Menu | Rating System | Guest Book | Archived Reviews:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

  PERE UBU w/ The Features  
  The Echo Lounge  
  East Atlanta, GA  
Reviewed by:
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

I wandered into The Echo at 10:30, alone. My fellow Minions having ditched me to go see a friend play elsewhere in town. They would take some friend they can see any time, over Dave Thomas, who might be dead at any point really. Whatever, i guess we all have our priorities.

I walked in on the last three songs by The Features. I had seen this band play at The Atlantis Music Conference a few years back, and i was none too impressed then. However, they have matured nicely. They are a four piece: guitar/vox, bass, drums, and keys. Their sound is organ-y Elephant 6-ish type stuff. Silly and poppy and heavy on the harmonies.

I really liked the songs i heard. This band has grown, and i now look forward to seeing them when they wander back through Atlanta.

Then, Pere Ubu. A friend who writes for a rival local 'zine once said to me, "No one who wasn't in Cleveland in 1976 can understand or enjoy Pere Ubu." This was his explanantion as to why he was not going to go to the show. My response, after a moment's thought. "But i was there. In fact, when they were recording their 'official bootleg' i was 5 and a half years old and waiting for my baby brother to be born (and he was born a mere 10 days after the recording)."

So, in some people's mind, i have a cosmic connection to this band. We share a geographic bond. And that is more than most people share with anyone.

So, what can one say about Pere Ubu? The band has consistently done whatever the heck they wanted, and done it well. Their infrequent albums never fail to push boundaries.

But live Pere Ubu are ... strange. Their music is "out there". It is as if you took a 70's guitar band, some avante jazz, and, well, Dave Thomas, and swished it all together in a blender with a lot of volume. Dave Thomas is the key. The man has no real comparison. He is a hulking behemoth with a high-pitched nasally voice, who stands on stage sweating profusely (with which i sympathize, believe me) and flailing his arms as he contorts his face and twists out the vocals.

I dunno what else to say. The man has some definite charisma of an unprecedented kind. He seems enormous. And i am not trying to make snide remarks at his physicality, but rather referring to some strength of ego, some powerful presence of mind. Seeing him perform is a sight to behold.

In addition to Mr. Thomas, the current lineup includes primeval Ubu guitarist Tom Herman, who has returned to the lineup lately. He plays a kind of hard bluesy style, reminiscent of Keith Richards. Very 70s influenced. This stood as a contrast to most of the musicians i see, who are more influenced by punk than the blues. Even though Pere Ubu (and, indeed, Mr. Herman) stand among the founders of punk, this guitar sound does not fall within that genre.

The current band also features The World's Shortest Female Bassist, a tiny little blonde woman who is named Michele Temple. Despite her small stature, she really thumped away on the bass from her far corner of the stage.

The live drummer seemed competent enough, but it is always the "electronics" that Robert Wheeler played that seem to define this band. This "instrument" seems to have long been a part of the Pere Ubu sound. However, i found that i rarely heard it during the concert. Basically, Wheeler stands amid a complicated mess of wiring and circuit boards. Imagine an old telephone switchboard situated near a bunch of disassembled PCs and you'll get a rough picture of what was going on. How the band moved this "instrument" i have no idea. However, as i said, i rarely heard it over the roar of the guitars and Mr. Thomas's voice.

Pere Ubu played for perhaps just over an hour. Most of what they played seemed to have come off of their last few albums. However, they ended their set with a glorious version of Non-Alignment Pact. This is, perhaps, one of the greatest rock songs ever made, with bitter vocals and soaring guitars. I'll admit that i was a little bored in the middle of the set, but seeing Thomas and co. flail through this one song was worth everything.

After the show, Thomas ran their merch table. Oddly i might add, as if he was unfamiliar with the concept of commerce. With each payment he would dig his wallet out of a pocket and file the money or make change. Then he would put his wallet away, and find the merch. After giving you the merch he would extend his hand to shake. Then the whole dance would repeat itself with a new customer.

He seemed happy to meet the fans, and overwhelmed after the furor of his performance.

But i got to shake his hand and say "Hi" after the show. I didn't try to explain our geographical bond, feeling that this might anger the other fans still waiting to meet The Master.

Maybe another time.

Related Links:

None available


Return to the top of this page. | Return to the Concert Review menu.