Monday, February 18, 2008

Rocket from the Crypt - R.I.P.

I imagine most of us would give a limb of some sort to have the drive and energy of John Reis; from the time I was born, the singer-guitarist has been weaving in and out of a string of bands – ranging from teen effort Conservative Itch to the brand new Night Marchers, who are releasing a record in late March – and has consistently dabbled in rockabilly or punk while epitomizing rock 'n' roll as it was meant to be.

Outlasting well-known projects Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes, and overlapping with Sultans, a band on Reis' own Swami Records, Rocket From the Crypt spent nearly two decades creating rock 'n' roll that would somehow mesh with the original '90s wave of Dischord-style hardcore and emo. But mere months after the demise of Hot Snakes, RFTC would end its run on Halloween 2005 with an official funeral, a final concert to celebrate the band's death.

R.I.P. captures this last performance at San Diego's Westin Hotel with a CD/DVD combo that is necessary as a complete set. The DVD reveals Reis as he's carried to stage on a bloody stretcher, rising to position in Screamin' Jay Hawkins gear while the band plays an instrumental version of “I Put a Spell on You.” The concert on DVD is extended significantly from its audio counterpart, and largely shot through a voyeuristic peephole view, making it feel as though to watch is to intrude on an exclusive event.

Reis is aggressive and commanding, coincidentally shoving a fan offstage during “Get Down,” though it is on the audio CD where we hear his banter, i.e. reminding the audience that the stage isn't a lost-and-found, or better yet, claiming prior to “Boychucker” that RFTC invented rock 'n' roll. Smarmy, sure, but the band lives up to Reis' claim by tossing out a massive psychobilly-style frenzy of guitar and sax immediately thereafter.

The sound here is excellent for a live record, and no moment is wasted, seeing as the band didn't exactly have many downers to offer. There's a great sing-along moment at the intro of “Used” that almost captures the dedicated fan base we see on the DVD portion of the concert. What doesn't show up on audio, regrettably, are Reis' spiffy black 'do and wild tusks.

Rocket From the Crypt - French Guy
Rocket From the Crypt - Don't Darlene
Pre-order R.I.P.


FiL said...

Aww yeah!! Coincidentally I recently woke up my copy of "Scream, Dracula, Scream" from its long slumber in the CD cabinet. Why I let it sleep so long, I know not. But woah! I want it, I need it...

FiL said...

Oh, and I finally got around to adding you to my blogroll. Bad FiL, dozy FiL...