The Supersuckers @ Lee's Palace
By: Jen Reid
Mar. 13, 2009 – Toronto, Canada
Apparently, something was underfoot in Seattle, Washington in 1988 that had nothing to do with Pearl Jam or Nirvana. There, in the incubatory vortex that was to become Rock Mecca, USA, was the great swirl of The Supersuckers.
What Neil Young was to Seattle grunge, Bob Seeger must have been to the kind of Amero-roots-rock nostalgia meets hardcore that characterizes the Supersuckers' take on the Seattle thing. Of course, hailing from Tucson, Arizona might also have been a factor. It's a sound that could see them playing a non-stop tour of maximum security prisons and US military bases for the next decade. Or at least as long as we need a soundtrack for super-jacked mayhem and cock-forward aggression with an apple-pie twist
It might come as a surprise that they've opened for Neil Diamond. Yes, Neil Diamond. (Likely, they were cast as the Devils in Blue Jeans.) They've also received praise from every brand name out there: Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Little Steven and Lemmy Kilmister, to mention just a few. They've played backup with Willie on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and even at Eddie Vedder's birthday party. How sweet.
The Supersuckers headlined Lee's Palace on Friday night as part of Canadian Music Week. White Cowbell Oklahoma sufficiently primed the crowd who were collectively gagging for a Supersuckers session.
Frontman and bassist Eddie Spaghetti comes off as a pirate-cowboy (the name "Black Bart" pretty much covers it), and the genre proper of Supersucker is "Fuck You". This was reinforced by the affectionate forest of one-finger salutes that greeted the band as they took to the stage, and farewell-ed them at the end. The band, and its fans, retrieve that old-school punk vibe. There was some pseudo-mosh activity, illicit cigarette and weed smoking and, believe it or not, actual fan ejections by Lee's Police. Toronto had gone mad.
Punk as the attitude is, Supersuckers is at the helm of a straight-up, four-on-the-floor, rock 'n' roll recovery. "Alternative" can wither and die. Guitarists Rontrose Heathman, Dan "Thunder" Boltman, and drummer Scott Churilla churned out Supersuckers classics and tracks from the new album, Get It Together, with aorta-blowing power. And that wasn't the only part of the anatomy engorged with blood. The on-stage phallic festival included an actual cross-axe duel between Eddie's bass and Dan's guitar.
Eddie confronted the Canadian sensibility with the challege "do you want it for good, or for awesome?" and invited everyone to join up to the "Church of Supersuckerawesomology" where we could get the "Book of Awesometrics." Maybe that was code for the t-shirts and CDs for sale at the back. He played on our image as a bunch of tuque-wearing pot-heads with songs like "I Want the Drugs" and "Killer Weed". As Spaghetti said, you could smell the magic in the air.
"I Want the Drugs" brought on a downright explosion of bodies but "Killer Weed" was, by far, the most mellow song of the set. It had the crowd hugging each other, swaying and singing along, lighters aloft, and couples slow-dancing in the wings as though it were a Sarah McLachlan concert. I guess we all have our sensitive sides.
The highlight of the evening may have been the "Supersuckers Patented Fake Encore." The band, refusing to do that whole leave the stage thing, simply turned their backs to the audience, and after a few seconds pause, strode up to the front of the stage and put on facetious looks of humility. Spaghetti had one hand up as if to say, "stop, you're embarrassing me," while the other hand egged the crowd on to make some noise, like a schizoid traffic cop. It had its satirical effect, and the show went on.
Even though exhaustion had started to set in, I was buoyed by the enthusiasm of the crowd, who would have let Spaghetti and the rest of the band go on until Lee's was brought down by vibratory collapse. Hell yeah!
Video: "Bloody Mary Mornin'" by The Supersuckers