Thursday, November 21, 2013

How The Meat Puppets Won The West

09 NOVEMBER, 2013
Interesting historical fact: when I first moved to the great state of Arizona in the late '80's, practically the only things I knew about it were Barry Goldwater and the Meat Puppets, and in the case of the latter, that was enough. A trio of the Kirkwood Brothers and Derrick Bostrom in their initial incarnation, the band upon rebirth is now a quartet, sans Bostrom and anchored by the brothers. Dogged by more than enough travails to fill an episode of Behind The Music, including label issues and drug shenanigans, the band seemingly never met a bridge it didn't burn. For me they were always a talisman, helping to pave a brave new post-hardcore world by helping to lay the groundwork for what would become Americana, and it's hard to imagine the current San Francisco psych scene without their trailblazing. Their legacy is secure from their early 80's run on SST Records that influenced many, including a young man named Cobain, who repaid the debt by featuring a cycle of their songs during Nirvana's Unplugged performance.
On this night, it was back to basics, as two albums into their resurrection, the band is on the road working its way back up, shining a light for those not fortunate enough to catch them the first time, or gray vets looking for that taste, trying to recapture that first vivid high. While mixing in new tunes, they didn't ignore the old, working in SST-era material, including a handful from high water mark Meat Puppets II, including "Oh Me", "Plateau", and "Lake Of Fire" to much thrashing from the assembled. Audience response seemed heaviest for songs from Too High To Die and a high octane cruise through early classic "Lost", but the high point of the night, and the moment where the set elevated for keeps was a burning take on Freddie Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" into "Que Paso", investing them both with the Meat Puppets own brand of badassery. Based on the number of fresh faces in the audience, it looks like the Meat Puppets are building a new bridge.

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