Gallagher and Metallagher make for an unholy union at Station 4
Photos by Steve Cohen
When the show was announced, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for profound disaster: Prop-comedy hippie/conservative comedy "legend" Gallagher, on tour in Saint Paul, would be performing with local metal/comedy act Metallagher. Rumors swirled: would they perform together? (No.) Would the notoriously critical comedian and ruthlessly satirical band clash on stage? (No.) Would there be beer bongs? (No.) Who actually goes to a Gallagher show anymore? (A lot of people, apparently.)
Inside Station 4, the front of the show room had been blocked off for those who paid $20 for good seats, with a barricade keeping the standing crowd out. It was by the barricade that I first saw the man himself: no suspenders, no hat, no striped sweater, just a guy with graying long hair working the room in a pre-show meet and greet he'd done a thousand times before. After a few dozen photos he strode directly on stage, no costume change, and immediately launched into a set that somehow managed to be offensive, bitter, rambling, anachronistic, and self-parodying all at once.
Gays. Lesbians. Arabs. "China-people." Gang members. Celebrity "whores." Just a few targets of Gallagher's uniquely self-centered conservative view of social order. The crowd, an uncomfortable mix of dedicated fans, irony-seekers, punks, and metalheads, had an equally mixed reaction. There were plenty of people in hysterics and even a few cheering and clapping like they were at a Michelle Bachmann rally. Elsewhere, some folks weren't so impressed: boos, groans, and, at one point, a patron said, frustrated, "It's not fair that this guy outlived George Carlin."
Ultimately, though, the act was about smashing food, almost 90 minutes building up to that grand finale, all with a hint of tired cynicism. The denouement, however, best served those in the pricey seats; the rest of the room was so crowded that it was hard to see what Gallagher was doing, and it ended almost as quickly as it started.
After a pace-killing break to move chairs and clean up, Metallagher took the stage, singer/"impersonator" Brent Hedtke in more-Gallagher-than-Gallagher regalia, down to the hat and sweater. The rest of the band brought the Metallica side of the equation in full force, ripping through a number of beloved, mostly old-school songs, while Hedtke mostly skipped the customary between-song jokes (perhaps because of the notoriously anti-opening act Gallagher) and stuck with showering the audience with smashed watermelons, mystery fluid from a giant squirtgun, and a freshly delivered pizza (smashed by the delivery driver himself).
Still, the fun came with an awareness of what we'd just witnessed. "You guys like Gallagher?" Hedtke asked. "I liked the racist parts," someone yelled back. On a few occasions Hedtke seemed tempted to break into an actual Gallagher joke and then thought better of it, as if the absurd, cynical experience of the actual Gallagher had left no room for anything else.
"I'm using Gallagher's stage hammer tonight," Hedtke announced, "and I don't know how I feel about it."
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