Wednesday, August 06, 2003

WITHOUT PETEY: Becky Bamboo saw the Libertines, the non-Pete version, in the States. (Warning: Contains nudity)

The Living Things were the first band up Sunday night at Slim's. They had the screen lowered in front of the stage and it gradually rose while a recording of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance played. Right, so, vaguely political songs and intermittent rants about the state of the government were in store. Too bad the sound was muddled. Either that or the singer mumbled, making the politics inaudible over the screaming guitars. They gathered scattered applause from the sparse early crowd with easy potshots at Ashcroft, Cheney, and Bush, but they nearly lost that support when they went into a brief anti-California speech ("Home of the nip and tuck") before they realized that sort of thing would actually find a better target in Southern California and backtracked (something about none of us having fake boobs and that we were the cool ones. Yeah, whatever. Get your California stereotypes right, man: Northern - tree-hugging hippies and/or gay. Southern - plastic industry types and/or gay). Anyway. They were enjoyable and passionately energetic about whatever political stand they were taking, but I was distracted by wondering if I'd ever seen skinnier guys and where they bought pants that tight.

Adam Green (of The Moldy Peaches) came on next. Now, I like the Moldy Peaches. I saw them open for The Strokes a while back and they were very appealing and entertaining. Solo... well, there was something missing. Maybe it was the sense of humor that accompanied the best MP songs, or (more likely) it was an audience unprepared for the nonsense lyrics, silly dancing, and 60's psychedelic pop style music (I seemed to be in the middle of a particularly hostile section of the crowd). I don't know exactly why, but the poor guy didn't get a very good response from the audience. I was actually pretty surprised because before this I hadn't been to a show where there was outright anger towards a performer onstage. San Francisco hipsters are usually too ironically detached for such comments as "Do you have anything I can throw at him?" and "Get off the stage!" They usually prefer the more passive aggressive technique of ignoring the band and talking over the music. I guess this wasn't the usual audience.

Okay, the countdown to the Libertines taking the stage began. At the 45 minute mark the lights finally went down on a very restless crowd and a couple of minutes later the band came up the stairs. Over 45 fucking minutes! At Slim's! That's totally unheard of. Whatever. (Side note: I totally forgot to mention that my musician radar is still impeccably accurate. At one point between the two opening bands I looked over to my right and pegged the guy standing there drinking a beer as a member of one of the bands. Turned out to be Carl. Am I good or what?) It was worth the wait though, as they swung immediately into "Horror Show" and beat a mad, headlong rush to the abrupt finish, turning the crowd into a mass of jumping bodies and upraised fists. The whole show was like that really; one song after another drawing a huge response from the audience who was obviously there to rock. The Libertines obliged with no time for anything approaching a ballad. And there was no wasted time on stories or introductions either, other than a quick "This is Anthony" (filling in for Pete on this tour) from Carl at the beginning of one song. Carl handled all the vocals and honestly, having never seen them before and not being sure who sings what in the first place, I didn't notice anything missing other than the occasional harmony line. Okay, so I may have been distracted a bit... See, after the first song Carl ditched the scarf from around his neck and a few songs later lost the black zippered jacket he was wearing as a shirt as well. Add to that the drummer not even bothering with a shirt and you have quite a respectable percentage of sweat-gleaming partial nudity onstage. May I just say... yum. And me without my camera. After less than an hour of all out rock and a furious encore of "What a Waster" and "I Get Along" they sent the audience into the night, panting and wanting more. Or maybe that was just me.


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