Not every weekend can be Bonnaroo. With perilously few options of the rock and/or roll variety to pull us away from another night of drunk Netflixing (when the fuck did we watch six episodes of Swamp People?!), we did what any responsible yet bored East Side-dwelling punk fan would do. We went to FooBar to see a band with "Satan" in their name.
Florence, Ala.'s Satan's Youth Ministers — not to be confused with Satan's Little Helper or Satan's Onion — turned on their blinking pentagrams and launched into a set of melodic, Southern-tinged '90s punk. Songs like "Xanax Love" and "Court of the Crimson Tide" sounded like castoffs from an impossibly lo-fi Clutters record, while most at least came off like a solo-happy version of The Reatards. Except, we're pretty sure Jay Reatard never stripped out of an ill-fitting three-piece pinstriped suit onstage. We're definitely sure that, if he did, he wouldn't have been wearing red lacy lingerie underneath. Sure enough, by the end of the band's set, singer/grand magus Malister Sally was strutting around wearing alarmingly little, like some insane cross between Aleister Crowley and The New York Dolls. This band is almost comically punk rock, and we loved it. Well, eventually we started to wish he'd put on pants, but such brazen spectacle running counter to Alabama's dominant culture of social conservatism (satanists and cross-dressers? Oh my ... ) was hilariously fun in how over-the-top it was.
The Black Faces, a gruesome twosome of Ben Swank and a guy named Chet (who one of our Spin colleagues had a poetry class with once) had the misfortune of following the SYM spectacle. Black Faces sounded more or less like what you'd expect from a band featuring Third Man's sergeant-at-arms — simple bluesy garage rock played as loud as the PA can handle. If you blinked, you might have missed it; the band was over and done in four songs. They were only going to play three, but Jemina Pearl (of Be Your Own Pet fame), convinced them mid-set to do a cover of — if our notes serve us correctly — Johnny Winter's "It Ain't Your Business" with Pearl on vocals. Or maybe it was another song with "it ain't your business" shrieked over and over again. We're not totally sure, but we dug it.
As for The Fast Boys ... well, they lived up to their name at least. Hailing from Chattanooga, they played at least twice as many songs as Black Faces but were done around the same time. They weren't bad, they just weren't that exciting — especially not after the striptease and the eardrum-bursting blues rock. We never cease to be surprised by Chattanooga's ability to churn out decent punk bands, though. For the longest time, we were certain that the only thing there was an aquarium. Apparently it's just an aquarium and a vegetarian restaurant owned by This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. In any case, The Fast Boys sounded like Fred Schneider singing Replacements songs, which is something we can only really enjoy for 20 minutes, anyway. Although we did enjoy the play on words "Mazeltov Cocktail." Good on you, gents.
The only real difference between Alcohol Stuntband shows is the sound of the room and the aggregate blood alcohol content onstage. It was nearing 1 a.m. and we were at FooBar, so we'll let you go ahead and guess at those two levels. Frontman Chris Crofton and the rest chugged beer from a pitcher and swaggered their way through a set of the usual suspects — "Gold Paint" opened, "Dickerson Pike" closed, "Bell Witch" and "She's Insane" filled in somewhere in the middle — along with a new song called "Drunk Bitch." It was the drunk rock 'n' roll show we more or less expected, and nobody picked a fight with Crofton, so we'd consider this one a win.
As we were leaving around 1:45 in the morning, we caught the Satan's Youth Ministers singer out of the corner of our eye, still wearing ladies' undergarments. What a trouper.
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