Stabbing Westward

Stabbing Westward

with Placebo, Flick, and Gunburner

Jannus Landing, St. Petersburg, Florida • March 6, 1999

The show was billed as Placebo and Stabbing Westward, but somehow along the way, Flick, from Missouri, got stuck on the front end of the whole she-bang. Honestly, the only thing I could see from their live performance that Flick had going for them was an excellent drummer. He jumped about on the throne like a frog, but put out some excellent rhythms. The crowd wasn’t too impressed, either, as when the lead singer announced that it was their last song of the 40 minute set… a cheer went up louder than any they got from the whole performance. I may sound like a female chauvinist sow in saying this, but Flick’s bass player is a prime example of why females shouldn’t be in rock bands. It seemed as if the band desperately needed a bass player to get the deal with Columbia, so the rest of the band decided to pick the best-looking of their girlfriends and teach her three notes, because that was all she played all night. If she had cracked a smile, I swear, her face would have broken into a million pieces. And, for the life of me, I keep wanting to call this band “Plink.” My kid keeps telling me to remember “Flick your Bic!” to even remember their name. Not impressed.

Next up was Virgin recording artists Placebo. I overheard a Virgin radio person comment that Placebo was going to be “the next big thing in rock in 1999.” All I have to say is this, if Placebo is the next big thing in rock in 1999, then we’re all in for a very low year in rock and roll. Although Placebo is gaining a lot of attention from their radio hit “Without You I’m Nothing,” which was the last song of the evening for Placebo, it was also their only good song of the evening. The crowd, which seemed to have several Placebo fans intermingled in the Stabbing Westward bunch, cheered at the beginning of “Brick Shithouse,” but I found a lot of people escaping into the Tamiami Bar at the back of the venue just to get away from the lead vocalist’s whiny British singing voice. It’s OK for a few songs, but then gets right on your last nerve and jumps up and down on it in the end. Pass on this one, too.

Finally, what everyone had been waiting for, Stabbing Westward. Lit up like an industrial/techno/rock band Christmas tree, the band took the stage and bounced around for close to two hours spouting out all the favorites that have brought Stabbing Westward to where they are today. Lead singer Christopher Hall, commanded the evening and carried the crowd on his joy ride of teasing and slinking across green and red front lighting while strobes and ever-changing gels danced and swirled in the back. Heck, I’d pay just to see this light show alone, but add in the powerful and driven sound of Stabbing Westward’s throbbing basslines, Herculean drums, piercing guitars and keyboards, and you’ve got a Fourth of July fireworks presentation like one never seen before! “Haunting Me” was the second song laid out for the crowd of Marilyn Manson wannabes and Goth freak females trying their best to be angst-ridden and depressed enough to match the Stabbing Westward lyrics. Best up in this performance was the song that made Stabbing Westward a known name, “What Do I Have To Do.” The dark and looming crowd jumped like bunnies in a kettle and screamed their approval at the close.

Closing out the night was “Sometimes It Hurts,” with the explosion of a semi-truck full of lights and a good ten to twelve strobes crashing into my retinas all at once. I may be seeing little blue dots floating in front of my face for the next three days after that ending.

The whipped cream, nuts and cherry on top of the evening was discovering that Tampa Bay locals Gunburner took the stage in the Tamiami Bar at the back of the venue at the close of the Stabbing Westward performance. Gunburner are in the final stages of closing a development deal with Columbia Records themselves, and plan on going into the studio this summer for a four-song demo to seal that final coveted “real deal”. All in all, Stabbing Westward and Gunburner were a delight and a joy, and I’d give the last half of the show a double thumbs up. As for the first half, with Flick and Placebo…..well, I wish I had stopped for dinner on the way in and shown up late.

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