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Man or Beast
By Bill Ketzer

Throw Rag, the Erotics, Murderer’s Row, Blasé Debris

Valentine’s, March 29

>From the deserts of Southern California come Throw Rag, a hysterical, surly, half-naked explosion of sockabilly guitars, grinding bass and scary, Jim Jones Kool-Aid seriousness. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys for the first time opening for the Supersuckers during my bachelor party at North Six in Brooklyn a few years ago. As it was then so it is now: They hit Albany on a day off from their tour with Queens of the Stone Age without apology, dry-humping the stage in Dorcus polyester leisure wear and white shoes (every last one of them), and slowly stripping themselves into an oily mass of tattoo ink and impetuousness. Singer Sean Doe, the bastard spawn of Crispin Glover and Popeye, has this thing going on that is part yoga, part Elvis karate and part free-range chicken. His eyes look right at you and they don’t see anything. He slaps his bandmates like a silverback gorilla as he caterwauls on about UFOs, compulsion and misanthropy. But there is a loving casualness in the way he deep-throats the microphone that makes you either want to puke or thank the heavens that it all comes down to this in the end, really.

All well and good, but the guy who takes this satchel of tyrannical punk rock right over the top is Craig “Jacko” Jackman, the disheveled washboard player (yes, the washboard player) who scraped away at his instrument like a trichotillomaniac on the short bus to Ravena. And I love Ravena. His powerful man-boobs, oft tweaked by the Fuze Box’s Eileen Trash and others in that Tuesday night hustle, shimmered brilliantly in the sheen of spittle wrought forth from his foul hole. At one point, the band carved out a pocket for him to testify, causing him to leap off the stage and pin my lawyer’s girlfriend to the far block wall using only his ass cheeks (by now the pants were halfway to his knees, with only a soiled banana hammock guarding our girl from his naughty bits). “A dollar!” he cried. “You must give me a dollar!” Poor lass. She tried to make with words but was pressed even harder to the wall by his glistening buttocks. “I will go away, but first, the dollar! The dollar!” he demanded. Receiving no sympathy from the band (who hammered on, oblivious) or the flummoxed mammals in the crowd, she placed a $10 bill, formerly appropriated for a round of drinks, into his hand and hurried away, not so much horrified as slightly disgusted.

The man then turned his attention to yours truly, demanding that I retrieve the booty from said undies (and I would, in time) but was thankfully restrained by the length of the mic cord. He could only tickle my beard with his grimy fingernails. Man alive. We were in the company of champions. Some wear it better than others, and the ’Rag can back it up with excellent songwriting—powerful rock nuggets like “Bag of Glue,” “Beast in Me” and the pyrolytic ”Space Hump Me.” They sport a collective countenance of serious madness that comes only from alcoholism, broken families and unprotected sex, the latter perhaps being the primary reason why they all scratch themselves incessantly.

Mike Trash’s Erotics pounded the club with the loud-ass guitars and cranky vocals we have come to expect from the good man. Warming up for their UK/Italy tour in May, they were in fine form and somehow fairly sober. Ironclad, gentlemen. And speaking of speed, Murderer’s Row also delivered a bruising set of drinking dandies, and somehow they’ve managed to acquire the gracious and loquacious Walter Ryan on drums, who in the past has served in Madball, Machine Head and the infamous ’80s black-metal outfit Possessed. Tremendous. Duane Beer’s Blasé Debris faced the dubious task of playing after the headliner but embraced it like the champions they have become, his latest lineup using brute force to deliver their eclectic Misfits-get-rabbit-punched-by-Naked-Raygun setlist.

And as a happy footnote, I am pleased to report that I haven’t lost my thieving abilities, and was elated to use it for a purpose that will hopefully mean reduced karmic repercussion. As the now-sedated Jacko gathered up his washboard, bugle and cowbells after the ’Rag’s set, I miraculously spied the crumpled 10-spot now dangling from his fetid polyester trousers. I approached him, palmed his shoulder in one hand while shaking his right hand with the other, bumping him clumsily as I snatched the moolah. When he walked away, I returned the cash to its rightful owner. I probably should have washed it first. Sorry Jacko.


Eric Halder

Rosanne Raneri & Chris Neuhaus

Steve Candlen & Albee

Bryan Thomas

photo:Photos by Kathryn Lurie

Watching You Playing Me

The audience and participants of Why Can’t I Be You III packed the Lark Tavern in Albany Friday night at the third installment in what seems to have become a tradition of local poets and musicians honoring each other by performing each other’s works. The lineup boasted more than two dozen local artists, and the show lasted into the wee hours of Saturday morning. For more photos of this event (thanks to the multitalented Bryan Thomas), visit www.the hiddencity.com.

 

 

—Kathryn Lurie

 

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