Music Park: Electric Six @ Black Cat — 10/11/15

Electric Six - Human Zoo
Electric Six with Dick Valentine (left) (Photo by Frank Nash)

Much of the appeal of the Electric Six comes from the band’s desire to have fun and to make you dance by any music necessary.

And that sense of fun was on full display Sunday night at the Black Cat, where frontman Dick Valentine (born Tyler Spencer) and company absolutely packed the backstage beyond capacity. To be fair, the band originally were slated to play on the larger mainstage, but were moved backstage for some reason as the DC federal holiday weekend approached.

“The Electric Six were demoted!” Dick proclaimed early in the set. “Write to the Speaker of the House, whoever that may be, and have us remoted!”

I personally have never been in a more crowded show backstage, so I fully embrace Dick’s sentiment. At the end of the day, however, the Electric Six brought everything it had to bear in a genre-bending stampede of music that went from funk to punk to metal and even to country. It was a double-barrel shotgun blast of raucous dance music.

At a midpoint in the concert, Dick declared that it was time to break out the dance music, although 99 percent of the show consisted of dance music, as evidenced by an audience that was actively bopping and hopping. The declaration came as an intro to a medley of the band’s songs “Improper Dancing” and “(Who the Hell Just) Call My Phone,” one song from the band’s popular debut album Fire and another from their 2014 album Human Zoo.

In the performance, Dick leaps about stage while his band continue to play it cool, and the audience shouts along and boogies down, particularly to the refrain “Who the hell just call my phone?!” The funky song features some great guitar vibes from Johnny Na$hinal (born John Nash), who gives the whole band a cool rockabilly vibe in look and performance.

Watch the medley of “Improper Dancing” and “(Who The Hell Just) Call My Phone” live in Houston on March 6, 2015, as shot by Space City Shows, on YouTube:

The Electric Six actually are touring on the release of a 11th new studio album, Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!, released on Oct. 2, although the band played only two songs from the new album in concert — “Roulette” and “Dime, Dime, Penny, Dime.” Roulette is a screeching hard rock song about taking your chances with a woman: “Every time I look into your eyes — It’s roulette! It’s roulette! It’s roulette!” It’s a game with terrible odds, as Dick sings. “Dime, Dime, Penny, Dime” is delivered with an old-school country twang as Dick sings about making what little money he can out on the circuit.

Listen to the new album by the Electric Six, Bitch, Don’t Let Me Die!, on Spotify:

Of course, the most popular songs with our big crowd at the Black Cat remained the ultra-memorable selections from the first album, and Electric Six were happy to serve them up hot, including “Gay Bar” (and “Gay Bar Part Two”), “She’s White,” “Danger! High Voltage,” and “Dance Commander.” The Electric Six followed up their earlier dance medley with a thrashing performance of “Danger! High Voltage,” a personal favorite, and I couldn’t help but laugh as Dick would freeze on stage during the extended glam instrumental breaks, given that he had nothing to do, only to become reanimated when it was time to sing again.

The enduring popularity of the debut album is recognized by the Face in the Crowd docuseries, which features parts of a show by the Electric Six at Louie’s Trophy Room in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Jan. 3, 2015, where members of the audience describe their love of the songs “Gay Bar” and “Danger! High Voltage.” As interviewee Jodie says, Electric Six bring the goods to every show with high energy and crazy antics, whether it’s a big show or a smaller one.

Watch Face in the Crowd featuring Electric Six and a chat with Dick Valentine on YouTube:

The Electric Six are touring throughout the rest of the year, remaining in the United States only a few more days until Oct. 17 for a date in Madison, Wis., and then skipping over to Europe the next month, only to return for a New Year’s Eve show in their hometown of Detroit at Saint Andrews Hall.

How can you not go? As the band sings, “You must obey the dance commander!” and Electric Six are clearly giving the orders around here.

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