Concert Review: Meat Puppets, Heavenly Chillbillies, This Life, Bogs Visionary Orchestra

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In an attempt to see Methanol's extension project, The Atomic Swamis, I stumbled upon Buffalo bar-room heavyweights The Heavenly Chillbillies instead. I landed at Sticky Lips Juke Joint on Friday as the band was plowing through Dave Alvin's tribute to Hank I in "Long White Cadillac." So naturally I warmed to these guys in a hurry as I slammed back a couple of chocolate milks. The band hit heavy on the blues without overdoing it, and stuck close to blues-heavy rock with a spicy dash of the South like a punch in the mouth.

Next I hustled over to Lovin' Cup to catch This Life wind down its set, which was reminiscent of neon-free alternative bands like The Modern Lovers. Bogs Visionary Orchestra came out next and played like a four-man carnival full of ironic lyrical and musical quirks. The bearded Bogs led the parade on guitar and slide banjo (you heard me, slide banjo) in a suit that featured as many colors as his musical palette. He copped the stance of Zappa (or was it Beefheart?) playing the part of a barker pitching the ballyhoo on the midway. It was Tin Pan Alley on Easter Sunday. It was country-ish twang on account of the rhythmic 2/4, it was klezmer-esque on account of its accelerated percussion and groove, and it was just straight-up out of sight. I hung out and hung on every word.

GZA couldn't be bothered to show up for his Water Street show Saturday night, and the rumor is he played a whopping 10 minutes the night before. But there was zero pretense on the club side as The Meat Puppets played a fat and sonically soaring set that frequently detoured into monstrous guitar melees, especially on the excellent and extended free-fall free-for-all on "Lake of Fire" and the set-closing "Backwater."

Making the Water Street scene a little late caused me to miss the mellow indie shot-in-the-arm from The World Takes, a cool new band from Philadelphia that features DJ Bonebrake of the seminal L.A. punk band, and one of my all-time faves, X. Bonebrake was floating about and stopped to chat as I made a serious effort to not sound like a squealing bobby soxer. What a great night, what a cool dude.

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