Fu Manchu Gas Monkey Bar & Grill Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Since I've been over here, I've been slowly but assuredly collecting bands I liked in the late '90s, like someone younger might collect baseball cards, or Pokémon, or whatever it is the youth of today enjoy. Bands I would not have had the chance to see back in the U.K., or that I might not have been able to afford to see, due to not being an adult. I think, I'm pretty sure at least, that Fu Manchu completes the set. This depresses me for several reasons that I will now expand on. Thank you for your support in this trying time.
Firstly, am I now going to have to listen to modern music? It has all these bleeps and bloops, and sometimes someone makes a whiny noise, and they all have names that aren't even words. I'm not into it, basically. Unless you had long hair and a guitar in the '90s, I'm just not ready to commit to you.
Secondly, 20 years ago? Really? The next time I blink, we'll all be 20 years in the future, modern music will be even more untenably awful, and I will look out of place at shows.
Finally, and by way of segueing to this review I am purportedly meant to be writing, everyone around me at the shows I want to see is old now. I began, some months ago, writing an irregular column bemoaning the general manners of the Dallas concertgoer, whose modus operandi involves a lot of shouting, pushing, terrible photography, and fighting. It turns out that, actually, I'm just really old now.
Last night I experienced what an old audience was like. Everyone was just kinda hanging out, watching the band. There was no scrum down the front. People were letting each other in. A man apologized for accidentally stepping on my toe while moshing in a non-committal fashion.
The most embarrassing stage dive of all time occurred, in which some dude made a big run-up to dive off the stage, realized that no one at the front of the stage was at all committed to catching him, and kind of half-heartedly flopped into the arms of someone. There was a VIP section where the employable metal heads could stand, and it had table service. Table. Service.
All of this is a far cry from Club Dada or Three Links on a Friday night. The furthest cry. I now realize that, far from criticizing the youth of Dallas and their often misplaced exuberance, I should actually have been mixing with my own kind, at theme restaurants with awesome stages built on the back.
Sorry everyone. I take it all back. Shout and photograph all you want. I would say a part of me has died, if that fact hadn't already been made hugely clear by the increasingly firm hand of Father Time.
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Anyway, as for the band, Fu Manchu were exactly as awesome as you might expect them to be. There isn't a single way you can go wrong with songs as good as "Evil Eye" and "Pigeon Toe," and it has to be said the sound quality at Gas Monkey is actually pretty excellent. Scott Hill hasn't bought any new clothes since 1994, nor has he addressed the hair situation, and that's just fine with me.
The main thing that makes Fu Manchu so very excellent is the fine balance they strike between the two California scenes they were born from and later came to influence, stoner rock and skate punk. It's extraordinarily entertaining, and there are no slow spots during the set. This is a band happy to still be touring, who are unashamed about playing the old stuff, give fair warning about the new stuff, and still go crazy for the loud parts.
Very few have walked the tightrope of two genres that shouldn't really go together but somehow do, and even fewer have done it with such ease and made it sound so natural. They're a good time, and there's nothing forced about their sound. They sound like they've been playing this stoner-skate genre for a lifetime, and it turns out they have. Their formula shows no signs of running dry, with a scattering of new songs that sounded as appreciably good as stuff that's 20 years old.
20 years old. Now that I've finished my collection, I should probably take up knitting.