When Florida foursome Saigon Kick first hit in 1991, they were post-metal, pre-grunge, and their approach–often epic and grandiose in the best possible ways–was in a category of its own. Their 1992 sophomore album, The Lizard, featured the group’s MTV and Billboard hit, the ballad, “Love Is on the Way,” but subsequent records and incarnations failed to thrill, and the beloved Saigon Kick entity lay semi-dormant, save for a few reunion attempts.
Until now. To plagiarize Poltergeist II The Other Side… ‘They’re baaaaaaack.” “This line up has not been onstage since early 1993,” says frontman Matt Kramer. “Phil [Varone, drummer and former Playgirl centerfold] and I went out for a few weeks just for fun in 2000 and it was great, but this is the real McCoy here. (Rounded out by founding member/guitarist Jason Bieler and longtime bassist Chris Mc Lernon.) “Those 20 year old kids we were back then just lacked the experience of how fast everything happened for us success wise.”
This go-round, Kramer says, the reunion shows are going “much better than expected,” and with time has come maturity: “Everyone is a bit more chill about getting in each other’s faces about things that should be left as good ol rock n roll.” As far as a new album or more extensive tour are concerned, Kramer is ambivalent. “I’m glad we’re here, and where this ends up is anyone’s guess. That’s a whole ‘nother mountain for us to climb. If we write again together there are still politics to be worked out and the material would have to be stellar for me to take part.”
Kramer, who self-published two books of poetry, and Bieler, who formed Bieler Bros. Records and studios and put out CDs by bands like Nonpoint, SOIL and Smile Empty Soul, are ideal onstage foils. Their discretely intense personalities–Bieler humorous and aggro, Kramer more mystical and impassioned–often make for a transformative, fervent performance. Additionally, in the 20 years since the band’s bow, Kramer is confident that SK is even better in the new Millennium. “I’m a vocal coach to the stars now and train my voice five days a week, so what used to be difficult is a nice walk in the park, vocally speaking.”
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That said, they’re not the same band. It was 1990 when SK did their first NYC show for the late Don Hill at the Cat Club, and were pleased with the NY acceptance of their unclassifiable rock. As for SK, circa 2012, Kramer observes, “my poetry has without a doubt allowed me to step out of my shoes and walk in different footsteps, which is great, because I see a lot of cats very uninspired walking in the same shadows of yesteryear.”
Saigon Kick plays the Studio at Webster Hall tonight, 7:30 pm.