The Supersuckers (Photo courtesy Atomic Music Group)
I’m not going to lie: Some of the songs recently played by The Supersuckers — whose bassist, main songwriter, and principal vocalist Eddie Spaghetti (not his Christian name, at least, not the Spaghetti part) called “the greatest rock band in the world” — at the Pearl Street Warehouse were simply too loud for me to determine exactly what they were. I suspect Eddie would be quite happy with that statement, as The Supersuckers are all about playing loud, nasty, over-the-top rock ‘n’ roll.
A power trio formed at the end of ’80s in Tucson, Arizona, The Supersuckers have mixed hard rock, punk, and even alt-country into a unique mix that’s just as distinctive for its lyrical standpoint. Spaghetti can hit you with a literary reference like in “Creepy Jackalope Eye,” which nods to Lewis Carroll, but he also loves to get stupid and make noise. “Mudhead,” he said at Pearl Street Warehouse on Nov. 3, was written in the late ’80s, before the band had even formed, by “a kid who just wanted to do some kickass rock ‘n’ roll thing. It doesn’t mean anything.”
The other day, I played a song by the late, great Guy Clark, “Desperadoes Waiting For a Train,” for my girlfriend. She looked at me and said, “You listen to some of the saddest shit.” That is true, and I think she’d be delighted to know that, on this evening down at The Wharf, I was experiencing such high-concept classics as “Rock Your Ass.” Like my main man Bob says, “I contain multitudes.”
Eddie was not shy about leaning into his band’s decision to play a truly ridiculous number of songs with “Rock ‘N Roll” in the title, riffing on “kickass rock ‘n roll songs about rock ‘n roll with rock ‘n roll in the title.” The Supersuckers opened their set with “Rock ‘N Roll Star,” and, just a couple songs later, they did “Rock ‘N Roll Records.” When I spoke to the merch guy for a moment before they went on stage, he said, “Welcome to the rock show.” You have to hand it to these three guys: They know exactly who they are and what they bring to the table.
Watch the official music video for “Rock-n-Roll Records” by The Supersuckers on YouTube:
Songs that might be sad in someone else hands don’t come out at all sad with them. “Metal” Marty Chandler, the band’s guitarist, did a few, including one called “God Damn Divorce.” He asked the audience, “How many of you have gone through a divorce? How much did it cost? Doesn’t matter, it was worth it.” Rather than melancholy, this song was a swirling inferno of rage, grinding guitars, and harsh vocals.”
Spaghetti joked that Marty was going to get too popular “for this shithole,” which is the sort of thing that works, but only if it’s done right. An artist can get away with saying this, but it requires setting the right context in terms of tone and presentation. The Supersuckers do this, and it works when it Eddie says this; I’ve seen where it didn’t work for other artists, and it was painful to watch. It’s worth appreciating there’s a technique to pulling this off, and Eddie has it down in a way not everyone does.
After the first handful of songs, Eddie thanked the audience for coming out, saying, “I know what it takes to get off the couch. Thursday is almost the weekend.” The band then went into a song from their first album, “Coattail Rider.” Following “Creepy Jackalope Eye,” they did “Get The Hell” and “Dead Inside.” Spaghetti dedicated a song to “the friends and family of Karen Vincent.”
After Marty’s song, the floor was opened for requests, and someone called for “Cool Manchu,” a song off The Evil Powers of Rock ‘N Roll record, which Eddie described as “the second time you thought we were done.” I suppose that, when a band’s been around for more than 30 years, it’s bound to have survived a few near-death experiences, or at least to be seen as having narrowly survived a few of them.
To close the set, they played “Pretty Fucked Up,” a song about a woman who’s seen better days. Their last number was their signature, and my favorite song, “Born With A Tail,” in which Eddie sings, “I’m in league with Satan.” Well, The Devil is good company, and he seems like he’d be a fun hang, once you get over the eternal torment, pain, suffering, etc. etc. I suspect marijuana was in one of the songs I couldn’t quite make out, as these guys aren’t shy about proclaiming their love for cannabis. I can relate to that — my sugar mama keeps me high all the time, lest I become aware of her subtle and devious manipulations to bend me to her infernal will. But that’s another story.