THE EXPLODERS with the Deadly Snakes at the Gladstone Hotel, December 13. Tickets: $7. Attendance: 250. Rating: NNN
no, it wasn't a special karaokenight at the Gladstone. The Deadly Snakes merely commandeered the hotel's unrenovated main room to put on a Christmas party with their pals the Exploders, DJ Chico and Dan Burke, who was decked out in a red suit and white beard as the surly Santa on the door. As the joint quickly jammed tight with the Parkdale crowd, many were heard wondering aloud over top of Chico's choice selection of Mexican garage rock and sleazy R&B, "Why isn't everyone putting on shows in this place?" The answer was immediately apparent the second the Exploders plugged in and everyone looked stageward only to see the back of the head of the person standing in front of them.
Since there was no real stage apart from a small drum riser, the Exploders had to set up on the floor. So unless you happened to be a giant or standing right up front, it was impossible to see that they'd dropped the bondage gear in favour of a more businesslike black suit 'n' tie look. Evidently, all the latex, leather and spiked dog collars were attracting the wrong sort of groupie.
When guitarist Craig "Classy" Daniels struck his first power chord and it buzzed around the bare brick walls like a yellow jacket in a pop can, the other big reason why more bands aren't playing the Gladstone became clear: terrrible sound.
Not that the sub-philharmonic acoustics made much difference to the Exploders, who merrily blasted away with their more groove-oriented punk grind. Shaded singer man Simon Pious, rocking an impressive Rob Tyner-esque 'fro, gleefully took to pounding out squeaky-squealchy blurps on a Moog, which is the other new feature of their forthcoming disc, tentatively titled 2 and due in March.
Similarly, the Deadly Snakes didn't really suffer from the venue's sonic shortcomings. In fact, the extra distortion probably enhanced the screaming garage stomps they played from their just-recorded Ode To Joy disc due from Sympathy for the Record Industry in February. The battering new tunes seemed simpler and more direct but came with the same nasty bite for which the snarling Snakemen are revered. You've been warned.