Saturday night at Lenny's closed out three nights of fantastic local performances. On tap this evening were locals Can Can, along with Living Things from St. Louis (pictured above and below), and international gay bar champions, Electric Six. I was secretly thanking Lenny's for enforcing a "no-smoking indoors" policy tonight since I had a sore throat. Most of the crowd stayed outside to smoke and enjoy the comfortable evening until the first band took the stage.
Can Can has developed from a duo into a powerful three-piece with the addition of a live drummer. They could easily find a place among modern L.A. punk bands such as Ima Robot, but also pay tribute to The Stooges and Black Flag. One minute disjointed then melodic the next, the group explores everything from indie rock to gritty swing. Late-comers missed a few antics from Can Can's frontman, Patrick A., who hurled himself into the front row and finished the set by giving the microphone a hand job. I saw him later holding a towel full of ice behind the merch booth and found out that he had injured his hand while jumping off stage into a trash can: "When I jumped in there, I heard something rip. At first, I was worried that I had broken the trash can, but it turned out to be the tendons in my hand." Let's keep him away from glass shards and peanut butter.
Next up were Living Things, most widely known for their explosive single "Bom Bom Bom" from the band's phenomenal debut album Ahead of the Lions (2004). Brothers Lillian, Eve and Bosh Berlin with guitarist Cory Becker have set a high standard for their extremely energetic live performance. I've caught two prior shows in Atlanta over the years, and am never disappointed by their passion and commitment to connecting with the audience. Tonight the quartet were joined onstage by a live keyboard player and offered selections from their first album as well as their latest release, Habeas Corpus. Both records address the band's take on modern politics, war and religion, but the new album features a more electronic sound and less of the guitar-driven glam rock. Songs such as "Mercedes Marxist," "Snake Oil Man" and "Bombs Below" will give you an idea of which side of the fence they're on. This band grabs your attention, both lyrically and literally, as Lillian will often jump into the crowd to shake hands or envelop fans with a bear hug. The message and the music resonate globally, with a bit of blues influence from their hometown of St. Louis, to the punk roots and sheer t.rextacy of London. Living Things are poised to carry the 21st century torch for iconic rebels such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop or even Marilyn Manson. Look out for them at Lollapalooza 2009 this summer in Chicago.
By the time Electric Six took the stage, about 100 people outside had finished their cigarettes and pushed indoors. The band's singer and video vixen, Dick Valentine, appeared in a glittery cape with the word "Showtime" across his back. The image coordinates perfectly with their latest release, Flashy, which might also describe their favorite topics: fire, discos, and hot ladies. By the third song, Valentine motions for security to eject the "Jeremy Piven lookalike" who has been relentlessly pressed up to the stage thrusting a beer in the air and careening about in front of the previous singers. And frankly, we were getting a bit tired of "that guy" anyway… these are real Detroit rockers, not Phish after all. Now the Electric Six were free to bring the noise with hits like "Dance Commander," "Gay Bar," "Lenny Kravitz" and "She's White." They have even created a sequel to their most popular tune, creatively dubbed: "Gay Bar Part Two." If you are unlucky enough to have missed E6 live, just imagine a funked-out thrift store suit wearing live version of any Matt Stone and Trey Parker anthem from Team America: World Police. Serious fun. With moustaches.