Words & Photos by Scott Murry
Las Vegas is full of both grubby and classy lounge singers. Some mimic Elvis, some have blinged-out suits that you’d catch your grandmother wearing at bingo night, and above all, they have some serious dance moves. Spike Slawson of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is certainly no exception in each of these categories. Shimmying in a white suit and fuscia silk shirt on a stage flanked in gold streamers, the man is an epitome of Fremont Street charm. Shit, he even has a white mic cord with more golden streamers that waft like a hypnotic snake. He is a true pro in the cover band circuit.
Slawson, controls a smooth vibrato alongside the band’s signature punk tempos no matter what the tune or genre. Singing from the gut better than any average Tony Clifton, it’s understandable why this veteran cover band of veterans decided to release Rake It In, a collection of their greatest hits from the past two decades. It’s beyond kitsch, at a level of “camp.” Fully self-aware, Jay Bentley of Bad Religion (filling in on touring bass for NOFX’s Fat Mike) sported a robust moustache and popped collar, looking like a porno vampire of sorts. With an echoing mic, Slawson hassled the docile crowd as being somewhat like Concord, Worcester, or even Fall River, MA—Implying Boston simply wasn’t loud enough. So he moved like Refused (lead man Dennis Lyxzén), with added sass and swagger gaining their full devotion. Their flashy presence and brotherly banter makes every show feel like a momentous celebration. A joie de vivre, if you will, and I think, my friends … that you will.
Just before the Gimmes headlined, Masked Intruder brought their bubble gum threats to the stage. The old-world New York gangster quips make them sound like Joe Pesci, but their banter is beguiling. You can never really be sure if they’ll swoon you, or mug you. They have a cop on stage to keep everything on the level, but it’s understood that at some point he’ll give into the positive vibes of their music and be unable to control his urge to let loose. The audience awaits his middle finger salute just as much as his communal time in the pit. Meanwhile, singer Blue leaned into a wider and wider Henry Rollins stance, nearly the splits—Their stage-hand ran over to keep mic in check. One keen platform Blue took during the evening was legalization. Not solely marijuana. Noticing that many people in the crowd must workout for fun, he confessed his love of crime as hobby, and encouraged legalizing all the crime. I guess we’ll never see any of the intruders in politics … or will we? Take off the masks!
PEARS started the night, emerging with the Full House theme. Sadly it was not a full house in the early hours, however, and when singing “You’re Boring” it felt like an anthem to folks that came early and didn’t understand Zach Quinn’s gleefully barbaric approach. Stomping around shirtless and grimacing, he is an uncaged Iggy Pop-like animal. He kneels and seems to meditate between songs, not a bad idea when you’re storming the stage with everything you’ve got. That guy’s got some aggressive pipes.