Last Night: The Gutter Twins at the Independent

Categories: Last Night, Music
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The Gutter Twins (Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan)
February 11, 2009
The Independent

Better Than: Joaquin Phoenix' new rap career

The audience: Reg'lar folks, mostly dressed in shades of the bruise palette. Two parkas, one with a fur-lined hood. Three trilbies. Smatterings of plaid. One army coat tricked out like Coldplay's Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Wankers Club Band uniforms.

The show: I bought earplugs from the coat check girl just as a skinny guy in a knit cap walked onstage and began playing acoustic guitar. Wimp, her eye-roll said. Then he began beatboxing and making weird didgeridoo-like noises at top volume. Harold "Happy" Chichester played keyboards and provided impeccable falsetto for the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers. He's an all-round nice guy from Columbus, Ohio, and won over the crowd with "I Live in a Glamorous Town," which dealt with women dressed as hookers, "if hookers were pirates."

As the Gutter Twins loped onstage and took their seats, I noticed that there were actually three of them. (The extra Twin is guitarist Dave Rosser.) I was also slightly alarmed at the acoustic song-circle theme the evening was taking. Can Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan's songs of lust and menace survive such a tranquil setting?


I'm still convinced that Lanegan is another of Will Ferrell's side projects. They've never been seen together in the same room, and they share a comic-stern expression. Meanwhile, Dulli wasn't smoking onstage, which was surprising, given that he's been quite happy to break city laws at past shows in S.F.

They started with "God's Children" from Saturnalia, Dulli playing the riff for "All Along the Watchtower," which the song freely borrows from. He and Lanegan traded verses, Dulli straining for the higher notes while Lanegan did his doomy croon. It was all very sedate and melodic. "If I Were Going" from the Afghan Whigs' Gentlemen  and "Summer's Kiss" from Black Love got big cheers.

Things lightened up after a short break (probably exactly enough time for Dulli to smoke four or five cigarettes). Dulli, singing at the piano, looked over at Lanegan and cracked up completely. He wouldn't say what the reason was, but he stopped the song and wished Lanegan good luck with the next one. They started playing, but then Lanegan cracked up and all three of them were doubled over laughing. "We could play an Alice Cooper song, but we only know the first verse," Dulli wisecracked. Instead, they played "Tennessee Waltz," Rosser taking the vocals while the other Twins smirked and giggled. One three-way version of Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You" after that, and they were gone.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I've been stalking Greg Dulli for 17 years. One day he will be mine.

Random Detail: The interval music featured "Love Grows," "Go All the Way," and "Little Willy." What are the Twins trying to tell us?

By the way: Rent Beautiful Girls again -- not just to see a glowing Natalie Portman, but also to see the Afghan Whigs as the bar band, covering Barry White's "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe." Dulli is teh sexy.

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