Heckler's Delight: Eternal Adolescent Punks The Queers

Singer/guitarist Joe "Joe Queer" King is the sole constant in The Queers, a pop-punk concern that's closing in on the big 3-0 and has shed more members than your dog's had fleas. As the name suggests, this band is pretty much about acting retarded, girls, acting retarded and girls; did we mention acting retarded and girls?

If you've heard any Screeching Weasel or Mr. T Experience albums, you get the idea, and already know whether or not this is your scene. Much like Bad Religion, Rancid and NOFX - all of whom would probably be aghast at the comparison we're about to make - The Queers are one of those cultural propositions that makes sense for a year or two, until one outgrows them without realizing it and is left wondering "Why did this shit ever matter to me so much?"

[jump] Of course, the Queers continue to tour relentlessly, cropping up in alt-weekly listings to remind you that they still exist and continue to splatter the faithful with catchy, three-chord idiocy. (To get a taste of The Queers at their earliest, least tasteful, and most interesting, we urge you to seek out A Day Late and A Dollar Short. When you see the Queers live, chances are good that they'll sound nothing like they did on that record.

Heckler's Delight urges you to heckle King - and whoever's backing him at this point - mercilessly. But if your girlfriend is coming with you to the show, and is underage, watch out: we have it on very good authority that King shamelessly scams on everything with a skirt and high-school ID card.

The Spice Girls, "Wannabe": The Queers have covered the Beach Boys, The Who, The Ramones, and too many other "the" bands to list here, so a sneering, thrash 'n' bash spin through this deathless Spice Girls classic shouldn't be beyond their abilities. And it's not like their fans would kick your ass for requesting it. Mocking and tearing down everything is pretty much the point of playing or supporting this kind of music.

Propagandhi "Less Talk, More Rock": When Heckler's Delight was an undergrad, his pals drilled this pro-homo gauntlet toss into his noggin by putting it on mixtape after mixtape. Simultaneously flippant and also, somehow, deadliy serious, "Less Talk" was that rare nth-wave punk animal: a blazing anthem that clearly and unmistakably confronted sexual-preference bigotry without devolving into sloganeering, even if the band were exaggerating to make a point. (All respect to Pansy Division, in theory, but they totally went about spreading their gospel in the wrong ways.) Imagine: the Queers singing a song that's actually about Queers! Would they play it? Probably, but dollars to donuts, they just don't know the song.

Radiohead "Karma Police": Heckler's Delight remembers this admittedly dour, earl-gray wet blanket of a song as the only track on OK Computer that we could bear to listen to more than once. In all likelihood, somebody has boiled those swooning strings, dyspetic electronics and tortured moaning into a 90-second punk version - but we haven't heard it. The Queers could knock it out of the park, we're sure, throwing some woo-woo-woos into the chorus and maybe replacing "for a minute there, I lost myself" with "for a minute there, I lost my lunch."

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Ray Cummings