Legendary proto-punk Michigander’s, the MC5, created the template that the punk bands who followed would draw inspiration. Whether it was their politically charged lyrics or their sonic aesthetic, the Motor City 5 inspired countless bands. If you’re not familiar with the band, they’re probably your favorite punk bands favorite band. Formed in 1968, there are only two surviving members of the band, guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Kramer (w/ Thompson on select dates) assembled a band, featuring Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, Faith No More bassist Billy Gould, and Zen Guerilla singer Marcus Durant, to perform their seminal album Kick Out The Jams in its entirety, along with other material from the bands three album discography.
The Granada Theater was packed for their Dallas stop and the crowd included members of various well-known bands, including Jim Heath and Jimbo Wallace of the Reverend Horton Heat. Indeed, those in-the-know were out in force to witness this special event and they were duly rewarded with an amazing set led by the age-defying Kramer and his band of extremely talented musicians.
Opening with “Ramblin’ Rose,” they instantly set-off the crowd. It was a celebratory event that was constantly amplified each time Kramer spun-around, wind-milled, or danced about with zero inhibition. At 70 years old, Kramer moved around the stage with the energy and nimbleness of someone 50 years younger. At one point he even turned his back to the crowd and wiggled his ass. I’m dead serious. Every time he did something like this the crowd got louder. Likewise, they went bananas every time he ripped through a searing guitar solo. What was also apparent was that Kramer was loving every minute of the night. Always smiling and riling up the crowd, Kramer’s attitude was infectious and the crowd fed off his energy.
As the band made their way through classic songs like “Kick Out The Jams,” “Come Together,” “Motor City is Burning,” and “I Want You Right Now,” the crowd sang-along, danced, or just stood there in complete awe. Kramer couldn’t have picked a better group of musicians to back him up. Kim Thayil was flawless. Indeed, it’s rare to see him playing rhythm guitar and not masterfully noodling up and down his guitar neck, but he provided a tone-perfect balance with Kramer. Indeed, the two did share a couple of dueling guitar moments in which Thayil looked over Kramer’s shoulders to watch the elder statesman shred away on his Stratocaster.
Billy Gould and Brendan Canty were a perfect rhythm section. Always in lock-step, the pair anchored the songs with precision. Canty seemed to be having a blast. Like everyone else on stage, he was constantly smiling and relishing his opportunity to play the songs that he grew up adoring. Vocalist Marcus Durant was also exceptional. It’s always hard to find the right singer to fill the shoes of the original, but Durant was awesome. Unfortunately, his vocals were sometimes buried in the mix, but that was really only a factor if you didn’t know the words to the songs. He shimmied around the stage and sang intensely as he paid tribute to these great songs. In additional to playing the Kick Out The Jams album, the band also played material from Back in the USA and High Time.
Simply put, you have to see this show. This isn’t a nostalgia act. This is the MC motherfuckin’ 5. The energy they bring to the show makes for a joyous occasion. And their songs are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. If you stay home the night they come to your city, you’ll hate yourself for missing it.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Brently Kirksey (photos)
– click to enlarge photos –
10/01 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Marquee
10/02 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl
10/03 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
10/04 – San Francisco, CA @ The Regency Ballroom
10/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford
10/15 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
10/16 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
10/17 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom
10/19 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Music Hall
10/20 – Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre
10/23 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
10/24 – Chicago, IL @ Metro Chicago
10/25 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s
10/26 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
10/27 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore