Concert #39: The Vaselines with Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard, October 5 @ The Paradise, Boston
I first got into The Vaselines after picking up their timeless Sub Pop Compilation The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History on cassette tape a couple summers ago at Turn it Up! (Records) in Northampton, MA.
I dug their impressive ability to write strange, witty, and catchy pop songs. They were charming and ramshackle and weren’t above making a few jokes about boobies. OK, lots of jokes about boobies.
When I started Sex Sux (Amen), my plan was to keep a journal of the shows I was going to, and add in other content, as it came to me.
If you didn’t know, Sex Sux (Amen) is a Vaselines track and it happens to be my favorite song by them.
For some strange reason, the cassette version is a little better than the CD re-release Sub Pop did last year. They must have remastered it. I happen to like the original mix. Hence, the cover art that adorns this pretty little blog here is taken from the cover of The Way of the Vaselines: A History.
My concert blog, named after The Vaselines, was about to be rode raw by Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, in a live setting. I was going to be present for the breaking of their Boston love-making cherry, and participate in all the dirtiness.
Opener: Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard
One of the first dudes I interviewed for the blog was Jeffrey Lewis. He provided opening duties this night for The Vaselines, with his accompanying Junkyard crew. I arrived half-way thru his set and was lucky enough to catch another solid performance from the elite Brooklyn comic artist.
Lewis hung close to his latest record, Em Are I, ripping out nice renditions of “Roll Bus Roll” and “Broken Broken Broken Heart,” two of the best tracks off the album. Those tracks were cool but my favorite part was their cover of Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia”, originally found on the excellent record Sister.
Plus, Mr. Lewis had a gangsta-rap about killin’ mosquitoes and a nerdy slide show about The French Revolution that he had illustrated. And, they finished the night off with another cover: The Standells’ “Dirty Water.” Oh yeah, and the drummer was a babe.
The Vaselines came on to a maybe three-quarters filled Paradise. It was a bummer it wasn’t sold out, but the people who did come out that Tuesday night knew their Vaselines tunes and sung with the pride of seven hundred knowledgeable butt doctors.
Highlights included “Son of a Gun,” “Dum Dum,” and the first United States performance of “You Think You’re a Man,” during the encore.
What made “You Think You’re a Man” a true gem was watching the awkward dude next to me un-button his shirt and start strip-dancing, to the delight of his girlfriend thing. And to the horror of everyone else within ten yards.
Was he being ironic? Nope, he was a stripper.
I thought the new tracks sounded superior to the old tracks as far as the band’s tightness/sound was concerned. “Sex with an X” and “I Hate the 80s” just ripped and roared. It was clear during the recording process of Sex with an X (the new record) the goofy duo had, um, tried harder than the first time around!
“Jesus Don’t Want me for a Sunbeam” and “Molly’s Lips,” with Jeffrey Lewis on bicycle horn, were probably the best parts of the evening.
Nope, actually it was Frances and her ridiculously funny and sexual banter. At one point she asked if anyone would give the dudes in the band a BJ.
Also, I failed to mention the Stringe Cheese Incident fan who wouldn’t stop grinding up on a group of drunk college chicks.
Congrats, you horny hippy, you made it on Sex Sux (Amen) Presents: Spot a Horny Hippy!
Indeed, seeing The Vaselines live was quite the experience: strange, funny, and above all, the equivalent of a musical ejaculation.
(Photo by: Greg M. Cooper for The Boston Globe)