The Hellacopters, Nebula, Torg, The Retreads
The Vogue Nightclub
Tuesday, March 7
Dwayne, a shaggy-headed blonde feller from Lexington, Ky., was leaning over the monitor, looking at The Hellacopters' set list. "Man! We getting' ready to ROCK!" he yells out with all the excitement of a 16-year-old boy who gets a hooker for Christmas.
Earlier, in the parking lot behind the Vogue, I run into a couple of guys from Nashville, Tenn. I later meet people from St. Louis and Ohio. In fact, there were probably as many, if not more people from the surrounding states at the Vogue to see a bill that featured The Hellacopters, Nebula, Torg and a reunion show by The Retreads than from Indianapolis. Sad.
Regardless, the scene wasn't as bad as it could've been and as The Retreads took the stage in their Highway to Helsinki lineup, they had a nice little crowd going nuts. Torg, though occasionally humorous and entertaining, ultimately came off as a bizarre Jagermeister commercial, with the band throwing out shot glasses and pouring shots from the stage in between lewd requests for blow jobs. They also managed to butcher "I Wanna Be Your Dog," a pretty mortal sin in my book.
Nebula came on and the rock was brought in Orange County-style. Eddie Glass and Ruben Romano used to be in Fu Manchu, and as they took a rip through their catalog, certain songs, like "So It Goes," are pages straight out of the Fu songbook. But mostly, like on stuff like "Fever Frey" and "Future Days" from their new album, as well as earlier tunes like "Instant Gravitation" and "Vulcan Bomber," Nebula ranks as some of the heaviest stoner rock to be heard anywhere. They capped it all off with a killer run-through of "Suffragette City."
The easy way to describe Sweden's The Hellacopters is the Black Crowes with more Detroit in them, less Faces more MC5. But they go much, much deeper than that. In fact, I will go on record as saying that The Hellacopters might just have a better understanding of American rock and roll than just about any American band does right now. As the tight, well-seasoned group (they've been playing these songs for a year in Europe) hit the stage, it was a trip on the rock machine, delivered by a group of kids who were born to be rock stars.
Everything from Chuck Berry to Blue Cheer to Judas Priest to UFO figure into their music. Nicke Andersson, the lead vocalist/guitarist, is as charismatic a frontman as there is, working the stage with confidence. From their hirsute frenzy, complete with a freak keyboardist who looks like a cross between Mick Mars and Sylvan Sylvian, to Andersson's pretty-boy yelp, The Hellacopters delivered the goods. Poring over their catalog and tossing off old favorites like "R 'n' R" and "By the Grace of God" and bringing out newer material like the excellent "Everything is on TV" and the even more excellent "Monkeyboy," The Hellacopters showed Indianapolis that despite the rumors, rock and roll still matters.
Kudos to Mr. Punk Rock Night Greg Brenner for having the vision to bring this show to town. He's an independent promoter who draws in some of the world's best punk and hard rock to Indianapolis, often at a great cost to his pocketbook. Thanks to his efforts we now stand a chance of seeing more acts that previously would avoid this market like an STD