Concert Reviews

Over the Weekend: Warlock Pinchers (almost) reunion at 3 Kings Tavern

Get Your Going, Murder Ranks and Caroliner Rainbow
Sunday, September 6, 2009
3 Kings Tavern
Better Than:
Anyone but the performers could have hoped for.

With Get Your Going you never really know what you're in for, and on this night, a big black podium sat in the middle of the stage bearing a sign that read "Crispin Glover Commemorative Puppet Show" in red letters. After a brief introduction from one animal puppet, another, a white rat holding a copy of a book that bore the inscription "Rat Catcher" on its tiny cover, "read" what was essentially "Selected Readings From Rat Catching" found on Crispin Hellion Glover's 1993 darkly comic Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution. The Solution = Let It Be. I hadn't listened to that album in years, but leave it to Andrew Novick, the mastermind behind this act, to drag out something that weirdly brilliant and obscure. The rest of the performance involved other puppets, two of them re-enacting a conversation Novick had with the real Crispin Glover and heard on the Warlock Pinchers' tribute album, Imposters! To top off the performance, Novick came out from behind the podium in a creepy clown costume to sing along to another Big Problem track, "Clowny Clown Clown."

Murder Ranks was up next and opened with the rambunctious "Surgeon Technique" and then proceeded to run through a set of fantastic dancehall and dub hybrid. During "Let's Fool Around," a U-Roy reference offered an appropriate touch. Mike Buckley's use of delay and edgy textures brought wild atmospheres to the music, while Ben Williams and Nate Weaver created solid but heady rhythms off which Wanush and Buckley could bounce. When Ranks closed with "Soundboy Why?" the set appeared to be over but Wanush called Novick to the stage.

The Murder Ranks set represented the first time in seventeen years that Novick and Wanush have shared a stage since the infamous Warlock Pinchers split. Wanush said that they hadn't even really spoken in about the same amount of time. With Novick joining, Murder Ranks did a set of Warlock Pinchers covers, including fantastic renditions of "Straight Out the Dancehall," "Arnie," "Flaming Mimes," and "Where the Hell is Crispin Glover?" But the guest appearances weren't done for the night. Tammy Ealom was called up to join in on "Island of the Misfit Toyboys." And, of course, the set wouldn't have been complete without "Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse." Rarely has a band elicited such abandon and mayhem at 3 Kings before.When the Pinchers songs were through, Wanush told the audience that this wasn't a proper reunion and that the audience should get the other three guys to come together and do a proper show with him and Andrew. We can only hope.

How can you describe a Caroliner Rainbow show without it sounding like you were taking serious hallucinogens? The whole stage had tapestries in day-glo colors all around with props hanging from the ceiling and a six or eight legged creature off to the side seeming to come out of a jack-in-the-box. When the band came on stage, each was attired to look like a band of mythological creatures from a post-apocalyptic future if everything went psychedelic. One bass player looked like he was wearing a mirrored television set for a head, while the other handled most of the vocals and sounded like he was desperately imitating the voices on "Aircraft Damage" by The Residents. All of the instrumental sounds were twisted out of their normal voicings and, in fact, the music was more like jazz as envisioned by a noise band rather than anything resembling standard composition. The entire performance was a bit like seeing Sid & Marty Krofft shows, Residents circa Cube-E, and Black Elf Speaks melded together.

Personal Bias:
I'm very much into bands with a sense of theater. Everyone on this bill qualified.
Random Detail: Ben Williams was wearing a T-shirt that said, on the front: "I Saw Warlock Pinchers' last show..." and " I'm going to kill myself" on the back.
By the Way: At least two of the other three Pinchers live out of state.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

Latest Stories