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The Queers At Mercury Lounge, Saturday, February 15th, 2014, Reviewed

No longer teenage boneheads

No longer teenage boneheads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Queer peers down at the setlist, “We’re trying to play it in order”,  he explains before adding “This is the highlight of the night” and launching into a shake the leaves off the trees “Barbara Jean” that left the fans right in front of the stage moshing and crowd surface last night at the small and crowded Mercury Lounge. “Barbara Jean” is a Beach Boys like pop played faster and louder, it could have escaped from Summer Days (And Summer Nights) and while Joe claims it will be a highlight, the audience reception tonight has been one long highlight.

Formed in 1981 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Queers have gone though over 30 band members in over 30 years with a heavily Ramones pop punk attack (how heavily influenced? They released a cover album of Rocket To Russia) reaching their biggest success in 1993  with the masterful Love Songs For The Retarded, celebrating its 20th Anniversary with this concert. It is Love Songs For The Retarded that the Queers are trying to play in order.

Usually a three piece, tonight they are joined by Screeching Weasel’s Ben Weasel in guitar, an expert at this sort of hard tangled punk pop, giving Joe the opportunity to play the lead singer. And play it he does. The half hour rush through Retarded is exactly what a lead singer should do for his band. Everywhere at once, Joe is a lightning rod of casual presence, of being there in the center with an ease almost at odds with the band. There is no waiting for Joe to get his bearings, to figure out the audience, to consider himself, it is as natural as breathing and the band is commanding and powerful.  Plus, it helps when everybody knows every word to every song.

The problem with Kings Of Leon (who I wrote about yesterday) or the Black Keys is that they are like a shy guy trying to pick up a girl in a loud bar: they don’t know what to say and it comes off as uncomfortable. No girl likes being hit on by  a guy without skills, no one likes an amateur. As the band careens through fingers up opening song “You’re Tripping”: a really tasty riffarama, “You suck motherfucker” an open salutation to party, the guys are obviously the real deal.

These songs often had anthemic qualities, “Teenage Bonehead” (a ridiculously Joey Ramone-y vocal and lovely unrequited power pop love song), “I Hate Everything” and  the ode to hippies “Granola-Head”, are all mammoth singalongs. While loud fast rules, every Queer gets the chance to shine here. Ben Weasley’s solo on “I Hate Everything” is succinct to the point of abruptness but still a wonderful thing; drummer Lurch Nobody’s  intro to “Monster Zero” is exemplary and his accents on the high hats whenever Joe makes a loud statement. I happen to be standing right in front of bassist Chris Fields and was very impressed with his speedy power chords. And Joe is a great frontman, he has been doing it so long it is a zen like -I don’t mean calm, I mean natural and intuitive, everything done to the precise degree necessary for the required effect.

Yes, the first half hour was brilliant but then the band performed half an hour of obscurities and while I completely believe Joe when he claims to be having the best time, my attention wandered.

Opening band Night Birds, were loud fast punk rock with the vocals mixed to low that it became a blast of hard adrenaline rushing sound.  good band.

Grade: B+

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