At first blush, The Meat Puppets and Dead Confederate, who joined forces for a show at a half-full Marquee Theatre last night, don't seem to have much in common. Originating two decades and 2,000 miles apart the two twangy alt-rock bands acts do have some small musical similarities, but even more intriguing is the way both acts kinda-sorta owe their careers to Nirvana.
The Puppets, a Phoenix-bred band now billing themselves from Austin, Texas, have been around since 1980, with the most important show in their career coming in November 1993. They weren't on the bill, actually, but when Kurt Cobain picked three of their song songs for his MTV Unplugged performance (which went on to win a Grammy and sell 6 million copies) then had them join him on stage it was all the band needed to sustain a career for another 15 (and counting!) years. Dead Confederate, out of Athens, Georgia, has a more tenuous connection, sharing a booster in manager/label honcho Gary Gersh, who made his bones with Nirvana and has since acquired the power to play king-maker with other edgier-than-usual-for-a-major-label acts. Enter DC.
Though, like I said, the crowd was a little more sparse than you'd hope for at a big "homecoming" show for the MPs, both acts put on hard-hitting, shoe-gazey performances in Tempe.
Dead Confederate, who sound a little like a Bleach-era Nirvana as covered by Trail Of Dead...
had moments where they looked more metal than alt-rock, the five-member band plowing through their 2008 album Wrecking Ball with minimal, but gracious, interaction with the crowd. For people who are not just sick of the water-soluble Animal Collective sound but the sad state of what passes for "rock" on the radio today, Dead Confederate are a welcome breath of fresh air. If "Sex on Fire" is the problem, "The Rat" is the solution.
After a long between-set break the Puppets took stage to see a much larger crowd than their openers. Starting off with "Oh Me," which, like "Lake of Fire" and "Plateau," is on Meat Puppets II they played an assortment of material including this blog's titular track, "Up on the Sun."
When it comes to that song, we'll have to do what we can to publicize it, since Kurt can't help.
Last Night: Dead Confederate and The Meat Puppets at Marquee Theatre.
Better Than: I'm going to look in my crystal ball here and predict Dead Confederate's set is 40 times as good as fellow Athenians The B-52s' set at Fall Frenzy this weekend.
Personal Bias: Pro-Athens. As mentioned before, I'm an Elephant 6 fanboy.
Random Fact: Ever seen the "Kurt Cobain" signature Chucks which cost twice as much as regular Chucks? And you thought the selling out started with Rock Band.
Further Listening: Up on the Sun.