Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Jerry Teel & the Big City Stompers at Union Pool, Brooklyn NY 9/27/08

By 11 PM, the Headless Hookers had finished, which was too bad because they sound like they’d be a fun live band. Triple Hex were already on by then: they’re good. The trio play slightly glam noir garage stuff in the same vein as Reid Paley or Kid Congo Powers, with a leering, Lux Interior Mad Elvis touch to the vocals. The frontman’s guitar solos were terse but deliciously noisy, frequently laced with squalls of feedback; the rhythm section kept it simple and strong. This kind of band sounds better the more you drink.


We’ve recently mischaracterized Jerry Teel and the Big City Stompers as a country band because that’s what they used to be. They’re so much more now. Teel is a New York underground legend, dating back to his days with dirgy noise-rockers the Honeymoon Killers, the equally noisy, faster and more fiery Chrome Cranks, gothic garage/Americana band Knoxville Girls and now this unit. He ran the popular Fun House Studios on the Lower East for years before relocating to New Orleans…just in time to get wiped out by the hurricane. It’s nice to have him back.


The band is vastly more energetic: they still play some country, but they’re putting the kind of sometimes offhandedly sarcastic and sometimes actually menacing noir spin on it that’s characterized most everything Teel has been involved with. This show started out hot and got even hotter as the night wore on. They opened with a boisterous country shuffle, lead guitarist JJ Jenkins putting some corny bite on his lead lines for a deliberately satirical feel. Their second song saw Teel and his inscrutable retro rock goddess wife Pauline trading off on vocals; the third, an eerie, fast shuffle possibly titled Follow Me featured John-and-Exene-style harmonies, the bass playing a minor progression against major chords, building tension.


After a swaying, pounding, Crampsish country blues, Jenkins opened the next tune with a classic Stones riff while the rhythm section did a spot-on take on the other, less glamorous Glimmer Twins (that’s Wyman and Watts in case you didn’t know), Jenkins doing his own spot-on Keith Richards when it came time for a solo. A slow country ballad and a garage song that could have been the Blues Magoos or for that matter the Fleshtones were next, followed by a scorching, guitar-fueled version of Loretta, the sly, swaying country tune that was a massive audience hit in this band’s previous incarnation. Then they did Shaking All Over. But unlike virtually every other band that covers this old garage chestnut, they held back: when they got to the hook at the end of the verse, it was almost as an afterthought, maintaining the night’s dark intensity. They followed with a surprisingly short version of the Knoxville Girls hit Hillbilly Boogie.


Teel and cohorts saved their best for last. Midway through their slow, blackly hypnotic, absolutely psychedelic encore, it was as if for about 90 glorious seconds, it was 1984 and this was True West onstage, Jenkins played gentle, beautifully fluid Richard McGrath style Telecaster melody as Teel went nuts, furiously chopping at a single chord like Russ Tolman at his most demented and inspired. Like cocaine, with one big difference: coke will kill you, while stuff like this will actually make you live longer.

September 29, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | , , ,

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