Hype is a funny thing. It's the
reason I'm here tonight. The first time I took notice of Wolfmother, it was
because of a full page ad on the back of Exclaim! It's pretty hard to
ignore an Amazon serpent woman commanding you to own their debut LP on vinyl.
Some time later, about a month before this gig, I became aware that not only
was Wolfmother coming to town, but, which is more, they were already sold out.
Dick's On Dicks never sells out. I guess the Australian stoners put that WWF
funding to effective use.
But before I get ahead of myself too much, the opening act was pretty much as
equally notable. Typically a duo of former Acid Bath taker Dax Riggs and New
Orleans drummer Tessie Brunet, a touring bassist wearing a "He Love The Cock
->" shirt was added to the line-up to align themselves with the power trio
they're opening for. This effectively rounded out their younger White Stripes
indie sound, markedly improving over the more minimal live bootlegs I'd
previously been exposed to. Their tight, high energy set certainly raised the
bar for the evening in the expectations of those who made it on time (what is
it with people missing the opening act?). They had issued their Fat Possum
debut a few months ago, though, so they'll probably have a few more warm-up
gigs to go before they're top billing. Just judging from the fervour they left
the crowd in, though, I'm sure they'll get there in a timely fashion.
After several random drunkards finished choruses of "Let's Go Oilers" and
Wolfmother chants trailed by barstar woops, the thoroughly trendy, borderline
rowdy capacity (!) crowd met the Aussy burn-outs with a noise only matched by
the cheers following Edmonton's semi-final series clinching win over the
not-so-mighty Mighty Ducks, being shown on one of the TVs behind a bar (it's
Canada, folks). The "this is the last time you'll see this band in a place
like this" intro from some too-hot-for-radio Fox FM girl probably helped, true
as it is. Wolfmother's sound and stage presence can't be contained in such an
intimate setting. It's gotta be hard trying to rock out on a 15 foot stage
with the drummer practically hanging from the rafters. They did it, though,
scissor kicks and all. Dicks has never been more alive.
I wasn't even born when Black Sabbath stopped being rad, but this has to be
what it felt like when they were. Fuzz-drenched guitars, keyboard distortion,
tribal drumming, mythological imagery, grandiose solos, chantable choruses,
and relatable lyrics: this is the spectacle rock lost when it drowned in coke
in the late seventies and its cock shrivelled. Wolfmother has finally brought
back rock with cantaloupe balls. There were synchronized cheers and clapping,
moshing (especially during "Apple Tree"), and even a little crowd surfing.
Just how mean these guys sound doesn't come across on any recording. If Chris
Ross' raunchy keyboard doesn't get you moving, nothing will. Stadium rock in a
500 max capacity building... socks were melting. Indeed, the differences
between The Darkness and Wolfmother may largely be influences, but the sheer
idiocy of Justin Hawkins' persona/lyricism is offset by WM's commitment to
simple but effective classic rock. While the kitschy Darkness performs
shenanigans, Wolfmother just rocks. This means razor bladed amps, putting
women on pedestals, and blowing the fuck out of people's minds. How many
people are in The Strokes? Five? Seventeen? And they can barely muster the
strength to do an encore. Come and discover what you've been missing for the
last 30 years. Remember rock.