Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., June 26, 2009
Meat PuppetsParish, June 20
Third acts should come with fireworks, so with the Meat Puppets' new Sewn Together already one of the best albums of the year, not to mention one of the jewels of the nearly 30-year-old institution's catalog, Saturday night at the Parish fell just short of a 90-minute ambush by the locomotive trio. Not that scalps weren't taken. Although promising the new LP live in its entirety in an interview last week, grim commandant Curt Kirkwood rotated in only a handful of new songs, kicking off with Sewn Together's opening title track in a cascade of electric picking. When Cris Kirkwood delivered the tune's second line in unison with his older brother, drummer Ted Marcus also chiming in, the show hit the fan and never looked back. "Touchdown King" undulated Cris' bass into Curt's drill-bit guitar, while the latter's avian whistle throughout twisted Disney aural animé "The Monkey and the Snake" rivaled Andrew Bird. The long instrumental intro and outro to "Up on the Sun," meanwhile, flash backed to Steve Hunter unraveling Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" live, its dive-bomb ending perfectly segued into the blunt force trauma of newbie "Rotten Shame." Double-timed "Comin' Down" rammed Too High to Die-mate "Shine" and a rare Cris lead vocal, doubled by Curt on the succeeding auctioneer verses for "Sam," the triptych corrosively raw. "Smoke" downshifted momentarily prior to "Tennessee Stud" jamming the headliners with equally fierce support act the Retribution Gospel Choir, starring Low rider Alan Sparhawk. A menacing "Plateau," thunderous "Look at the Rain," and the electroshock therapy of "Lake of Fire" built to the speed-boat whale sounds of "Lost" and hydraulic press of closer "Backwater." Southwestern Americana rocked with punk abandon and jazzmen's commitment to sonic fission rarely comes Sewn Together so seamlessly. Let's hope Meat Puppets is a five-act play.