By Benjamin Leatherman
Don’t know about y’all, but I really dig it when bands whip out a cover or two during their live gigs.
Whether it’s a song the band normally apes (like the Dead Kennedy’s parodies of “Viva Las Vegas” or “Rawhide”), or it’s just a rare, one-time-only kinda thing (such as Red Hot Chili Peppers’ send-up of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”), it can make a particular gig that much more memorable.
Example time: I was watching Valley punk veterans Family Circle do their thing in 2002 at J-Heads (which was still known as Jugheads at the time) and the band was absolutely kicking the ever-loving shit out of the venue during their headlining gig that night. It was a phenomenal set that finished in spectacular fashion when the band launched into a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s “Moon Over Marin,” and the crowd went totally apeshit. Most of those in attendance began belting out the lyrics to the song with FC’s lead singer, and at least a dozen punks (including myself and my best friend who was with me) crowded the stage while trying to holler the words into the microphone at the same time. It was unreal.
All these memories were brought to the surface lately as I came across a bunch of videos on YouTube of local bands doing the cover thing.
Just to get it out of the way, there’s no way I can write anything about this subject and not mention Mat Weddle’s acoustic rendition of Outkast’s “Hey Ya” (arguably the most famous cover by a local musician ever). I’m sure y’all know the story by now, Weddle (lead singer of Obadiah Parker) performed his unplugged take on the blockbuster song at a local open mic night in 2006, put it up on YouTube, and it got played like gangbusters, netting him international fame and attention.
Here’s the clip of the song, in case you’d like to hear it one more time:
Weddle and Obadiah aren’t just limited to mimicking R&B songs, as here they cover Radiohead's “Ideoteque” during last year’s Tempe Music Festival:
If I ever had to create one of those much-discussed “desert island mix-tapes” (i.e., a compilation I’d want to be stranded with on some lonely Pacific isle), I’d definitely be dubbing some Screamin’ Jay Hawkins on that bitch, particularly “I Put a Spell on You.” I really dig the song, and can safely say that goofy polka-punk locals Haunted Cologne do a pretty fair rendition with their gonzo cover.
Speaking of decent covers, in this clip the indie poppers of What Laura Says Thinks and Feels do a decent copy-cat job of “’Til There Was You” by the Beatles during a gig last year at Last Exit in Tempe.
Rounding things out are boys from The Liars Handshake, who play a pretty mean folk-punk version “Dirty Old Town” by the Pogues. Check out the serious singalong action from the crowd.