Having Little Steven’s Underground Garage host Rocket From the Crypt’s final East Coast show was a more awkward fit than their haircuts and matching outfits would imply. RFTC were always way more post-hardcore than garage rock, especially rhythm-wise. But while none of their songs have the danceable clarity of the ’60s nuggets that Steven’s Halloween a Go-Go dancers amiably squirmed to between acts, they also never engage in the humorless, will-to-macho conservatism that made their openers so insufferable—including the young, eager-to-please-Steven Boss Martians, who referenced radios in three songs, and some anonymous Viagra addicts whose names have been forgotten to protect their innocent grandchildren.
John “Speedo” Reis et al. weren’t up there to reminisce about days of dickery past, pining for a time when women were women and mop-tops were badass—they’re just throwing all the giggles, hoots, and hollers they can atop indie-rawk sludge, reveling in hooky, Vegas-core drama for its own sake—H D meets the Osmonds’ “Crazy Horses” in a context of musical abundance. Olé!
Their call-and-response, brass-blast bombast quickly made the five hours of stodgy cock rock that preceded them a distant memory—its inclusive spirit made even concrete by Reis’s colorful, affectionate banter (“You can do this too! You’re just as capable of being full of shit as any band!”) and beaming smile. This was their “Viking funeral,” not to mention Halloween weekend, their favorite holiday (“It’s anti-God!”). Decked out in witch doctor wear with dyed gray streaks in their hair signifying their 15 years of service, the band vigorously bashed out a loosely chronological set of fan favorites, earning every accolade Reis threw its way. The set ended with “Glazed” ‘s chants of “Take that!” and “Everybody smoke pot!” filling the room and Reis giving himself a beer baptism before copping James Brown’s old cape-and-knee shtick, and post-encore he was shaking the hands of every single person who wanted to do so, blissfully ignoring Little Steven’s thank-yous to the Hard Rock Café and Geico or whoever the hell paid the bills. It might not add up to much, but love doesn’t have to mean a thing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 1, 2005