Hyperbole and sensationalism are but watered down terms when used in the context todescribe one of the most charismatic and captivating rock groups to ever grace the US touring circuit. Yet somehow the brilliant architectural engineering of the Stubbs inside stage was able to withstand the magnanimous and devastating force of the Detroit-based rock deities, Electric Six, in their cathartic baptism of a sold out Austin crowd. Armed with mere mortal instruments, the sextet blasted through an hour and a half of skull rattling and gut busting songs that impregnated ovulating females with its potency and sent others to the emergency room with disfigured faces that had begun melting
History and Wikipedia indicates that Electric Six formed in 1996 in Detroit under the name the WildBunch, which they soon changed to Old Miami and then ,Gold Dollar in Detroit, before settling on Electric Six. Fronted by Tyler Spencer, aka Dick Valentine, the band played through the 90’s and early 2000’s in a Detroit scene that included Jack White until they found a large audience with their smash hit “Danger! High Voltage” off their 2003 album Fire. Other theories presuppose the band members are actually members of a incredibly cool race of rogue cavemen that were excavated by the US government and brought to life Brendan Fraser in Blast From The Past-style, but this has yet to be confirmed.
The night began with opening band up-and-comer funk electro duo, Yip Deceiver, warming the crowd up for a dance explosion with their Talking Heads meets the Parliament pop songs and unique vocal stylings, but despite Yip Deceiver’s unique sound, their real highlight would have to wait until later that night.
And then like John Wilkes Booth entering the Ford Theater, Electric Six assumed the stage and proceeded to slay…break a leg. Dick Valentine, looking like an alcoholic Tony Bennet impersonator who had just wandered over from the ARCH program, greeted the crowd with “ We just came from New Mexico, and that place sucks.” The crowd roared back with agreement and the demi-god sextet launched into their set.
Comedy rock is rarely done right, with only the likes of Tenacious D, Flight of the Concords and, Nickelback being able to actually tour in that genre, but Electric Six elevates itself beyond that echelon of artists and into a stratospheric niche in which only they occupy. Songs like “Down at McDonnelz” , “The New Shampoo”, and the homo-amicable anthem “Gay Bar” are equal parts rock, humor, and America.
Dick announced to the audience “ I was walking round Austin today and was having insightful conversations with many people, including Rick Perry. He told me that homosexuals are a lot like alcoholics, and considering how much alcohol I’ve had tonight, well I just wanted to say to all the fellas that I’m staying at a hotel by Ben White and 35 if you’d like to stop by and party after the show.”
The talent for Electric Six to get even some of Austin’s most stoic music fans moving is truly a feat and songs like “Synthesizer”, “Danger! High Voltage” and the impassioned song criticizing the Maroon 5 crooner “Adam Levine”, go unrivaled in terms of connecting with and enlivening a crowd.
After introducing songs with “Song #10 is about the ecstasy of accepting Satan as your master.” and rollicking through crowd favorites like “I Buy the Drugs”. Electric Six stepped off the stage, but only to return moments later with an encore that included their new love song “Cheryl vs. Daryl”, “Dance Commander”, and a mind boggling yet superb cover of “Everything” by Fleetwood Mac that featured Yip Deceiver on vocals punctuated a perfect night at Stubbs.
Some people characterize their best shows in their lifetime as having been headliner bands that were playing in stadiums in their prime. Yet here is a band that was on their 9th studio album, playing the smaller venue of Stubbs, that looked like they had just gotten into a car wreck on their way to an AA meeting and it will forever live in my memory as one of the best shows I have had the privilege to witness.
Review by Lee Ackerley