In Da Club: STNNNG at the Entry and Buck 65 at the Quest
Chris Besinger barely has time to put on his black leather racing gloves before the rest of STNNNG take off. The track-for-track live performance of Dignified Sissy is not unlike a NASCAR event. As "A Topography of Boils" leads off the Saturday night set with riffs straight out of a high-speed chase, the band begins careening around the stage, oblivious to the number of times tuning pegs almost meet foreheads. They're only 30 seconds into the first song and a collision probably would have already happened if not for Nathan Nelson ducking under the Entry's low-hanging speakers and jumping into the audience. When he returns to the stage, things have settled down just enough to get through the night safely. Aside from Adam Burt throwing a few hazardous kicks in the direction of the front row, the band sticks to friendlier moves, like synchronized head banging. Besinger spits vitriol, ad-libbing, "It's a bummer about your pope, but mine is going strong," while hanging from the rafters. A couple of playful audience members poke at his belly as if he's a sweaty, screaming Pillsbury Doughboy. Halfway through the album's second side, J. Michael Ward escapes from his drum kit to play a voice mail message for the crowd, but the cell phone is inaudible, particularly with Besinger's orgiastic yelps coming from the back of the club. After a dozen songs, the lead singer wearily mumbles, "This is a long record." Only a couple more and the band are reaching for the checkered flag. Having completed the album without a major injury, they collapse in a heap. --Lindsey Thomas
Guy on his cell phone, standing in the men's room at the Quest on Friday night, a few minutes after Buck 65's opening set for Handsome Boy Modeling School: "Dude. Handsomes are coming up. No. Dude, I'm here. Dude, have you heard of this rapper? Buck Sixty? Dude, he just got done. Hilarious. Yeah. Dude, go online. Fucking great. (To three-deep line at urinals): What was the name of that guy? Buck 60what? Buck 65? Yeah, Buck 65. Go online, dude." What dude will find when he goes online (www.buck65.com) is Buck's collection This Right Here Is Buck 65, which merely hints at the Nova Scotia rock-rapper's live thing, the area debut of which was as memorable as, say, the local bows of Ween (1990, Cabooze) and Beck (1994, First Avenue). Coughing up the holy phlegm of Nick Nolte and Tom Waits, wearing the dramatic wig of a hip-hop Marcel Marceau, and looking not unlike rock critic Keith Harris (who picked Buck's Talking Honky Blues as one of the best albums of 2003), Buck (born Rich Terfry) made shit-grinning believers out of all of us with raps about his own well-endowment ("Centaur"), individuality ("Bachelor of Science"), and the bathroom sink ("Wicked and Weird"; "Craftsmanship"). Buck is far from a novelty act. His genius lies in his subtlety and musicality, and in his ability to skewer/celebrate everything all at once--as he did with his dissection of "rebel" culture and the deadpan chorus of "Flaming. Skeleton. On a motorcycle." Okay. Maybe you had to be there; next time, after he finishes the record he's making with Tortoise, you will be. You and me both. --Jim Walsh
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