Thee Oh Sees
Dec. 14th, 2011
Better than: The "Rowdy" Roddy Piper fight scene in John Carpenter's They Live.
Last night, Scratch Acid's frontman, David Yow, took the stage at the Fillmore and immediately informed the crowd that his set was going to be "so good it'll change the way you shit." But he ended his introduction with the sarcastic and self-deprecating quip: "So welcome to the Scratch Acid reenactment tour."
Yow reformed the Jesus Lizard in 2008 and toured extensively, so it is not surprising that he decided to give the same treatment to his even older group, Scratch Acid, which pioneered the angular '90s post-hardcore sound. Although the room was not nearly full, the attendees were an eclectic mix of leather-clad youth and outsider art-damaged eccentrics. Many parties knew the words, and fired as much frenetic energy back at the stage as they were receiving from it.
Yow's live antics are notorious, and the crowd last night was privy to his typical savage confrontation, along with some more creative, improvised activities. His stage presence is a curious combination of Dennis Hopper's gas-huffing mania in Blue Velvet with the aggressive but limber posturing of a rugby quarterback. He leaned into the microphone, screeched twisted couplets through grinding teeth, and flailed wildly, leaping into the crowd repeatedly as his shirt became increasingly soiled and dangled from his lean chest. By the second song, a full drink had been smacked from a fan's hand and pools of Yow's saliva had begun to form on the stage.
When the crowd asked Yow's opinion of the "99 Percent," he responded that, "Every single one of you is a homosexual," which was met with unanimous applause. The odd rock 'n' roll archetype that fans enjoy being abused by their idols was not completely true for this crowd, however. After about 90 seconds of one of Yow's many crowd-surfing expeditions, an audience member punched him in the head, and Yow threw blows back from his perch upon the hands of concert goers. When he returned to the stage, he pointed and screamed, "Fuck you! You want some boots, go buy your own, motherfucker!" and promptly dove into the crowd once again. Yow dished out heavy servings of mean-spiritedness all night, but he took his own blows in stride, in the form of a true provocateur. When one foolish lady set her Chrome bag upon the stage, Yow emptied the complete contents. After a song, he pelted audience members with her coins, then her Altoids, and made a revolted face after smelling her scarf.
David Sims, with his thoroughly unhip New Balance sneakers, neutral-colored outfit, and goatee, looked like an off-duty cop. Specifically, he looks the type of cop who takes his work home with him, retaining a stoic disposition in all off-duty moments, with an ambiguous gaze that could be interpreted as focus or complete indoctrination. Instead of obsessively cleaning a rifle in his free time, Sims probably tirelessly plays the bass. Live, though, he holds the songs together. His circular rhythms reinforce this band's wildly careening jams, and it was particularly obvious live that he signaled the changes.
Near the set's close, Yow told a story about being handcuffed and given head in a dressing room by a Louisville police officer. Apparently, "When I came, she said --" and they launched into a raucous rendition of "She Said." Throughout the evening, Yow asserted with his flippant attitude that he didn't care about political correctness, where he was playing, or what anyone thought of him, and he was easy to believe. Despite that, he obviously cared a great deal about howling his demented Texan crypto-punk ballads with enduring conviction, unfettered by the pain and discomfort he inflicted with his raging performance style.
Overheard: A young female complained that, "They just rip off The Birthday Party," and her friend replied, "Well, your band just rips off everyone else."
Found on the dance floor after the show: Six brand new steel spoons.