The Vaselines 08/30/2012
The Bell House- Brooklyn, NY
Words, Photos and Video by Jay Porks
As someone who’s never been to Glasgow, it’s odd to be a veteran of Vaselines shows. In ’09 I caught them in at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Hipsterville. Then in 2010 out of nowhere they drop this awesome record, “Sex With An X”, then tour in support of it-successfully melting my face at the Webster Hall stop. Well tonight, it’s back to Brooklyn to a venue called ‘The Bell House’. Only good things being said about this place, and it seems pretty simple to get to: One bus, one boat, one train. Took the day off of my crappy day job to prep for this. Remember folks, this was a band that wasn’t together for almost 20 years. Is this a comeback of sorts? Let’s sure as hell hope so, because there are a handful of bands that certain people need in their lives to keep them sane, and the Vaselines make short list for this guy. You always know it’s going to be a good time when you know the band’s entire catalog off the top of your head, and if you’re seeing a killer photo above this paragraph, then my bitchin’ camera was worth every penny. So what do you say, shall we get the 76th edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series rolling along? Thought you’d never ask.
Got off the train, took a big inhale and said aloud “ahh Brooklyn”. I walked a few blocks and found the Bell House: 147 7th Street. They say it was a warehouse in the 1920’s. I believe it by the look of the outside of it, now it serves as a bar/restaurant with a back room for concerts. I got inside like 730 and waited by the merch table for the “doors” to be open( slated for 8PM). There are a few folks hitting up the box office for tickets, which are still available. They let us into the room contains a stage with two chandeliers dangling from the ceiling and a bar far left side. I notice in back of the room there is this area that’s 2 steps up and has bar stools and tables. Like the type of spot that would be roped off for VIP if there was any VIP here. Of course I grabbed that spot, right next to an outlet to charge my phone. Awesome. After I picked up my Vaselines tee shirt (for ten bucks!) a guy walks up and asks if there’s an extra stool for him, something with his leg. I let him know there was 3 others up here that’s no ones claiming, then he said hes “gonna be shooting video”. That makes two of us.
The opener is set to come on at 9, and at 926 the lights finally dimmed for ‘Schwervon’. The two piece came on stage and I was surprised that the hot chick is not only drumming but singing lead on songs, as both members sing too. So the guitar player sings one, she sings one, they harmonize and stuff. Pretty cool. “This next song is called American Idol”. The male/female dueling vocalists dynamtic of these two fits in perfectly with the band they’re opening for. It was whatever song that the lyric “fuck yourself” was casually thrown into the chorus, that was the point I officially proclaimed this band as cool. The two are dating or married I’d assume, as the next song had story about riding the Cyclone at Coney Island on their 2nd date( The song was called Cyclone). She sounds a little like Kim Deal. They had a song called “Cougar Pride”, and don’t worry folks, it had nothing to do with the college football team Mike Leech is the coach of. Then towards the end Frances McKee came to lend some vocal assistance one of the last songs of their set. They went off at 10:03 having won ignorant snobs like me over. Not a bad band.
After an extended wait for gear to be set up, The Vaselines came out like gangbusters at 10:31, jumping right into “Sex Sux(Amen)” and “Oliver Twisted”, two of the harder hitting songs in their catalog. Glad to see Frances and Eugene haven’t lost any of their sense of humor- the banter between songs is hysterical. Its all innuendo- you don’t hear any stories about cramped tour buses with this crew. Speaking of sex,, next song up was “Monsterpussy”, and during the opening riffs I’m starting to notice Eugene Kelly’s little underlying riffs that sort of fiddle into the songs when he’s not singing. This third time seeing them is anything but a let down at this point, as the three guitar onslaught buried the Bell House with fuzz and feedback while sustaining that melodic sort of “jingle-jangle” that has always been their signature. “Such a Fool” gave us our first Vaselines song recorded post-1990 of the evening. “The Day I was a Horse” followed, if you don’t know, it’s a song about tripping on LSD and pretending you’re a horse.
Did I mention that Frances Mckee looked extremely sexy in the leather jacket and sundress? Well I just did, I had noticed it since she came out with Schwervon maybe I just never had a good enough camera to notice. By the time the band was ripping through more newer tracks like “I Hate The 80’s” and “Devil Inside Me”, I was using that bar stool I was sitting on as a ladder, this crowd seems predominantly taller than others. The Devil Inside Me is such a dark jam for a these guys.
All the songs off “Sex With An X” are incredible-so amazing to be able to capture all this footage with a real deal camera. I was already getting every single song on video so far, I was on fire. So when the guy to my left says “You getting the whole show?”.. I paused and said “Hell yes I am”.
The beauty that is “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” was preceded by Frances getting into an anecdote about the“Wankerchief” (see Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam video). It’s filthy and brilliant, as was tonight’s version of this legendary track. “Hairy” followed…
then I called out “Molly’s Lips” a second before they busted into it. I knew it was coming because Schwervon was on stage with bicycle horns for this one and back at Webster in 2010, Jeffery Lewis (the opener)played bicycle horn on that song. Then came Sex with an X is the title track from the bands latest effort. Can’t help but think there’s deeper meaning in that title with Frances and Eugene then they’re letting on. Because they don’t look like a band up there cashing it in, just touring because they know that since Kurt Cobain was a fan people will come out and see them. It’s actually quite the contrary as they’re having tons of fun up there, like kids who’s parents left them home alone for the first time ever. The cartoony riff of this song is bouncing around the room while heads in the crowd are swinging back and forth with smiles on the faces of Frances and Eugene. The lyrical lovey-doveyness of “Slushy” is counteracted by the confrontational lyrics in “Poison Pen”.
“Bitch” and “Rory Rides Me Raw” followed “Son of a Gun”, the 5 or 6 folks in Nirvana tee shirts headed to the door as the last of the songs they know were played.
Probably told you this many times in the previous paragraphs about other songs, but “Ruined” is seriously the best track off this new record. It’s face paced, simple, heavy.
“Lovecraft” and “Let’s Get Ugly” went down before they ducked off stage for the encore at 11:49. Frances is mad because she wanting to play “Dying for it (Blues)” tonight, and they instead were going with “Dum-Dum”. Everyone cheered when they heard Dum-Dum was the choice, and Frances spurts out “I thought you were my friends!”. After they had a false start on it they killed it, then the final song of the evening was, as it normally is, “You Think You’re A Man”. The re-worked Divine song that they turned into awesome.
It was 12:02 when they were off stage and I was off to try and catch that 1AM Ferry. Seduced and sodomized once again by the Vaselines, and I loved every minute of it.