Friday, August 16, 2019

Live Shows: The Queers, The Prozacs, and Dirty Walter and The Smelltones, Ralph's Rock Diner, Worcester, MA 8/14/19

Even though I've been a fan of The Queers for over twenty years, I had only seen them once before, and that was opening for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at a recent Hometown Throwdown. I had yet to see their own show, which simply doesn't make sense for a (semi) local band that has been around seemingly forever. Once they announced a headlining show less than an hour from my house, in a venue with its own parking lot no less, I simply had to go.

As I walked up the stairs into the upstairs area of Ralph's, I could hear one of the opening bands playing a cover of "In the Still of the Night." I'm a sucker for a punk rock cover of a classic oldie, so I was pretty happy. Turns out Dirty Walter and The Smelltones play nothing but covers of oldies. They also busted out versions of "Sherry" by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, "Please Mr. Postman" by The Marvelettes, and "It's My Party" by Leslie Gore. They also crammed nuggets of Nirvana and Metallica into some of these songs for good measure. A funny thing happened during their set. I kept bouncing between enjoying it and being annoyed by the gimmick. A song would start, I'd be annoyed that it was yet another one of these feeling that the joke was old, but by the end of the song I'd be bopping away and fully enjoying myself. Somehow Dirty Walter and The Smelltones pulled off an entire set of oldies punk covers through sheer charm and fun.

The Prozacs were next, and were basically the exact kind of band you'd expect to open for The Queers. They're a bratty punk band that heavily leans towards the pop end of punk. The band took the stage with 3/4 wearing their own shirts. It took a while, but they very slowly won me over. Are The Prozacs a good band? Not really. Their ode to Jack the Ripper, "The Ripper," includes the lyrics "Hey Jack / Jack the Ripper / What you did was really fucked up." But you don't always have to be a good band when you're as fun as The Prozacs ended up being, and sometimes that's all you really need.

Then The Queers took the stage. You know what you're getting at a Queers show at this point. It was a just short of an hour burst of fast heavily Ramones and Beach Boys inspired bratty, obnoxious punk rock, which is what a packed Ralph's wanted. This was an audience of die hard fans yelling along to just about all their songs. You forget how many simply great songs The Queers have: "I Met Her At the Rat," "This Place Sucks," "Love Love Love," "Monster Zero," "Night of the Living Queers," and "Granola Head" were all played to a great ovation. The band even brought out original member Wimpy Rutherford for a rare treat to sing a few songs like "Kicked Out of the Webelos." By the time they got to their biggest hit, "Punk Rock Girls," I had almost forgot the song existed. It says a lot when a band could have skipped their most well known song without the audience knowing or caring.

Apologies to Time Out Timmy, the very first band to go on. I missed your set completely, but a four band bill on a Wednesday night is a lot to ask of this aging hipster. I promise to catch you next time.

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