March 8, 2003
the end, they didn't need the flames.
guess you could look at this almost as an epilogue to my current
feature on the Carsinogents. What would the band do after being
forced by Great White to give up the key theatrical element of their
live show -- the flame-blowing routine?
the risk of sounding cliché, the band brought a different
kind of fireworks to the Sokol Underground last night (yikes, I
can't believe I wrote that). I've seen these guys at least a half-dozen
times -- all of the pst shows included the usual fire-breathing
hi-jinx. Last night's non-flame show was easily their best all-out
performance. And no one seemed to miss the fire.
set started with the video projector and pre-show music (Remember
the day when all bands played about five minutes of music before
their set, just to get people in the mood? The preshow music was
a signal to finish your conversation, get a beer and get up to the
stage. I miss those days). The recorded music was of the mariachi
variety -- Mexican trumpets and orchestra -- while on a large sheet
draped over a pole with duct tape a video was projected of a bull
fight, interspersed with a shot of the band's old flaming-skull
flames were replaced with plenty of smoke from a fog machine. There
was so much smoke, I turned the guy next to me and asked if it was
part of the act
shades of Rhode Island still fresh in my mind.
I glanced up sheepishly at the exit signs. In addition to the smoke,
the stage was set with red floor lights and side spot lights, as
well as a lighted keyboard placard with the band's logo blaring
on stage came the band. Anyone who's seen the Carsinogents knows
that lead singer, Dave Electro, is a natural showman, a true tripped-out
troubadour with footwork that would make Elvis blush. When Dave
wasn't behind the keyboard, he was in front of the stage swinging
his vintage microphone, belting a riff on guitar, doing some sort
of weird shuffle that reminded me of gospel minister lost in the
jubilation at a revival meeting.
set list was a blend of old stuff, songs off the new CD and a couple
I hadn't heard before. The band's sound indeed has evolved from
'horror-billy' to straight-out hard rock. I don't know what kind
of a match they'll be with Cursive, whose songs are angular punk
with introspective vocals. What will the emo kids think when they
see Electro standing atop his organ while the rest of the band crashes
along with knuckle-busting powerchords? Regardless, last night's
crowd of around 300 ate it up. I noticed those who were standing
in front of or near the speaker stack were pushed to center stage
by night's end. It was indeed loud. I felt sorry for anyone stupid
enough to not have earplugs. There's nothing tough or cool about
the flames weren't missed. As a matter of fact, the boys can now
also confidently leave the film projector at home -- in the end
it didn't add much to the staging. The lights and smoke and rock
and roll moves are enough to entertain. But the real moment of truth
came during the encore, when the band rolled out their signature
finale that traditionally includes the flame-stunt. Like always,
during the last part of the song, Dave seamlessly switched places
with drummer Eldon Vampola. But instead of Eldon grabbing a torch
and spitting Bacardi all over the place, he strapped on Dave's guitar
and punched out guitar riffs while the rest of the band bashed around
stage. After Eldon switched back to his drum set, Dave stretched
out his arms across the duct-taped sheet, strolled up to the keyboard,
climbed atop and stood there playing the song's final chords.
he climbed down, that was it -- the end of an era for the band and
a beginning of a new one. The final word about The Carsinogents:
I don't know if they'll ever break out of this one-horse town. Sure,
they've got four Texas dates with Cursive including a gig at Emo's
in Austin. But the end of the story won't be written until we find
out if they ever get a full-blown tour of their own, up either coast
or for three or four weeks throughout the Midwest. And then follow-up
with a return tour, because everyone knows the first time out is
small and, if you've made an impression, the second time is huge.
This band -- both in terms of its music and stage show -- would
impress any crowd. The only thing holding them back is them.
Posted March 9, 2003. Copyright © 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
No, the flames weren't missed. As a matter of fact, the
boys can now also confidently leave the film projector at
home -- in the end it didn't add much to the staging.