SHAT, The Doormats, 8 Bit Idiots @ Thee Parkside, 2/19/08

It was a rainy Tuesday evening at Thee Parkside, making the punky dive venue seem grungier than ever. It’s a night of 2 bands comprised of local game developers, kicking off the Game Developer’s Convention, and 1 band that had absolutely nothing to do with videogames.

The night started with 8 Bit Idiots, who played an amped up version of the set that I saw last Halloween. They ended their set with War Pigs, a song which both their rendition and the current state of affairs made seem so relevant.

The Doormats followed, and had a bit of a lineup change since last time I saw them. They played some new tunes that veered from their usual punk format and into the surf rock realm. It’s quite amazing how many genres were covered in this one evening.

When I heard SHAT was playing, I was definitely very interested. I had heard of them through their record company, Buddyhead Records. I knew a bit about the costumes and content, and one can only draw crude conclusions from the name alone. If anything, I thought it would be interesting.

Because Thee Parkside is small, hip but not trendy, and it was a Tuesday night and a bit sparse inside, I didn’t expect them to bring out the full show. When they were setting up their equipment, they looked dressed to play a set as a normal, very manly man punk band. Then, I heard one of them say “let’s go suit up”.

I look around the room and wonder if these people know what they are in for. OK, I see two guys who are either ‘roadies’ or ‘groupies’ or some kind of ‘-ies’, so all good there. I see some leftovers from the earlier bands’ crews, and then some regulars. In total, there are about 30 people or so. So, I’m thinking this might be a bit awkward if they aren’t into 12 year old boy humor songs and dildos. I mean, I’m used to seeing GWAR with several hundred other people who definitely know that they are about to see a bunch of men on stage with phallic costumes, naked asses, and bodily fluids.

Oh man, they had no idea. When the band comes walking out: drummer, guitarist, and bassist in shit stained underwear, those masks that look one part clown, one part bank robber, and one part sexual pervert, and then the lead singer in an outfit constructed of about 16 dildos and leather straps, a strap on, and bare balls. Yes, bare balls. I would say that it takes a lot of balls to come out in an outfit like that, but that would be too obvious.

The first song ‘Rob from the Rich and Give to the Whore’ (I think) clears the room down to about 15 people. The looks on people’s faces were priceless. It was like an episode of Jackass.

The singer, whose name is Jeff Wood, has lively banter between songs. They claim to be from France, but we know they are really from Jersey. Between the first few songs, he keeps commenting on the fact that this is supposed to be a game company party, and he doesn’t understand what it has to do with videogames. Later, he continuously tells us “Thanks for another round of intriguing applause”, as the crowd stares in disbelief and the band stares back just as hard as if saying “I dare you to leave”.

What started out as funny quickly morphed into this combination of funny/obscene/offensive/dangerous as we noticed people’s reactions to the performance. It is hard to clap after a song when the content has to do with things like killing babies and objectifying women. Now, I don’t have a problem with objectifying women in music (only in real life), so I’m not offended, but it’s still weird to clap to nonetheless.

They have inventive transitions between songs, such as ‘Show Me Your Tits’ goes into ‘Tit Fuck’ which then leads into ‘Shit on Her Tits’. There seems to be a heckler plant (a female in the audience) that helps the controversy along, but it might have been real for all I know.

Props included a spotlight, which freaked me out a bit as it roamed around during the ‘Show Me Your Tits’ song. Then there was a baby doll- one of the scary looking ones- that was flailed around during ‘Kill Baby’ (which is, of course, a pro choice anthem).

The songs range from 20 seconds to maybe 2 minutes long, in classic punk style. After getting over the initial shock and spectacle of the first few songs, I came to the realization that these guys are great musicians. The singer has a great voice, the guitar shreds, the bass is perfect, and the drummer looks like he might bust though the drumheads any second. If these guys chose to sing less controversial, more ‘commercially viable’ songs, they would be really successful….but I don’t think that’s what they are going for.

I thought that the band was very successful at what they are doing. It takes a lot to make me react to a set in the way that I did that night. It felt dirty, shameful, and a little dangerous. It was truly controversial, and was probably more in line with what a Manson show was back in the day in Florida when he first started. Or, as I’ve been told, The Mentors– which El Duce, who was accused of being hired by Courtney Love to kill Kurt Cobain in Kurt & Courtney. Anyway, it’s something you should definitely see if you are into it, and stay as far the hell away from as possible if you are not.

Sorry, mom.

My short video:

Other youtubes:

OVERALL: 8.5/10
SHAT performance: 8.5/10
The Doormats performance: 8/10
8 Bit Idiots performance: 8/10
venue (Thee Parkside): 7/10
crowd/scene: 6/10
value ($0/ticket): 10/10
memorable: 9.5/10

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