at the Troubadour, April 3
"What are you doing tonight?" "Oh, I'm going to go see my favorite band!" When was the last time you were able to say that and mean it? I wasn't alone in my feelings, given the fact that underground Norwegian band Turbonegro sold out the Troubadour in less than an hour, creating enough demand to add a second show the same night, which also sold out almost instantly. Judging by the reaction from the throng, anticipation for the recently reunited six-piece denim army created full-on Turbomania. Why? The key reason is the group's last official studio release, 1997's Apocalypse Dudes, which many hotshots (such as Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers) proclaimed as the best rock album of the '90s, nevermind Nirvana or any other contenders. Despite the album being embraced by forward-thinking rock fans worldwide, the group called it quits in '98 after a grueling tour, officially citing "religious differences" in the press. Undaunted, the group's European label assembled a star-studded tribute album that subsequently spiked demand for a re-formed Turbonegro. They reunited, recorded a new album, toured Europe, and recently toured the East Coast as guests of Queens of the Stone Age, who are true Turbo fans (Turbojugend) and who recorded Turbo's "Back to Dungaree High" for the tribute.
Turbonegro took the Troubadour stage like conquering warriors. Opening with "The Age of Pamparius," their set closely mirrored the highlights from Apocalypse Dudes, with one lone selection from their upcoming studio opus Scandinavian Leather, out domestically next month. Two favorites from their earlier Ass Cobra album met with similar audience glee, and seemingly the entire crowd knew the words to the anthems "Midnight NAMBLA" and "I Got Erection." Vocalist Hank von Helvete, resembling a well-fed Charlie Manson in Love It to Death-era Alice Cooper makeup, sported a cane and denim cape as he led fans through sing-alongs like "Prince of the Rodeo" and "Good Head." Euroboy, lead guitarist extraordinaire, is the ultimate successor to the glam-noise crown of Mick Ronson. His smooth but energetic slow-hand Les Paul solos ripped through the P.A. like a gilded dagger. The band's powerful twin-guitar attack draws from sources such as the Dictators, Ramones, Cooper and Spiders-era Bowie.
Hard rocking but hooky as hell, Turbonegro's brand of apocalyptic arena rock is well poised to break out to a wider and younger audience tired of the manufactured punk and nu-metal shoved down its throat by corporations more concerned with fighting downloads than finding bands with anything real to present. Operating well beyond such clichés as metal or punk, Turbonegro could prove to be the last great real rock band --- a band whose ideals are held together by stubbornness, singular vision, humor, a disregard for common sense and good taste, and the ability to musically kick major ass.
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