Banana Blender Surprise
Wednesday, January 11
The Pig "Live"
Send in the Crowns, Banana Blender Surprise's year-old debut CD, was riddled with a sort of goofball hi-jinx and food humor that struck me as indicative of a joke band that might be funny for a (very) little while, but probably wouldn't last beyond the final forced yuk. Since then, though, the band has continued to record in all three formats (that's CD, cassette and vinyl), developed a more-than-healthy home-away-from-home following in Austin and toured the country opening for such eclectic luminaries as NRBQ.
And indeed, upon stopping in for another look at the band's regular Wednesday night gig at The Pig, I had to toss my original impression out the window and start from scratch. BBS looks more and more like one of the best live acts in town, with enough instrumental command, charisma and plain old songs to put them in a class with my other favorite high-energy pop band, the Keenlies.
The Pig itself was sparsely populated on this mid-week night, but the band didn't miss a beat, mixing its own upbeat rhythm and rock tunes with jamming interludes that reminded me of Creedence, for some pleasant reason, and well-chosen covers of Link Wray's "Run Chicken Run" and Neil Diamond's "Heart Light" -- the latter of which, sung by the hyper-Afroed drummer, was about as funny as anything that causes you to spit beer through your nose can be. Call me converted.
-- Brad Tyer
Wednesday, January 11
I was tempted to hand in a three-word review: "Punkish Alice Cooper," but at my dime-a-word pay rate, that would barely have netted me enough for a phone call. Also, it wouldn't have been entirely accurate: Marilyn Manson has yet to work out its punch line, so you really can't place the band in the same league as the Million Dollar Baby.
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A laundry line was hung over the stage to evoke the Portrait of an American Family theme of the group's album. One of the band's monitors was painted with "Hate" in fluorescent orange; another monitor, resting atop a cage that contained a live, definitely stressed chicken, read "Kill God." (I'm still working out the symbolism there, and I suspect the Mansons may be, too.) The band, costumed as caricatures of stereotypical American family members, played serviceably in the hard-rock/punk vein, providing an energetic and occasionally coherent backdrop for Mr. Manson's frantic anomie.
At times, Manson seemed to confuse freakazoid shouting with charisma; other times the show clicked, and his hostile rantings came across as compelling, or at least credible. The band's encore cover of Patti Smith's "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger," though, was a pretentious misstep, as Manson's overwrought ersatz sociopathy never came close to the up-yours spirit of Smith's original.
I don't know Trent Reznor's plans for the band, but he's sold a lot more records than I have, and with his guidance, Manson might well develop into compelling rock theater. But it's not there yet.
-- Peter Kelly