Friday April 28th 2017

The Manglers / Uncle Spudd / The Grommets / The Only Things


The Manglers / Uncle Spudd / The Grommets / The Only Things
Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA          3/4/17


Today it’s like ten degrees out, it’s colder than a witless twit. Or my cold, cold heart.

That’s right- Hank Williams Sr. wrote a song about me.

But I’m safe inside, in the warm confines of the Midway. And though the heat is on, the action from the bands is even hotter, revving up the thermostat, warming up everything nicely.

Today’s first band is The Only Things and they’re from Lowell. Which gets me to thinking- what’s the opposite of Lowell? Well, that would be High-ell, that sounds like “Heil.” Which bears some relevance with the current regime, I mean, with the new presidency. (Hey, you folks might not like him but I adore absurdist humor.)

So The Only Things play melodic garage/punk and remind me of an eighties band The Feelies, though not quite as quirky and odd. And even though they summon up the term “indi” on their bandcamp, I feel there’s a more eighties indi vibe here- not the watered down, weak fluff that’s out today.

They end with a great song, my favorite that I hear today, “Let’s Go To The Moon,” and with it’s nice, ringing, fuzzing guitar lead and moving, melodic vocals, it all leads me to pure, sonic bliss- and I’m inclined to say that this was a great set by a great band to lead off today.

Up next is The Grommets to ruin it.

Only joking, I saw this band for the first time last summer during their JP Porchfest they hosted. That show ended up in my top ten live shows of last year that they played along with Kermit’s Finger and The Manglers, the latter who’re (sluts) playing later today.

There’s so many kids here today it causes me to comment to Derek the soundman, “This is like a mix of a punk show with Billy’s eight years old Birthday Party.” It appears that a lot of families came just to see them play.

And just like in their backyard, married couple and WWWF wrestling duo, Eric and Kris, play a casual, friendly set which is very punk to me, as our music was always a dismissal of the rock star, ego driven arena rockers.

Their music is rooted in Ramones like rhythms or choppy, mechanical rhythms like Devo with enough spunk and passion, rawness and realness to hit it out of the park without really trying.

Eric has weird punk “fly” sunglasses on and everything on the band or what they’re playing matches in the new wave colors of red, black and white. The duo of Eric and Kris share vocal duties as, I imagine, they share household responsibilities, too.

The only thing I feel missing during their set is Kris picking on her husband between songs. That is remedied when Eric starts rambling on about what a great cover band The Manglers are, much better than The Doors tribute band “Crystal Shit.” She admonishes him with, “People don’t pay five bucks to hear you babble!” He disagrees, and me- I try to stay out of family squabbles.

They end their fun and fabulous set with a song about friends, or at least those that used to be called that, “If Your Phone Doesn’t Ring It’ll Be Me.”

Uncle Spudd from Maine is up next. They’re a trio with an excellent drummer, an awesome bass player (formerly with the band and now, just filling in) and a  terrific, guitarist/vocalist who leaps a bit every time he sings a phrase as if an electrical current is shooting through him.

They play a great set that includes the song “Vic Robinson,” who I know as someone who puts on a lot of great, all-ages straight edge shows in Maine. Some of the lyrics go, “Don’t offer him a joint, don’t offer him a beer, don’t even bring it to a show or he’ll kick you out of here.”

There’s only four bands today so they get to play an extra long, great set. They do a clever song based on “Mary Had A Little Lamb” but in this version she dies in a house fire, had abusive parents etc. They also do a pretty neat cover of “Surrender” by Cheap Trick!

But my favorite is a song called “Dream Queen,” (I find out later it’s a cover of another Maine band or maybe person, Frankie Moon.) And much like the crowd, I enjoy their awesome set.

The Manglers are up to take it out, playing the most original music I’ve ever heard taking influences from a wide array of styles, it’s like they’re several bands as one, really.

But honestly, they play only covers but thankfully, they are all based around the early punk era. They start with a Dead Boys song, move onto “Something Else” by Eddie Cochran done in Sid Vicious style and then follow that with songs by Johnny Thunders and The Dictators.

I enjoy their cover of “Strutter” by Kiss but my favorite is a medley of “Twentieth Century Boy” by T.Rex into “Better Off Dead,” by La Peste, one of the earliest and best, Boston punk bands.

And their encore of Alice Cooper’s “Be My Lover” and “Search & Destroy” by Iggy & The Stooges are nearly as good as the originals. A fun band, bringing a fun end, to a fun afternoon.

After the show I spot the Uncle Spudd boys and tell them, “Tell Vic Robinson he’s a hero of mine. And also tell him, that if I ever meet him, I’ll buy him a beer and force him to drink it.”

But then, anyone putting on local shows like he does is a hero to me.

But you could say that I’m a hero to many, not a hero per se- what’s the word I’m grasping for? I believe it rhymes with hero.

Ah, that’s it- it’s a zero. And I have nothing-

More to say.


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