Review by Darren Gawle
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
Yes, it's Hockeypalooza, and on the night of the last game of the Stanley Cup, to boot. Time also to take in the array of occasionally obscure team jerseys, too, as the Charlestown Chiefs stand next to the Vancouver Canucks' original design, and minor league teams from Sudbury and Penticton vie for your attention against... A Clockwork Orange?!?
The bands are getting into the act, as well, with Scooter of the Deadcats plucking away at a gutbucket made partly of a hockey stick. The Deadcats give us a short but riveting set, thanks largely to bursts of flaming lighter fluid from said gutbucket. Starting with covers of the Chantays' "Pipeline" and the Rivieras' "California Sun," the Deadcats' brand of surf and rockabilly may not be the most original sound on the planet, but they can't be doing wrong if they can warm up the audience with a set of less than a half hour.
The Royal Grand Prix (pronounced 'Royal Grand Pricks'...) also have gotten into the spirit of things, trading in their Formula One attire for jerseys and toques. In Vancouver's grocery store of bands, the Prix are rock & roll Campbell's Thick & Chunky when it comes to the riff department. Walking the line between punk and classic rock (the James Gang spring vaguely to mind), the Prix deliver the best of both worlds and on a few occasions even measure up to the standards of early Beastie Boys. I wonder what exactly is in that red gas can they are drinking out of, though...
Next up: Vancouver's punk Field Marshall Joe Keithley (née Joey Shithead) and D.O.A. Sure, he's getting old (we're talking over 20 years in the business, here), but at least the band is a constant in a world of shifting allegiances and wildly differing tastes. And they sure as hell still rock, with Keithley looking angrier every year (rage, rage against the dying of the light...). Keithley initiates a toilet paper roll-toss and plays his S.G. behind his head as the band puts their new bassist through his paces and bulldoze their way through their back catalogue, from "Class War" to "Takin' Care of Business" to "Marijuana." In all, forty-five minutes of the Real Thing.
If D.O.A. are the Real Thing, then it might be that the Hanson Brothers are the Soon-to-be-in-a-Shitload-of-Legal-Trouble Thing. Pure speculation, of course, but don't be surprised when Mercury Records announces their starting lineup for the legal battle to prevent concertgoers from confusing these Hanson brothers with the three prepubescent kids from Oklahoma and their gooey saccharine slop called "MMMBop."
Right now, though, we're in Hanson Brothers, not Hanson, country. This is precipitated by a shower of hockey cards from the balcony, and for the rest of the show it looks like we're in a wind tunnel full of big white bees as the crowd flicks them at the band. And 'punk rock hockey tunes ahoy!' as the Hansons rip into Stompin' Tom's "The Good Ol' Hockey Game." The mach-three delivery of the Hansons' oeuvre is punctuated rarely, mostly by guitarist Tommy (a dead ringer for my old law professor) when he intros each song with an idiosyncratic "ONECHEWFREEFOUR!!!!!!"
Maintaining this level of live energy is a challenge to most bands, but not to the Hansons, who look like they could play like this for seven or eight hours. The crowd, of course, only feeds off this and, with hockey cards still buzzing over the stage, it's a wonder that they don't attempt further release (i.e., riot) when the set ends.
Thank God for encores, then, and for an evangelical Johnny Hanson's intro to their paean to Dave "Tiger" Williams. The Hanson Brothers are "spreadin' the word" to the people, trying to get the infamous Vancouver Canuck inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and they're probably the best choice for the job since the Rhino party nominated Don Cherry for the post of Heritage Minister during the '93 election. For the sake of three youngsters from Oklahoma, though, let's hope the crusade never reaches Tulsa.
Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.