The Frogs, Beerland@Gallery Lombardi Tent, 1amThe Frogs, aka Dennis and Jimmy Flemion of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, first caused a ruckus with 1989's It's Only Right and Natural, songs of a fictional "gay supremacy movement" of which the brothers were supposedly members. Numbers like "Been a Month Since I Had a Man" and "These Are the Finest Queen Boys (I've Ever Seen)" were fine fodder for generating nervous laughter at parties, as well as stirring up shit from all sides. Pro- and anti-gay forces alike were up in arms, because neither could be quite sure at whom the Frogs' barbs were aimed.
The band attempted to trump themselves with 1993's Racially Yours, a collection of pro- and anti-racism songs that proved to be too hot a potato for even the most daring indie label. "That's just the way I compile the songs," shrugs Dennis Flemion, who claims that he and his brother each have more than 1,000 songs piling up and waiting to be recorded.
It's not a surprising boast from a man who admits that much of the material on the band's releases is "off-the-cuff improvisation," though Dennis seems frustrated that until recently, the band has had little chance to show off their more purposely crafted works.
"The band rocks live, dammit!" he exclaims, eager to counter the common notion that the Frogs onstage are a two-piece folk duo that happens to offend. "We originally started out that way," he says, "and there's a trend now towards that, but ... ."
But those who see the band live are actually treated to a hard-rocking show by a power trio consisting of Dennis on guitar, Jimmy on drums, and any of a number of guest bassists from a list that's included Eddie Roeser of Urge Overkill and the Breeders' Kelley Deal.
Dennis guarantees plenty of opportunities for audience members to laugh or get pissed off, as the current set list runs the gamut of favorite songs and subjects from the past decade, including treatises on separatism like "Purification of the Race" and "Now You Know You're Black" along with gay anthems from "Adam and Steve" to "Hot Cock Annie."
Despite the Johnny Rottenesque confrontational attitude behind the Frogs' music, Dennis Flemion seems to carry with him little of the former Sex Pistol's pretension, adding simply that he believes people who have only heard the Frogs' quietly disturbing on-record noodling "will be pleasantly surprised" by the band's live performance. Hopefully, they'll also be inspired to purchase the Frogs' upcoming, as-yet-untitled next album on Scratchie Records, and -- at long last -- Racially Yours, set to finally come out this year on gutsy Four Alarm Records.