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WASP THE STING: Live At The Key Club L.A. (DVD)

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Wednesday, May 8, 2002 @ 8:47 PM


(Snapper Music DVD)

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I went to see WASP for the first time on a snowy night in Hartford, Conn., in late ‘86 or ‘87, back when Blackie Lawless was a favorite whipping boy of the then-very-active PMRC and the band was still quite popular. It was the Inside The Electric Circus tour, and it was being billed as a pretty outrageous show. Unfortunately, for WASP anyway, Slayer was one of the warm-up bands. And obviously Slayer was the band most people were there to see - I confess, I was one of them, too.

Because of Slayer, I never did end up seeing WASP. My then-girlfriend begrudgingly agreed to come with me -- it was a trade-off, I was going to see Husker Du with her a week later. But after 45 minutes inside Slayer’s electric hell, she’d had enough. The music all but gave her a concussion and the inescapable mosh bit scared the shit out of her. So we left when they were done.

For whatever reason -- the main one being I wasn’t much a fan of the band anyway -- I never tried to see WASP again. So my first actual experience with the band onstage comes via their new concert DVD, The Sting. Now I’m kinda wishing I’d been able to stick around for the show in Hartford. At least I’d have been able too see WASP in their buzz-saw codpiece, flame-throwing, doll-mutilating, meat-flinging freak show glory.

The Sting, filmed, obviously, at The Key Club in Los Angeles, is surprisingly straightforward and, well, ordinary. It’s just a plain, old rock show by a competent, veteran band who’s glory days are well behind them, but who keep soldiering on. Aside from the flaming WASP logo, a little bit of sparkler action and Lawless pouring stage blood on himself from a skull, there ain’t much of the band’s infamous antics -- no codpiece either. Lawless does have himself some weird mic stand that looks like motorcycle handlebars with a big vampire-in-bondage face on the front that he occasionally climbs around on. But that’s more of a curiosity than an atrocity.

The show’s track listing runs the gamut from old nuggets like “Wild Child,” “L.O.V.E. Machine,” “I Wanna Be Somebody,” and, of course, “Animal,” to rather nondescript newer fare like “Dirty Balls” and “Damnation Angels.” The old tunes are good to hear again -- I haven’t played a WASP album in years -- and the band seems to play them with more gusto and enthusiasm, even though just Lawless and guitarist Chris Holmes are left from that era. And, of course, the crowd is way more into it during the old songs.

A little side note about the crowd. Some dude waving a KNAC bumper sticker keeps showing up in the audience shots, so you can play a sort of a metalhead version of “Where’s Waldo” trying to spot him while you watch.

And truth be told, you’ve pretty much do have to invent your own special features for The Sting. This is one video that makes hardly any use of the cool extras one generally finds on music DVDs. There’s no promo videos, no interview segments -- although given Holmes’ infamous vodka-swilling pool scene in The Decline of Western Civilization: The Metal Years, that’s probably not such a bad thing -- no footage from back in the day when WASP were the sickest bastards around.

Like the concert itself, The Sting DVD is straightforward and ordinary. And that is not such a good thing.

**


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