Live Review: Box Elders’ circus…

Category: Blog — @ 6:45 pm January 21, 2008

Actually, it wasn’t much of a circus. It did, however, contain elements of a freak show. I guess I got there too late to see most of the evening’s carnival events. When I walked into The Waiting Room Friday night, The Shanks were on stage putting on a blistering freak show of their own. I don’t know if it was the big stage or the big crowd, but the band was remarkably subdued compared to their usual beer-strewn, violent romps. No fighting. No broken glass. No blood. Just some gritty punk done up loud and sloppy, the way it should be. The Shanks have an unstoppable, almost plodding power, like watching a Frankenstein monster on meth stomping toward you with blood in his eye. Beyond their sheer power, the beauty of a Shanks’ performance is in its unpredictable nature — you never know what you’re going to see on any given night, and Saturday night was no exception, though I have to wonder if they’re beginning to mellow. Maybe it was because Johnny, their drummer/guitarist (they all switch instruments throughout the set) was getting over the flu. On a side note: The band was selling copies of its single, but were out of their 5-song CD/EP, Urine Heaven, which is one of the best local punk recordings I’ve heard in years. Johnny said there was no chance that they’d ever press additional copies, which is a shame…

After The Shanks, This Is My Condition played a set to the left of the stage, which I couldn’t hear from my vantage point back at the bar. He was followed by one of the evening’s carnival acts “Johnny Mayhem,” who did the usual array of body mutilations including sticking things up his nose, sword swallowing, walking on broken glass, all the customary stuff leading up to a bit where members of the crowd could staple dollar bills to his body. I think he had a twenty stapled to his forehead, as well as a dozen or so other bills stapled to his arms, chest, etc. — a profitable evening for him, no doubt.

Finally, after midnight, Box Elders took the stage with flaring garage-rock panache. Is there a more energetic musician in town than Dave Goldberg? The answer: No. He’s a frickin’ freak of nature playing keyboards while slamming away behind a drum kit. The Brothers McIntyre provided their usual Ramones-style non-harmony vocals sung to an upbeat garage sound that borders on NYC punk. Simple, yet effective. Their 4-song single, which was being celebrated that night, sports a gorgeous red, black and white screen print and is worth the $5 for the artwork alone. I’ve yet to put it on my turntable, but will this week…

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