Last night at the Grog Shop, proud Californians Fu Manchu delivered an excellent, alternate-universe view of what hard-rock music can be when it's stripped of some of its current, often tiresome baggage.
Singer Scott Hill and company hit the stage free of tattoos, chains, skulls, or piercings, decked out in casual, mismatched striped shirts and other surf-town gear. They look like a band Archie and Jughead would be in, more than anything you'd call metal, and their beach and car-heavy lyrical content makes them kind of a modern-day Beach Boys, minus the romance.
But make no mistake, the music Fu Manchu play is a loud, fast, and heavily distorted blend of heavy metal riffs and punk-rock sensibility.
They are often lumped into the "stoner rock" family, but their music is much more upbeat, and the songwriting too concise and hook-filled, for that label.
They tore through a tight 90-minute set of impressively complex, fuzzed-out hard rock blessedly devoid of grafted-on hip-hop influences, Cookie Monster vocals or meat-headed, violent imagery. It is, quite simply, how the popular version of a music form could have evolved in a better way.
Songs from their newest album, Signs of Infinite Power, blended perfectly with crowd-demanded classics like "Weird Beard" and their traditional closing song, an absolutely scorching version of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla." —Matthew Wilkening
Did you go to the show? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments.
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