Review by Michael O'Donahue
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
It's down to the ULTRA POSH Columbia Hotel (boy, have they turned that place around!) to get up close and personal with those Kings of Songs about a Girl, the Mr. T Experience. What a treat to see such a show in such an intimate setting -- you can almost FEEL the spittle flying out of the mouths of the performers. And at a measly seven bucks a head, the needle on my Val-U-Meter was set to get pinned at Max!
The Mr. T Experience have the most organized merchandise table I've ever seen -- a place for everything and everything in its place! T-shirts, dozens of 'em, hung by the pay phone with care, jars full of pins, stacks of stickers -- and of course, the soon-to-be-patented MTX CD Cover Browsing System. Not to mention Page, the World's Nicest Merch Person -- she introduced herself and shook my hand, then introduced me to the person sitting next to her, whom I suspected to be a Lovely Assistant, but who was in fact Heather of the Teen Idols, also very personable. Would Matchbox 20's lackeys do that? NO!
Anyhoo, kicking things off on the stage were local boys the Disgusteens, playing that old time punk-and-roll music just like Bob Seger likes it. Youthfully spunky, the four Disgusteens gave it their all, with sloppy, to-the-point pop songs played furiously, and featuring a guitar player with one of the quickest picks in the West. Sometimes they were overwhelmingly sloppy and even shaky, but, what the hell? I could see even the mighty MTX sounding like these guys a long time ago, before they figured out exactly what it is that they Do. Hopefully, the Disgusteens can keep it together long enough to realize their Full Rock Potential. They've got the right idea, now all they need is better hair and bigger... amps? Oh well, I will go see the Disgusteens again happily.
All the way from Nashville, Tennessee ("The home of Country Music, but we don't play that shit."), Teen Idols, complete with those old fashioned microphones, leather jackets, jeans and Rickenbackers, set about their task of Warming Up the Crowd with zip and velocity. The Teen Idols know that You are Nothing If You Don't Rock, and it shows. They're tight, tight, tight, fast as Orr and fun as all hell. Three chords and the Truth.
True, their songs do kind of all sound alike, but while variety may be the spice of life, we all know it's not as important as Rocking Like a Hurricane. And that is precisely what Teen Idols do and God bless them for it. I wish more bands had their attitude and were this much fun. Remember fun? It's one thing Rock and Roll does best and you can never have too much of it. Teen Idols, yes!
Nobody but nobody writes songs like Dr. Frank, the Mr. T Experience's main man. Years ago, Dr. Frank discovered a gold mine that's still -- twelve years later -- showing no signs of drying up. (Bre-X should have sent him to Indonesia -- no one would push this guy out of a helicopter, that's for sure, although he may jump on his own to prove his devotion.) Dr. Frank's muse must have a great big 'L' for Loser tattooed on its forehead, for I've never known anyone who can Blow It with the ladies as eloquently as he can. "Here She Comes (There She Goes)," "That Prozac Moment," "Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba," "Dumb Little Band" ("We've got a show/ Even though we know/ No one's gonna go"), "I'm Like Yeah," "But Sh'e All No" -- each one an anthem for those who never get it right.
The Mr. T Experience rocked mightily this night, giving the enthusiastic crowd a sampling of their career from early HITS like "Now We Are 21" to modern classics "Another Yesterday" and "I Just Wanna Do It with You." Bass player and alleged National Merit Scholar Joel made the obligatory Canada joke: " You spilt a perfectly good beer? That's not very Canadian." (This is a requirement when crossing the border, I think: "Are you bringing any alcohol or firearms into the country? No? Got your Canada joke? Okay, go ahead.") They got the fever, they got the carefully choreographed stage moves, they got everything you need.
MTX play the purest Power Pop you are going to find, stripped down, witty and more fun than a crowbar. Their oeuvre has come into and gone out of fashion in the fickle consciousness of the masses more than once, but the Experience never wavered, never bent to the mass will. They do their thing, they do it better than you and they'll keep doing until they don't feel like doing it anymore. So there. I believe the Mr. T Experience do make the world a better place.
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