'Bottle in front of me is like a frontal lobotomy!"
(Faster Pussycat - 1987)
Faster Pussycat/L.A. Guns/Bang Tango/The Dogs Divine
@ Station 4, St. Paul, MN
My buddy '337' and I arrived at the Station 4 a little early on Friday night and we were not the only ones. Several headbanger-types were outside on the sidewalk in front of the bar enjoying the perfect mid-summer evening as we walked up the sidewalk. We went in and paid the doorman ($20.00), got our hands stamped, grabbed a drink, and headed back out to the sidewalk to wait for the show to begin.
Around 8:30 I was approached by a guy who definately looked like he was in a band. He asked if I could spare a smoke. I grabbed one for him and asked him which band he was in. He reached out to shake my hand and said his name was Trent...drummer for opening band The Dogs Divine (who were apparently replacing 'High 4' who were listed on the flyers and posters for the show). I then asked where they were from and he said 'Chicago.' So then I asked if they had played Minneapolis/St. Paul before, and he said that they had not, but that HE had with other bands, as he was originally from Coon Rapids (a Northern suburb of Minneapolis) before he moved to Chicago. We were soon joined by his bass player. When he walked up I thought I was seeing things. He looks just like Tom G. 'Warrior' Fischer from Celtic Frost. I did not tell him this though, I kept it to myself. They hung out for a while and then told us it was time to go get ready for the show. They said to make sure we came in and checked them out...we said we would. We hung out a few more minutes and then went in to check them out.
It wasn't too long and The Dogs Divine took the stage and proceeded to tear the place apart with a powerful set of...well...I guess you could call it "Power-Hair-Metal". They are a VERY heavy band...almost too heavy to be on a bill with Bang Tango and L.A. Guns (a good choice for Pussycat though), and the crowd seemed to love them. Guys were shaking raised fists, girls were dancing, still others were air-guitaring along for dear life as these guys kicked ass for the entire amount of time they were on stage. They were the HEAVIEST band of the evening. Not a thrash band, but definately not just another hair band either. The singer, who was wearing a 'Skid Row' baseball cap dedicated the song 'Heroes' to all of his idols...Motley Crue, Pussycat, Etc. I had to chuckle a bit, wondering if he was aware that Skid Row was just across town playing at another venue on the same evening. The Dogs Divine were one of the best opening bands I've seen in quite some time. Soon they were finished and the set change began. We went to the bar, I got a soda and we went back outside for some fresh air.
A few minutes after we arrived outside, a small van pulled up in front of the club and I could see the members of Bang Tango standing up getting ready to get out of the van. They got out, a few of them walked right past us into the club without talking to anyone. But when vocalist Joe Leste' stepped up on the sidewalk, he saw me smoking a cigarette and asked if I had a light? As I was pulling it from my pocket, he looked over at '337' and told him what a cool Ace Frehley t-shirt he had. He asked if we had seen Ace on tour and we told him about our trip to Milwaukee and then seeing Ace again in Minneapolis a few months ago. He told us he was friends with Ace's drummer Scott Coogan and that he was a nice guy. And with that, Joe was heading for the door as well. We stayed outside for a few more minutes then went in to catch thier set.
I'd seen Bang Tango once previously about a year and a half ago (with Faster Pussycat that time too!) and have heard their CD's over the years. I was never really a big fan, but I don't mind them either. They came out and played. All I can really say about their set is they were just as good as last time I had seen them. No better, no worse. I could have done without the 5 minutes chant of 'Bang-Tang-Go!' they did with the crowd though. I know the name. You know the name...get on with it already! They are a solid hair-metal band...nothing else. When they were done it was back out to the sidewalk to mingle with the smokers, drinkers, and other creatures of the night who were lurking about.
We went in a while later to wait to see which version of L.A. Guns we would be graced with this evening. They soon appeared on stage and the question was answered. It was the Tracii Guns version of the band. I'll keep my comments on their set brief. Tracii plays his ass off. They guy is a great guitarist. But the rest of his current band...not so much. They suck actually. The new singer can NOT sing. He jumps around like a spaz-case and looks too young to even know who L.A. Guns are, let alone be in the band. The sound mix was poor as well. It was kind of sad watching Tracii give it his all while the rest of the band just kind of limps along with him. I found myself wondering where the 'Other' L.A. Guns was playing on this evening and if they were any better. God, I hope so. After about 15 minutes watching this disaster, I went oustide just to save my sanity. I wondered back in some time later, and they were still playing, so I went back outside, where I stayed untill they were off the stage.
The members of the Dogs Divine and Bang Tango were hanging out with the fans and hitting on all the hot rocker-chicks after their sets were over. At one point I ran into Trent from Dogs Divine at the bar and he remembered me from earlier out on the sidewalk before the show and asked what I thought? I told him they kicked ass and he was a really solid drummer, which he is. He got his drink and wondered off into the crowd. I went back outside.
Finally, the main event. Faster Pussycat came out on stage, which was covered by a thin black cloth during the set change. They started their intro (I think it's the riff from'Bye Bye Bianca') and the stage-cloth came down, revealing a few skull backdrops and some spider-web like cargo nets thrown over the amps. They were very loud and it was only a minute into the show! The band took their places and went right into 'The Power And The Glory Hole' from their latest CD (released in 2006). Vocalist Taime Downe made his enterance looking like some weird cross between Marilyn Manson and a chubby, homeless drag-queen. The guy is 100% unique that is for sure. I told '337' before the show the only way to describe Taime is that "I want to take a shower the minute he enters the room!" He reeks of sleaze. He chain smokes, and came out on stage wearing some old ripped-up black MuMu looking thing over ripped up stockings of some sort - with black boots and a beat-up old top hat to finish off his wardrobe. This is not the same Faster Pussycat from 1987. Anyone expecting that band was probably shocked and/or disappointed. It's much darker. These guys have progressed with the times...something L.A. Guns should consider. They are a very heavy, industrial-grind sounding style of metal. It's old and new at the same time.
The setlist was as follows:
Intro/The Power And The Glory Hole/Cathouse/Slip Of The Tongue/Number One With A Bullet/Sex, Drugs & Rock And Roll/Where There's A Whip There's A Way/House Of Pain/Porn Star/Bathroom Wall/Shut Up & Fuck/Babylon
A few times during the evening, Taime mentioned they were recording the show. He didn't say what for though. Strangely, after L.A. Guns had finished, it seemed like a hundred or so people had left. The floor was a little less crowded during Pussycat's set than it had been earlier in the evening, which was OK with me as it was rather hot inside the Station 4 all night. When they did 'House Of Pain' it was easy too see who had come to hear the OLD songs. They all plowed up to the front to scream along with the band, and as soon as they began the next song, the stomp-anthem 'Porn Star', they all went back to where they had come from, further back in the room, or back to the bar. No matter. I wans't moving an inch and neither were all the other diehards down front. It was pure spectacle and I was loving every minute of it. The old songs (Cathouse/Whip/Bathroom Wall) all sound better with the heavier arrangements they are now played with. The newer songs...they're just HEAVY! Grindy-fucking-sleazy-shit! And what else would you expect from Taime and his sex-gestapo comrades?
They are out on the road for a while yet. If you get a chance to see them in your town, do yourself a huge favor and GO! If you like heavy, they'll give it to you that way. If you want 1987, stay home and listen to your copy of their debut album. But they are so much better now...naysayers be damned!