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Friday, September 16, 2016

Cheetah Chrome

On September 13th, 2016, just three days ago, I saw Cheetah Chrome play at Howlers in Bloomfield. Cheetah was in the legendary proto-punk Rocket From the Tombs with Cleveland weirdos that would go on to split into Pere Ubu and Dead Boys, Cheetah being part of the latter. The Dead Boys were fronted by the bony, gyrating Stiv Bators until they broke up in 1979, with Cheetah providing guitar alongside Jimmy Zero with Jeff Magnum and Johnny Blitz as the rhythm section. Afterwards, Cheetah moved on to doing session work, getting clean, moving to Nashville, and starting a family. The Dead Boys had a short reunion in late 2004, but it didn't last since Stiv Bators had passed away in 1990.

In 2011, I saw Cheetah Chrome play with Rocket From the Tombs. The band was great, but the opening bands were disappointing. You can read about that show here.

The show on Tuesday at Howlers was similar to the show with RFTT back then: the opening acts were not that interesting to me. I guess that's the point, - to see the big, cool touring super rockstar peeps. I think the show was a little disjointed.

The first band to play was Only Flesh, who are local to Pittsburgh. They look and sound like a nu-metal band from the same period that beget Slipknot, Disturbed, and Marilyn Manson. It was strange to see them with Cheetah, and I am not a huge fan of this stuff. I don't really like heavy syncopated metal riffs and beats, and I don't really click with BDSM lyrics that are sort of creepy at times. The thing is, even though this was strange for the show and not something I really liked, it ws cool to see. Only Flesh was really into what they were doing. The frontman does a good job; he has a powerful and charismatic presence. Throughout the set, the band got the audience involved, throwing balloons filled with glowsticks, spraying silly string, and unleashing a shower of sparks across our heads, giving Only Flesh's set a sideshow vibe. It was great! I think this band it actually really cool, even if I have sort of mixed feelings that stem from the actual sounds. It really shows when you actually care about what you are doing, especially if nobody else does.

Crash County Daredevils played second. I really dislike bands with names like that. I think you need more in a name, especially when it provokes images of tattooed muscle punk dudes, who are way into punk that they don't listen to the weirdo musick that inspired and went along with the early bands like the aforementioned Rocket From the Tombs. True to the name, Crank County Daredevils are sleaze-rockers from North Carolina with the tattooed muscle dude look. I actually liked a lot of the early songs. The vocalist realy belts out some screeching vox, but there is no sublety or dynamics - the whole set peaking in the red from start to finish. That's exactly the point though.

Cheetah Chrome and his band played last. The crowd was ready with sweaty excitement dripping. He started with "Big Cat Stomp" and then went into the pleasing "Sonic Reducer". Some guys near me started getting really rough we me, a tall lanky dude just kinda come out of nowhere and pushing me off to the side. He whipped his hair in my face until I pushed him away, but he continued pushing me and getting in my face. I punched him in the head and shoved him away; he backed down. After Cheetah and the gang were getting to the middle of the set with a bigger song that I can't recall at the moment, the lanky creep started getting in my face again like aggressively dancing at me. I told him to get his hair out of my face, and then we got in a big scuffle with my glasses on the floor and my teeth in some jerks hand. Cheetah told everybody to chill out. I stood away from those dudes, but I was on edge.

During "Amphetamine", Cheetah replaced one of the standard lines with "Stiv is shooting at the moon". He looked solemn in that moment especially, though the whole song is like that. The big dude made a point that the spot next to me was HIS spot to dance in. It was total passive-aggression. Whatever. Cheetah's band was great. My only criticism is that the other guitarist was a little too loud.


After the show, there were some more attempts to rile me up, but those guys went away for once. I got some pins and a tour poster from Cheetah, and he signed the stuff I brought. We talked a little about the RFTT show in 2012. Cheetah is fair and kind, though he is still rough around the edges. It was good to speak with him again, especially because at the RFTT show I jumped on stage to talk with him out of excitement. It was kinda rude. Anyway, I was very tired before the show, but I'm glad I went even with the bullshit.