with Forty, Fifty Lashes at the Rat
by J. Fritz
Fifty Lashes hit the stage like four drunken baboons all cranked up on some government-sanctioned amphetamine that the military is no doubt secretly testing for combat use in a laboratory buried deep beneath Virginia. This San Francisco funk/punk quartet blasted the near-empty Rathskeller with incessant waves of blistering guitar work driven full-tilt by the mercilessly pumping double bass feet of drummer Mike Taylor. His rhythm section counterpart, bassist Eric Hansen, bounced around the stage like a stocking-hatted madman in a sleeveless orange T-shirt. Looking like a refugee from a death metal band, Bobby Lucero’s guitar solos emerged from what appeared to be a whirlwind caused by the constant whipping about of seven or eight feet of kinky black hair. Top this off with the rip-throated vocals and bizarre story-telling talents of Brad Wood and you have all the makings of an intense show that no one saw, but one that this writer will not soon forget. When Fifty Lashes finished their set it was all I could do to crawl over to the bar, collapse on a stool, and soothe myself with a stiff quaff of Rat brew.
By the time I had adequately recovered my senses, it was Forty‘s turn to take the stage. These local boys impressed me so much that I climbed out of the cellar and up into the muggy Kenmore air to smoke cigarettes and watch Mr. Butch panhandle. I made a point of not going down again until they were done.
When it was once more safe to descend back into the dark underbelly of the Rathskeller, I prepared to catch yet another California act, Venice Beach’s Bëowülf. I guess I used the word “madman” already in this review, huh? Well, there’s not another word that fits so I’ll use it again. Dale Henderson is a fucking madman with a white Stratocaster. Any of you musicians out there feel like your stage presence could use some work? Go see Bëowülf for a kick in the ass and one hardcore lesson in showmanship. They don’t let up. Despite the piss-poor turn-out, Bëowülf put on a show fit for 10,000. They should make rock stars out of these guys. Wait. Strike that. (I forgot. Punk rockers find comments like that insulting.) Just keep up the good work, dudes, and you can bet your ass I’ll be there the next time you blow through town.