Sunday, June 05, 2005

Concert Review: Mindless Self Indulgence

Mindless Self Indulgence has been one of my favorite politically-incorrect bands for the last half-decade. Recently, I had the chance to see them perform live for my fourth time. A few years ago, when I saw them for the first time, I was already a big fan of the music, but did not know what to expect from a live show. Would they live up to the maniacal image that I had built in my head? The answer to that question can be found in the three subsequent shows I have attended since then. My first experience felt like I was witnessing a living cartoon, leaving me practically speechless at the end. That show was definitely at the top of all the concerts I have been to. And so, anytime the band has played within the state, I have made it a priority to attend.

This most recent performance was no exception. With the recent release of their third full-length studio album, You'll Rebel to Anything, the band has been touring the US and Canada once again. The venue that had been booked was one that I had attended several times in the past, and knowing the large size of the place, I was somewhat surprised to hear that this was going to be the location. And I was right. The venue was definitely too big for this type of show. Despite their large underground following, MSI was not able to fill even a third of the large ballroom. This did not stop them from a high energy performance, however. In the past, I had seen them play in the back of a bowling alley and at a small danceclub, so having a high ceiling and a largely vacant room was a little hard to get used to. But, like most shows I've been to, if you put yourself in the front row, you feel like the place is packed, regardless. The first opening act, Super 8bit Brothers, comprised of two members from Chicago's Tub Ring, were funny for about five minutes, singing songs entirely about videogames over electronic beats and sound effects. One song towards the end was a "serious song...about when youre playing your favorite videogame and you're about to beat the last level and your significant other calls and you have to decide whether you are going to pick up the phone and press pause, or keep playing the game." This was probably my favorite song in their set. The next opener, SMB, stepped things up from there by actually playing instruments. Hailing from the Twin Cities, SMB's chaotic circus metal caused a moshpit for a good portion of their set. The band's musicianship was impressive, whether or not their sound was appreciated by everyone.

After a build-up of anticipation through the night, MSI finally took stage and the energy in place skyrocketed. Opening with the edgy fan-favorite, "Faggot", the band erupted into an hour long set of sub-3 minute songs that nicely pieced together tracks from their full catalog. All of my favorites from the new album were played, as well as many of my favorites from past albums. True to form, the band also played a couple of their unreleased strongholds, such as "Animal." Singer Jimmy Urine bounced around stage in his typical caffeinated form, stopping between songs only to antagonize the audience and security guards, or make fun of himself. Steve Righ?, MSI's guitarist, recently underwent partial hip replacement for damages likely sustained through his reckless stage antics over the years; and so, was unable to attend. Filling in, was Tub Ring keyboardist/Super 8bit Brother Rob Kleiner. Rob did his duty on guitar, playing energetically while jumping and headbanging from time to time, but never really filling the outrageous role that had been left by Steve. At most MSI shows, the interactions between Steve and Urine are half of the entertainment, but with Steve gone, Urine never really interacted with the band in the same way. That's not to say that the show was at all uninteresting.

Jimmy Urine is perhaps one of the most chameleon-like frontment I've seen, adapting his entire environment into every show. At random times during songs, he would leave the stage altogether, and return with a prop that he happened to find backstage. At one point, he disappeared only to return a minute later by rolling across the stage on an equipment dolly. Then he punched himself in the face several times and fell on his back...singing all the while. At another point, he came back with a large white sheet, which he morphed into many costumes, including not only a ghost, but also a toga which found him quoting Julius Caesar mid-song. He also performed with various props that he had brought along, including a disco ball and a stuffed wolf hide that he pretended was still alive for a couple songs until later dropkicking it from the stage. Bassist LynZ strutted around in her short Catholic school girl skirt and pigtails while various hormonal teens shouted such romantic lines as "I want to drink your sweat" from the audience.

Newer tracks like 'What Do They Know?' and 'Stupid MF' proved to have instant success with the audience, just like the classics 'Pussy All Night' and 'Bitches.' The band departed the stage halfway through the show, allowing Urine to perform an a cappella version of their first album's Method Man cover 'Bring the Pain.' Later, with instruments in hand, their cover of Rush's 'Tom Sawyer' also had the crowd singing along. Like their other shows, the last song ended abruptly and the band walked off stage, not returning for your typical encore, but only to stay and sign autographs for anyone who stuck around after the show. Mindless Self Indulgence seems to make every effort to stay and meet fans, sign autographs, and take as many pictures as they possibly can in a short time.

Overall, it is difficult to compare an MSI show to any other show, or even to other MSI shows, because much like snowflakes, no two are ever alike. A different venue on a different night will bring out a whole new variety of creativity that is sure to be a one of a kind experience, and probably the most entertaining thing you've seen all day.

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