White Cowbell Oklahoma with the Demolition Doll Rods at the Mod Club, May 14. Attendance: 400. Tickets: $15. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
White Cowbell Oklahoma at the Mod Club ? OK, say that with me again. White Cowbell Oklahoma at the Mod Club? In the annals of artist/venue mismatches, this one sounds like it'd be right up there. But as I observed the odd assortment of characters milling about pre-show, it all seemed surprisingly on target.
Was it Picadilly Circus meets Jim Rose's Circus Sideshow? Not quite. But there was something meaningful about watching budding Rods and Wellers or the Ibiza crowd of the Mod's style council rub shoulders with the bearish bikers, neon cowboys and peep-show fluffers White Cowbell attracts.
The red curtains opened and the MC, top-hatted and cane-waving, introduced the openers. The Demolition Doll Rods ' Christine , Margaret and Danny stalked out of the wings with typical Doll Rod fuss, each in their own manicured state of undress. The Doll Rods might not be people you'd want to see in the raw, but we applauded them for not caring.
They dieselled through a set of hard-edged three-chord rawk, Margaret wailing sassy nonsense, Danny tossing off the occasional squealed harmony (the pair of them acted out like kids playing rock star in the mirror) and Christine beating skins in the back. They want to be the Runaways. Fine. No problem. Except that they all want to be Cherie Currie and are way, way, way past being jailbait.
When White Cowbell hit the stage at nearly 1 am, the room was packed. Tendrils of illicit smoke started to creep out of every shaded corner. In a booth somewhere, a friendly biker with a bag full of midnight runners counted his ducats. OK, I made up that last bit. But White Cowbell's roadside burlesque and chicken-scratch camp is exactly the stuff that meth made.
When piss-and-vinegar vocalist Jessup H. Christ belted into the first lines of San Antone, the crowd expelled a collective sigh, which quickly gave way to whelps of approval - the audience was stoked. Occasional defrocking performances from the women of Cowbell kept the fires burning hot. The seemingly limitless boys in the band (was that three or four guys on guitar?) shotgunned through the best of their hillbilly hokum and trailer-trash-talking ditties at a relentless pace. The crowd seemed spent and happy at the end.
So why did it ring just a little hollow? Because hokum is hokum, and hokum doesn't bear much thought.