The God Damns; August 28, 2009; The Frequency
I’ve seen the God Damns more since Nate Palen moved to New York than I did before. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen him having more fun, and I’m also pretty sure I’ve never enjoyed them as much as I did tonight. He had no shortage of money making bands when he lived here, the Kissers could sell out the High Noon on St Patrick’s Day, his loungey act Waylan St Palen & the Magic Elves packed the Brink Lounge every Christmas, while the Hometown Sweethearts had one of Madison’s longest running and consistently popular weekly shows, but the God Damns were never about the money. The band was formed with some of the city’s best rock and metal musicians, lead guitarist and curmudgeon Kyle Motor from the Motorz and the August Teens, powerhouse drummer Chad Ovshak and bassist Darwin Sampson (who owns the Frequency), and they can rock the paint right off the walls.
Until I actually made it I wasn’t sure it was going to work. Dick the Bruiser was at Area 51 tonight; it had been far too long since I last saw them and I was way too curious about what I had already taken to calling “the alien bar” to miss that show. But I did make it, and I was glad I did. A band cheeky enough to call their debut release Thriller obviously believes in putting on a show. A fact apparent from the time Palen swaggered on stage wearing a pair of over-sized pink woman’s sunglasses and proceeded to Mick Jagger strut through a barrage of two minute rockers. The music is heavier than the Motorz sunny power pop but it has that same love of 60’s Nugget-style rock. Kyle Motor’s turn on lead vocals for “Juliette” was a scorcher, while their cover of Chocolate Watchband’s “Are You Gonna Be There, (At the Love In)” is a perfect choice to show off what they do best. The addition of a keyboard player seemed odd at first, but only because I’d never seen them with one before.
By the time the set ended close to bar time, only I and a handful of dudes remained. It was late and I had a 6 AM flight the next morning but there was no way I was leaving before they were done, I was having too much fun.