Faster Pussycat Live In Newport, RI

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Wednesday, July 24, 2002 @ 10:59 AM

Taime Downe & Co. Don't Change

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I grew up in Newport, Rhode Island, with a love and admiration for Faster Pussycat that was only shared by one other person in my life at the time, my friend Jen C. Jen was a life-sized Barbie Doll whose love of rock and roll would eventually call her to live in the Santa Monica section of L.A.

Though we were just friends, I adored Jen, and would endure her many tales of “boys” colored with the slang of the day -- (“Timmy is so rad, but, like, a total dweeb!”) -- if only to watch her jiggle and bounce happily along to “Babylon,” which I turned up for her on the cassette player as we drove to the beach.

Though Jen would move away, I continued to follow Taime Downe’s career, because anyone who would name their band after a Russ Meyer film, AND write songs that lick the boots of David Johansen and Johnny Thunders, has got to be a cool motherfucker. But not everyone has kept up with Taime Downe, which would become apparent as I read reviews of the 2002 Poison Tour, which carries a very different Faster P.

I returned to Newport to indulge in some sun and fun, maybe visit a few friends, catch the fireworks display and see Faster Fuckin’ Pussycat in my hometown. The town is steeped in history from the turn-of-the-century mansions built by robber-barons in the days before income tax, to the beginning of the America’s Cup races, to Claus von Bulow to the site of such films as The Great Gatsby, Meet Joe Black, and Amistad. The first Synagogue in America is here; as well as a bunch of old houses with wooden plaques on them declaring who slept here and when. It’s also the home of a Folk and Jazz festival, kind of famous for being the place where, 37 years ago, Bob Dylan first played on an electric guitar in front of an audience. But, you know, it’s a tourist town, now frequented for it’s beaches, sailing adventures, and stupid salt-water taffy shops. I came back for the show.

The Fourth of July is hot as balls, and I spend the day lazy and oiled up at the beach -- no Hollywood Vampire, I. Later, I grab a nap and a shower, eat a fantastic meal with friends at Puerini’s, a celebrated Italian restaurant favored by the locals, and then it’s off to “Area 22”… as the rest of my so-called friends head down to some outdoor venue to see Taylor Dane. I can’t believe it myself, but somebody knows somebody and free tickets to anything is still free. I try to rationalize my friends’ actions tonight, but really, if I wanted to see a 40-something Long Island housewife bleat out some crappy dance-pop from the ‘80s, I can go into ANY karaoke bar in NYC on a Friday night. But that’s not gonna happen. Over dinner one of my “industry” friends informed me that Taylor Dane once had the same manager as Anthrax. Is she supposed to be cool by association? If she had done a duet on “Metal Thrashin’ Mad,” I might think twice about it… My friend bashes the concert I am going to: “C’mon… they’re all goth now.”

This is the problem with the world: people are stupid.

If you look at the career of one Mister Taime Downe, you will see the dark lyrics and images apparent on the first album. They are right there on “No Room For Emotion,” and “Smash Alley.” On the next album, “Where There’s A Whip, There’s A Way” may be more of an ode to “Stormy Leather” and “DeMask” than you care to admit. And by the last Faster record, Taime washed the glam right out of his hair. Granted, all of those CDs fit a genre and a profile, thanks to the easy blues of guitarists Brent Muscat and Greg Steele. Still, after Faster broke up, Taime went to Chicago. Before anyone outside of Florida had even heard of Marilyn Manson, ol’ Taime was touring and singing with PIGFACE. Then he formed the Newlydeads. He’s always been a little dark. I don’t think he got this way “all of a sudden.”

I grumble and roll my eyes as I plod over to Area 22. I am a little dejected when I see there is a chalkboard outside, and scrawled upon it is “Faster Pussycat.” It seems a little Spinal Tap, and I shake my head. Where’s the big posters and pictures of the band? I sigh and walk in, pay the $20 cover and head to the bar. Area 22 is a beer and wine only club. I actually don’t mind this, but I think it may be hurting attendance in general based on the conversations at the bar. I walk toward the stage, and get ready to see the opening act.

They are called The Motormags. They are from Newport; and for the day and a half that I have been home, anyone who knows me seems to think I will love them. Even my crazy Mom joins in, “Oh, Mick, if anyone will love The Motormags -- it’s you! Now will you mow the lawn before you go to your Kittycat show?” (*sigh*) I don’t even want to like them, but now, having seen them, I can only hope that they get seen by some errant major label honcho, stuck in Newport for a weekend. They could be the next big thing, provided the nation rallies around some of the ugliest raw talent rag-tag bunch of misfits this side of Buckcherry. All they need is some Lee Marvin type to whip this Dirty Four-Piece into fightin’ shape. I don’t know too much about them except this: they are using the Faster Pussycat backline, and the Motormags drummer is beating the shit out of the kit like he hates Faster Pussycat. The singer plays rhythm guitar and is a nice foil for the guitarist who has got to be the East Coast Tracii Guns, fingering his Les Paul like a pedophile with a sock puppet. Their brand of rock is ripped from the same brutal three chords that made The Ramones and Motley Crue. They remind me a lot of Junkyard, first CD. I freakin’ hope they get some notice, so I can say I saw ‘em when.

But I am here to see Faster Pussycat. After a brief 30 minute set, there is a whirlwind of timely breakdown and set-up as the openers clear the stage. The crowd is small. Part of me wishes it was bigger; but I savor my luck for seeing this band in such an intimate setting. There is music blasting over the PA, and I realize it is Mike Monroe’s first solo disc. But it is The Dictators playing “Who Will Save Rock And Roll?” at 12 Midnight when the music is lowered to yield a sound that I would call an industrial dance mix of Nazi SS Troops Marching On Poland. Fitting. The small crowd parts for the black vinyl dressed Faster Pussycat, looking like Nazis outfitted by Fetish Factory. Even more fitting, is that in place of a Swastika on the red armbands, are what I suppose are kittycat skulls, and on some shirts are the letters “FP”; which strangely resemble the “FF” logo of Fetish Factory. Maybe they did the costumes. Whatever.

All five members go up on stage, with Taime at center, smoking a cigarette, beneath sunglasses and peaked cap. He stares at the crowd whose cheers seem to beckon him forward. The band has plugged in their instruments and open with a slow heavy version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.” I think someone has been listening to A LOT of Type O Negative. The song sounds great, however, and, along with the outfits, definitely grabs your attention. The other thing that grabs your attention is the bassist and guitarist to the right of the stage. I don’t recognize either of them, but am concerned that the dress-wearing bassist is awfully close to exposing himself by standing in front of the fan. I believe they are from Motochrist. [The bassist and drummer are. The other guitarist is from The Newlydeads. – Ed] This ain’t your daddy’s Faster Pussycat. Taime drinks a Red Stripe from the bottle between drags and singing. He lumbers about in his giant platform shoes, and then calls in the next song. I see that it is Brent Muscat at stage left, and he rips into “Cathouse.” I enjoy this song, as does the crowd. It may not look like Faster Pussycat, but it sure as hell sounds like Faster Pussycat. This is followed by “Slip Of The Tongue,” a favorite of mine. “With a slip of the tongue, I’m in deep shit, I’m so bad off I can taste it…” I like the double entendre of sex and literature in this song; and let’s face it -- who CAN’T relate to this?

In the meantime, Taime sings and snarls at the audience, and all I can think is: you know, if anyone on this stage is “goth” or whatever, it is Brent Muscat. This guy hasn’t aged at all, and I find that creepy. You can slag Taime for spending too much time watching The Crow or The Craft, but I think TD is winking under the makeup. He lets a smile go now and then, and he’s on the third song. Brent Muscat looks so much the same as he did in the ‘80s that you would expect Sarah Michelle Gellar to be chasing him around with a wooden stake. “Jack The Bastard” comes in and no one knows it but me. I remember it from Whipped, and I didn’t like it too much then…however, it does rock live. Now I like it better; but not as much as the next song.

After an understated greeting, Taime announces they will do a “new” song. I am thinking he means a Newlydeads song, but I am way, way wrong. What comes next may either e called, “Straight To Hell,” or “Hellbound”… and this is Museum Quality Faster Pussycat. Taime has outdone himself. It rocks. It is first-album bluesy, tongue-in-cheek and right away catchy. “We’re all Hell-bound… so grab a brew and come on down” -- something like that. Damn, I am lucky. The question is: when is that song coming out? Someone in the audience, clearly not from Newport, yells, “Play some old shit!” and Taime yells back quickly, “Shut the fuck up! We’ll play whatever the fuck we feel like playing. We’ll read fucking Gay Poetry if we want…” There is much laughter in the audience; but, then, quietly, Taime and pals start to play “House Of Pain.” It feels nice to hear this song, they play it well, and Taime raises another Red Stripe to toast the audience, “Happy 4th Everyone…”

After some technical difficulties with the drummer, Taime rolls his eyes and chastises his band, telling the audience, “We’re not even drunk yet…” the band starts into “Don’t Change That Song.” After the song, there are more problems, now with the drummer and the bass player. Taime seems frustrated, but more like a parent, or Gene Hackman in Superman - The Movie. (Hackman’s “Lex Luthor” was the self-proclaimed “World’s greatest criminal mind!” but oddly surrounded by dupes who could barely carry out his evil bidding. I imagine Taime yelling “MISS TESSMOCKER!!!” at the top of his lungs...)

The band charges up “You’re So Vain,” the Carley Simon cover they did for the Elektra 40th Anniversary CD. This song rules. It did then, it does now. The crowd, now larger, thankfully, applauds and cheers… and then Taime tears at his vinyl pants and reveals ripped stockings and: well, let’s just say that I’m glad his white shirt hangs well below his waist. Thank god. Something for the ladies, I guess. I don’t think there is anything different here about Faster Pussycat; sure they’ve updated the look -- but the whole cross-dressing thing -- total New York Dolls. So he’s replaced his scarves with vinyl… so what? When they play “Bathroom Wall,” it rocks, isn’t that what matters? So does “Babylon,” by the way, with Taime trading off vocals with Brent Muscat. They change the reference “Partying In Bel Air with Buffy and Biffy…” to “Partying In Newport…” which everyone seems to think is hilarious. (I want to ring up my friend Jen in L.A., but I have such utter disdain for those who use cell phones at a concert, screaming over the PA in some vainglorious attempt to draw attention to themselves -- “WHAT? WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU…I’M AT A CONCERT!” You people need to die.)

Taime calls out the end of the night, with a dedication to “Bianca, from Betty Blowtorch. Fuckin’ Betty Blowtorch rules!” and, then, they play “Shut Up And Fuck.” I have heard they were doing this on the whole tour, and if this guy needs to sustain that kind of loss by dealing with it this way, I say let him.

Sadly, Faster Pussycat end the show here. There is no encore, I am told later, as Faster Pussycat must press on to catch up to the rest of the Poison tour. There are pretty cool Faster Pussycat shirts on sale, not available on their website. If you check out this show, pick one up. Don’t make the mistake I made, and pass it up thinking you could just order it off the site. You can’t, the cool stuff is only out there on the tour. Don’t miss out, see Faster Pussycat… they’re a great band and weirder than ever. With any luck, they’ll be around for a while.

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