w/ Kepi Ghoulie, the Colytons
Asbury Park Lanes
So it’s 2008 and the Queers are still at it. I went through a long period where I actively denied they ever existed, probably between 1999 and three weeks ago. I’m not sure why. Maybe part of me was mad they never got the recognition they deserved and I felt like they were embarrassing themselves by continuing to play and make records. Maybe I was still holding a grudge over Joe not laughing at the hilarious Van Halen joke I made when I first met him. Who knows. As you could probably guess, I get weird about bands sometimes.
At any rate, I woke up a few weeks ago and I thought, “God damn it, the Queers were / are really fucking important to me. I’m going to stop pretending they never existed.” I’ve been spinning their discs night and day ever since (I also wrote this totally bitchin’ Crawdaddy piece about them). Last week, I went to go check the Queers out live at Asbury Lanes in New Jersey. I was gonna go see them on a boat here in NY the night before, but I bailed for fear of getting sea sick.
I showed up as opening band the Colytons were ripping through their nasally set. They sound pretty close to Screeching Weasel; in Screeching Weasel’s absence, I can accept this. The Colytons are from Australia. How they ended up touring boats and bowling alleys with the Queers is beyond me. The Internet? Text messaging? It’s gotta be some modern technology what got them to the States. Anyway, the Colytons—I approve.
Turns out I’m guilty of not really paying attention to the Groovie Ghoulies when they were around. I always thought their singer Kepi was a girl. Thus, I was fully expecting the second opening band, Kepi Ghoulie / Kepi the Band, to be fronted by some kind of woman-type creature. Imagine my surprise when this scrawny dude walked on stage wearing a shirt emblazoned with “KEPI” and then announced that he was, in fact, Kepi Ghoulie. WTF, LOL, LBJ. Kepi’s new band was typical sub-par pop punk yazz punctuated by the singer’s wacky presence (he cracked numerous jokes about the gentrification of once-decaying Asbury Park).
The interesting thing about this concert was every band used the same drums and amplifiers, and they all sounded great…up until the Queers. As soon as Joe and the boys (still that guy from John Cougar Concentration Camp and some new yutz on drums) took the stage, the lead microphone stopped working and the snare drum was making some weird scratching noise. The fellas were clearly not amused, but they waited patiently while the tiny sound guy ran to and fro the stage in something of a panic. Eventually, King Queer had enough.
“Fuck it,” Joe said. “We’ve had worse.”
With that, the Queers launched into “No Tit.” Overall, their set was a highly rockin’ affair. They only played two “ballads”—“Teenage Bonehead” and “Like A Parasite.” Everything else was straight up punk. Joe was exerting medium energy, but the band still sounded good. Well, as good as a band can sound with microphone problems and some weird scratching noise on the snare drum. They nailed the tunes that really counted. “Steakbomb” in particular was pretty hot. Also, “Love Love Love” and “You’re Tripping” made my balls explode.
Original Queers singer Wimpy Rutherford was in attendance, and you better believe he got up there with the boys to bark out some nasty jams (“We’d Have A Riot Doing Heroin,” “Fagtown,” “Monster Zero,” etc). I’d never seen Wimp live before. He comes off as a pretty disturbed guy. By that I mean I could see how maybe as a kid this guy really was kicked out of the Webelos. I don’t think I’d be comfortable leaving my offspring near him.
For their grand finale, the Queers tore through a few classic Ramones tunes with Kepi Ghoulie returning to the mic. It’s always a treat to hear the ‘Mones, even if there’s some six foot tall longhair drunkenly doing the Jitterbug next to you (people in New Jersey are weird). I was kind of hoping the Queers would bust out a Black Flag song or two, as former Flag singer Dez Cadena came out for these punk rock proceedings. They didn’t. Maybe Dez said to them, “Hey, don’t bother playing any of my old band’s songs, ’cause I’m not gonna sing them.” Or maybe they didn’t see him there. Who knows.
On a side note, I’ve been called out before for mistaking lesser punk rockers for the mighty Dez, but there was no question this time it was him. He was wearing a big sandwich board that said, “Yes, I am Dez Cadena, ask me about Rollins.” No, really, I’ve seen pictures of the guy recently and I’d swear on six Bibles and a copy of Crazy that this was him.
Final Grade: Three dirty Converse sneakers out of four.