THE UNDERTONES, THE EPOXIES at the Key Club, April 22 Were the Undertones. Were from Derry. We mean you no harm. Back touring the United States after two decades, guitarist John ONeill and company have opted for inspiration rather than perspiration over lost opportunities. The pit swirls in earnest as they begin with Jimmy Jimmy, lead singer Paul McLoone subbing for the endlessly absent Feargal Sharkey, digging into all the unpretentious ease of the sex swagger. Then the yearning adherents plaster themselves to the lip of the stage to lock in solid boogie for Here Comes the Summer this revelatory/celebratory Irish pop-punk, rebirthed from a world of everlasting adolescence, inspires the sweat of camaraderie and energy. Riding lovely two-part harmonies, the Undertones rocket through most of their singles, including My Perfect Cousin, Get Over You and Wednesday Week. McLoone easily slides into a neat mirror of Sharkey with Teenage Kicks, and its joyful fuel-air bomb explosion sucks all the doubt out of the room, as many of The Kids are rocked and rocked well by men young enough to be their grandfathers or at least old enough to date them over the Internet. Tearing through the new wave (as evidenced by their shredded clothes and riffs), the preceding Epoxies wrap themselves in electrical tape the breadth of the censored eyes in roughie cinema. Theyre tighter than a swans asshole, and that metaphor is to serious reportage what the Epoxies are to popular music. Behind a hyperactive lead singer, buzzing synth lines are played with the nose; one expects the band to throw out handfuls of Wacky Wallwalkers just bought at TG&Y, so scandalously nostalgic are they.
SYSTEM OF A DOWN at the Gibson Amphitheater, April 24
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System of a Down performed their third annual Souls concert tonight, benefiting ANCA (the Armenian National Committee), as well as other human rights organizations, while commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Unfortunately, this was lost on the drunken slut in the striped shirt who flashed her boobs. (Could have used an Armenian mother to beat her into shame with a slipper.) Politics and profoundly inappropriate behavior aside, System kept the sermonizing short and let pretty much the best of their discography do the talking, from "P.L.U.C.K.," off their self-titled debut to Toxicitys "Needles" to Steel This Albums "Mr. Jack." Cuts from the forthcoming Mezmerize were also previewed, including the current single "B.Y.O.B," a party song that really smart-bombs its targets ("Why dont presidents fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?") accompanied by the most violent, urgent music the bands ever made.
Serj Tankian shouldnt sing on a rock & roll stage but in a church choir that accepts men with long hair; all that monkish moaning on "Aerials" made even the Gibson feel like a monastery. Still, unlike that of a certain one-named Irishman, Tankians Mother Teresa complex hasnt rendered him totally annoying. By contrast, guitarist Daron Malakian is more the court jester of the bunch, jumping around on his imaginary hop-scotch grid, tossing his hair as if mugging for a LOreal commercial. (Yes, hes worth it.)
The folk song "Sardarabad," a sentimental Souls finale, sounded even more poignant this year in front of a backdrop of Ara Oshagans black-and-white photographs of genocide survivors. Also worth noting, though, was the odd use of Whams "Everything She Wants" as an intro to "Sugar," perhaps the only song ever written about "the kombucha mushroom people." "We didnt start this band to change the world," said guitarist Daron Malakian. "We didnt start this band to change your mind. We started this band to make you ask questions." Well, Daron, when you come up with such wonderfully wacky content on drugs, war, prison, groupies, pogo-ing, your ancestors injustices, their ancestors injustices, George Michael, etc., we dont need to ask why.