The Wolf Has Come Out to Play

Lux The Cramps
with Guitar Wolf and the Demolition Doll Rods
Vancouver, B.C.
Friday, October 24, 1997

Review by Darren Kerr
Photography by Dan Zubkoff

Brothers and sisters!

I would have loved to have walked into Sonar with a sawed-off twelve gauge and forced everybody at gunpoint to make a frightened sojourn to Graceland, this night, because then they would have witnessed real emotion, raw nerve and, yes, if they listened closely, they would have heard the sound of rock and roll being saved. They would have experienced the best primal knockout-punch triple-bill to enter the ether in a long, long time.

Guitar Wolf Can I get a hallelujah?

Stripped-down, revved-up Detroit rawk and roll, the Demolition Doll Rods were a slice of Motor City madness with teases of 'T' and lots of 'A.' Arriving on stage wearing only strategically-placed plastic racing cars and butt-floss, Danny, Christine and Margaret launched into their theme song, "We're the Doll Rods / the Demolition Doll Rods." Everyone in the audience had but three options: (1) dance, (2) ogle, or (3) dance and ogle. Name one other band that gives you those choices!

Guitar Wolf Danny was like a cheerleading Ted Nugent on speed, getting the crowd pumped up after every song with such phrases as "Yeah!!", "Woooh!!" and the ever-popular "Alright baby!!" Christine was like Chrissy Snow rebelling against her reverend daddy, happy, confident and shakin' ass. Sweet Margaret looked stoned and lost as she pounded rhythms on her two drums; I had totally forgotten that she was blind, and I feel bad for thinking that she was as baked as Bardo Pond's Isabel (no mean feat).

The Doll Rods played a Runaways tune, Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" and songs off their new album, Tasty. They did the quasi-naked limbo while feedback bellowed from every corner. Quite a spectacle indeed. Hot enough to make a man of the cloth adopt a life of sin.

"Do you know where I can score some pot? It's for Guitar Wolf, man, he's jonesing," asked Blacksnake of Montreal's Spaceshits. So I dug deep into the dark recesses of my jacket and gave him the coveted 'last bud.' "Here," I said. "Give this to the Wolf with my blessings."

Guitar Wolf Twenty minutes later, clad in hoodlum leathers, the rhythm section of Billy and Toru sauntered on stage and began combing their pompadours. Seiji -- the Wolf himself -- then ambled on stage, drank an entire beer, screamed a mangled snap count (half in English, half in Japanese) and BAM! the band ripped into one of their wicked instrumentals. Playing manic old-time rock 'n roll on speed, these guys rocked like Galactus ate planets. They turned "Green Onions" into a monolithic frat stomp, the spirit of Booker T looking on in amazement, and the Stones' "Satisfaction" was played with more blood and knuckles than Keef and company will ever match, no matter how many times they visit the Stockholm Blood Exchange.

Seiji never stood still, never broke the momentum. Near the end, he plucked an audience member out of the sweaty throng, handed him his guitar, showed him the chords and then went apeshit. "Music! Let's go!!" he screamed repeatedly, while the new guy performed admirably, keeping the feedback fuzz train on the wonderfully unstable tracks.

Lux A fucking tour-de-force. I have seen the future -- its name is Guitar Wolf.

Now, after Guitar Wolf's set, anything other than the Boredoms or the resurrection of MC5 would have been anti-climactic. Still, the Cramps' Lux Interior and Poison Ivy have been doing this for years, and they know what to give a rabid crowd: psychobilly swamp with lots of sleaze. Lux was sporting a leopard print body suit, while Ivy was clad in tight green -- with don't-fuck-with-me boots to match.

Opening with "The Cramps Stomp," they played a tightly controlled set of old and new, including "Love Me," "Garbageman," "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and a rowdy cover of Count Five's psych classic, "Psychotic Reaction," with Lux blowing some surly harp.

Poison Ivy "Let's see what's on television, shall we?" asked Lux, opening a TV Guide. "Highlander, with special guest Roger Daltrey." Much laughter. Ivy, meanwhile, looked really pissed off, like after she gets off stage someone's gonna tote an ass-kicking. She glared at her band, she glared at the crowd surfers -- she even glared at me!

Even though it was buried beneath years of debauchery and pounds of makeup, the true Cramps spirit shone through during the last two songs: "Human Fly," which had two girls beside me flitting around like wanton bees (they must've been buzzed -- HA!), and "Surfin' Bird," during which Lux alternated between humping the PA stacks and fellating his microphone. A less-skilled frontman probably would've lost teeth!

This was a night where the old guard was bested by the upstarts of the new. But it was still a wicked triple-bill, and proof positive that sleazy rock and roll can still lead to fornication.

Amen to that!

First published in Drop-D Magazine on November 9, 1997

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