The other night, I remarked to SS that I was going to see NaSHVille Pussy at a small local venue, and that doing so was important, because rather few bands extant bring the rock these days, NP being one of them, though even they have been at this 14+ yrs., and have just been going through the motions for a while now. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to get there and catch one of the opening acts, known as the Fabulous Miss Wendy. The eponymous Wendy --lithe, long red haired girl appearing about 17 years old --stood onstage in a Lady Gaga t-shirt and wearing tight jeans slung about four inches below the top of her pelvic girdle, tuning her guitar and doing ostensible pre-show calisthenics, mainly consisting of arching back her still-developing chest while pulling on her fingers. After about 15 minutes of this, her backing band --a guy in his mid-20's who looked like he may have been a finalist in the My Chemical Romance tryouts on bass and a cute, sturdy blonde on drums was introduced by a long-haired balding fat man in a black satin western shirt who said simply "Please welcome the Fabulous Miss Wendy to Chicago, my hometown." Note sure if he was the club owner, Wendy's dad, court-appointed guardian, or a Kim Fowley-type character who came up with the rough sketch of all this. Then it was on, Wendy hitting things off with a an extremely competent rendition of Eddie Van Halen's solo in "Eruption," before her band launched into a standard late 80's hard rock backbeat over which Wendy sung (that she was) a "Crazy Fcked Up Bitch," one leg planted atop a monitor, undulating with over-the-top jailbait moves while middle aged men in the front row ogled and reached out for her like she was Slash and they
were 17 year old hessian girls. That would have been that, and it would have been a fine little trick, a timely companion piece to the tween assassin in Kick Ass
. But things soon took a dirty tiki bar rockabilly turn, with Wendy proving herself a truly scorching guitarist, and the rest of her band (particularly the drummer) keeping right up, with Wendy writhing on the floor during guitar solos and thrusting her hips into her guitar without compromise. In the middle of their set, she gave a short monologue about their home base, L.A., being composed of shallow narcissists and condemning the pursuit of fame and cash, with a little wink.
Wendy's set was brief, and as her band was tearing down, a guy in a dark wool trenchcoat, black top hat and steampunk goggles strode onstage with a circus barker's megaphone: "Let's hear it for the Fabulous Weeeeeeeeennnnnnddeeeeee....." he intoned in a Victorian era accent. He was soon joined by a woman wearing a giant tomato mask on bass, and an old school punk, shaven-headed, shirtless and wearing thick black glasses on drums. While they were setting up, Top Hat said he needed five volunteers from the crowd for a "life-changing experience." With a little cajoling he soon had convinced more than that number, who quickly went behind the stage, and about two minutes later, before Wendy's band was even offstage and without further ado, the lights went down and they reemerged wearing enormous paper mache puppet heads. The new band, which I recalled from a flyer outside was called Green Jellÿ (after Kraft made them change it from Green Jello) launched into a White Zombie type stomp. I'm not sure if it was planned or not, but they also shanghied Wendy and her band into staying onstage and playing backup. The puppet heads (they were introduced by character name, but I forget all except The Wiccan Chicken) danced in the background. Top Hat guy, the band's lead singer, changed costume frequently, appearing as the Victorian barker, a robotic creature in enormous platform boots and wiring intertwined like dreadlocks, a militant vegan cow, and a Hassadic Jewish rabbi, who selected an audience member to be bar-mitzvahed, complete with being carried around above the heads of the crowd on chair, a stunt which caused the security (one of whom was a squat midget, about 4-feet tall and 250 pounds wide) to charge into the audience to set the guy down on the floor. They played a lot of punk covers, with Wendy laughing and adding guitar solos while random people in giant puppet heads gyrated around her. One of their songs was called (I assume) "Chocula," a straightforward rendition of Rob Zombie's "Dragula," with Count Chocula as the titular subject, and lyrics about breakfast cereal. Another was a cover of "Anarchy in the U.K," which was turned into "Anarchy in Bedrock," and performed while two audience members dressed as Flintstones ran around stage bashing each other with inflatable wooden clubs. Green Jelly, Reggie's Rock Club, Chicago, 4/21/10, taken on my BlackBerry Curve. Dorks with cell phones taking pictures at shows is the modern equivalent of dorks holding up cigarette lighters during power ballads
I wasn't sure if these were two bands or one, but I later found out they are indeed two separate entities. The Fabulous Miss Wendy is actually 22, and has been performing for about 6 years. She and her band seemed genuinely surprised to be playing with Green Jellÿ, but I suspect it happens pretty frequently, since I learned they are on a multi-city tour of mainly small clubs, along with Nashville Pussy, called the Parental Advisory Tour. Green Jellÿ, from Buffalo, NY, is kind of like an indie GWAR, and has an amazing history, having been around since 1981, billing themselves as "The Worst Band in the World." I don't know how I never gave them a listen before, as they've gained a fair amount of notoriety over the years, but I guess I just never got around to it. They've had, I would've guessed around 20 members (though their myspace says "257 and counting"), most of whom have gone on to various kinds of success and some of whom constitute the core of Tool. Their wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Jell%C3%BF
) is worth looking at. Also, dig Buffalo's amazing city hall (nb: pop. 580,000 ca. 1950, probably about 250k today):
Nashville Pussy played next, but had definitely been upstaged by what came before them. I recall that that's how I was first introduced to NP, one random school night when I wandered into the old Stache's, with a coworker from Adriatico's, to see the Candy Snatchers and New Bomb Turks, ca. 1996/97. Some band I'd never heard of, with a tall lanky bassist whom I couldn't quite pin as a male in cowgirl drag, shemale or female, was setting up, and would soon be --figuratively and literally --blowing fire into the crowd, before the Candy Snatchers and New Bomb Turks --figuratively and literally --further destroyed the club, leading its owner, Dan Dougan, to launch into a legendary tirade (referenced on his website, and recorded on DAT by a friend of another Adriatico's coworker who was there that night) against the audience. But Nashville Pussy definitely owned that night, and upstaged the headliners. They were new and fresh and unknown at the time, and though they're getting long in the tooth now, and seemed more than a little road weary, I still love them as they soldier on, constantly on tour and playing modest clubs in towns both large and small, as if to defy exhaustion until they've passed on the rock and roll torch to enough people to ensure a viable enough gene pool for the genre to survive, and perhaps even advance.
I note that with enormous delight and inspiration that about 25% of the crowd was inner-city Hispanic kids.