Live in Grand Rapids (2018)
It was an interesting combination of bands. Headlining was the self proclaimed Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World. Sandwiched in the middle of the bill was a band that had a huge radio hit in the early 90’s. Opening was a local hardcore favorite. I had seen Supersuckers a handful of times, and always enjoyed them. I had never seen Drivin N Cryin, so there was a certain level of intrigue there. I doubt there was a band I saw more times last year than Westside Rebellion, but this was only going to be the second time in 2018. The show went down at The Stache in downtown Grand Rapids on Thursday, March 29th.
Local hardcore degenerates Westside Rebellion went on promptly at 8:00 and played a blistering 25 minute set. They tore through all five songs from their debut EP, and even threw in a couple of brand new songs. The new tunes had a definite thrash/hardcore vibe, and I was glad to hear some fresh material from these guys. They were also pelted in beer cans. I couldn’t help but wonder how the ‘professional’ bands felt about having their equipment soaked in PBR. I don’t know if it bothered them, but they never said a word. WSR was fun as usual, even if they were a bit aggressive for this lineup.
The first thing I noticed about Drivin N Cryin is that they looked old, especially guitarist/vocalist Kevin Kinney. A closer inspection revealed that he and bassist/backing vocalist Tim Nielsen were older, and the other guitar player and drummer were much younger. Fortunately, Kinney’s distinctive voice is still mostly intact. Although they’re known for a handful of hard rock songs, they’re really a Southern rock band at heart. They broke out a couple of back to back hits really early in the set, including “The Innocent” and an extended jam on their biggest hit, “Fly Me Courageous”. Say what you will about that song, but it has an amazing riff. It’s the type of riff you can build a whole career around. (Plus, the cowbell really popped live.)
Later highlights included “Build a Fire”, “Detroit City” (which name drops a bunch of Michigan bands) and “Straight to Hell”. The thing is, I’m used to watching punk bands play half hour sets. Headliners get maybe an hour. I understand that Drivin N Cryin was co-headlining, but they just kept going and going. I enjoyed them, but I cringed a little bit every time they started a new song after 45 minutes or so. (Talk about first world problems. I got too much entertainment for my money!) I know plenty of people would agree with me, but the band obviously had a lot of fans in the house. By the time their 80 minute set was over, all hope of a decent night’s sleep was lost.
The Stache is the smaller front room of a bigger venue called The Intersection. I’m always fascinated by who’s playing in the 1500 capacity main room while I’m in the 500 cap room. In this case it was Fozzy, the metal band fronted by professional wrestler Chris Jericho. It’s amazing to me that five times as many people were watching Fozzy as Supersuckers. It’s amazing because there are few people on the planet who are as good at writing three minute rock and roll songs as Supersuckers frontman Eddie Spaghetti.
Supersuckers took the stage to four new songs that are set to appear on their upcoming record. While new, they had that comfortable, catchy, familiar feel. They were rock and roll songs that also happened to be about rock and roll. After that they went back in their impressive catalog with songs like “Get the Hell”, “Rock-n-Roll Records (Ain’t Selling This Year)” and “Creepy Jackalope Eye”. Since guitarist Dan ‘Thunder’ Bolton left, Supersuckers have been playing as a trio. (Last time I saw them they were still a quartet.) Bassist/vocalist Spaghetti, guitarist ‘Metal’ Marty Chandler and drummer Christopher ‘Chango’ Von Streicher make the power trio thing look easy. They also displayed their typical combination of bravado and self-deprecating humor.
There were a couple of other cool things about the show too. There were quite a few folks there older than me, which is good to see and is getting to be increasingly rare. I also knew lots of people in the crowd and was able to catch up with friends old and new. It was getting late and I kind of wanted to split, but I knew better than to skip Supersuckers’ encore. I stayed for the entire 80 minutes and was rewarded with a few classics. First was ZZ Top’s “Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers”, then “Pretty Fucked Up”, next was Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song”, and finally “Born With a Tail”. It was a damn fine ending to a damn fine (and late) night of rock and roll.
*Footnote: My biggest regret was that I had to work early the next morning, and couldn’t stay out even later. After the show, Supersuckers went to a friend of mine’s house for Bar-B-Q. I suspect I would have really enjoyed eating Bar-B-Q with The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World.
REVIEWERTomTraumaMarch 30th 2018