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   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #237  (Vol. 5, No. 41)  This edition is for the week of October 4--10, 2004.
The Digital Divide by Terence Nuzum
CONCERT REVIEW    by Terence Nuzum

The Cramps
w/ The Chesterfield Kings, The Downshifters

State Theatre, St. Petersburg, Florida. October 1, 2004

Just in time for the month of Halloween we got paid a visit by The Cramps. If you have seen them live then you probably know what an "experience" of awe and devastation they can be.

For being a last-minute opening act (after Hank Williams III canceled?) The Downshifters were suprisingly good, playing their greasy blue-collar mechanic blues rock. Their cover of The Stones "Paint It Black" ripped it up harder than an out of control drag race.

The next band The Chesterfield Kings are the best example an embarrassment has to offer. While the guitarist and drummer were definitely above average as far as '60s garage rock goes, the bassist looked like overweight 35-year-old Prince Adam and reeked of "I'm a wannabe Leslie West in my garage". The vocalist, who looked like Mick Jagger (complete with copped stage moves) if he had been in the New York Dolls, made it the worst drivel I ever sat through.

Finally, The Cramps appeared onstage in all their shockabilly glory. Poison Ivy in a 1950's babydoll dress, the bassist in greaser gear, the drummer pulling a country-era Jerry Lee Lewis, and of course Lux Interior at 51 strutting in wearing black leather pants and a tight shirt, black gloves, and fly-eyed '60s sunglasses. From the beginning I'm gonna tell you, as they ripped through cover tunes "Hanky Panky", classics "Love Me", and songs from their last release 2003's Fiends of Dope Island including a apocalyptic "Witchcraft Rock" and a jumpin' "Dope Fiend Boogie", that Poison Ivy's rockabilly riffs were killer to the last note (even busting out with bottle neck slide at one point).

Unfortunately, it was the reverb on Lux's mic (intentional or not?) and Lux who already had too much to drink and was wasted that let out that awful echo noise and almost ruined every song. By the end, Lux had used up all his good schticks. Panties on the head, guzzeling down wine bottles, writhing on the floor, and of course, his infamouse trademark fellatio act on the microphone were done all too many times in one night to have shocked or thrilled anymore.

The highlight, of course, was when Lux got off of his dirty-old-man act and dedicated their best song, 1977's "TV Set", to the recently deceased Ramone, Johnny. The final song, which I have no clue to what it was due to Lux's screaming, ended in a collage of noise and rage that screeched out of the speakers like I have never experienced before. As the imaginary blood poured out of my ears, I wondered if they always sound like this live (not unless their live albums were mixed from the soundboards and are cleaned up) and thought that I'm glad I experienced them -- but not so sure I would want or need to again. Which, of course, means with The Cramps you need only see them once. Rage, fury, camp, bad horror movies, ear-splitting mayhem. Lux and Ivy like it this way.

"The Digital Divide" is ©2004 by Terence Nuzum..  All photographs from The Cramps concert were taken by Terence Nuzum, ©2004.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.