Shtick Figures

Wielding Ass to the Monks' Neanderthal Thump

You know man, after every time I whack off, I put on some rock 'n' roll—Zep, Sabbath, the Stones—anything with feel-it-in-your-'nads guitars and a pumping thud. During those few minutes of afterglow, I feel like William Munny in Unforgiven. I feel like going down to the local shithole, pounding Jack straight, and picking a fight with the biggest motherfucker in the joint—which is a little different than my usual danger-is-near dash. Let me tell you! I feel like some sweet young thing calls me Daddy. I feel like I can pay my damn rent. I feel like I have a big dick. And judging from the bands and fans at last weekend's Cavestomp, a three-day '60s-garage-rock "Festacular," I know I'm not the only one who thinks they have a big dick... ahem, I mean I know I'm not the only one who still gets lathered up over r 'n' r.

Fifteen bands, 15 hours of music, and the only place where you can buy Monks rope ties and that notorious Rolling Stones movie, Cock sucker Blues, the Cavestomp experience is in some ways for the rock 'n' roll obsessive—still-livin'-in-ma-and-pa's-basement middle-agers who pore over fanzines and first-pressing wax in plastic sheaths. But it's also for anyone who has a fucking pulse (having a dick was option al)—everyone knows "Louie Louie," but few know the Kingsmen. Both types congregated at the Westbeth Theatre Center to see "big names" like the "anti-Beatles! anti-Everything !"–billed Monks, who hadn't played live in 33 years; the Chocolate Watchband, best known for being Stones clones in the '60s teen exploitation flick Riot on Sunset Strip; Hollywood-based costars the Standells, who did that "Dirty Water" song about Boston; and shag-haired upstarts like the Demolition Dollrods, The Mooney Suzuki, and the 5,6,7,8's.

Let's just call this paisley proceeding a "Shticktacular." And baby, some shticks stink, dig?

A whiff of the Demolition Dollrods, the Gravedigger 5, and the 5,6,7,8's was... grrrrrrrrrr! You know, if it ever gets real bad and I can't afford my cherished Ramen Chicken value pack, I'm going to get onstage in a thong and play "Good Golly Miss Molly" and 10 other "Good Golly Miss Molly"'s I'll say I wrote, just like the Dollrods. The other two were to the '60s what That '70s Show is to the '70s.

Though to say the entire Shticktacular was eye-rolling would be ridiculous. Fucking isn't interesting either, my friend, but no one calls it clichéd.

A rabid "Monks!" chant indicated their appearance would be Cavestomp's Y2K: Some thing was going to happen and then something would be very different. Five tonsured and robed American ex-GIs stationed in Germany during the '60s, the Monks played psychedelic-Gregorian-chant-country-and-western stomp music before it was vogue. The pre-set fore play—a Monks documentary preview and elaborate stage preparations, like placing a white sign emblazoned with "Monks" in black block script stage left and compulsively checking each piece of onstage equipment—had us all hot and buttered...er, bothered.

Seeing them monked out onstage, I couldn't help but think these guys were thinking ahead when they shaved in those tonsures. Five sun-roofed geezers playing the most ferocious groove-clank rock 'n' roll I have ever heard made me want to say, "Thurston babe, take notes." Songs like "I Hate You," "Shut Up," and "Complication" had both the big beat and feedback-choked guitar squeals every No Wave act aspires to.

Sadly there wasn't a post-Monks Y2K-like blackout and people didn't start offing each other in manic glee, but the set did raise the bar for what got us to wield ass the following nights—and once our romps gained momentum, the dance floor was terrifying. Watch out! During The Mooney Suzuki's set (day-two openers)—an amalgam of the MC5's live debut's histrionics and the dual lead guitar caterwauling of the 5's High Time—I sustained a minor concussion when a viciously swaying hindquarter smacked me in the noggin as I bent over to tie my shoe. Other performances were less dangerous (no Chesterfield Kings thankfully). The moral of the Chocolate Watchband's set was: If you're known mostly for your covers, don't write new originals, and for heaven's sake if you do, don't encore with them.

The Greenhornes (day-three openers) did whip rears up with an earnest performance—no posing, no stage banter—and the weekend's finest batch of songs (check out Gun for You on Prince). During the Monks' return performance, I took sanctuary in the adjoining bar—I know the frightening effect they have on people. And before we got to hear "Dirty Water," Lenny Kaye, the Patti Smith guitarist and original Nuggets compiler, had some closing words: "It's great you can just pick up a guitar, go into the garage, and come out rock stars." Or, Lenny, just come out with hairy palms.

 
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