The Haven Underground brings punk back to the stage Sunday with a concert by Dirty Filthy Mugs, Anomalys and King Automatic.
In the mid-’70s, when rock and roll became bloated with its own success, the punks emerged to strip the music back to the basics. Gone were the 30-minute keyboard solos and ponderous concept albums; short, loud, fast bursts of teenage fury became the coin of the realm. Led by the Ramones in the U.S. and the Sex Pistols in the U.K., punk blended early rockers like Elvis Presley and Bo Diddley with a political consciousness borne of difficult times. Eventually though, even punk rock became a parody of itself. Following in the footsteps of the classic rock dinosaurs they sought to usurp, punks became a hodge-podge of standardized fashion and cookie-cutter radicalism. While it’s easy to argue that punk may be dead, punk rock on the other had seems to have come full circle, incorporating the standard raucous ruckus with real musicianship. It’s comforting to know that third-wave bands like the Dirty Filthy Mugs, the Anomalys and King Automatic are bringing punk back to its loud, fast rockabilly roots.
Headliners the Dirty Filthy Mugs have earned their reputation as no nonsense, working-class punk rock heroes with a relentless touring schedule and their stripped-down, deafeningly loud anthems. Legendary shows at the hallowed 924 Gilman St. venue in Berkeley and a steady stream of releases have made the Mugs one of the leading lights of modern punk. Hailing from Los Angeles, they have shared stages with a broad expanse of rock royalty, including everyone from punk-funk pioneers Fishbone to the mercurial HR, lead singer of the phenomenal Bad Brains. With song titles like “It’s Madness That Kept Me Sane” and “Good At Failure” and band members named Timbecile and Lumpy, the Mugs make sure that the raucous, mischievous roots of punk rock are never forgotten.
While the Dirty Filthy Mugs deal in hopped-up American rock and roll, the Anomalys dig deeper back into the riotous roots of punk. Hailing from Amsterdam, the Anomalys bill themselves as “the Netherlands only negative tequila rock and roll sex trio.” While their command of the English language may be dubious, their mastery of three-chord psychobilly is undisputed. Blending primitive influences like Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Burnette with modern groups like the Cramps and the Revered Horton Heat, the Anomalys distill 50 years of American roots music into a single, thunderous racket. The trio is also visually arresting with each member standing over seven feet tall (with pompadour) and sporting low-slung Gretsch guitars.
Another sonic excavator who plumbs the depths of punk to uncover its bluesy roots is King Automatic. Hailing from France and using a sophisticated combination of electronic loops and lo-fi instrumentation, King Automatic lives up to his billing as a “one-man modern big band.” Armed with a chintzy Farfisa keyboard, foot-controlled snare and bass drums, guitar head-accented crash and high-hat and a revolving arsenal of harmonicas, guitars, maracas and tambourines, King Automatic comes across like a technologically enabled Jonny Halliday trapped in a primitive studio with Phil Spector. Close your eyes and you’d think you were hearing a whole band, but it’s just the King, seated behind a drum kit, pounding out a beat with foot pedals, grinding on an electric guitar and deftly layering loops of organ, percussion and harmonica. While his techniques are modern, the sound evokes echoes of vintage Sun Records, Dick Dale and steamy French chanson.
When these three groups take over the Haven Underground Sunday, they’ll be joined by KVMR DJ the Vinyl Avenger who will spin everything from vintage hardcore to sultry exotica.
Music kicks off at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door, BriarPatch Co-op, the Nevada City Box Office or online at http://havenunderground.org.
For information, go to http://havenunderground.org.