Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

The Corner Hotel, Richmond.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (hereinafter "The Gimmes") are a punk cover band specialising in covers of decidedly non-punk songs. (I use the word "punk" advisedly here, and only because this is the word used in their Wikipedia entry. Speed metal, or at the very least, pop-punk, might be a better description for their style, but more on this later).

The Gimmes have been around since the mid 1990s and even after their seventh album (the eighth due sometime this year) show no signs of running out of material.

Selections in last night's show included Kermit the Frog's Rainbow Connection, Barry Manilow's Mandy and My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music. Every single one of these songs was vastly improved with the Gimmes treatment.

The postmodern wanker part of me wants to deconstruct what they do in terms of breaking songs down into their base components . . . they're displaying these songs as they really are in a language easily understood by anyone. Sort of like turning Shakespeare's plays into a kid's colouring book.

But then the headbanger part of me gets the postmodern wanker into a headlock, throws him to the beer-drenched floor and glasses him for being such a tool. And he deserves it too.

There's no analysing this stuff. It's just flat out great fun.

The Gimmes were all dressed in cowboy regalia to complement their most recent album ". . . Love Their Country" (with songs like Jolene and Desperado) and much was made of the large handlebar moustaches sported by three of the five members. Banter in general was plentiful and amusing, although lead singer Spike's announcement that "this next song is a cover" before just about every song soon went from amusing to irritating.

For some reason I was surprised to see such a large headbanger contingent in the crowd. I guess I was expecting more audience members like myself: Gen X types moved to ironic amusement by these clever-clever shenanigans. While such people were surely there (but being much quieter) there were a lot of younger people who've probably never even heard the original version of Sloop John B.

Still, they seemed to enjoy themselves. God, I feel old.

More traditional hard rockers Roshambo and Stolen Youth provided worthy support, although Robb was bothered by the appearance of Roshambo's bong-monkey (their term - a roadie who brought a white space-age-looking bong on stage for use by the band between/during songs). I'll let him expand on this in the comments (if he will) but it was basically about the pretension and affectation this indicated, unworthy of a second-support act.

This got us talking about the relevance of traditional punk tropes in a post-modern world and didn't get very far before the wanker was again glassed by the headbanger (see above).

Anyway, my point somewhere in there was that the nihilism and sense of impending doom that characterised the great punk bands just isn't there for The Gimmes. They clearly love what they're doing and it rubs off on the audience. There's nothing quite like a version of Blowin' in the Wind at double speed and triple volume to make you think that Dylan should not only have gone electric, but should have moved to Seattle.

But all this thinking is well and truly beside the point.

It was very good and very loud. And that's all.


Budge said...

i have one beatles song only, and one dylan song only on my pod... both are performances by the gimmes.

actually that's not true. i also have "the mighty quinn" done not by dylan. I still feel a little ashamed.

Spoon said...

And I bet, Budge, that you regard that one Beatles song not so much as a Beatles song, but as a Johnny Young song. Matt and I were discussing in car last night that All My Loving is so intrinsically linked with Young Talent Time that, even as a Beatles fan, I don't think of that one as a Beatles song.

And the Bong Monkey?
Well yeah. A band that no-one has heard of, who play a half hour set before ANOTHER band that no one has heard of (they were the first support not the second, chronologically), don't (and I believe that this was the phrase I used last night) have enough of a "self" to warrant such self indulgence. I'm sure they could (and most likely did) have a hit from the bong before they went on stage and could have either waited 'til the end of the set or popped off stage for a second to take a quick toke. After all one of the 3 guitarists (Phil Spectre didn't know what a wall of sound was, I tells ya) went off to the bar 2 songs before their last. (And Matt helped him carry them back, getting up on stage in the process.)

To have a guy come on stage in his hoody, with his big plastic bong was just a pretentious affectation. "ooh look at us, aren't we bad boys, we not only talk about smoking dope we actually do it!"

And, given an underlying theme of this particular blog post and reply is "sounding old" all I can say is: "It's not big, and it's not clever."

And I think the term is pop-punk or perhaps california punk. The same league as Bad Religion and, obviously NoFX. (I bet Dead Kennedys fans would be annoyed and say that THEY are California Punk, but what can you do.)

One word I know I didn't use was "Trope". If I'd known we were discussing "the relevance of traditional punk tropes in a post-modern world" then I would have brought a pencil. I think the conversation as I remember it was Matt saying that, given people don't have anything to rally against, and in particular given that any kind of musical is marketable, the only thing that makes punk punk is affectations. And I said "tell me how that means the bong monkey isn't pretentious" and then matt said "let's move away from the door to the Ladies' toilets, I'm sicking of getting dirty looks from girls as they walk past us." and I said "that will happen no matter where we go."

Well I didn't say that last bit, but I should have. Oooh I should have.