Back to Metroland's Home Page!
 Columns & Opinions
   The Simple Life
   Looking Up
   Myth America
 News & Features
   This Week's Review
   The Dining Guide
 Cinema & Video
   Weekly Reviews
   The Movie Schedule
   Listen Here
   Art Murmur
   Night & Day
   Event Listings
   View Classified Ads
   Place a Classified Ad
   Online Personals
   Place A Print Ad
 About Metroland
   Where We Are
   Who We Are
   What We Do
   Work For Us
   Place An Ad
I call this one “the Rooster”: Dash Rip Rock bring the twang at Valentine’s. Photo by: Joe Putrock

If a Tree Falls in the Forest . . .
By John Brodeur

Dash Rip Rock
Valentine’s, July 29

The last time Dash Rip Rock hit Valentine’s—six years ago, give or take a bunch of months—they just happened to be playing on the night of my birthday. It was the kind of evening where my date and I arrived two wine bottles under, and ended up grabbing a cab for the six-block trip home due to lack of motor function. The band were passing around a communal bottle of Jack Daniel’s at the foot of the stage that night, much of which then-bassist Ned “Hoaky” Hickel poured down my gullet (and my shirt) as I sat in on the drums, while then-drummer Kyle Melancon stripped down to his underwear and, er, danced. Granted, it’s taken me close to six years to get all of that straightened out mentally, but I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate log of events. (If anyone has any conflicting information about that evening, please call me at the office.)

Times have changed a bit in the Dash camp. Cajun cowboy Bill Davis is two decades deep into his career now, and the years are showing in a number of ways, despite what one might gather from the irreverent, liquor-fueled cowpunk-rockabilly his band turn out (think of a crack-smoking CCR covering the Cramps). While Melancon was merely one of a Spinal Tap-esque number of guys to occupy the drum throne, the group were nearly stopped in their tracks when founding member Hickel left the band around 1999 to charter fishing boats (no joke). If that wasn’t troubling enough, upon further investigation, it turns out they don’t even drink Jack anymore (they’ve switched to tequila). Ouch. Thankfully, despite the setbacks and “lifestyle changes,” Davis has managed to soldier on, and with newbies Brian Bruce and Jody Smith (on bass and drums, respectively) on board, Dash plowed through an energetic, slightly nostalgic set last Thursday night, packed solid with Dash classics old and new.

“This is our next big radio hit,” Davis cheekily declared early in the set to introduce “The Mother of All Fuckers,” a new song “inspired by the war in Iraq.” Dash have never been known as a politically inclined—nor politically correct—bunch, and in case you missed the joke, Davis was kind enough to explain (it had something to do with a “really hot chick who, when she fucks you, you die”). See, subtlety has never been their strong point, but it’s all in the name of good fun, and to punctuate the tune’s gravity (or lack thereof), they let the song “degenerate into cacophony” because they hadn’t quite settled on an ending yet.

While Bruce mostly stood fast and held down the bottom end, Smith played the talkative lad, perhaps hoping to occupy some of the airtime vacated by Hickel. Apparently this was the young basher’s first tour, and he seemed to be relishing every moment of stage time with his mindless chatter, sometimes to the chagrin of audience members, who shared a “shut up and rock” mindset. Davis, on the other hand, is a colorful and funny storyteller, and he frequently prefaced his songs with anecdotes about their genesis—one involving songwriter Steve Poltz (whom Davis refers to as Dash’s Robert Hunter) and his ex, pop-folkie Jewel, was especially hilarious. Bruce also took his turn at the mic for a true-to-source take on ZZ Top’s “Tush,” on which Davis played a flawless beer-bottle slide- guitar solo.

The remainder of the set, while not necessarily up to the furious pace of old, was a hoot nonetheless. Highlights were many, coming in the form of barroom rockers like “High Speed Chase” (from their 2002 Sonic Boom CD), psychobilly freakouts like “DMZ” and “Rich Little Bitch,” and the potty-mouthed sing-along “Pussy Whipped.” And, yes, there was still the anything-goes silliness one might expect from a Dash show, including a punk-pop rendition of Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why,” a 72-hit break (!) on the stop-and-go rocker “Shake That Girl,” and Davis’ solo version of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” (featuring guest vocals by an audience member who sounded an awful lot like Mike Trash of the Erotics). They even slowed things down from time to time . . . twice, anyway—once to honor a fan’s request for the Big Star-esque Ace of Clubs nugget “Marsupial,” and another for the oddly romantic “Liquor Store.” All said, by the time they closed with “(Let’s Go) Smoke Some Pot,” they had packed nearly 30 songs into 100 minutes, and still left the tiny crowd wanting more.

Unfortunately, the number of songs in the set may well have outnumbered the total number of patrons. Blame it on the old guard of Albany’s rock crowd—the ones who remember, dammit!—for not getting out as much as it used to. Blame it on the economy (seven bucks is still cheaper than an On-Demand movie and a six-pack, though). Hell, blame it on a younger rock crowd that just doesn’t know its ass from its elbow when it comes to good, live, rock & roll music. Whatever the case, Thursday night’s show felt more like an awkward high-school reunion than the anticipated rock & roll event. Just remember this, kids: When someone tells you—like my friends once told me—that you have to go see this band because they’re the greatest fucking live band on the planet, just do it. Don’t ask any questions, just scrape together the cash and go.

Mall Rats

The Erotics
FYE, Colonie Center, July 30

The lighting: bright and florescent. The crowd: filling the aisles (the clearance aisles, the DVD aisles, the CD aisles). The venue: packed with savings. The band: on a two-foot-high stage toward the back of the store (at a curious nexus between “comedy,” “easy listening” and backpacks). Tousle-haired Mike Trash, in mascara and tight jeans, looks exposed, sober and a tad uneasy in the unforgiving retail brightness. New drummer (and Metroland writer) Bill Ketzer says beforehand that he’ll chalk this one up to new experiences. Mall pedestrians stroll by the distant, gaping end of FYE—chatting, carrying plastic bags—blissfully unaware of what’s pending. A manager stacks gold-tin-bound Elvis trivia games on a shelf.

Suddenly the ambient mall chatter and occasional intercom request for assistance are blotted out without warning or introduction: SSSKKkkkrrRAANNGGG! A parent pushing a stroller picks up her pace, purse flapping like a metronome against her side, and heads toward the front of the store. A 5-year-old big sister trots alongside, index fingers plunged into her ears. A 30-ish, golf-guy dad picks it up to a brisk walk, his hand clamped around his son’s wrist, the poor kid barely keeping up. An older kid—9 years old or so—simply weathers it, hunching his spine, as if in pain, and wearing a wince as he walks determinedly by the stage and toward the front of the store. A middle-aged black woman in gold hoop earrings freezes in her tracks, scrunches her brow and stares indignantly for several long moments at the almost hidden stage. In mere moments, the bone-heavy squall has risen up beneath the casual, item-browsing atmosphere, collapsed over it and basically pounded it into surf.

A sparse crowd begins to form at the side of the stage, some there on purpose, some by serendipity. The Erotics have come to do what they do: rock the fucking FYE with a mongrel mix of Bowery glam, Alice Cooper, ’80s metal and who-knows-what. (Much like a bargain egg roll—you don’t want to know the secret ingredient.) It’s a carnival of gouging SG scrum, B-movie themes and crunch-heavy, surprisingly poptastic hooks (particularly on the Erotics classic “Gas Chamber Barbie Doll”). Ketzer—in a black Plasmatics shirt, bald pate dewy with exertion—is an engine, driving things along with powerhouse enthusiasm and gleeful backing vocals. (I’m thinking of Nicko McBrain. Why am I thinking of Nicko McBrain?) He comes off like the fan who knows all the words, got his shot and has more than enough drum chops to pull it off. A perfect fit. Billy Belaire, in leather cowboy heat, keeps it cool, holds things together on a low-slung bass, eyeing customers.

Mike Trash peevishly kicks over a cardboard cutout of Buffy that someone has comically placed on stage (“I’m Mike Trash, the Buffy slayer,” he announces) then breaks out a solo, legs spread, brandishing his glittery guitar. “This is the first show I’ve played sober in about six years,” he commiserates early on. (Me too, amigo. Me too.) Covers, Erotics standards (“Teenage Drag Queen,” “Helen Keller”) and new tunes (a stropping “Rock and Roll Killing Machine”) are rolled out in rapid succession. This is the kind of juvenile-delinquent fun you had at the mall as a teen (bemulleted with black Kiss T-shirt), giving the Chess King employees a hard time, riffling the stacks at Record Town.

A last look from outside the store, from the mall thoroughfare, offers a compelling sight: that classic behind-the-stage shot of the band members’ backs, still rockin’. But in this case, a huge white banner with giant red letters looms over their heads, facing the mall entrance: “Clearance Center,” it declares. I’m sure several parents would agree with that sentiment.

—Erik Hage

Send A Letter to Our Editor
Back Home
Find Music on eBay!
What's the Point of paying MORE for your domain?
3 CD's for $9.99
Top Hits at Tower!
Cheap Books, DVDs, Cds at eBay's
Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.