Words and Photos: David Thrower
It was April Fool’s Day and what better way than to spend it than watching three ‘off-the-wall’ bands – one even managing to put the ‘fun’ into ‘dysfunctional’ – deep down in Satan’s Hollow where Satan himself overlooks proceedings. In Manchester’s dedicated rock/metal cavern of decrepitude, where punters literally surround bands, they in turn surrounded by all manner of horrors, news of the mighty Gass had obviously escaped as said punters gathered for what will go down in Manc legend as one of the venue’s more bizarre evenings.
Openers, Kringer and the Battle Katz, local boys (and girl) from ‘t’up road’, with guitarists sporting corpse paint and accompanied by a trombonist (I kid you not), delivered a set of off-kilter metal that had both string-slingers taking turns to scarper around the central playing platform at high speed. Argumentative towards each other they ran through a short set that never over-reached musically but worked hard to add interest and diversity on songs that rarely trod a generic path.
The night’s second act The Working Man were, by comparison, arguably insane with songs to match; take, for instance, the ode to baby-snatching ‘Midwife Crisis’ which saw the vocalist donning a very tight-fitting nurses outfit and manic wig (and more likely to give you an acid, rather than bed, bath) or the troublingly grotesque ‘Hardcooer Pooern’ which had the singer parading the stage in the skimpiest of man-kinis. Could it get any more bizarre, you ask? How about a man in a baby mask and nappy on keyboards, a robot-headed drummer, guitarist in a wedding dress and black mask and Donald Trump on bass. Closer ‘Here Comes t’Wolfman’ saw the keys-man donned as said wolf simulating anal sex with the vocalist – this time dressed as a camp Gandalf. Disturbingly captivating.
I never thought, prior to the evening and especially considering the lead man’s pedigree, that it would be down to the wonderfully comedic, amazingly talented The Kyle Gass Band to restore some order. Renowned for his work with Jack Black in Tenacious D, Kyle Gass has gathered around him a wonderful southern band (themselves connected to ‘the D’) that has the music over-shadowing playful lyrics and from ‘Manchild’ through to ‘Regretta’ off latest album ‘Thundering Herd’ gave some indication of what The Allman Brothers Band would have sounded like with a sense of humour and a recorder-playing front man. As ladies were present for the evening Kyle did ask them to step outside (to little effect) while the band ran through the ‘Bro Code’ before settling into a phalanx of cover songs – a beefed-up rendition of the Steely Dan classic ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ being the highlight though Bones, the fresh-faced drummer of the unit, took centre-stage as he belted out ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Black and White’ from the Jackson family. At one point Kyle did attempt a Backstreet Boys number which thankfully soon went by the wayside though I’m sure he would have added some semblance of credibility to the saccharine piece. The highlight of the set was the ballad ‘Tremendous’ that culminated in some truly blistering southern dueling by guitarists John Konesky and Mike Bray.
Still retaining some of the Tenacious D blueprints The Kyle Gass Band hit it out of the park when it comes to a good time rock and roll that reeks more of the south than it does The Comedy Store. Tonight was about leaving misconceptions at the door and witnessing insanity in its many guises with the Gass-master on hand to prove comedy and music need not be at the expense of one or the other.
Gettin’ the Band Back Together
Our Job to Rock
Bring Her Back Better
Reelin’ In the Years (Steely Dan cover)
I Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys cover)
I Want You Back (The Jackson 5 cover)
Black or White (Michael Jackson cover)
Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf cover)
I Wanna Kiss You All Over (Exile cover)
Pony (Ginuwine cover)
Vehicle (The Ides of March cover)