“I was twelve when that song came out!”
“It’s a free country, you can be any age you want.”
There’s stage banter and then there are the words that spewed out of Damon Che like a volcano. The drummer and last original member of Pittsburgh’s Don Caballero was absolutely trashed when the trio performed at Harper’s Ferry in Allston this past Sunday. Sweating and pummeling behind the drum kit in a button-down shirt and a pair of boxers, Che addressed the crowd in the same way his band’s songs did between the minutes of drunken balladry; relentlessly, maniacally, unconventionally, humorously, and spontaneously. Moreover, it was hard to tell what he would say next or what metal-meets-punk-meets-art-rock lick the band would blast the crowd with.
Sure, Che may have seemed like an asshole at the beginning, going on and on about how his band used to fill bigger places in Boston; hell, if a former member of your 15-year old band was pulling in larger crowds after one album with a new group (former Caballero guitarist Ian Williams of Battles), I could see how you’d get pissed off. Even though under different (sober) circumstances Che might have acted differently, it’s hard for me not to recall the time of unconventional concert-going in which Caballero came to life with their twisted take on rock. Back in ’93, Fugazi (as always, the biggest point of influence for the most outstanding, influential, and creative emo acts) were as well known for subverting the normal rock concert atmosphere by addressing the crowd in absurd ways. From hugging and kissing violent concert-goers to bringing the music to a complete halt if violence broke out on the floor to addressing all kinds of anarchic questions and behaviors, there was no arena-rock fourth wall when Fugazi played.
And the same thing happened the other night. Che’s moments of conversation with the audience weren’t epiphanies, but it certainly diverged from the rock ‘n roll attitude that many concerts always seem to hold as a token rule. Caballero were hardly alone as opener’s Ponytail – one of the best live acts out there – made a great ruckus of genre-melding art-punk as singer Molly Siegel constantly drove her body to the edge of the stage while addressing the crowd whenever possible. Musically, Ponytail one-upped Caballero. But phonetically? Well, you really can’t top Che’s question of the second for the audience:
“Would it hurt my career if I were to join the NRA right now?”
Don Caballero – Palm Trees In The Fecking Bahamas (live):
Ponytail – 7 Souls (live):