Gaza Strip, 5ft2, The Monster

Vaudeville Cabaret, Sunday, Aug. 13

This show was originally billed as Fuckin' Kenny, 5ft2 and Vile Boys, but when I arrived at Vaudeville, I was informed that, aside from 5ft2, the new slate had The Monster replacing Vile Boys, and Gaza Strip replacing Fuckin' Kenny. Oh well. Three local acts I hadn't seen before in one sitting is a nice way to play catch-up.

The Monster is one of those bands you get a handle on the second you hear the first few bars: blues-rock power trio that practices in the garage of someone who allows them to hang Cream and Hendrix album covers on the walls for inspiration. They're fronted by a singer-guitarist who truly can make his Strat wail (and occasionally allows himself too much space to wank), and who made up for every flat vocal note with enough passion to forgive him. Along with the obvious Cream and Hendrix obsessions, they also made time to bring up a guest MC for a hip-hop take on Bob Marley's "Soul Rebel," and run through an endearingly ragged take on Dylan's "Visions of Johanna." But really, every song sort of sounded like a cover, anyway--and that's neither praise nor criticism, just a fact.

I missed the first couple of songs by solo acoustic act 5ft2 (aka Aaron Marsh), but pretty much got what I expected--jokes in song form--and a couple things I didn't expect: heartfelt renderings of covers. The latter came in the form of a set-closing tune from Hedwig and a pretty straight reading of the Monkees' "Stepping Stone." The former came in many forms. When Marsh asked the audience if anyone liked Sufjan Stevens, I was the only one who raised my hand, and he responded with a song that lasted about four seconds, the lyrics of which commanded Stevens to "get some balls!" His response to finding out that Yoko Ono married some other dude a year after John Lennon was shot was a song shorter and even more to the point: Its only lyric was, "Bitch!"

Gaza Strip have obviously studied their Nirvana and Pixies textbooks, but seem to have skipped the chapters about incorporating hooks into their songs. When they announced they were going to play a cover, I'd wager that no one in the room was surprised that it was "Where Is My Mind?"

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