When I reviewed Trainwreck's album, The Wreckoning, I knew that they would give a live show worth catching. I was excited when I found out they were coming to Denver. The Larimer Lounge seems to pull in a number of interesting indie bands, but I was ready to get 'Wrecked. I didn't know the opening acts until we got there. Magic Cyclops was familiar, but I had never heard of Sweatpants in Public.
Sweatpants in Public
Bottom line, if South Park's Eric Cartman had a band, it would be Sweatpants in Public. Dave Harper's raspy vocal calls Cartman to mind, but the lyrical themes are what really hit the mark. Matter of fact and plain spoken, Sweatpants in Public tackle sex, drugs, and other adolescent obsessions with sophomoric humor and tight musical chops.
They kicked off with the...shall we say, anticipatory celebration of Penistown. By the time they got to the smooth rock groove of Porno Collection, my inner 14 year old was their biggest fan. This song graphically describes Harper's extensive porn collection and he offers to marry his girlfriend, if she'll only impose some order for him.
They moved onto other topics, like Marijuana Saved My Life and my personal favorite, Maury Povich Happens Everyday. They called their genre "Comfort rock", but the music bounced between country/southern rock to metal tinged punk. Near the end, they summed up their set perfectly:
You're a wonderful audience, but you couldn't have done it without us. You're welcome.Sweatpants in Public were an excellent opener for Trainwreck. My only gripe is that they didn't have a CD available yet.
Magic CyclopsMagic Cyclops, on the other hand, was not quite the right fit. He's still doing the same shock style performance art I saw last year with Har Mar Superstar. He did a shorter set this time, with many of the same songs. Early in the set, the crowd was with him, but low energy and some technical difficulties sapped his momentum.
The schtick didn't mesh musically or stylistically with the rock of Sweatpants in Public or Trainwreck. That said, I still enjoyed his opener, Rainbow of Pain, an ode to that time of the month. The big closing cover song this time, Stone Temple Pilot's Plush, wasn't as campy or funny as last time's Total Eclipse of the Heart.
TrainwreckThe evening got off to a great start when I got to interview most of the guys in Trainwreck. This show was their last stop on this tour, so they could be forgiven for being a little tired...but they were wide awake when they hit the stage. Daryl Donald (Jason Reed) was an excellent front man. He had all kinds of funny moves that were a sort of an interpretive dance for whatever song they were playing at the time. In between songs, he posed and preened.The band was incredibly tight. John Shredman (John Konesky) is an amazing guitarist. We were a few feet away from stadium quality shredding. But that's typical of this band. All of them are master musicians who can flow through a tight set of changes and not even break a sweat.
They started out with T.W. Theme from their album, The Wreckoning. They went on to play many of the favorites, like Tim Blankenship, Rock Boulder Mountain, and Brodeo. Klip Calhoun (Kyle Gass) channeled his inner Ian Anderson to play some epic flute.
The setlist also included a few special cuts, like Tenacious D's Lee and Eastbound and Down (the Smokey and the Bandit Theme). Jerry Reed would have been proud of that last one.
While there were plenty of laughs during the main set (the hand gestures for Milk the Cobra were quite the treat), the encore was the most fun. They kicked off with a Chinese fire drill, letting Dallas St. Bernard (Nate Rothaker) to step out from behind his kit to sing The Drummer.
Boy Johnny (John Spiker) surrendered his bass to Daryl so he could cover the drums. The music still stayed just as tight as Dallas danced and sang his way through the song. Then, Boy Johnny took center stage as "American Idol's bubble winner" to sing Irene Cara's Flashdance...What a Feeling. They wrapped up with a speedy cover of AC/CD's Whole Lotta Rosie.
Trainwreck gave a great show. I'll raise a shot of Jack in tribute.
More photos on my Flickr.