me look past the lead vocalist, Scott Benzel’s, ten-days-in-the-desert stagger and apostolistic facade—part Jim Morrison, part Christ, part…sickening. For the night’s packed, socially in-step crowd, it had the perfect Faith No More punch—regurgitated junk-pop covered in a glossy sheen of keyboards and rock candy-hard guitars.

As for New York’s The Swans, a friend’s description of them as “a slo-mo tidal wave” truly hit the mark. Honestly, only die-hard fans could discern the incessant hammering from the “Relentless, Incessant Hammering.” I picked out “Love of Life” and “Identity” from the newest sampler—but other than that, beer and blast made it difficult to pander the subtler forms of intrigue. And, as if to confirm my hypocritical suspicions, Michael Gira seethed with rage saying, “Shut the fuck up,” and “Fuck you,” to some (mostly all) of the people murmuring like hens above more peaceful—and obviously for Gira, heartfelt selection.

The quintet defies odds of attention, both theirs and yours. Only Jarboe’s keyboard occasionally deviated from the mechanical rhythm—leaving one asking how a musician could take on a percussionist’s burden of repetition? Taking the guilt of Christianity and turning it into aural self-flagellation, The Swans do find a redemption—earned and bloody. Ten songs of ecstasy and anguish.

Harm Farm 
Bar and Grill
April 23, 1992

Funny how an instrument can shape a person. The violinist / Fiddler classically rigidity is statue-esque; the drummer thick in the middle; the bassist’s back arched from flat fingers digging into his stringed belly; the lead guitarist confidently leaned forward.

Within the ordinariness of the stereotypes lies in Harm Farm’s appeal. Bassist Brad Pedinoff goes beyond mopey “punk rock girl”—like sentiments, with clever and cunning pieces like “Jersey Devil” and “Sex with A Siamese Twin” that thoughtfully connect humor and pathos. Furthermore, guitarists T. Hallenbeck is the pragmatist to Pedinoff’s leftist funk groove—huskily bridging the gap between the country and free-from elements within the group with straight, unabashed treatments like “Lucy Ann.” Also, the fiddler doesn’t try too hard to be a violinist, playing rhythm and forsaking the snobbish instrumental arias.

As if to confound any thought of pigeonholing San Francisco’s Harm Farm in a Timbuk 3 mode, their encore included a surprisingly pristine metal cover of Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman.” Funny how a person can shape an instrument. 


Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Concert Review: Fractal Method, Tom Purdue, Lily’s Remains

Concert Review: Monks Of Doom