Screamers Offer New Slant on PunkThe group known as the Screamers has admirably lived up to important new wave tenents. Known as much for hanging out on the punk circuit as for performing on stage, the crew has helped blur the distinction between artist and audience-one of the prime goals of the new wave.
The Screamers as a musical ensamble opened a three night engagement Thursday at the Whisky, and while it's not the unltimate punk experience, it brought a fairly interesting slant on the idiom.
The group eschews the usual multiguitar lineup and hard-rock-oriented style. Its instrumentation-two keyboards and drums-leads the sound into the electronic area, where it develops pleasant, hypnotic patterns and occasionally approximates a more conventional rock band sound.
The band's lead vocalist, Tomato de Plant, isn't a great singer, but he bellows out the group's typically psychotic lyrics witth a certain authority and an obvious nod to the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten. There's more variety here than in the usual three-chord punk sound. Besides, who else plays Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On" these days?
The second-billed Rubber City Rebels saluted fellow Akronites Devo with a sharp rendition of that band's "Mongoloid," but the rest of the set wavered between non-descript hard rock and some occasionally effective punk psyshodrama.
The band is an active unit on stage, and even if some of the theatrics are forced they're nonetheless entertaining. At its best, it captures a sort of industrial wastland authenticity, as in the line, "Daddy works for Goodyear."
Opening the show is Baby Blue, a three-man band fronted by a wiggly chorus girl. The group's massage parlor rock has no distinctive features, and the squeaky singer's annoying approximation of Betty Boop inspired a flurry of catcalls form the hard-core punks in attendance.