Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Concert Review: Pierced Arrows

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 10:40 AM

REVIEW BY DANNY ALEXANDER

Three generations of musicians played the Record Bar Monday night, and the show couldn't have sounded much more vital and coherent. Ironically, the most retro band of the bunch was Wrong Crowd!, the band with the youngest musicians. Formerly the Black Taratunals, they played a solid, high energy set of garage punk that might have been performed just about the same way in 1966. A strong cover of "White Rabbit" stood out because it managed to approximate the ambitious sound of the Jefferson Airplane's studio single while maintaining the Standells-like spirit of the rest of the set.

That was a cool way to start the show because Pierced Arrows lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Fred Cole comes directly out of that era. Cole's first band, the Lords, released a 1964 single, "Ain't Got No Self Respect" in 1964, and his second single, "Poverty Shack" was released a year later. He toured with the Seeds in a band with the too-close-for-comfort name the Weeds. That band would be archived on the hugely influential Nuggets garage punk collection with two different singles, the second in a more bubblegum incarnation called the Lollipop Shoppe.

This photo's from another show, but this is pretty much how it looked last night.
  • This photo's from another show, but this is pretty much how it looked last night.

As hardcore fans and those familiar with the 2004 documentary Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story know, Fred started playing with his wife, Toody Cole, on bass in 1975, and along with drummer Andrew Loomis, formed the punk band Dead Moon. Based in Portland Oregon, and using semi-sacred equipment crucial to the mastering of the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie, " that band released 15 albums and 11 singles over 18 years in which they also relentlessly toured, gaining a strong cult following, mainly in Europe.

Their current incarnation, with drummer Kelly Halliburton, is an entirely new chapter to the story, and the band plays with a fresh energy devoid of nostalgia. Their Monday night set focused on new material, like the infectious "Frankenstein" from Pierced Arrows' current album and "Paranoia" from a new single and presumably their upcoming album, tentatively called Descending Shadows.

Beginning around a quarter to midnight, the band rocked hard and fast until one in the morning. Not only was the energy level exciting, but the band was fun to watch. Toody Cole is particularly impressive, with a look reminiscent of Patti Smith and a way of handling her bass like a powerful weapon that had a throng of generally much younger women dancing in front of her and gaining strength from her energy the entire time.

But Halliburton came close to stealing the show, in the best sense, sitting at the front of the stage and using an expressive drum attack to anchor the aggression of both vocalists, Fred and Toody, flanking his right and left. Though the Memorial Day late night crowd was not large -- maybe 50 people toward the end, the show worked its way to a simmering mosh before the band's healthy dose of encores.

Another anchor for the evening, not to be forgotten, was Kansas City's the Big Iron. This bunch of thirty-plus-somethings played sledgehammer heavy, hardcore punk with all the energy required to set up a band like Pierced Arrows, a stand-out of their set being the threatening rave-up, "One Drink Away."

All in all, the night made a grand and unforgettable argument for the ongoing vitality of the punk aesthetic as well as the notion that age ain't nothing but a number. This writer, who was born about the time Fred Cole started making records, wishes he knew how to find and/or bottle whatever it is that keeps the Pierced Arrows' fire burning so hot. At least everyone in attendance got the benefit of a contact high.

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