Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Loud Noises Say So Much

Okay, as anybody who's read the poor scribblings here for any length of time knows, I am, essentially, older than dirt. In many ways, I remind myself of that geriatric wreck in Stephen King's Salem's Lot who tells a younger character "Rock-and-roll? Wonderful stuff. At my age, it's the only music I can actually hear."

Anyway, as a result, my forays into the stygian underground clubs and low dives where (presumably) real rock-and-roll continues to gestate have of late been few and far between. In fact, I now mostly, necessarily, depend on World's Most Irksome Rock Critic Jon Caramanica of the NY Times to keep me up to date on what is hep and happening. Or as a character in The Big Sleep says, "it's a nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy."

But I digress.

All the above notwithstanding, however, a couple of weeks ago I found myself in attendance at an old fashioned local Battle of the Bands, hosted by some NYC radio station. This was at the Highline Ballroom, a newish Manhattan club that is actually clean and comfortable, with great sound, unobstructed sight-lines no matter where you sit or stand, and very good and reasonably priced food; I strongly recommend the Kobe burgers.

But I digress again.

I actually forget what group some friends had dragged me there to see (I do recall that they made little impression on me, whoever they were) but my eyes and ears definitely pricked up at the group that followed.

A drummer dressed as a Chinese coolie. A bass player who looked like a member of Love had he been abducted by George Clinton's Mothership. A guitarist (quite a purveyor of hot licks, incidentally) wearing Mel Gibson's old costume from The Road Warrior. And two singers. The first wearing a three piece suit, smoking a stogie, and basically doing Ron Perlman in Hellboy. The second in traditional leather-pantsed metal drag, with a slight gut but otherwise so alarmingly thin that one presumed a stiff breeze could break him in two; imagine your high school guidance counselor living out a fantasy of being Rob Halford from Judas Priest, and you pretty much have the idea.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Brooklyn's Finest -- King Hell.

As a rule, King Hell's brand of metal/funk hybrid isn't my cup of tea, but their show that night was just so smart, kinetic and funny that I was totally won over (although it's at least possible that the flashing-light red plastic devil horns they passed out to the crowd clouded my judgement). In any case, they had lots of original songs as cool as the one in the above video, and near the end of their set, they did to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf" what I have always hoped somebody would do to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf." And when the show was over, I knew for a fact that the band had completely rocked my socks off (or would have, had not my garter belts been tightly affixed).

All in all, then, I can only paraphrase what Jack Nicholson once said of Bob Dylan: These guys are a riot.

Needless to say (an expression that makes very little sense, if you think about it) if King Hell ever performs at a venue in your vicinity buy a ticket immediately and go. The housebound can settle for learning more about them over at their very cool Official Website. You can also order their excellent CD (pictured up top) which I was relieved to discover contains a studio version of their "Hungry Like the Wolf" cover.

And a final word for anybody out there who toils at a major record label: Sign these guys right now. They're practically a license to print money.

You're welcome.