Part 2: Rawk and Anti-Rock

MOST “RAWK” MOMENT

Anyone can lay down a rocking riff, but it takes a real fiend to unleash the fire burning below. Dust off your devil horns, because these muthas didn’t just rawk our socks; they set those little bastards on fire.

1. Mötley Crüe Fans

4 November 2006: Las Vegas, NV

It doesn’t get more “rawk” than taking your wedding vows in the front row, minutes before your favorite band hits the stage in Vegas. But that’s exactly what fan group the Mötley Tour Whores did. With 20 Crüe shows in three months to their credit, it was the perfect way to kick out the jams and come away with a true RAWK memory. (AW)

2. Babyshambles

27 August 2006: London, UK

Arriving in the nick of time, on day release from his court-enforced rehab, 2006’s number-one outlaw, Pete Doherty, wandered onstage as the big screen behind him flashed images of newspaper headlines and police lights. Of course, it was a bit staged and very silly — but boy was it exciting. Let’s just hope he made it home before lights out. (ML)

3. Girl Talk

1 November 2006: New York, NY

Stripped unwillingly to his skivvies, pasty laptoper Gregg Gillis (aka Girl Talk) hammers his head up and down as he re-remixes his much-ballyhooed mash-ups. Surrounded on all sides of the stage by sweaty bodies (they stormed it earlier), he remains in sync with the music, gyrating zombie-style as the dancing around him gets down and dirty. Just as the craziness reaches fever pitch, some unthinking dancer edges the computer off the table, sending it crashing to the floor. Reacting quickly, Gillis levels an inaudible howl. Appropriate, ’cause this guy’s a beast. (AP)

4. Ghostface Killah

27 April 2006: Philadelphia, PA

A better screw-you won’t be found this year: Fresh from his prison stint, Beanie Sigel ambled on stage mid-set to chastise those who disowned him while he was in the clink with an impromptu a cappella rap that made one thing clear: you don’t want to be on the wrong side of this guy. A kick in the nuts would have been more subtle, but only slightly more RAWK. (KP)

5. Sonic Youth

11 August 2006: Brooklyn, NY

Guitar demigod Thurston Moore heads toward front stage near the end of a tight 45-minute set. The audience, at the bottom of an empty pool and basking under the light of an early moon, stands quietly, drinking more than its fair share of Brooklyn beer. Moore walks the guitar down the stage by its cord like an owner walks a dog, and the axe’s strings bang against the metal stage like waves crashing into rocks. (BB)

6. Man Man

13 September 2006: Northampton, MA

Man Man’s white-face painted, drum-crazed Tom Waits-alikes put on a rockin’ show for the kids, especially those crazy ones in the front row who are slammin’ and yelling and making their own fun. Give Honus credit for bravery, if not brains, as he jumps out headfirst over the wildest section of the crowd, and they prevent him from breaking his neck — though just barely. You know, Mooney Suzuki put a big muscle-y roadie guy out in front when they did this. (JK)

7. Liars

3 June 2006: Berlin, Germany

After a rollicking set of experimental percussion-driven madness of their own, Angus and his boys came back for a propulsive encore that included not only a sexy, straightforward cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” but also an unheard-of third encore that consisted only of ear-splitting noise, much to the shrieking delight of the sweaty Berlin crowd. (MM)

8. Dirty On Purpose

12 December 2006: New York, NY

I’ve always thumbed my nose at wussy ear-plug wearers. But at this Dirty On Purpose show, I actually found myself flailing back and forth like the ball in a Taiwanese ping-pong match, trying to avoid the full frontal assault from the twin amps on either side of the stage. Ouch. For once, I needed a Hearo, and not the kind Bonnie Tyler was holding out for! (RH)

9. The New Pornographers

15 March 2006: Austin, TX

With his non-stop smoking, drinking, singing, stick flipping, and flawlessly executed fills, New Pornographer’s drummer Kurt Dahle didn’t provide any one particular “rawk” moment during his band’s South by Southwest set; he delivered 45 consecutive minutes positively packed with them. (JL)

10. Alejandro Escovedo

14 July 2006: Ottawa, BC

Escovedo introduced his song “Castanets” by noting that he had only recently decided to re-introduce the number (he dropped it a while back when he learned that it is a favorite of President Bush). The Bluesfest crowd was glad to see the tune brought back out in protest, as Escovedo’s animosity towards Dubya drove a blistering performance that proved the highlight of his stellar set. (CC)

THE ANTI-ROCK

Like a torrential pour, that which does not rock rains upon that which does, leaving smoke where once there was fire. Away foul trickle! Away!

1. Kevin Federline

20 August 2006: Universal City, CA

It’s obvious, but damned if it doesn’t beg reiteration: Kevin Federline is the poster boy for all that is wrong in the universe. He’s the quintessential professional celebrity husband, and poseur extraordinaire, your inarticulate, arrogant ass with no marketable skills aside from advanced parasitism. So, what does this former back-up dancer with less street cred than Punky Brewster do? R-A-P. (AW)

2. The Sounds

23 October 2006: London, UK

Checklist for creating a cliché rock show: 1. Find a modestly attractive female singer dressed in revealing clothing who screams rather than sings. 2. Use power chords and distortion. 3. Wear black clothes and make sure your hair is organized to be disorganized. 4. Turn the PA up to 11. 5. Troll around stage in a hyperbolic fit so that it looks like the strobes are engendering a seizure. 6. Make it all look and sound like one big joke. Oh, what fun. (SS)

3. The Zombies

23 September 2006: Philadelphia, PA

Playing as part of a garage-rock revue, the ’60s starlets looked like they’d just dropped in from a cruise ship’s cabaret lounge. The show reached critical mass when they played “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” in the most un-rock fashion imaginable. Talk about out of season; I hate to say it, but the flesh really did rot on this one. (AP/KP)

4. Joanna Newsom

24 August 2006: Brooklyn, NY

She may be a critic’s darling and the reigning queen of the freak-folk forest, but elves and harps!? Pixie dust!? Fairy tales!? Unless you’re Led Zeppelin, these things do not a RAWKER make. Sorry Joanna, but if the question is whether to play a huge stage or stay at home, you’re probably better off back in your hobbit hole. (AP/RH)

5. Snow Patrol

14 July 2006: Suffolk, UK

After some enthralling, oddball musical delights, the Latitude festival just needed a fitting, funky end to its first day. It got the middling rock of Snow Patrol. Men held their mobiles in the air and couples put their hands in each others back pockets as I slowly lost the will to live. (ML)

PopMatters