Cloven Blade with Dyneomight, Battlestar, Riot 99, Bangers and Jerkbank at the 360, April 26. Tickets: $5. Attendance: 260. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Cloven blade stepped onstage Saturday night at the 360 into a cloud of smoke and wind. Singer Ash Lee Blade greeted the audience with, "In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people, the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing, but their legacy remains here in the living rock... of Stonehenge!" OK, he didn't. But he might as well have. Instead, Cloven Blade immediately launched into a wailing gallop of schlock metal. I wondered for a moment exactly what a cloven blade might be, then decided I didn't give a damn because this was some of the funniest shit I'd seen in a while.
Clad in ripped fishnets, thigh-high lace-up boots, some kind of strappy leather bondage thing on top with a feather tied to his arm, Blade continually leaned forward into the fan he had set up onstage so his long hair could blow back in the wind.
He strutted, he writhed, he wailed. Guitars noodled and screeched. It was an excellent parody of early-80s hair farmer metal. The posturing! The smoke! It was sheer perfection! Maiden and Dio in all their glory!
But doubt began to niggle at my insane glee, which eventually gave way to confusion as the realization dawned that this might not actually be satire, but rather a very serious performance.
Could it be that the inspiration here wasn't Spinal Tap but Dio himself? Was this terribly clever or just terrible?
The sudden awareness that you might be laughing at people rather than with them is unpleasant. But, Jesus, even Maiden (who are great, don't get me wrong) know better than to behave like this any more.
I was relieved when they finished and Dyneomight, a band with an obvious sense of humour, took over. A fun bunch o' dudes in what I took to be bad wigs (though the Cloven Blade experience was so unsettling that I wasn't 100 per cent sure), Dyneomight pulled off some pretty good heavy house rockin', complete with exposed member.
Earth-shattering brilliance was lacking, but the performance was heavily subsidized by personality.
I also caught Riot 99, who played some très late-70s knock-off punk. Dug the Brit accent and decent John Lydon impersonation, and particularly enjoyed the Ejected cover, Dirty Schoolgirls. At first I thought they were saying "dead schoolgirls," then "gay schoolgirls." I was relieved to find out it wasn't the former.