The Best Band I Hope You’ve Heard About By Now: Hans Condor (pt. v)
Last we left off with an account of Hans Condor’s set at The Blind Tiger club in Greensboro, NC. The boys brought every ounce of aggression and over-the-top stage antics that were present at the show I saw in Japan. It was raunchy, raucous R’n’R! But I was unsure how Guitar Wolf would be able to follow it up with something comparable in energy.
The garage punk trio took the stage in an odd way. In T.REX masks! In bad taste, check. Not taking themselves seriously, check. Idiosyncratic, check. Unsuspected, again check! Right from the gate they were doing everything right! Without disrobing, so to speak, they played through a few songs and began the sonic assault characteristic of Guitar Wolf hits. After the first few songs, they removed the masks and continued their set, all the while interspersing newer tracks from their LP ‘T-Rex From A Tiny Space Yojouhan’ (Don’t ask me what it means?!?!). The highlights of the show were stage dives by Seiji ‘Guitar Wolf’ including a fantastic (in the term’s most classical meaning) foray into the crowd by walking on hands (stuff I thought only Iggy Pop could pull off!) and not to mention, a solo encore performance of requested songs with distorted, crackling guitar and vocals.
After the show, I stuck around and I got the guys from Hans Condor and Guitar Wolf to sign a gig poster, as well as their respective LPs before they hit the road. Since that time, I have been keeping an eye out for more shows from the Hans Condor lot and have been found wanting. It seems they don’t play much anymore and may have disbanded. Their personal and band social media sites have all but disappeared and my attempts to contact them through various extant pages have all but failed.
I’ve been all too aware the past ten or so years of the difficulty of establishing a band in the public consciousness throughout the southeast as many of my friends and friends of friends whiled away in obscurity, playing shows to ten people and releasing albums to little or no critical response. Although I always kowtowed in conversation (“Yeah, i know. It sucks. More people should come out and see shows. etc. etc. blah, blah, blah.”), in thought the more pressing idea has always been “Well, so what? No wonder.” Almost no one is playing powerful immediate music. Most bands are composed of terrible songwriters with no voice or at least points of reference to important music. Many play sub-sub-genres with no crossover appeal to the general public. And furthermore, on the consumer side of the equation, the general public is fed on a steady stream of terrible radio music in the form of southern-pop, hip-pop, rap-pop, rock-pop, etc. And none of it is even good pop!!! Rock and roll just can’t connect with a crowd like that!
The rhetoric here lost its sway in the face of the poor public reception given to Hans Condor. They whiled away in obscurity for years from 2007 and on until the early 2010s, touring constantly in what I gather was something of a Black Flag attempt to gain momentum through a constant presence in clubs, dives, bars, and other music venues throughout the country. They received write-ups through independent blogs pretty consistently, were named group with best frontman through local Nashville press last year, and toured with one of Japan’s best established punk acts both in Japan and stateside. And all to no avail. The sort of energy and material, the quality, that Hans Condor brings didn’t rise above that of deep underground recognition.
Defeated, tired, jaded, worn, rung-out, beaten, dejected, disappointed, I finish what is hopefully only the first chapter in a much longer discussion of Hans Condor as personal myth and legend, and eventually, potentially, a live and touring reality once again. But I’m not optimistic. The only thing that drug public audiences momentarily away from the sickeningly-sweet-bubblegum-pop-infested wasteland of late 80s, early 90s sonic drivel mass-produced for our stupefaction was a series of movements beginning with overrated grunge and culminating in a rock revival with roots in blues, glam, and proto-punk by groups like The White Stripes, The Hives, The Hellacopters, and The Makers amongst many others.
A movement is needed, but cannot be formed intentionally. The connections have to be drawn by rock writers and critics with integrity (a contradiction in terms? maybe), driven by immediate acts with the live power to draw audiences organically, and supported by promoters ready and willing to book shows with multiple great acts (rather than a good headliner and weak, trivial openers) and also willing to promote those shows (a no-brainer, its their money on the line so why lose it by not advertising?). Will it happen? Probably not. But one can only hope.