Concerts

Punk Cover Supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Returns to DFW in October

The punk cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, fronted by singer Spike Lawson, top left, will be at Amplified Live on Oct. 27.
The punk cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, fronted by singer Spike Lawson, top left, will be at Amplified Live on Oct. 27. courtesy of Leave Home Booking
The modern, undisputed gods of punk cover bands, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, just announced their newest tour, and it includes a stop in Dallas in late October.

The Fat Wreck Chords supergroup fronted by Swingin' Utters singer Spike Slawson will launch its A Real American Tour at the end of September, and its second-to-last stop will be at Amplified Live on Technology Boulevard on Oct. 27. The show will also include live performances by the Seattle activist rock duo The Black Tones and the Brooklyn punk band Surfbort.

Tickets will go on sale on the Amplifed Live website at 10 p.m. on Friday, July 22 .

The group also includes Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape, Lagwagon drummer Dave Raun and Fat Wreck Chords founder and NOFX vocalist Fat Mike on bass. They describe themselves as "more like a beer-hall Pussycat Dolls than a regular mortal band," according to the artist bio page on the Fat Wreck Chords website.

All of the group's music catalog consist of punk remakes of pop songs and classics. Nothing is off limits or too lame to be covered for the group. Their discography includes punk remakes of Culture Club's "Karma Chameleon," John Denver's "Country Roads" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and Barry Manilow's "I Write the Songs."

The group formed in the late '90s as a one-off project to cover chart toppers of the '70s with a 1996 performance at the famed Chameleon Club in San Francisco. Cape said in an interview with Scene Point Blank in 2014 that they didn't expect the group to still be on tour and turning out albums for longer than a year.

"It was just meant to be a band to play pubs for our friends, then we decided to do a few 7-inches," Cape said in the interview. "Then we made a full-length album from our 7-inch A-sides. After that, we started touring occasionally. It still makes me laugh when I consider that it is a cover band."

Each album seems to be a new challenge to make pop songs actual punk, unlike a certain line of albums of "Punk Goes ... " whatever. Each album explores a classic genre by taking its biggest hits and giving them the punk rock treatment. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Take a Break pays homage to '70s and '80s R&B and funk standards. The group's Are a Drag album covers classic show tunes such as Annie's "Tomorrow" and the main theme to Joe Masteroff's musical Cabaret. Sing in Japanese covers Japan rock hits such as Tulip's "Kokoro No Tabi" and The Blue Hearts' "Linda Linda" entirely in Japanese.
The group takes a MAD Magazine approach to punk cover music. They don't outright parody the music they produce, but embrace silliness with the full force of a three-car pileup — from the music to the album covers, whether wearing full Broadway drag for their show tunes album or dressing up like drunk, Martini-guzzling Shriners for their album of '50s rock covers.

Thanks to Slawson and the group's love for exploring unusual sounds and instruments to create great silly music — such as Slawson's ukulele cover album Uke Hunt (don't say it out loud at work unless you want a visit from HR), Me First and the Gimmes Gimmes likes to throw wrenches at listeners by finding surprising ways to cover the classics. The group's cover of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" turns the Oscar-winning diva ballad turns into an Irish stomp ballad that takes inspiration from the Celtic punk group Dropkick Murphys.

Few fandoms can get more pretentious than music lovers. So just imagine how refreshing it will be to go to a live show of intentional punk cover music and rock out to tunes to which you never thought you could slam dance to in your lifetime. It also doesn't hurt that they are the best punk cover band in the world. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.