Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Flesh Eaters with Sean Wheeler and The Reluctant Messengers at Pappy and Harriet’s 1/19/2017

(Special guest blogger Rob Bell from the Psyatics - look for their new album soon! - made the trek to Joshua Tree to see the reformation of the original Flesheaters. Since I couldn't make it, here is his take on the gig. Thanks, Rob!)

On Friday, A few friends and I made the trek to Pioneertown in Yucca Valley to catch the reunited (if only for a few shows) 1983 lineup of The Flesh Eaters.  Pappy and Harriet’s is a very cool venue, set in the middle of a backdrop of false-front old west movie sets, approximately 3.5 hours away from Vegas.  

Opening the night was Sean Wheeler and The Reluctant Messengers (Sean of the punk band ‘Throw Rag’), who we had just recently seen at The Double Down Saloon’s 25th anniversary. Here his band consisted of an organist and upright bass player, and they played a low key, but really interesting set of spiritual standards and not-typical covers. Skeptical at first, he won me over by the end of the set with his sincerity and a great setlist, including "Death Don’t Have No Mercy" (Rev. Gary Davis), "I’m Glad" (Beefheart), "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" (Gill Scott-Heron), "What are They Doing in Heaven Today" (Washington Phillips), and "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (Blind Willie Johnson).  He closes the night with a heartfelt "I’m Coming Home" (Clifton Chenier), dedicated to a friend of his he used to cause trouble with, who is doing a long stretch in prison.  His set was surprising and moving.
I really dug it.


 The crowd of approx. 250 (the show sold out) began gathering up front as the Flesh Eaters took the stage. Chris D. asks the crowd if anyone has vocal cords he can borrow, as his were shredded, but you wouldn’t have known once the band kicked in. This stellar group consisted of Chris D. on vocals, John Doe (X) on bass, DJ Bonebrake (X) on vibes, maracas and snare, Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman (The Blasters) on guitar and drums, and Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) on sax. The band was fire and sounded well-rehearsed (especially the duo of Steve on Sax and Bonebrake on vibes, who just killed it all night). They burned through a 75 minute set, consisting of almost the entire A Minute to Pray album ("Digging My Grave", "Pray Til You Sweat", "Cyrano De Berger’s Back", a smokin’ "Satan’s Stomp", "See You in The Boneyard", "So Long" and "Divine Horsemen"), along with a few songs from their other great albums, including "Wedding Dice" and "My Life to Live" (Forever Came Today), "Pony Dress" (A Hard Road to Follow), "Miss Muerte" and a cover of The Sonics “Cinderella”.

 If not for goddamn responsibilities (growing up has always been a drag, tonight was no exception), I’d be following this lineup to catch the remaining shows.  The night was beautiful, the venue sound was just stellar (and not overpowering), and if you get out that way…try the spicy catfish sandwich.