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Turbonegro Live In Hollywood

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Monday, April 7, 2003 @ 5:24 PM


Turbonegro Live at the Troubad

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Never have these eyes seen a reaction from a Hollywood crowd like Turbonegro received last Thursday at the Troubadour. The normally reserved, jaded, L.A. audience quite literally lost their mind over the recently reunited Oslo, Norway sextet and received them like the rock royalty they are surely soon to be.

Wrapping up their first real American tour (first opening up for Queens of the Stone Age and now headlining clubs) and promoting their upcoming Epitaph debut Scandinavian Leather, Turbonegro stormed the Troubadour like Vikings on a siege, selling out two shows in under an hour and proving to one and all that all the hype is for good reason -- these guys really are the best band on the planet right now.

Opening with "Age of Pamparius," the Denim Demons tore into an hour-long set that featured tunes from Asscobra and Apocalypse Dudes and has every member of the crowd singing along at top volume.

Frontman Hank Von Helvete looked every bit the spawn of Alice Cooper and King Diamond, yet belted out sugar sweet melodies like he was fronting Cheap Trick, all set the tune of Euroboy's MONSTER guitar histrionics. This kid has all the visual flash of glam guitar gods Mick Ronson or Andy McCoy and fires off leads like he grew up on the Aerosmith tour bus. Bound by the iron-solid rhythm section of bassist Happy Tom (he of the sailor hat) and drummer Chris Summers (he of the Rolex timing) and augmented by guitarist Rune Rebellion (bearded Eagles look-a-like) and keyboard/guitarist Pat Pamparius (hard hat wearing insaniac), Turbonegro are indeed a turbo-changed powerhouse of rock.

As Hank stalked the stage like a tiger on the prowl, all dolled up in his Alice Cooper eye makeup, top hat, and denim cape, the band churned out riff-heavy tune of happy destruction, of sweet lovin' death, combining goth, glam, metal, punk, pop and arena rock into one glorious stew. They leapt into the mosh, climbed on each other's shoulders, taunted and baited the crowd, cracked jokes and looked every bit the next big thing they are touted as being. With their matching outfits, makeup and funny hats, they could easily be mistaken for the gay mafia when standing shoulder to should on stage, yet rock so hard they make suckin' dick a viable alternative to being a dicků which you are if you're not jumping on the Turbobegro bandwagon. (And for the record, they are indeed straight, despite what they might like you to think)

Image aside though (and that's hard to do 'cause it's soooo strong), Trubonegro have great songs and have truly defined their own sound. One part Dictators, two parts Cooper, three parts Bowie, a dash of AC/DC and a heaping of the Stooges is the basic formula, yet somehow when it's all mixed together and filtered through the Norwegian Black Metal underground, the results are a glorious mess of originality and fist-pumping hard rock anthems. "Get It On," "Good Head," "Don't Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker," "Deathtime," and "Midnight Nambla" all sounded just as poppily evil as they do on record, yet even bigger, badder and more intense in the live setting. It's punk rock for heavy metallers, or metal for punks, how ever you wanna slice it, it works.

And if Dudes-era songs like "Selfdestructo Bust" and "Are You Ready For Some Darkness" represent the "Death Punk" sound of yesterday, then the sole new tune from the set, Leather's "Sell Your Body To The Night," points towards their self-described "Rainbow Rock" sound of tomorrow. With its Motley Crue-sounding riff and hilarious pro-male prostitution lyrics, the song is reinforces everything that makes this band so goddamn great, their effortless ability to reinvent the old as something breathtakingly fresh and new.

And all this was not lost on the crowd for even a millisecond. In true Kiss-like fashion, legions of fans swarmed the street outside the club dressed head to toe in their denim Turbojugend (Turbo-Union, their intensely dedicated worldwide fan club) jackets, pants and caps, emulating their heroes and representing for the Los Angeles chapter of the club. When was the last time a band inspired such loyalty? When was the last time a Hollywood crowd (arguable the lamest in the land) sang a band's songs aloud in unison for 30 minutes to coax them onstage before they even played a note? When was the last time a club crowd continued singing the band's songs in two part "Row-Your-Boat" harmony long after they have left the stage to coax them back on? When was the last time a band simply made you so giddy with excitement you felt like a kid again?

It's no wonder after breaking up for four years that they were called back to the rock fray by the public only to find they were ten times bigger then when they disbanded. Hopefully, Scandinavian Leather will help translate their massive European success to the American market, 'cause if these guys don't make it here than I'm fuckin' packing it in!

As I left the Troub and walked down the street, the echoes of the crowd singing "Erection" at top volume rang in my head. "Whooooa ohhhh ohhhhh Erection!!!!" I looked down and, lo and behold, I had one. Turbonegro gave me a bonerů a boner for rock!



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