[17 July 2002]
In my review of Jucifer’s recent New York appearance, I remarked that I had found the band’s recorded work underwhelming, but their concert stamped out any assumptions I’d previously made about their talent or enthusiasm. The same can be said for the Chargers Street Gang, whose new Get Hip album Holy the Bop Apocalypse (a reference to Ginsberg’s Howl that seems a bit out of place with the Chargers’ aesthetic) doesn’t do justice to the Reichian levels of accumulated energy at the Cleveland group’s live show.
I’ll say the word “Stooges” and shut up on the matter: I can argue ‘til I’m gangrenous about the similarities, differences, even about how quickly my legs can carry me after I hear chord number one of any uninspired, unoriginal garage-revivalist set. Regarding said band, maybe they and the Chargers share a few strains of R&B (with a bigger emphasis on the “R” than the “B,” but as R&B goes, this is obviously more “blues” than, say, TLC) (but the Stooges were bluesier than this). No, I think my friend’s Dead Boys comparison was closer—but in a refreshingly un-punk way: They’ve got the sound and the muscle, but it’s not like they have to dress up like L.E.S. Stitches and shoot smack to prove anything to their scene, man.
The Chargers Street Gang got on stage at Warsaw (as part of a Get Hip showcase including the Rezillos, the Paybacks, and other label-affiliated bands), and within seconds they were leaping to the floor, playing on their backs, knocking one another around good-naturedly—and everybody was very into it. The music was propulsive, and the band was propelled accordingly.
What I love about concerts is that there’s so much to pay attention to besides the actual music coming into my ears. The audience reaction is crucial to the success of any rock show—no matter how professional or polished the artist is. A good audience (not merely a “warmly receptive” one, but one with a pulse, one that will have its collective crank turned by the band or at least be worked up enough to heckle loudly) gives performers something to feed off of. And naturally, the audience needs something back from the band to sustain the feeling of the room.
My point here: Holy the Bop Apocalypse does rock, in small doses—there’s not a lot to grip on to—the songs don’t stick with me, and although I remember reading and liking their lyrics, I can’t seem to make the aural connection between lyrics and songs. Some bands just aren’t record bands—you need more than that to get the complete picture. The Chargers Street Gang aren’t just the music they make—they’re the physicality of bodies making music, and bodies going apeshit dancing to that music.
Look me in the eye and tell me you’ve danced apeshit to the Hives.