Set in the convict-era Hyde Park Barracks, the Becks Festival Bar has established itself as an Aussie fixture over the last few years. As such, a diverse crowd had gathered to see Philadelphia/Baltimore sons Spank Rock throw one of the down-low-and-dirty dance parties for which they’re quickly becoming famous (though, perhaps, not quite as quickly as Australia’s own party prince, Corey). Expecting nothing less than the most down and dirty, everyone in attendance had come prepared to bang on until the party juice had been drunk to the bottom of the jar.
As though offering a eulogy for 2007, opening DJs Ro Sham Bo spun MIA’s “Paper Planes” with reckless abandon—its cash-register clinks and explosive gunshots echoing across the room like fresh fireworks. And this was merely the warm-up. MC Spank Rock arrived on stage resplendent in white suit and shades, looking every bit the smooth operator. He quickly introduced his cohorts one by one, shouting out co-vocalist Pase Rock, Chris Rockswell, and Ronnie Darko (the latter held down the ones and twos).
6 Jan 2008: Becks Festival Bar Sydney, AUS
The gig was perfectly suited to the evening: a hot, sweaty show for a hot, sweaty night and, as such, everyone seemed ready for a little raunch. Case in point: never before have I seen average-looking couples look deep into each other’s eyes and shout, “Ooooooh, that pussy gets damp!” with such loving conviction.
As the show advanced, we were treated to the majority of Spank Rock’s back catalogue, sure, but the group also dished up some tasty delicacies—including a sample of Pase Rock’s unreleased track “So Fucking Disco” that fully rocked the house. Mid-way through the performance, Spank Rock revealed his secret weapon, MC Amanda Blank. Possessed with a confident sexiness and a tongue that loves to lash, the MC spit her lyrics like her mouth was competing for a land-speed record.
Not that the boys were outdone—especially in the sex-appeal stakes. Suffering the effects of the heat, Pase Rock whipped his shirt off to reveal a reasonably tight body with only the slightest paunch. “Don’t make fun of me. I know I’m fat!” came his pre-emptive strike against any weight watchers in the audience.
A testament to the power of Spank Rock to move an audience’s collective ass came at one point when a friend of mine—let’s qualify this by saying she’s a goth—faced a challenge to her standing prohibition on dancing (not to mention enjoying any music happier than your average Smiths album). To give you a little context, she’s sort of like a one-woman version of the little town in Footloose—unimpressed and distrustful of the idea of (goth forbid) dancing in public. So, imagine my horror/shock when I turned to see her getting way, way down, with the dirty, nasty funk, twisting and shaking her booty like a woman possessed.
She, of course, wasn’t the only one getting down; the MCs had a good time of it, too. Refusing to let the party stop, even for a second, the group didn’t even leave the stage in that bit just before the encore. Instead, they stayed up there and danced, singing along while Chris Rockswell and Ronnie Darko laid down soul classics like Dion & The Belmonts’ “Runaround Sue”.
And why should they leave? MC Spank Rock put it best when he shouted, “This is a Spank Rock show, but first of all this is a party!” Yeah, that and a rehabilitation center for wayward goth girls.
// Notes from the Road
"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.READ the article