Tuesday, Aug. 11

A delightfully unholy racket charged out through the Plush back patio as the tormented wail of guitars segued into mad hoots and cheers. It gathered night people, ready to bust out of the frustrations of the day, the exasperations of the world and the constraints of normal life in general.

Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers lured fans like moths to their outrageous flame of chaotic, aggressively ebullient catharsis. Frontman J.D. Wilkes' in-your-face screams, shirtless wriggles, double-jointed struts and flying sweat were what the stage-huggers had come for. As Wilkes cantilevered over the crowd from the lip of the stage, mugging and screaming, fans shook their fists in his face and screamed along.

The set-long tempo varied little from warp speed behind Wilkes' nonstop antics. Bassist Mark Robertson shredded his upright inexhaustibly, and somehow, former Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison (Hank III) still generated attention-grabbing licks above the fray.

Second opener Bobby Bare Jr. can be charged with contributory mayhem, notwithstanding, or maybe because of, his cover of America's 1972 mega-hit, "I Need You." Bare had just released an EP that day: American Bread, covering songs by, as you might guess, America and Bread. But his set was as multigrained as Bare gets, and his influences seemed pan-musical—but all played loud, with intricate arrangements.

After a short set by his backing band of alt-prog-country-rock virtuosos, Ghostfinger, Bare opened with a solo-acoustic love song on guitar and harmonica as the crowd chattered away. All talking stopped, though, as Bare brought out his band, and with it, the full range of his explosive, singer-songwriter rock.

His lyrics, like his between-song nonsense, bear the scars of a razor-sharp intellect turned against convention, as in his arena-worthy murder rocker, "Valentine," and the AC/DC-quality "Bionic Beginning," which he said was "about Steve Austin, the bionic man, and his emotions and his feelings for Farrah Fawcett-Majors." Then there was the song he said gave a voice to the neglected concerns of necrophiliacs.

Tucson's El Camino Royales opened with a set of hotrod rockabilly surf favorites.


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