Live Review, 4/11/12: fIREHOSE Relaunches Itself at Slim's
fIREHOSE at Slim's last night.
By KIERNAN REED
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Slim's 333 Club
Better than: One Reporter's Opinion, or whatever it was Dylan meant.
The post-punk power trio -- guitarist/frontman Ed Crawford with bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley of Minutemen -- is getting back shape with a short tour culminating in an appearance at Coachella this (and next) weekend.
Last night's setlist was comprised entirely of selections from the band's back catalog, beginning with "Brave Captain" (the first track off their debut album, Ragin' Full On) and pulling songs in more or less chronological order from their other studio albums.
The crowd was mixed, weighted a bit in favor of the O.G. fIREHOSE fanbase. There was no pit, no slam dancers. There was a fair amount of plaid flannel. The turnout spoke both to the sheer numbers of the band's faithful following, as well as to its staying power. That fIREHOSE sold out the venue is testament to the excitement surrounding its return.
Inevitably, the idea of a reformed band on a reunion tour raises eyebrows. One wonders about the motive, with money being perhaps the most obvious agenda. For fIREHOSE, though, this has never been a guiding force. The idea runs counter to the core principles of the indie underground scene that gave rise to the band in the first place. It was a relief to see the band getting down to work, tightening it up, and leaving it all on the stage for the love of the damn thing.
Sactown-based Tera Melos tore through a mindblowing set with a controlled chaos that only comes from the most careful blend of riot and restraint. The band -- a prog powerhouse of a rhythm section with an electropyrotechnic guitarist/vocalist -- navigated through their twisted tunes with noisy, angular, beautiful abandon. They also won the Decibel Award for the night.
East Bay locals Glimpse Trio opened up the show with a blend of post-punk-meets-free-jazz. The bass and drums kept in lock step with the harmelodic zig-zags of the lightning-quick guitarist, and the whole band took off. The bassist hyped the crowd, saying "That's how you start a Wednesday night in San Francisco," and was met with universal agreement.
A quick note about merch: There was a vague murmur in the crowd regarding the fabled fIREHOSE stage-distributed, DIY, screen-printed tees. While those hoping to make out with a bit of this lost nostalgia were left wanting, they could still walk away with a fIREHOSE concert poster featuring Richard Pryor or Bob Ross in KISS makeup.
Econo Ethos: fIREHOSE rolled up to the gig at Slim's in a Ford E-350 van They all drove together. And if that's not enough for you, the band members unloaded their own gear, too. If this isn't proof positive of their commitment to their roots and DIY aesthetic, I don't know what could be.
By the way: It really was a beautiful display of flannel.