Saturday, June 15, 2013

Screeching Weasel at Irving Plaza

Screeching Weasel was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1986 and broke up and reformed numerous times, with at least 20 line-up changes. Ben Weasel (born Ben Foster) is the only constant member, with some of his former band mates formally claiming that the present band is not Screeching Weasel. The present lineup consists of Weasel on lead vocals, Zac Damon and Mike Hunchback on guitars, Pierre Marche on drums, and a bassist so new that I could not locate his name. Screeching Weasel recorded 12 studio albums.

Punk rock is alive and well, judging by the Screeching Weasel performance at Irving Plaza tonight. After 27 years, the band’s songwriting and performance formula remains the same. Sounding very much like the band that inspired them, the Ramones, the members of Screeching Weasel played short and fast songs about girls and mental health issues, even covering the Ramones’ “Lobotomy.” In authentic 1980s punk spirit, Weasel as elder statesman for punk rock, splayed one leg straight back and crouched on one bent leg forward, as he leaned forward and sang aggressively with a sneering attitude. Behind him the band played a three-chord buzz-saw rave-up. Even when a bit of an electric guitar lead was squeezed in between verses and choruses, it was simply a modified melody line. The songs followed one another in quick succession, and the few times the band stopped long enough for Weasel to get a few words in, anything he said seemed to seethe in bitter snootiness. In the end, the concert offered nothing new or progressive, but a time travel visit back to what made punk rock attractive in its early years.