Sick Dick & the Volkswagens

Sick Dick & the Volkswagens

with Grain and 93 Octane

Hardback Cafe, Gainesville • 11.22.97

93 Octane started the evening with a kinda sludgy metallo-punk song, then followed with a mid-paced hardcore song with a touch of emo, which had a double speed part with a fast walking bass line. The bassist handed his bagged bottle, sitting atop his amp, to a girl in the audience, who obligingly took a swig. I love the Hardback.

The rest of 93 Octane’s set was hampered by guitar and amp problems, including the old Hardback bugaboo of overtaxing the P.A., even though none of the amps were miked. People have got to learn that the Hardback is a small club with a small P.A., and set their amp volumes accordingly.

Grain didn’t have such problems, though they had the twin advantages of a less “shouty” style and a lead singer who used to run sound for the Hardback, and who thus seems to always be able to be loud without being too loud. Their set was great, and opening with a classic crowd-pleaser like “Edie” didn’t hurt. The set included great new songs from Rob McGregor’s new solo release, like “Like I Care,” plus “Better Off Dead” and their cover of the classic Flamin’ Groovies “Shake Some Action.” Tran-freakin’-scendent.

Sick Dick and the Volkswagens had a tough assignment in closing after Grain, but I was very favorably impressed by their set. Beginning with the obligatory Tom Walls (who was Minister of Information for Gainesville punks the Jeffersons years ago) over-the-top introduction, SD & the VW’s played a 60’s influenced garage punk that’s unlike anything else being done in Gainesville right now. Songs included the great “Teenage Prostitute,” which I remembered them playing years ago at their last Hardback performance, plus another called “Voodoo Doll.”

Plus they have a great visual appeal, from a “too cool to be trendy” perspective. Sick Dick himself looks like nothing so much as a geeky professor-type. Wearing an 80’s-looking suit jacket, glasses, and with a receding hairline, he’s the antithesis of what a rock or punk singer “should” look like. Yay! The bass player was wearing a “Scared of Stares” (an ’80s Gainesville alternative band) T-shirt, while Ivan (who used to be in the aforementioned Jeffersons) was his unassuming self, but playing his good ol’ Gibson Firebird, which is a really cool guitar. The lead guitarist was also wearing a suit jacket, with wrap shades and devil horns on his head, and playing one of those new retro-looking Fenders. The blonde drummer was wearing a glamorous sparkly gold minidress.

Another great evening at the Hardback. It’s back. Go there.

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