May 28th, 2008
I don’t remember the weather being particularly warm that night. In fact, I think I wore a jacket. I don’t recall a tubby mayor mandating that, “In addition to my ridiculous noise regulations, all shirts MUST be shed when playing loud music!” Yet, when I left the Comet Tavern last Friday eve (5/23), all I could remember were two distinct masses of sweaty man-flesh hopping, climbing, screaming, writhing and pantomiming their way to one of the freakiest, most entertaining rock shows I’d experienced. (I know, I probably say that a lot, but what can I do? I’m a rock romantic.) One of them even had a gun that shot knives. Er, wait, that was one of the opening bands that plays in drag and sings disco-metal songs about sushi. Or thereabouts.
Exhibits A, B, & C:
I went to this show in high anticipation of Seattle’s PartMan PartHorse, and a legitimate curiosity in the Nebraskan one-man-band of The Show Is The Rainbow. If you haven’t seen PMPH (i.e. Gary Smith, Lisa Smith, Marshall Nall, and Rachel Ratner) throttling a crowd in some divey bar or tavern, then clearly you haven’t lived. At least not a life of a Seattle Music Fan In The Know. I, of course, am being pompous and facetious, but I can’t imagine anyone not being entertained by this band. Not only do they have a celebrity radio DJ in Ratner, who plays bass and keyboard, but their lead vocalist uses a variety of “gymnasium” moves to illustrate his barbed, often cheeky and flirtatious outlook on life. His wife, Lisa, churns out discreet, yet vital snare-dominated drum beats, while Nall is content making his punk and metal-influenced racket over in a corner somewhere. Much of their onstage aesthetic and antic would easily remind Les Savy Fav’s fans of that band’s legendary shows.
Gary was kind enough to hook me up with a copy of their upcoming second record, Year of the Jerk, and the band’s set predominantly featured new songs. They started off with “Significant Bummer”, a carousing electro-metal tune and one of YOTJ’s standout tracks. Smith’s chorus is slightly hilarious, where he says the title with what might as well be slumped shoulders and a droopy bottom lip. “Li’l Dude” and “Disappear”, another highlight off the new record, followed, and it was about this time that no speaker or cabinet was safe. With little to work with inside the Comet, the frolicking frontman did his best to engage the giggling, wiggling crowd by hoisting his monitor aloft and climbing on and off the tables and equipment to the side. More tunes and high jinx ensued.
PMPH can’t really be described with a one-word genre—they meddle in punk, electro, metal, hip-hop, and shameless theatrics to create a mind-bending, party-band atmosphere. And don’t be fooled by some of the sassy and amusing lyrics, this band can play. They even take a sentimental turn on YOTJ with “Mr. Frontman” (Although, the words do include: “Hello Mr. Frontman I’m a lead guy, too It’s been ten days since I got some How many has it been for you?”).
Anyway, the set ended with Smith pulling back on his underwear with his backside to the crowd. All in favor of feisty punk rock and half-naked men, don’t miss their next show June 14th at the Comet in support of Noise for the Needy.
If PMPH was a tough act to follow, then Darren Keen of The Show Is The Rainbow is one of the toughest dudes around. A few quick facts: he used to have a band, now he has a laptop, a projector, and a white sheet; his clothes came off only slightly slower than Smith’s; his music is a mash-up of rock, electronica, hip-hop, and punk; he’s been known to write his own Wikipedia page; and too many people took off after PMPH and missed his off-the-wall performance.
Who really knows how the music he “dances” to is made (probably lots of people not me), but it sounded pretty cool, and the cheesy NES-style graphics flashed on his makeshift screen provided a commendable substitution for a live band and a humorous backdrop to his clowning around. In one hilarious sequence, he tried repeatedly to crowd-surf off a chair with no more than 4 people as the “wave”. I was one of them. It did not go well. But his perseverance won us over and the third time was the charm.
Kudos to TSITR for not only doing it all himself (including the merch table), but for making all of us at the Comet that night feel a bit more Omaha.
Let’s go to Amanda for her verdict on this show: