Sax as a Weapon


Ladies and gentlemen, the sax is back. As if we needed more reminders that the ’00s are the new ’80s, hipsters have resurrected the instrument, long banished to the land of uncool by Bill Clinton and Kenny G. It hasn’t reached Reagan-era ubiquity yet, but watch out. First came the Rapture’s headband-wearing, Clarence Clemens-aping blower. Then a renewed appreciation for classic post-punk squawking via a James Chance box and Kill Rock Stars’ forthcoming Essential Logic reissues. And now, a song so bold as to feature not one, but two saxophone solos!

Electric Six are from Detroit, but aren’t electro, or garage rock, or Eminem. They used to be called the Wildbunch, until some British trip-hop dudes claimed the name. “Danger! High Voltage” first appeared on a local seven-inch in 2001, but was introduced to the rest of the world on the 2 Many DJ’s mash-up album, squeezed between the Cramps and fellow Motor City-ites Adult. When the White Stripes blew up last year, somebody noticed that the maniacal falsetto trading lines with E6 crooner Dick Valentine on “Danger!” sounded suspiciously familiar (the band denies it, but judge for yourself). In fact, the song could almost be a collaboration between Jack White and Tenacious D’s Jack Black, if both harbored secret Village People fetishes—it’s that funny. The two men shout declarations of affection to each other over a sizzling Saturday Night Fever groove, and the sax sounds as if it’s being played by someone with a long, luscious mullet. The video features taxidermy and a glowing codpiece. Is it at all surprising that “Danger!” debuted at No. 2 in the U.K.?

Electric Six shouldn’t be a one-hit wonder. Tracks like “Dance Commander” and “Gay Bar” on their album Fire (due in May) are just as irreverent and danceable, and though “Danger! High Voltage” hasn’t exploded here quite yet, it’s as good as a sure thing—unless, in the wake of the Great White disaster, Americans are still reluctant to chant “Fire in the disco! Fire in the Taco Bell!”

Electric Six Play the Bowery Ballroom April 7.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 1, 2003

Archive Highlights