Review: Spatula at Climax Lounge, 2/10/12
Tom Murphy Spatula "birthing" Spamuel
SPATULA @ CLIMAX LOUNGE | 2/10/12
Almost without warning, King Lexie looked like she was either wheeled or aided on to stage, her bulging belly indicating a ripe pregnancy. Joining her were Summer Snover and Jesse Roadkill as well as Evan Brown and Paul Cousineau. All were dressed in various costumes, Brown wearing a mask of a multi-faced, bald mutant. Cousineau had a "tee-qualizer" that was like a lit-up equalizer face that shifted when various sectors lit up like it was gauging sound. With a hearty swagger, Roadkill, a mustache drawn on her face and wearing molester glasses, announced into the mic, "Well dip me in shit and roll me in nuts! This chick is preggers!" You could begin a show like a normal band but Spatula was no normal band.
Following this announcement Lexie was induced into giving birth and Snover pulled various items out of her the King's womb, throwing items pre-birth into the audience, until Spamuel emerged. It was only then that the music began and Spatula played a song about a monster. While Spatula is really more a performance art thing and a spectacle supreme, the people in the band could actually play and the vocal harmonies between Snover, Lexie and Roadkill were excellent. Had to be otherwise you can't pull off a good prank of a show. Brown's drumming was diverse and accented the music perfectly like he'd played plenty of jazz and experimental music. Cousineau's keyboards created the atmosphere without dominating the sound-scape.
Tom Murphy Spatula at The Climax Lounge
All the songs were ridiculous vehicles for bad jokes throughout but each was also a testament to how these people never confined themselves to a strict musical style or aesthetic. From punk, to warped country to avant-garde pop to straight-ahead rock and show tune compositions, it never seemed like Spatula was trying too hard. And the sheer enthusiasm of the performance carried the show along with an emotional momentum that swept you along as well. At one point Roadkill yelled into the mic "Who wants a mustache ride?" And got immediate counter offers.
Halfway through the show, the band got someone named Valerie on to the stage to get spanked by a spatula. After cycling through various sizes, it was settled that a giant spatula, as tall as King Lexie herself, would do the trick and she and Valerie got off stage. Either Snover or Roadkill riled up the crowd by asking us to chant "Spank that ass" before Lexie wound up and swatted Valerie on the posterior. But it didn't end there and other people were brought forward for this "honor" including yours truly.
Tom Murphy Spatula: "Spank that ass!"
The show ended with a profane bit of absurdist poetry celebrating "ginies" (as in vaginies). Overall it was not unlike seeing The Tubes at their height as a touring band in that it was more artistically daring than most punk with the same spirit and energy and more imaginative and playfully humorous. Did the band play "Shut Up and Touch It"? If so, we were not invited to do so. Perhaps that card will be played should Spatula grace us with its inspired lunacy again.
Opening the show was an outfit called Ugly Bumpers. The trio even had a banner bearing its name and an image of brass knuckles to let us know. It was bass, guitar and drums in the traditional style. Very street punk with the fast, trebly bass lines and distorted vocals. It was reminiscent of the punk rock time warp a lot of that world has been in for twenty-five years or more. And yet, these guys played well and had some spirit to the music. When the singer said, "This song is about unity," I wasn't sure if he was serious or poking fun at another subculture of punk and its obsession with vague political notions.
Tom Murphy Ugly Bumpers
There was a G.G. Allin cover and I think it was "Bite It You Scum" but I didn't ask. At the end someone asked if we wanted to hear one more song and that seemed a bit much for an opening band but at least these guys had humor to use a bass line to duplicate the music to The People's Court and then said words to that effect before kicking into a song running down white collar criminals. Usual tropes and all of that but these days, it's good to have a reminder that some punks still remember to stick it to the man.