The Best Band You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of (That I keep writing about)- IV
We last left off in Osaka, Japan, at the Rocket’s Club where I saw three great rock acts put on one hell of a show. The legendary noise rock band Guitar Wolf, the tight King Brothers, and the wild Hans Condor.
I missed the rest of the Condor’s dates on this Japanese tour because of obligations to classes I had in Kyoto (obligations I probably should and could have blown off without too heavy repercussions). Unbeknownst to me at the time, just a short 10 months later Guitar Wolf would headline an American tour with Hans Condor as their main support act.
Sunday, August 28th. Greensboro, North Carolina. The Blind Tiger club. I have been ranting and raving about Hans Condor, Guitar Wolf, and the show in Osaka for months to anyone who will listen. And I think I’ve managed to excite my friend Owen and my father Mad Brother Ward about the prospect of seeing these two bands play live. At any rate, I’ve roped them into making the trip out to see the show.
We arrive and make our way toward the club, where I see Drum Wolf standing outside taking a smoke break. I self-consciously approach him and tell him how excited I am to see the show and wish him good luck. We’ve arrived pretty early, so we buy our tickets and head over to a nearby Sonic for some quick fuel before the show.
When we return, the opening act, The Paint Fumes, are setting up. Chazz and Erik of Hans Condor are hanging around the merch table so I introduce them to my entourage and buy their new EP “The Sandwich,” plus a cassette, and a few t-shirts. Owen and I get some Pabst and sober down (as opposed to sobering up!) a bit for the show.
The Paint Fumes go for a stripped down, 60’s Detroit sound a la The MC5. But the Jack White approach the frontman takes with his off-brand Japanese guitar backfires as the thing doesn’t stay in tune very well. The classic hardcore punk band Bad Brains had a big weakness during live shows: they interspersed aggressive fast-tempo punk with slower reggae tunes, which always slowed down what could of been a more riotous, rock and roll atmosphere. The Paint Fumes are in a similar situation with occasional forays into slower groove and psychedelic tunes (a move The Stooges could pull off well, but few others). All in all, they perform well and the audience seems to dig some of the material despite these concerns.
Next up, Hans Condor! The club is filled nowhere near capacity and I can tell the initial lack of energy from the audience affects the band’s performance. However, The Condor isn’t inhibited for long. Chazz belts out verse after verse, riff after riff, and solo after solo with increasing intensity until a select group of audience members toward the front begin to respond in kind. Chazz throws his guitar to an old friend in the crowd mid-song and climbs atop the club’s impressively tall amplifier stacks. Meanwhile, the kid in the crowd is moving on all gears, soloing in time with the track and of a notable virtuosity. Chazz gives the signal and the guy lauches the guitar in mid-air as Chazz leaps from the speaker, catches the guitar, and falls to the ground in something like an 8 to 10 foot drop… And starts back into the song! This is aggressive, this is raw, this is immediate, THIS IS ROCK And ROLL!
A few songs later, Chazz pulls some of the more engaged patrons onstage. We dance, slam dance, and try our best to get the energy feedback loop between musician and audience going strong. I see a beer can someone has lobbed on the stage, And in my twin stupor of PBR buzz and ritual liminality autopilot (that primal thing that happens at a show), I pick it up and bite a chunk out of it before launching it right back into the crowd. Shortly thereafter, we all hustle off the stage and back in front of it. My hand stings and I realize I’ve cut it pretty deeply with the beer can. I’ve also busted my lip. I bleed on the stage and continue to enjoy the rest of the set.
Set-up for big bands is almost always longer than for opening acts or even headliners at small shows. And this show is no different. As such, I have plenty of time to wash off, clean my hand, congratulate the guys in Hans Condor on a great set, and buy some more merch. (My dad also gives them kudos on their set, and if you know him, you know they must of been good). All this before Guitar Wolf takes the stage. And man do they have one tough act to follow!
(To Be Concluded: HERE )