By Martin Cizmar
Electric Six singer Dick Valentine is your pathetic uncle, and last night he showed up at The Clubhouse in fine form: buzzed, doling out insults and begging for cash. For those of you interested in making a full accounting, Valentine does not like John McCain, Gin Blossoms, the Arizona Cardinals or the good people of Kingman, Arizona. Valentine does enjoy looking like the coked-out lounge singer facing eminent execution in a mob movie, not dancing and begging for money.
Like, literally begging for money: “This is really awkward but I need $136. Think it over,” he said after the encore break. I did not doubt his sincerity.
Electric Six was not always so pitiful. Back in 2003 they recorded Fire, a great album, and had a huge single, the Jack White-enhanced “Danger! High Voltage.” The band supposedly paid White $60,000 for his backing vocals, and it was money well spent, as Valentine is still coasting on that success five years later.
And, really, besides “Danger!” and a few other catchy songs (“Gay Bar” and the encore closer “Dance Commander”) Electric Six had little to offer a healthy Monday crowd. For a band with so many songs about dancing, they barely moved. The showmanship was there, in a half-assy sort of way, as Valentine played the first two songs covered in a cape, then played two more before leveling with the crowd: “Those are the four worst songs we got.”
The worst moment of the show was yet to come though, in the form of an extended bit about how much John McCain and the Gin Blossoms suck. The diatribe was followed by “Rock and Roll Evacuation,” one of the band’s more listenable – and “listenable” is the right word – tracks not on Fire, but it was soured by a five-minute Arizona-bashing introduction.
For the record, not only are Gin Blossoms a better band than E6 could ever hope to be, an Arizona band topped Dick this very night, as Kinch killed. Kinch, to be featured in this Thursday’s paper, showed remarkable timing while lashing around the stage on “Fare Forward,” the first song off their album Advances, while “In The Library” was a glorious feedback frenzy.
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The other headliner, two-piece post-grunge act Local H, was solid, with drummer Brian St. Clair banging the skins hard enough to not look silly wearing gloves and singer/guitarist Scott Lucas creating some intensity on the sing-along closer, “Fuck Yeah, That Wide.”
Still, it was Dick Valentine who set the tone for the night. Happily, I’d be surprised to see his band continue too much longer, leaving us to remember them as they were in 2003. Hell, from the way Valentine was talking, they might not have the money to make it to their next gig. Maybe Dick should call up Robin Wilson – the Gin Blossoms frontman has plenty of dough.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Electric Six, Local H and Kinch at the Clubhouse in Tempe on November 10.
Better Than: Having to ride on a tour bus with Dick Valentine, presumably. No wonder this guy is the only original member of his band.
Personal Bias: I really loved Fire. I also really like the three big Local H songs they didn’t play: “Eddie Vedder,” “Bound for the Floor” and “All the Kids are Right.” I could care less about the hit they did play, "High-Fiving Motherfucker," which has always struck me as a cornier (somehow) version of Nada Surf's "Popular."
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Random Detail: Some kids in the front of the crowd were fired up, pulling a mic off stage to yell, “Come back, come back Electric motherfucking Six” during the encore break.
Further Listening: Kinch’s debut album, Advances, which you can download for free. You are a fool to not clink that link.
By the Way: I miss you, Rock N Roll Indian.
Photos by Jonathan McNamara