Superdrag/25 Minutes To Go/Emotron; June 19, 2009; The World Famous Millennium Club, Charlotte NC
We’d been told the Mercy Lounge was a cool venue; and other than the temperature and humidity level, it was. We’d also been told the Millennium Club was a cool venue; that person must have been smoking crack. We were sure this couldn’t be the place, from the front it looked deserted, and from the back like graffiti crazy runaway teens were squatting there. Not to judge a book by its cover, but we thought getting murdered, or at the very least mugged, was certainly a possibility. Who would have thought my new fascination with Superdrag would lead me to such an unlikely end? As it was, the only thing remotely criminal was the lack of any semblance of air conditioning and the lack of people in the audience.
The last time I had seen Superdrag it was at Chicago’s Metro where several hundred screaming fans greeted the band like they were the Beatles (turns out John Davis used to think he was Paul McCartney, but that’s another story). Tonight several dozen, sweaty, mostly enthusiastic, folks were waiting. “North Carolina is a metal state,” a friendly local explained to us. “Really?” I questioned, “I thought it was the cigarette state.” “That too,” his girlfriend answered, without getting my humor at all. He was surprised that bands as popular as Emotron and 25 Minutes to Go were opening for the decidedly non-metal Superdrag.
It wasn’t surprising at all if you talked to 25 Minutes’ teddy-bearish lead singer , who reminded me of the Hangdogs’ Matthew Grimm if he had more tattoos and wore all black. “They’ve been my favorite band since I was 15,” he practically gushed when we talked to him after the show. And really his band was that metal at all, more of a catchy hard rock that ended up being an appropriate opener. The Emotron on the other hand was another story.
When I saw the decidedly out of place, more than slightly creepy dude with the stringy hair and a cowboy hat, I stage whispered, “that guy looks like a pedophile,” without realizing he was the opening act. His “act” consisted of spewing random thoughts while bouncing around an ever-widening circle on the dance floor, removing layers of clothing. His western shirt was shed to reveal a wind jacket emblazoned with a US flag, his jeans covered matching pants. Eventually he was down to a unitard, and then just a G-string, and then it got really weird.
He sprayed some sort of flammable material onto his large bald spot and then lit it on fire. Only briefly, but I still had visions of the whole firetrap venue going up in flames. I tried to take pictures early in his striptease, but they were mostly a blur of stars and stripes. While I wouldn’t want to see him more than once, it was like a car accident, strangely fascinating and I couldn’t look away. I posited that he would be a good tourmate for Har Mar Superstar, another, um, alternative artist who enjoys to stripping down to his underwear, though he prefer briefs to G-strings.
Funny thing was, when Superdrag took the stage and a skinny, but normal looking guy plopped on the floor right between us and the stage, he didn’t seem that strange at all, just another fan looking forward to the show. If I was worried that they wouldn’t put on as good a show as they had for the adoring masses at the Metro, I shouldn’t have been. John Davis is as magnetic a front man as I have ever seen and he had as much energy for tonight’s crowd as he did for the one several times larger. Despite my continuing enthrallment with Senator Tom Pappas, it is hard to pay attention to anyone other than Davis.
I’m still at a loss to explain my fascination with the Senator. Unfortunately the stage was too small for him to do his absurd version of the duck walk, but I still enjoyed his over-the-top performance. His turn on lead vocals for “Cheap Poltergeists” again seemed like a lot of yelling, but I found myself on a mission to decipher the lyrics over the next couple days. “Cheap poltergeists are always for sale/Burn every bill that you get in the mail.” Yep, just as I suspected, lyrical genius.
It was ridiculously hot in the room, I’d been dripping since we walked in, but when Superdrag’s adorable drummer Don Coffey Jr. (wearing his newly acquired 25 Minutes to Go hat) held up the box fan that was situated next to his kit and claimed, “It’s not hot in here!” I was willing to believe him. And for the rest of the night I (almost) forgot how hot it was. His enthusiasm was infectious throughout the show, but perhaps never more so than when they had a guest drummer for a song. He positioned himself in the front row and cheered like he was their biggest fan ever.
The only disappointment was that we did not get to hear lead guitarist Brandon Fisher do the one song that he sings, despite my subtle hints. Hints which pretty much went like this, “So are we going to hear “Ready to Go” tonight?” “No” “Why not?” “John made the set list already” “That’s not a good reason.” “We haven’t done it in a long time.” “You did it in Rock Island.” Oh well, it was a good try. I guarantee he will sing it when they play my basement, you know, if their booking agent would ever return my e-mails. Until then I see more ridiculous road trips in my future.
the Smoky Mountains
too bad we didn't have time to swim
the "World Famous" Millenium Club
25 Minutes to Go