Chickenfoot's logo is a lazy rectilinear reinterpretation of a peace symbol, the "track of the American chicken," in the parlance of the Teabaggers and the Ice Road Truckers, the demographic cohort comprising the band's core audience. "The 'K' is backward in the Chickenfoot logo," Kansas City blogger Dave LaCrone pointed out when I told him about the band's upcoming show at the Uptown Theater. "You should spell it that way in your review." Clearly, Dave knows that my fondness for untypeable characters is as wide and deep as my love of battle rap, the "poetry of the streets." Because of this deep insight into me, the things that interest me and how I might best express those interests to other people, I invited Dave to come along with me to the show.
I'm not going to exaggerate. Chicʞenfoot is pretty terrible in concert. But they're not like the absolute towering monument of garbage you might hope for if you were a pair of irony-tourists. Or, to put it in battle rap terms,
Yo, Listen up, listen up,
You musta' been pissin' up
Drivin' in your Kia while I'm ballin' in my Hummer
You trippin' on your words, I'm droppin' beats like a drummer
Uncloggin' your brain's gonna take some Liquid Plumber
I heard your mama's stupid, yo, but Chicʞenfoot is dumber.
Drop the mic.
There's a Navajo saying that goes, "I set out one day to make friends. On that day, I made no enemies. Another day, I sat down to write a Chicʞenfoot review. On that day, I made no friends with Sammy Hagar." Last night's show, after the jump:
Alt-geriatrica rock combo Chicʞenfoot is composed of four aging performers with varying backgrounds, sensibilities and levels of fame, pretty much like The View. The band appeals largely to aging women -- also like The View. Completing the Barbara Walters hat-trick, Chicʞenfoot is anchored by a sloppy doyenne untethered from self-awareness or real engagement with the culture at large.
But are they a "supergroup?" Classic Rock Magazine, the music magazine for Victrola enthusiasts, landed an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with the members of Chicʞenfoot last April which definitively answered that question. Meanwhile, AARP: The Magazine farted dolefully, swallowed a Lipitor™, and hit the speed-dial for Jamie Lee Curtis. Again. Presumably, that's all water under the Poligrip-cemented maxillary bridge, since, as of this writing, this is the top story at aarpmagazine.org:
Your move, Classic Rock Magazine. In the CRM Chicʞenfoot interview, dynamic frontman Sammy Hagar emitted the following irrefutable quote: "We're not a supergroup, we like hanging out together and the music is a bonus." Hey, he said it, not me: According to Chicʞenfoot frontman and tequila entrepreneur Sammy Hagar, Chicʞenfoot is not a supergroup. And the music? It's a bonus. Here's the non-super lineup:
Samuel Royston Hagarthorpe
Rocket propellant, burned with an oxidizer, produces a large amount of hot, pressurized gas which is forced through a nozzle and accelerated out of the back of the rocket to create thrust. This is a pretty good description of Sammy Hagar's singing voice and the otolaryngial/thoracic apparatus required to produce it. Pounds of thrust per square inch are a better measurement of Sammy Hagar's voice than decibels. It ain't pretty, but it's very impressive the way high-pressure water forced through a fire hose is impressive, particularly when directed at Iranian election protesters or small animals. Hair by Fancy Mister of Los Angeles. Orthopedic skater shoes by Vans for Seniors.
Michael Anthony Sobolewski
Workmanlike former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony is primarily known for his line of hot sauce. In a 2006 round of corporate cutbacks, Anthony was laid off by Van Halen Music Fabrication Concern, Ltd., and replaced in a blatant display of nepotism by Eddie Van Halen's 16-year-old daughter Wolfgang. Now he's been headhunted by HagarCorp.
Guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani is a famous and extremely talented speed-guitarist. Where an ordinary guitarist would use three notes, Joe Satriani uses 20. Basically, he's the John Moschitta Jr. of power-rock guitar. I don't mean to diminish his talent. Speed-guitaring is very, very hard! I've heard your pokey ass playing the guitar, Mr. Man, and there weren't any arpeggios, hammer-ons or pull-offs. Joe Satriani says, "I can't five-fret-stretch fifty fiii-iiive!"
Rhythmatist and Will-Ferrell-resembler Chad Smith is best known as the drummer for trash-funk garbage band The Red Hot Chili Peppers. His signature is tossing an endless supply of drumsticks into the audience from a large container hidden behind the kick-drum. I am so not kidding about the drumsticks. I know they're not the most expensive things in the world, but come on, it's not like tossing guitar picks to the crowd.
Before the show, Dave said, "These guys are professionals. They're not going to put on a really bad show."
"Right," I said. "It's not like the show is going to be transcendently bad. The best we can hope for is, like, normal bad."
Opening act Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam, a traditional rock combo from the Isle of Man, write the kinds of songs that are a total bastard to play in button-pressing video game Guitar Hero: Three fun chords repeated until the player is lulled and sleepy, bracketed by eight-minute guitar solos of masturbational self-indulgence and the complexity of, like, integral geometry on manifolds. Save up your Star Power for those solos! When the drummer came to a break beat that suddenly threatened to go on for more than eight seconds, Dave exclaimed, "NOOOO! Not a drum solo! Is this 1978?" Thankfully, it was an extremely brief drum solo, but that's like saying you're grateful that the pistol-whipping didn't last very long.
While the crew set up the stage for the headliners, Dave disappeared into the bar, returning with a beer. "I have never seen so many goatees in my life," he observed.
And then Chicʞenfoot put on a loud, frenetic and delightfully shitty performance of basically unknown songs from their eponymous album. I know it's hot under those stage-lights, you guys. But whatever rock-star charisma Sammy Hagar still possesses is pretty much nullified whenever he pulls up the hem of his T-shirt to wipe the Nixonian flop-sweat from his forehead, thereby exposing his fish-belly pale beer gut in all its epididymal-white-adiposal glory. Which happened a lot. It's a long, hard road for a rock star, and Hagar's documented inability to operate an automobile within the legally posted speed limit has probably given way to his inability to find an address without driving very, very slowly up and down the street several times.
During a song called "Down the Drain," Michael Anthony set aside his Chicʞenfoot-logo bass and pulled out the famous Van Halen-era Jack Daniels bass, and guess what? It sounded exactly the fucking same. It's a bass, y'all. Bumbada-bumbada. Whereas Satriani's expertise and discernment in the field of guitar wankery probably requires him to swap out axes every now and then (I guess), did the Jack Daniels bass have some special tuning Anthony needed to pull off the subsequent songs? I just don't care.
Side-projects rarely overcome the stigma of a personal hobby -- The Raconteurs are pretty good, but after a while it just seems like Jack White's model railroad, you know what I'm saying? I tried to suggest that to Dave during a lengthy Satriani guitar solo, but it was too goddamn loud for "analogy" at the Uptown. So I made devil horns with both hands and went, "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Dave concurred, adding, "YEEEEEE-EEEEEAH!" But the sentiment holds. Chicʞenfoot is a basically forgettable nexus of power-chords, unconsidered lyrics and a repertoire of pre-programmed on-stage rock-star posturing these guys have been repeating for decades. During "Oh Yeah," the first and presumably only single from Chicʞenfoot's album, the audience proved my point: The song is a blatant attempt at a fist-pumping anthem, and for the video, the band created some specific hand gestures to accompany the lyrics, ala "2 Legit 2 Quit." And while the crowd knew the lyrics, and responded to the performers, nobody bothered with the dumb gestures. OH! YEAH!
In conclusion, RECOMMENDED WOULD BUY FROM AGAIN.