CMJ has officially ended but you would never know it as once again this week in NYC, there are a handful of shows that simply cannot be missed. There are bills you could only dream of and bands keep popping up more than once. One of which is a Danish band getting a lot of buzz called The Raveonettes.
When I first heard their EP, I felt like I had been steamrolled. I felt like it was raw NY punk all over again between the energy and lyrics of this Danish duo - I could only imagine what they would do to me live. The guitars alone clearly come from the same school as The Cramps' Poison Ivy. After missing their two NY gigs this past Friday and Sunday, I was not missing the third one last night at Mercury Lounge.
The rumor is that a major label has signed this band but it is not official yet and won't be for a bit, but by the looks of this industry fest inside the venue with many folks from a familiar label, it was clear to me who was behind this band.
But I am not about that - I came to fill in the missing piece of the big picture. I came because I love this band's record and I needed to now see them live. I needed to smell them, hear them and quite simply, have the shit kicked out of me by them. I moved up to my spot right in front so there would be nothing between me and them. Once the two Fender Jaguar guitars were done being tuned, the band took the stage. Those of you who own the EP know the duo on the cover - lead singer/songwriter Sune Rose Wagner and the Danish Dynamo - female bass player Sharin Foo. Wagner shows up with one of those fingerless biking black gloves on one hand; it was so fucking snazzy that I almost rented Breaking Away on the way home. This guy grabbed that Fender Jaguar as they launched into the opening notes of "Every Day" and made noises with this thing that would scare away all the Disney villains. It was a great tune - because the lyrics are so pleasant and soft over this bed of crunching distortion. Next, into what I feel is a signature tune, "Attack of the Ghost Riders," which had the room jumping a little bit. They were certainly making the walls drip. The duo was joined on stage with the two musicians from the record - another guitarist playing the same Fender jaguar and a drummer whose kit was only made up of a snare, bass drum, a floor tom and one ride cymbal - that's it! Guy held the sticks in the traditional snare grip a la Stewart Copeland. They ruled.
I felt like I was watching a tennis match because my neck kept turning back and forth to stage right. then stage left, then stage right, etc., so I could keep up with the action. See, Wagner and Sharin each sing lead on every tune which is fantastic in my opinion, but they stand on opposite sides of the stage. They then launched into a tune that was co-written by legendary producer Richard Gottherer (producer of Blondie and co founder of Sire Records, home of The Ramones). Richard was in the house and they did that tune. Their sound has a wonderful punk element, but then they would both drop their instruments and Sharin picked up a tambourine and you could have been on a beach back in the '50s. James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins was also in the house, as well as Rolling Stone's David Fricke who reviewed their gig at CBGBs back in August.
They continued on with "Veronica Fever," "Cops on our Tail," "Do you Believe Her" and the very appropriately titled "Evil L.A." Sharin greeted the crowd with "Hi - we are The Raveonettes...and you're not." It went over a little better when Chevy Chase first said this in 1977 - but shit, he didn't have a Danish accent.
Finally, they closed the set with my favorite song, "Beat City." I love the energy in this tune and the free spirited lyrics. I knew it was coming cause I had the set list in my hands after ripping it off the monitor. This tune had me and the joint hopping in unison. Folks, there is nothing better than seeing a big blond Danish woman (we'll get to her in a minute) with her eyes closed, smiling and singing these lyrics:
"Wanna die in Beat City and run run run
Wanna hang with girls and shoot my gun
Wanna catch the rays off the sun
Wanna drink and drive and have some fun
Wanna die in Beat City and go, go , go
You can't come with me cause you're just too slow
Inject the stars and make them glow
Put up a fight and put on a show"
OK. A chick, in a rock band, playing the bass and singing: all the ingredients for a killer night of rock & roll. Sharin was cool, no doubt - big, tall, blonde and Danish. She had bleached blonde short hair, bangs in her face, bringing to mind an updated ABBA. She was dressed all in black and played a black and white Fender bass. She had those '80s short black leather boots on with the pointy heels - which worked on her. But here is my only critique. If you want respect - you want to get the people coming back - here is my suggestion: you are a chick in a band - you need to come out there and say "fuck off! I am here and you're gonna fucking remember it!" Sharin did not even break a sweat. This is my only problem. Listen, there is no doubt she had me when she was singing "Beat City" with a huge smile while closing her eyes, but still, she was dry after the last tune. She needed to get a bit dirtier and start ripping stage right just as Wagner screeches on stage left. She's got the size , height, blonde hair and a big black Fender axe - now she needs to loosen up and earn her post-show shower.
But hey, based on this gig, and their record, they have plenty of time ahead of them and I am sure will be rocking many fans - both Danish and aspiring Danish, hopefully for years to come. They were refreshing, for sure. Look for their EP Whip It out 11/19 on Crunchy Frog records.