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The Supersuckers Live in Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Correspondent
Monday, June 14, 2004 @ 10:48 AM


The Supersuckers Live At Zapho

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It's official: Much like the era of the TV sitcom when Friends ran its last episode recently, the golden age of Lollapalooza festivals has passed. Easily the worst lineup ever of faceless up-and-coming one hit wonders and washed-up 90s alt-rock icons are touring this summer. I mean, c'mon, Morrissey? Didn't he take that one line in Clutch's "The Mob Goes Wild" a bit too seriously, move to Canada, smoke lots of pot and accidentally join the New Democratic Party under his pseudonym of Stockwell Day? Egads, man, just retire already. Same with Sonic Youth, who I forgot were still a band after 1995 and who still think that untuned guitars and poorly-tightened drumheads account for avant-garde musicianship. Today, especially if you're one of the Strokes badly recorded music accounts for obscene levels of Rolling Stone fellatio and stories about the drummer's oily T-zone from Drew Barrymore. And the other bands aren't made for arenas. Or even for a stage for that matter. Someone forgot to tell the Polyphonic Spree that the white robes don't make them gay but rather the Air Supply B-sides that they call songs do. Rooney and Modest Mouse just plain suck and the String Cheese Incident would probably get a greater fanbase if they substituted the "String" in their name to "Cock" because fuck knows that their music ain't. Other than that, those are really the only bands on that festival worth any attention--er, incoming volleys of rotten fruit and flaming paper bags filled with Cleveland steamers.

Now what was the point of this exaggerated spiel on Lollapalooza 2004, you ask?

Well, for starters, The Supersuckers pretty much captured the spirit of the glory days of alternative with this recent concert and endless tour for the promotion of last year's Motherfuckers Be Trippin' by simply just playing and making the show not just be all about them but all about the crowd atmosphere as well as showcasing their diverse range of influences. Having negated taking an opening act along with them because as Eddie Spaghetti jokingly put it "they were either blowing us off the stage every night or really sucking so bad that they just killed the whole vibe of the concert completely," the concert was divided into two parts: one acoustic/country and the other electric/rock 'n roll. In other words, this was The Supersuckers supersized and the only time you really needed to take a bathroom break between both sets was to wait for the band to change instruments.

And the other reason for the huge Lottapoorlosers lineup speech? Uhhhh... there wasn't an opening band that I could either praise or hate on for this concert so I'm just buying time and building up the suspense for this review?

I'll just start off the review now....

Anyway, it was about 4-5 years ago that I heard about the Supersuckers from the webmaster of this other music site I frequent called Your Favorite Band Sucks. That was in name only since I vaguely recalled their first hit "Born With A Tail" from college radio and little else. Nice Motorhead-meets-AC/DC-meets-the MC5 touch, I thought. Then came that in-studio concert that they did on KNAC back in late 2000. During the occasional bits when I wasn't copping a look at Vicki whatshername's cleavage (she interviewed the band that day and sometimes the cam accidentally caught her in most of the shots due to the angle) I caught a four-piece group decked out in black jackets, sunglasses and some cowboy hats playing the hell out of their instruments. Eddie Spaghetti was 6 feet tall and was a big contrast to the FUBU-wearing nu-metal buttmonkeys that had an album or song somewhere in the KNAC playlist mainly because he actually looked intimidating with his goatee and occasional snarl. To this day I still wonder why the odd track from Reach 454 or I.R.A.T.E. could not be sacrificed in order to make way for anything from the last few Supersuckers CD's.

The Country Set:

Fast forward to Zaphod's in mid-2004 and I've just made my second entrance to the venue for the gig having been turned away earlier for not having any ID. It's easier to board a plane than enter any rock club in this town anymore, I thought to myself as I got in. The crowd attendance is swelling yet politely sedated as the Supersuckers make their way through "Roadworn & Weary" which suited my mood as I'm a bit drained having had to go back and forth to grab some ID to enter the club and missed a good 5 or 6 songs. Good thing these guys have about 6-7 albums worth of material that they're hoping to play through along with some standard covers tonight. Thankfully I didn't miss their more common material. Traversing through several originals and such faithful renditions of obscure cover versions you'd swear that they were Supersuckers originals to begin with such as "Alabama, Louisiana or Maybe Tennessee," "Non-Addictive Marijuana" and "Must've Been High," Eddie Spaghetti did a brief monologue afterwards commending Ottawa for its high-quality bud (which they had just bought and "sampled" on Rideau Street prior to the gig with not a police officer in sight, allegedly) and further commending the crowd "for not being Hamilton" (the crowd there the night before were seemingly so unreceptive that Spaghetti claimed half-jokingly that it "made me start wondering 'Why am I here, God?'"). The crowd loved it since, well, being Ottawa, we're not all that well-known for our crowd response at rock shows. Then again, the bands who used to berate Ottawa crowds for being unanimated and shoegazers were actually shoegazers themselves. Except for Exciter, who in turn have blamed the shoegazer bands for their lack of huge audience turnout at hometown gigs (and killing the Ottawa metal scene in general) in the late 80s which have kept them from playing here since 1991. Exciter probably have a good point especially since I've been waiting for that band to bring me back to the nostalgic days of 80s underground thrash for, well, ever, much like how Eddie and company brought me back to the nostalgic days of decent 90s alternative with "One Last Cigarette" at this point, which sounded like the best song Paul Westenberg never wrote. I honestly felt like I was on the set of Singles debating with members of Citizen Dick about why our generation hasn't seen our own "Smoke On The Water" while hoping to catch Kyra Sedgewick on the rebound after Luiz cheats on her. The tone, the setting and the mood of the song that night was that profound. The first set is closed with a half-acoustic version of Thin Lizzy's "The Cowboy Song," which quickly led into the rock set. In all honesty, this was the first time I thought that the band played that cover with a lot of soul and spirit. Even when they cranked it out when they played the KNAC studio gig I thought that their own originals put that cover to shame.

The Hard Rock Set:

Now THIS was when the Supersuckers were in rock mode and truly on fire, in my opinion. True, parts of the country set and the rock set didn't really differ much other than the band played Les Pauls during the rock set instead of the Fenders during the country set, but that didn't matter once they launched into "Rock 'N Roll Records (Ain't Sellin' This Year)" followed by "Rock Your Ass," "Pretty Fucked Up" and "Creepy Jackalope Eye" without so much as pausing for breath. Cue the moshpit. Plus the lead guitarist finally lost his trucker cap during "Creepy Jackalope Eye," which was a relief because during the country set I thought the band had recruited Ashton Kutcher as the honorary sixth Supersucker or something. Spaghetti was back on electric bass after one of their close friends Carl (who handles bass duties during most of the Supersuckers' country gigs) took a breather. After running through "On The Couch" and "The Fight Song," which didn't take that long as both songs in total barely clock in at 3 and a half minutes, Spaghetti invited a female audience member to cover the backing vocals on the ballady tearjerker "Damn My Sou,l" which brought the audience to a standstill. A second later the band broke the silence with "Goodbye." Apparently they forgot that this song was also one of the shortest songs in their catalogue clocking in at barely 2 minutes -- making "The Fight Song" look like "A Fair Judgment" in comparison because it was so damn short -- because they got asked for an encore. Or did they do that on purpose? Seeing as we didn't hear "Born With A Tail" all night and my voice was growing hoarse from shouting out that request repeatedly, I figured that it had to be a gentle tease. The teasing came courtesy of their version of Outkast's "Hey Ya!" which rocked even though I could go the rest of my life never hearing The Most Hippest And Overplayed Song From Last Year and then a shredding cover of Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak." The show finally closed with an extended version of "Born With A Tail," featuring a decent rhythm section jam session and more praise from Spaghetti for being Ottawa. The crowd in turn thanked the Supersuckers for not being Sloan and probably, most importantly, not being stuck with the sorriest Lollapalooza lineup ever. Given that some of the top draws on the once-important alternative rock festival for this summer include 30 guys in robes who happened to gain fame through stretching a Kool-Aid commerical from 1983 into one unlistenable beer coaster, you'd be thanking the Supersuckers after a concert like the one I caught.

http://www.thesupersuckers.com * http://www.wm3.org

While we're at it, seeing as he did get me into these guys:

http://smokepuppet.tripod.com/index2.html

(Plus he did link KNAC to his site, probably to shut me up from ranting about it there repeatedly and this is a decent site to chat about music of any type. All guestbook signings that aren't racist/homophobic/threatening welcome and they have to be music-related. Yep, we've been suffering a drought there for music subjects for some time...)

Setlist in no particular order:

Country Set

"Roadworn & Weary"
"Alabama, Louisiana or Maybe Tennessee"
"Non-Addictive Marijuana"
"Must've Been High"
"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
"Whiskey River"
"One Cigarette Away"
"The Cowboy Song"

Hard Rock Set

"Rock 'N Roll Records (Ain't Sellin' This Year)"
"Rock Your Ass"
"Pretty Fucked Up"
"Creepy Jackalope Eye"
"On The Couch"
"The Fight Song"
"Damn My Soul"
"Goodbye"

Encore

"Hey Ya!"
"Jailbreak"
"Born With A Tail"



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