Shout It Out

Three-chord heroes take the hokey out of karaoke

The idea of punk rock karaoke isn't new, and the local version nicked the idea a few years back from a pioneering L.A. version. There, a band formed that starred members of Black Flag and Bad Religion and former Minuteman Mike Watt.

For aging punk semi-heroes with Peter Pan syndrome, the gig was a means to successfully live in the record collections of their youth while not having to worry about cash between recording and touring.

Punk Rock Karaoke initially formed to write songs, not cover them.

"The number-one thing is we just wanted to play," says Bernat. "And since I'm not really a songwriter, this is it. Besides, the shows are a great excuse to drink."

"The booze is all part of it," agrees Bryant.

The band's colorful between-song banter includes everything from Bukowski quotes to slurs directed at someone who just sang and sucked.

"My favorite songs are the ones that people come up and sing well," says Bryant.

He lists Agent Orange's "Bloodstains" and Misfits songs as crowd faves.

"The Ramones, too. People always come up and sing the Ramones well."

Bernat adds, "We were playing at Hollywood Alley, one guy screeched his tires pulling into the parking lot. He was singing along to 'Bloodstains.' He was practicing all the way to the show! And the same guy sings that song with us all the time. I don't know who he is; he's just some guy.

"It's just so great when we are all in synch and someone is singing well. People have a tendency to get out of control at our shows."

Bryant: "And we like it after a show when the song lists are ripped to shreds and thrown all over the bar."

Punk Rock Karaoke shows are packed, and not with karaoke-minded middle-agers who once took a chance on a Devo record two decades ago and thought it punk rock. PRK is full-on Anheuser-Busch-fueled blue-collar punk. Complete with onstage tuning, crowd mouthing "you fucking suck," unfeasible reworkings of the Clash's "I'm So Bored With the USA" or Circle Jerks' "In My Eyes" and girls airing their mammaries.

And like Joe Strummer minus the rotted gape, Bryant defines a successful gig as "when mayhem has taken over the place."

If you don't believe him, sport, then see for yourself. Punk Rock Karaoke rips punk hell at the Big Fish Pub in Tempe on Saturday, March 4. Sharing the bill is the Hollywood corner-lurking Capitol Radio and local punk lancers Dickie Staboner.

And to keep you in spirits between sets are the Destroy Your Generation DJs spinning sounds from the golden age of punk rock 'n' roll. Beforehand don't forget to vocalize along with a Dead Boys tune.

A riot of our own, indeed.

Contact Brian Smith at his online address: brian.smith@newtimes.com

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