Mike Watt and the Missingmen at the Turf Club, 4/18/11
Mike Watt and the Missingmen, with STNNNG
Oh, for the love of plaid, seeing Mike Watt perform live is really something special.
But first up, the Twin Cities' STNNNG, opening Monday night at the Turf for Mike Watt and the Missingmen.
STNNNG took a bit of a tumble over the weekend, hitting an icy patch and totaling their van on the way back up north following a show in Rochester. But judging by the way Ben Ivascu was pounding those drums, and the power, intensity and precision of all involved, you wouldn't know they've within the last couple days undergone one of those, you know, near-death experiences.
Taking a roll in a van seems as good an excuse as any to phone in a performance, or to at the very least show your aches and pains onstage, but STNNNG didn't limp away their set by any stretch. In fact, singer Chris Besinger, looking no worse for the wear, made his usual in-all-your-faces rendezvous about floor and tables. Perhaps this set was a "thank you Jesus we're alive" sort of performance.
Photos by Tony Nelson
To further belabor the point, here (always a writer in search of an angle), I've often met high praise for this band with, "Yeah, dude rock." As in, it never quite gets right with me because, you know, I don't have testicles, whatever those are good for. For understanding dude rock? Yeah, I suppose that's what they'd help me to do. I'd develop a whole new appreciation for David Lee Roth, if only I grew a pair.
But tonight, something clicked. Perhaps I saw STNNNG's vulnerability, and it spoke to my feminine sensibilities. Yeah, that's probably it. Poor little buddies!
All this said, nice work, guys, and way to give Monday night a run for its money. STNNNG were the perfect opening to a night of thinking man/aggressive man rock.
Mike Watt introduced his set with the Missingmen as such: "This is my third opera." As the three-piece made its way through selections from their latest release, a 30-song opera based on the art of Hieronymus Bosch, it was pure dynamism at its best. Watt and his band were ever-fresh and alive, and as always, his aim as a frontman was true.
So many of the musical heroes of my adolescence are either totally washed-up or totally dead. Watt's punk rock authenticity and integrity, at its most basic, genuine and true, embodies an ethos that still has everything to do with the music and so little else to do with the other nonsense, and this has no doubt contributed to a relevancy that for Watt has lasted now for over 30 years.
I mean, come on. the man's doing reflexive operas now, complete with spoken word elements of pure introspection, and he can get away with this. He can claim the sincerest accolades of young and old alike in doing all this. How many of his era could claim to do the same?
Photos by Tony Nelson
Critic's bias: SST bands comprised the coolest components of my adolescent record collection; assembled more for the credibility they imbued at the age of 13 than through any true initial appreciation. Such is punk, no?
The crowd: A near if not fully sold-out Turf Club crowd, and no wait for the ladies' room? That means one thing: DUUUUUUUUDES. SO MANY DUUUUUUUUDES. In plaid? Yes, many of them in plaid.
Random Notebook Dump: I want to give their plaid shirts a touch test, feeling for flannely fluzziness. At first blush I give Tom Watson's a 0, Raul Morales' a 2, and Watt's a 3. Fluzziness? Yes, that is what I wrote in my notes.
Setlist: A lot of songs featuring bass parts, and guitar parts that sound like bass parts, all of which sing by way of E A D G, and not through words. Apologies for not being able to list them by name.
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