Saturday, September 12, 2009

Angry Samoans: I was Todd Homer!

I knew Metal Mike was in the house when I entered the trendy emo/alternative/punk Middle East Upstairs and the PA was blasting "Oops I Did it Again" by Ms. Britney Spears. Time to Fuck indeed. The Angry Samoans landed in Cambridge on 9/11, but it wasn't a disaster. It was incredible; deranged and damaged, but incredible. The band took the stage promptly at 12:00: Billy Vockeroth grabbed the mike and urged audience members to come up on stage and tell bad jokes; this was done to kill time while a distressed and obviously obsessive compulsive Metal Mike Saunders checked every microphone, every instrument, every drum piece, every monitor, every patch cord, as if he were doing sound for Yes in The Round 1978. Wearing an oversized Oakland A's shirt and ballcap, tattered cutoff jeans and battered Keds, MM finally took the mike as Billy got behind the drumkit. The other guitarist was some old punk veteran who looked like Ted Falconi of Flipper (but wasn't), and the bassist was a mohawked mid-30's looking grizzled dude. No chicks in the band tonight. The final touch to Metal Mike's sartorial splendor was the fact that instead of wearing earplugs, the loon pasted a swatch of duct tape over his left ear!

The band (Metal Mike sans guitar) launched into "Electrocute Your Cock" and the large crowd went wild; many aging punkers mouthed the words and a respectable slam pit began. I'm right in front. Next up is "Right Side of My Mind", Mike wielding an ancient Telecaster that isn't even plugged into an amp; I guess he went direct to the PA but you can hardly hear him even though he's showing off some heroic Townshend moves. "Gimme Sopor" and "Gas Chamber" fly on by, and the other guitarist is doing the Gregg Turner vox while Billy fills in impressively as Todd Homer from behind the kit. Next up is the volley of "Little Black Egg", "BBC", "I'm in love with your Mom", "Hot Cars", "Todd Killings", and "Time to Fuck".

Now Metal Mike wants to play drums! Billy comes out as the frontman as they do a bizarre set that begins with a snazzy Las Vegas type number called "Tequila/Knowledge", Billy crooning along while a Zappa-like "Dance Contest" is held onstage between a very fat goth girl and a tall skinny emo punk; Billy gives the girl five bucks and the band launches into "You Stupid Asshole", "I'm a Pig", and the Subhumans' "Slave to My Dick". Billy is intense as a frontman; with his bald head he looks like an octogenarean Ian MacKaye spewing out "3-4 You're just a fucking whore!". Metal Mike the drummer can best be described as Idiot Savant or dare I say Autistic: he totally keeps the beat, locked into his own zone, occasionally pausing for a stick twirl or a Stray Cats strut standup pose. What a freak!!

Back to the regular format, the Sams plough through their catalogue, Mike haphazardly picking up the guitar to play, sometimes in the middle of a song. Funny thing is, he keeps putting it in and out of its case which is onstage (more neuroses probably). He also strips off his A's shirt to reveal an incredible T-shirt of Ozzy Osbourne backstage around 1975, cradling a guitar (unheard of Sabbath photo); above the photo is the Angry Samoans logo from "Inside My Brain".

Back to the setlist:
"Steak Knife", "Lights Out", "You Stupid Jerk", Homo-Sexual", "Carson Girls", "Inside My Brain", "Baby One More Time " (intro)/"Time Has Come Today", and "Hazeman's Brain is Calling".

Then comes my moment in Angry Samoans history, as MM asks for both a male and female volunteer to sing "The Ballad of Jerry Curlan"; I'm onstage in a flash without thinking, gripping the mike like a lifeline. I may have flubbed a few parts in the mellow section but Billy was backing us up just in case; the swearing parts I howled on the floor (a la Turner's liner notes), as Metal Mike ground out the chords on his guitar above me. My moment in punk history is now sealed (second only to dueting with Hank Rollins on "Police Story" in a biker bar in Worcester, MA in 1984).

Finally, "They Saved Hitler's Cock", "Not of this Earth", "Permanent Damage", "Pictures of Matchstick Men", "Psych-Out 129", "Get off the Air", "Wasted", "Nervous Breakdown", and the closer "My Old Man's a Fatso". No encore. 32 songs in 62 minutes. Awesome.

I also got to snag the Metal Mike Anal Setlist: professionally printed, with graphics of the "Inside My Brain" album cover. And for merch, all they had was stuff for the ladies: custom Samoans bras, panties, girly tops, skirts, and tube tops. CDs only 5 bucks. Stickers 50 cents. Good deal.