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Déjà Vu all Over Again
By Bill Ketzer

The Extras, Nogoodnix
Savannah’s, Jan. 9

I am a broken man, the ATM told me in green monochrome. Only $3.35 in the checking account, and all my friends seemed to be concerned about (via e-mail, anyway) is who wrote the greatest power-metal ballad of all time. Dejected, saddened by fate and whipped into chaffing by gale-force winds on barren North Pearl Street, a mate of mine and I sought refuge in the comfortable digs at Savannah’s. Almost immediately, I was handed a bottle of 10W-30 motor oil, which displayed George W. Bush’s shameless, smug countenance on the label, which also read, blithely, “Fuck You.” “Oil!,” I cried, holding the boon toward my partner victoriously, but before I could bless its young bearer and race out to my ailing Tercel, the slippery container was sternly snatched away by one of the many ebullient audiophiles who were front and center to witness the much-ballyhooed reunion of the Extras.

The Extras took an extra-long time to release their debut CD, Ugly American. It was recorded sometime around when the Clash got booed off the stage across America on the Who’s first of 600 farewell tours, but here it was, available for the first time, just in the nick for Pete Townshend’s alleged kiddie-porn collection. But the only thing scandalous about these guys is that they never truly got a chance to shine, their time cut short by Nelson D. Rockefeller’s failing drug laws, and hey, now’s as good a time as any.

As my face got removed by the projection of guitarist Eric Van Sleet’s JCM-100 Lead Series (at least I think that’s what it was) as it arced directly into my eye sockets, I couldn’t be sure whether this was music for broken men or broken dreams—if its succinct, two-minute imbroglios were intrinsically sarcastic or instead more indicative of a thinking-man’s pessimism, sublimated only to the extent brevity would allow. Alas, I did not know them way back when (I was still smoking stolen Marlboros on the loading dock of Forest Park Elementary School, a good two years away from pubic hair, and a good five from my first Ramones LP). I do know however, that Last Vestige’s Jim Furlong nailed it dead on, introducing the band as “just really, really fun” music.

A quick glance around the joint made it clear that anyone who ever lovingly puked upon the dance floor of old 288 Lark concurred, looking on with an almost avuncular pride as the band ripped into “It’s Not the End of the World,” “Don’t Go in the Water,” “This Generation Doesn’t Judge Anybody,” and a trove of other gems, quite literally from the vaults. With a lad I only recognize as “one of the guys from Killtech” lending a chunky Les Paul to Van Sleet’s overdriven, wide-open major chords, we got a powerful dose of sincere garage punk, where much of the time Mark DeForge’s vocals sat in the same key as the melody, straight up, Cujo-style love, almost hypnotic but definitely not histrionic. And the omnipresent George Lipscomb took his traditional great pains to put the big, rump-shaking hurt on the skins. I may be broke, but I can pay attention, and in a sea of nu-metal, nu-punk, and Nu-York wanna-bes, the Extras herald back to a time when, if it had to be said, you just said it. Even if you only had a chorus to cling to.

Openers Nogoodnix kindly blew the place to bits in their jovial, obnoxious, boozy way. Carving their usual swath of unhampered rock fury, the lads treated patrons to a slew of classic covers and a rare visitation of Duane Beer’s past lives in Plaid and Trauma School Dropouts, as opposed to busting out their cavalcade of fight-starting Hibernian stomps. You can’t kill Duane Beer. I am convinced that even if you threw an ATM at him, it would bounce clean off, like a beach ball. Such is the same with all ye of strong will, all things ageless, all with $3.35 to their name. The proverbial damn good time was had by everyone, even me.

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