Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dick the Bruiser; October 18, 2008; Barack the Block, 100 block of Mifflin St

A friend of mine had been talking about Madison band Dick the Bruiser ever since seeing their first show. And even though it didn’t sound like my kind of thing, I had to admit I was very curious about the duo of dads who play visceral rock and roll with only drums, a bass and a Theremin (an underused but only occasionally well used instrument).

I finally got a chance during an all-day rally in support of Democratic nominee Barack Obama, a block party on the 100 block of Mifflin cleverly titled Barack the Block. The day was scheduled as a combination of speeches and music, but only a handful of the day’s events had specific times next to them. Dick the Bruiser was listed as 11 am, which made me think that, you know, they would actually play somewhere around then. Instead they played one song as a teaser before giving up the stage to the first three of the political speakers for the day which including a painfully long-winded former mayor.

It was almost noon before they finally returned to the stage for their short set, and most of my annoyance disappeared as they launched into their first song. Drummer Tony Sellers pounded the skins of his brand-new drum set older than him artfully emblazoned with the DtB logo, while bassist Kevin Wade (definitely trouble) barked their nonsense lyrics into the mike. And the Theremin you ask? Well, this is the best part. Instead of the very obvious dramatic hand-waving that accompanies most Theremin playing, Wade moves the neck of his bass in and out of the range of the instrument perhaps most commonly heard in movies from the Sixties involving flying saucers and visitors from another planet. The effect is stunning, and once you figure out what he is doing, it is hypnotic.

Sure, their lyrics aren’t exactly genius (“Roast your heart like a marshmallow, eat it just for fun” huh?), but who cares with music this entertaining and this satisfying on the hip-shaking level? Nice job guys, your kids should be proud.

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