"I could not be any wetter": Thrill Kill Kult and Lords of Acid by DC-in-Detroit
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Lords of Acid featuring Lacey Conner
Blondie's, 28 July 2010
I have to start at the obvious place, which is the place itself. This was my first time at the re-opened Blondie's on Fort in Detroit. Unfortunately for me, my first time was on an 85°F night, with the humidity hanging somewhere around 150%. How can it be true, in this time when I have the entire collected wisdom of the western world in a 2.5" x 4.5" block in my pocket, that a rock-n-roll venue — an indoor rock-n-roll venue — doesn't even have FANS to cool the patrons? Is this their way to get me to spend more time ordering drinks at the bar? Well, the joke's on them, because I could not possibly have spent more time at the bar, ordering drinks. Or, more accurately, waiting to order drinks. I waited so long for my first drink, the random stranger in front of me paid for my vodka, since I'd spent so much time with my chest in his back that we'd become commonlaw. (We could have gotten approved for a mortgage before the second round ever came.)
I'm from Michigan, however, so heat and humidity (and bad service) aren't enough to put me off. I admit, I can be put off by a bleached blonde whipping her tits out while trying to climb up on the bar, and definitely by said sloppy drunkass blonde trying to stroke my hair. The man who was... with? near? claiming? her apologized to me, and everyone near them, and, laughing weakly, said to me, "What have I gotten myself into, right?" I just said, "Good luck making it through the show." He sadly laughed again, "Yeah, maybe I should consider leaving early, huh?" I said, "Oh, you'll be leaving early." Didn't take a psychic to see that train wrecking. Ultimately, it was a good test of my How Long Before That Drunk Gets Carried Out of the Bar estimator. When I saw her a little bit later, rubbing on other random people, I sized up the state of her, looked at my watch and gave her 30 minutes. And then was hollering, "Bye, thanks for coming!" as she was being frog-marched out, 40 minutes later.
But more about strippers later.
It was about 9pm when I got to Blondie's, which I thought might be pushing it, since doors were at 6 for the all-ages show. Does it strike anyone else as odd that something called the Sextreme Ball would be all-ages? Particularly when featuring two bands which notoriously celebrate the glories of sex and drugs? Not bad, mind you, just odd. But as a wise friend of mine pointed out, "All ages can enjoy those glories. Drugs are illegal for all ages, and sex is legal for most who would go." Good points. As I was walking across the (paid) lot, I heard some yarn-dread-falled chippy on the phone saying, "There are, like, four, like, opening bands and it's, like, only the third one on, like, now." Yay teenagers.
Through the door, up some stairs, and I emerge at the side of the stage, feeling like I'd just walked in on the middle of a joke. The band onstage was covering Ministry's "N.W.O." which has a clearly-recognizable drum bed. In addition to the band, with the regular drummer, there was a hooded man at the front of the stage, playing this line on a single drum... very badly. I wasn't sure who was being punished.
It turned out that was the third "like" opening band, which was followed by the fourth, Blownload. I quickly realized I'd forgotten my ear plugs again, which was a mistake for two reasons. First of all, it was just loud in there. Good loud, but loud. Second, ear plugs would have helped me to understand more of Blownload's lyrics, which were clearly hilarious. For one of the ugliest bands I've ever seen, their singer sure had some charm. (I won't quote any of the lyrics I did catch, because I'd rather those terms not wind up as search bait associated with my handle.)
At the end of their set, because I am a masochist, I went back to the bar for another drink. I've put a lot of practice and effort into not looking annoyed when I'm out in public and am annoyed, but sometimes I guess I'm just helplessly transparent. This must have been one of those times — or maybe my face was just already literally melting by then — as while I was standing tits-on-the-bar, and the bartender tried to skip me again, the tall gent with the belly-warming smile standing directly to my right pointed at me to indicate to the bartender that I fucking exist. My spine softened, and I thanked him after chirping out my order. "No problem," he smiled. "I didn't want to cut in front of you; she already knows she has to take care of me, I'm in the opening band."
Now, as I've already mentioned, there were, like, four, like, opening bands, most of which I'd missed, so I didn't ask. I'm sure you already know where this is going, but I didn't, until TKK took the stage, and I realized the polite fella in the cap was founding member/keyboardist Buzz McCoy. He looked too young, honestly. I'm always heartened when the people I've (theoretically) paid money to see behave with class and humility (see: DEVO), so Buzz earned his wings that night, far as I'm concerned. "Opening band"? Really, Buzz?
The Thrill Kill Kult set itself was... underwhelming. Blondie's sound system seems more than capable, but after some complaints from bands earlier in the evening, it just seemed like something was wrong. The sound was muffled, and some instruments cut out periodically. The band also sounded like they were singing over their own pre-recorded vocals, as if they were supposed to be lip-syncing and someone forgot to kill their mics. But they hit the classics, which are always great to hear live, and the energy was good. The crowd bounced along, in spite of the fact that, by now, everyone in the place was drenched with sweat; theirs and others'.
Somewhere along the way, I found MCB's Brett Lawrence: designer, photographer, Lords of Acid aficionado. It was in large part his enthusiasm, along with MCB photog Dan Sultana's — check out his photoset in this post — that had me excited for the show. I filled him in on the new singer touring with Lords of Acid, Lacey Conner. "She won a contest or something, right?" Well, no. Not exactly. Actually, kind of the opposite. While she has been a singer with a couple of real recording/touring bands, Lacey is more "famous" for being a contestant on VH1's "Rock of Love with Brett Michaels." So the prize in this case would have been Brett Michaels. Except for not really, because none of those "dating" "reality" shows actually have anything to do with dating, right? Lacey made her name by being the villain on the show (how can one tell?) and then went on to another spinoff of the show, "Charm School" or "Human Dartboard" or what the fuck ever. I summarized this information for Brett with a super-optimistic "I hope she doesn't suck!"
"Oh man, now you've got ME worried."
As exciting as it was to bask in the raunch of the original Lord, Praga Khan, ostensible front-woman Lacey Conner was distractingly weak. She was like the girl in high school who could almost sing, but had that Rocker Chick look going, so people let her anyway. Her voice was too thin for the material, small and with too-little range, so their solution was to raise her volume, which left her distorted. Yes, she pranced around in a bustier, flung her hair and rubbed her ass on the amps, but she had neither the purr nor the growl required to really carry a perv anthem like "Pussy." Let me make something clear; I wanted to like her. I really did. Aside from the fame-whorishness of her "reality" career path, she seems like a woman who wants to make something happen. I just don't think this is going to be it.
Speaking of strippers, in my first hour of the venue, I noticed a higher-than-average stripper quotient, plus the dooshers who trail in their wake. At first I thought I was imagining things, or that maybe it just seemed that way because the heat was necessitating the peeling of additional layers. (In fact, I asked Brett to remind me next time to just wear a swimsuit, which he dutifully wrote down with his invisible pencil on his imaginary note pad. Thanks, Brett!) Just before TKK took the stage, a theory formed in my head. I asked Brett — not because I thought he'd know, but because he was the person standing next to me — "Do they play a lot of Thrill Kill Kult or Lords of Acid at strip clubs?" Brett smiled and asked, "You've heard them before, right?" Well, yeah, but not at strip clubs!
Oh. Right. Duh. This is the band that brought us "Pussy," "I Sit on Acid," and "Spank My Booty."
Ultimately, I have to say, this was not one of the better shows I've seen this year. The sound was problematic, the bands did not seem on their game, the venue was criminally hot (and sincere thanks to Lacey for spraying the crowd with bottles of water, we were like dogs in a parked car out there) and the service was crap.
And I had a great time anyway.
The crowd was excited and, uh, excited (oh, the grinding!), the mosh pit was small and well-behaved, and there was an apparent absence of those dickheads who seem to go to one concert a year just to ruin it (I'm excluding Drunken Blonde Mess from this characterization, because, annoying as she was, she was being overly friendly, not overly dickish). I'm even looking forward to going back to Blondie's sometime, as long as the weather is below 75°.
I also want to thank (and marvel at) my Detroit brethren for managing to still smell pretty damn good, by and large, even with sweat dripping off their elbows. Really. I mean it.