Fear at the Marquis Theater, 6/4/13
Tom Murphy Fear on stage at the Marquis Theater in Denver last night
FEAR @ MARQUIS THEATER | 6/4/13
With his characteristic enigmatic smile, Lee Ving looked up at the crowd after making sure his guitar was ready to go and said, "This is a classic sing-along," before he and the band went into "I Love Livin' in the City." With that, the crowd surged forward and a circle pit got going, with people completely cutting loose.
Ving, who was in great spirits, dedicated "I Don't Care About You" to every single person in the audience. Obviously everyone knew it was a joke, but you got the sense that while he was singing songs calculated to offend the easily offended and assuming something of a villainous persona while doing so, he was the kind of villain that enjoyed being the villain. As a result, the show was enjoyable as both a great punk performance and as performance art, challenging social and political pieties to take the most wrong side of the lyrics at face value.
After "We Destroy the Family," Ving introduced the band and then said that he, himself, was "Norman Schwarzkopf." The cover of "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," by the Animals, had Ving almost speaking and half-barking the words at a cadence completely at odds with the original, and had you not known the song, it sounded all but unrecognizable. At times, there was an artsy, jazz-like structure to some of Fear's songs, but in a way, that was disorienting and warped in the best way. This was especially so in the dating world gone wrong anthem, "Getting the Brush."
After "No More Nothing," Ving informed us that was the last of the songs from The Record, and then the band went into a handful of songs from the group's second record, More Beer, beginning with "Welcome to the Dust Ward." Following that song, Ving asked the crowd, "How many rodeo fans are here tonight?" He paused just a second for a response and followed that with, "Okay, that's maybe three." It was a perfect intro to "F-You Let's Rodeo." If that wasn't enough abrasive lyrics for one night, "Honor and Obey" came next with its cartoonishly misogynistic lyrics.
And what would a Fear set be without its beer songs? The final two songs were "Have a Beer With Fear" and, of course, "More Beer." Ving set up that last song by talking about beer and being really thirsty in the summer but then realizing that you already drank your one beer. What do you do in that case, he asked, to which the crowd shouted in unison: "More beer!" "Correctomundo," said Ving.
That would have been the end of the show, but Ving came back on and said, "Well, shit, we ain't gotta get up in the morning, so we'll play one more song for you," and the outfit ended the set with "The Mouth Don't Stop (The Trouble With Women Is)." At the end, Ving thanked the audience sincerely and without cutting it with a masterfully sarcastic tone.
Personal Bias: My introduction to Fear was hearing "Let's Have a War" on the soundtrack to Repo Man in the late '80s, and I have been a fan of the group's knowing-smirk nihilism since.
Random Detail: Ran into Jeremy Averitt of Princess Music and Lloyd Arcesia (former Mood Syrup and Pink Swastikas) at the show and spotted Duane Bodenheimer of the Derelicts near the front of the stage throughout most of the show.
By the Way: Missed Zebroids, but caught Frontside Five and the band played with its usual vigor. Also, it's worth noting that Lee Ving is 63, and he's still scarier as a punk frontman than most.