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Electric Six Reviewed

| March 29, 2006 | 0 Comments

Electric Six
Double Door, Chicago
Monday, March 27, 2006

Is a man able to smile for 90 minutes straight?

The answer, in Electric Six frontman Dick Valentine’s case, is . . . almost.

Valentine sported a slightly spacy, slightly cute, slightly psychotic – think Malcom McDowell in A Clockwork Orange crossed with Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man – grin for more than 60 minutes of his band’s Double Door gig, finally wiping it away when he and synth player Tait Nucleus took the stage to start E6’s encore with “Jimmy Carter.” Because it was only the two of them, Valentine sang and played guitar, intently focusing on his picking and giving the impression of a serious frontman – a serious frontman comparing the 39th President to electric underwear and quoting the Backstreet Boys.

To label Electric Six a joke band or novelty act is to imply a lack of talent or sincerity about their craft. Completely unfair, because Electric Six are extremely talented . . . at being stupid, and there is no better way to appreciate it than to see the band live. It’s one thing to hear songs like “Future Is In The Future” on CD; its persuasions to karaoke all night long and Macarena ’til the break of dawn are funny – the songs makes you chuckle. Seeing that song performed live, though, with Valentine circling the mic stand, arms flailing, bizarre grin – that’s where the material thrives. Valentine and the rest of E6 (Nucleus, guitarists Johnny Nashinal and The Colonel, bassist John R. Dequindre, and drummer Percussion World), after all, know their new wave/metal/disco garage rock doesn’t appeal to the palettes of rock’s vital tastemakers, and that’s why their records (February’s Señor Smoke being the most recent) aren’t made for that: They are custom built for the stage.

Valentine, the dapper-suit wearing mad scientist behind the band’s sound, opened “Rock And Roll Evacuation” with a truly enlightening State Of The Union Address: “Right now there are women waiting to be with a Bush, and create more Bushes. There is no hope for there will always be a Bush.” Never lacking the booty shakers, E6 pulled out “Improper Dancing” as well as “Dance Epidemic” and crowd favorite “Dance Commander.” Why no “Dance-A-Thon 2005,” guys? Valentine didn’t limit himself to dancing; he also did situps and leg lifts during “I Am Detroit,” the band’s tribute to their hometown, which you might have thought was Carbondale, IL depending on whether you believed Valentine’s earlier claim (he also told the crowd Percussion World “summers” in Schaumburg).

“Deep cuts” (as Valentine referred to them with fist clinched triumphantly) like “I Lost Control (Of My Rock ‘N’ Roll)” were a nice touch, but it was “Gay Bar” and “Danger! High Voltage,” the defining songs of 2003’s Fire, that proved, via cleverly dumb lyrics, big riffs, bigger hooks, and Valentine’s endless energy, why E6 can pack Double Door on a cold, rainy Monday night: They put a smile on our face (and obviously one on Valentine’s), and provide the opportunity to scream “Fire in the disco/fire in the Taco Bell!” in unison with 400 people.

— Trevor Fisher

Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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