Live Wire

by Tim "Major Mit" Greiner

Because this is so important, I'm going to say it first so that those of you who may tend to read Livewire a piece at a time won't miss it. On Sunday, May 5 you have the distinct opportunity to show this area that you care about original music and catch eleven solid hours of pure rock 'n' roll festivities at the same time. I am referring to the "Save The Rage" benefit concert to help keep one of the Mid-Atlantic's absolute finest live clubs from getting swept away in the wake of economic recession and public apathy.

This is the same Rage that featured over 400 different live, original acts since its inception. The same Rage that allows music lovers of all ages to walk through its doors and experience this area's best talent. The same Rage that never veered from the path of true rock 'n' roll for some more lucrative gimmicks like disco.

And now The Rage needs you more than ever. Steve Cook, the club's owner, has lined up nearly half a day's worth of live rock including such bands as City Fixx, OrangeSeed Parade, Easy Mickey, Raisin Brain, Stripper, Mary's Suicide, Temper Temper, Ragady Ann, Chemikill, and a special acoustic performance by New York City's Skin and Bones. You can witness the extravaganza for only $15. That breaks down to $1.50 a band! Plus, Steve is offering a buffet from 4:00 until 8:00, so you won't need to go down the block for a pizza.

Now if you're thinking, "Hey, if I don't go, someone else will in my place," think again. That attitude is exactly what got The Rage in the straits it's in. We need all of your support to make this work, and you can bet your left cowboy boot the ROX staff will be the first in line to buy a ticket. So let's remember how comforting it is to know that on any given night, there's an original band playing in Baltimore and support The Rage May 5. Okay, on with our regularly scheduled program.

I can't help this great feeling I'm getting, people. Every day the sun rises higher on the horizon, and spring fever has struck me so bad I can't see straight. Now I know a lot of you are going to nag and complain about the impending heat wave of summer, but if you're like me, you look forward to working up a good, healthy sweat just by walking from your car to the pool. With that in mind, let's dive right into last month's flurry of rock 'n' roll activity.

The most notable feature of the past month is the number of personnel changes and band transformations that have occurred. First on our list, Snydly Crunch has solidified its lineup and proved that two years off the stage don't necessarily ruin a great band. Their April 26 gig at The Paragon was a colossal comeback, and they did it almost exclusively with original material. The schmooze grew thick when, at the end of their second set, the band invited Tommy of Tommy and the Love Tribe on stage to front one tune. Before the song was over, DC101's Kirk McEwen had approached the stage and joined in on the microphone duties as well. Snydly Crunch's current roster features new lead vocalist Sean Mitchell, who also shares in the lyric writing chores, guitarists/backing vocalists Michael Ricketts and Andrew Faile, bassist Ritchie Rich, and drummer Karl Seiler; the talent that abounds in this band will almost definitely emerge into a Snydly Crunch that is better than ever.

Peking OPERA have also played the musical microphone stands game, bringing on a new bassist and drummer. Trust me that the new lineup is a powerhouse of talent, and you can find out for yourself at The Rage on May 25.

Psychoboy have entered the musical personnel orgy as well. Vocalist Jeff Henderson and guitarist Jason Mitchell are currently rebuilding Psychoboy after the amiable departures of bassist John Urbanski and drummer Sean Sheya. As of yet, the new roster has not been completed. Jason and Jeff intend to make sure their choices are the right ones before setting anything in stone, and we'll keep you posted when the results are in.

Next up, Problem Child are undergoing a metamorphosis in an attempt to assemble their dream crew. As guitarist Ronny Eckers related last month, ex-Crack the Sky keyboardist, Vincent DePaul has become an integral part of the band. Other recent additions include Spike Settles (Never Never) and drummer Timothy Grant (Inane Violet). The only thing that stands between them and audio wholeness is the right bassist. To complement the new lineup, the band has adopted a new name, Betty In Black.

Surprise attack of the month. . .a thrash band called Damnation. I recently popped their One Grain Of Truth tape into the deck for an earful and was awestruck by this band's sense of musicianship and tasteful writing. Further research shows that these guys are only 16 to 18 years old! Stick with it, Damnation, and you'll be unstoppable by the time you scrap your fake IDs. Hey! Don't call the police; I was just kidding!

Well, I've finally done it. I finally trekked down to Rockville and caught a show at Manny's. The joint was packed on the 13th for a Kirk McEwen Band, Koda, Peking OPERA triple bill, and though the narrow aisles between tables were barely enough to squeeze two people through at a time, the sound kicked and so did the bands. Peking OPERA opened the show with another in their recent series of acoustic sets. I witnessed many "OPERA virgins" amazed at Siege's and Shank's vocal grace and soulful performance. Kirk McEwen and band (guitarist Mark Williams, bassist Tim "Get Down" Karns, and drummer Elliott DeLuca) followed Peking OPERA with a strong set of danceable rock covers that had the floor bouncing under the bodies. Their best numbers included The Black Crowes' "Hard to Handle," Rick James' "Play That Funky Music," and The Cult's "Love Removal Machine."

As the night turned into morning, Koda took the stage and showed the Manny's crowd their incredible talent and poise. Frontman/bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Ken Stough, keyboardist Rob Harvey, and drummer Dirk Phillips proved that they are veritable masters at their crafts, but their set would have benefited much from a stronger mix of the gutsy originals I remember them writing a few years back.

Don't forget; Music Business Forum 6 is fast approaching! May 11 and 12 will find the ROX staff at the Washington Marriott Hotel, and if music is your thing then you should be there too. Our very own Sue Hodges will be speaking about Metalmania: Hard Rock Dominating the `90s, and Lillian Axe drummer Gene Barnett will be speaking about The Music Business: An Artist's Guide to Survival, both on Saturday, the 11th. For more information call <number removed>.

Were you at the Wrathchild America/Pantera show at Hammerjacks on April 20? If so, you were far from alone. Thrash fans packed the place to the gills, creating complete bedlam in the pit during Pantera's furious set. The leapers and divers were in rare form, at times outnumbering the band onstage. All was well until one airborne fan found a hole in the crowd on his descent and met floor tile face first. Fortunately, I'm told, the injuries were not serious, but the incident did prompt an intermission PA announcement that, to prevent further injuries, all stage diving should cease. Wrathchild America emerged to find a slightly thinned crowd, but their musical intensity shook the rafters nonetheless.

Last month I wrote that Hammerjacks management played Extreme's "Get The Funk Out" in response to the audience's disapproval of the intermission dance music at the Lynch Mob show. Actually, dj Rappin' Ray played the song. So sorry.

May MitBits