Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Redd Kross, the Melvins, Toshi at the Bunkhouse, Tuesday Nov 6, 2019

I've been watching and playing shows with Redd Kross for a good 40 years or so - think I saw them when they were still Red Cross, even! Every incarnation and variation has always been a blast and I was super bummed to have missed them the last time they were in Vegas so I was happy to hear about this return trip of theirs. The Bunkhouse is a fine place to see mid-level touring bands, with a real stage and sound system, although I wish the lighting was a bit better, especially for photos, but that's a minor quibble.

Opening the night was Japanese one-man ambient noise-maker, Toshi. I am not familiar with the man or his works, but this was a very minimalistic, keyboard-driven, noize set with appropriately minimalist projections on a simple screen next to him. An interesting and very different opening for this evening of disparate music!

Redd Kross has gone through a number of incarnations over the years - not surprising with a career that spans 4 decades! - but are still fronted by McDonald brothers Jeff (vocals/guitar) and Steve (vocals/bass - who started out playing live at 12 years old!) and now joined (appropriately - his flashy/melodic playing is a great fit) by lead guitar master Jason Shapiro (of the fantastic Celebrity Skin, among others) and currently have the Melvins' powerhouse Dale Crover on drums and backing vocals. A great mix of talent and personalities combining to electrify Redd Kross' material.

Although they began as a SoCal punk combo, RK quickly morphed into more of a 70's rockin' power pop group with terrific generic harmonies and well-written, melodic tunes with often hilarious lyrics. This set ran the gamut from their earliest - including "Linda Blair" and "Annette's Got the Hits" - to their latest (they have a brand new album out - more on that when I have some time) with new arrangements here'n'there and plenty of excellent playing (Jeff has really come into his own on guitar, Steve has always been a stellar player and Jason and Dale are about as good as they come) and superb 4 part harmony vocals. Pop classics like "Switchblade Sisters", "Peach Kellie Pop", "Annie's Gone" and "Jimmy's Fantasy" were highlights, as were new ones like "Party Underground" (about the years spent in dive bars around the world), "Downtown" and a 70's power-pop arrangement of the Beatles "It Won't Be Long" (all 70's power pop bands seemed to need to do an updated Beatles cover). At times Jeff put down his guitar and simply sang - and danced and emoted and donned a sparkly shawl over his head - which allowed Jason to stand out even more - which I enjoyed as I always loved his playing. The medley of Linda and Annette closed the set to a raucous response, but the night was being kept to a tight schedule so unfortunately, no encore.





Truthfully, I've never been a fan of the Melvins' style of sludge-grunge-metal, but we stuck around to see what they sounded like as Steve is playing bass and, of course, we had just seen Clover smoke through RK's set, and they did a great job of drivin' this set, as well. But, the music just wasn't our cup o'grunge and, being a work night, we split a few songs into their set. They were really good at what they were doing and they had a packed house cheerin' for them, so we were definitely in the minority this evening.

Thanks again to the Bunkhouse for a diverse night of rock'n'roll, noize and grunginess! This was absolutely one of the biggest shows we have seen here - especially on a week night!