The recently resuscitated Flesh Eaters swung into Dallas last night in support of their new album I Used To Be Pretty. Featuring founding band member Chris D (check out our interview) and the lineup that played on their classic 1981 album, A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die, the Flesh Eaters out-punked any punk who ever claimed to punk. Of course, the Flesh Eaters don’t sound like your average punk band. They sound like your average punk band thrown into a wood chipper.
The modest crowd assembled at Club Dada on Sunday night knew exactly what they were gonna get, but I doubt they realized that the band was set to exceed all expectations. With John Doe (bass) and DJ Bonebrake (marimba) of X, Dave Alvin (guitar) and Bill Bateman (drums) of The Blasters, and Steve Berlin (sax) of Los Lobos, Chris D has the privilege of fronting a band of seasoned musicians who don’t just bring the songs to life, but inject them with electricity. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when a musicians intangible qualities contribute to live performances, but last night it was apparent. If you stayed home to watch the Oscars, you should hate yourself.
Opening with “See You in the Boneyard” from A Minute to Pray, the band instantly roared into action. Each member of the band was flawless in their execution, and at various times they individually stood apart from each other. Often this was Steve Berlin and his scorching sax lines. But, Alvin’s leads and solos were breathtaking and the interplay between he and Berlin was awesome. Watching the two exchange solos, then blending into a wall of noise was pure bliss. Unfortunately, I couldn’t always hear Bonebrake’s marimba in the mix, but when I could it was delightful. He would also play an extra snare drum and shakers as songs dictated.
The band played the majority of the Minute to Pray album, including classics like “Satan’s Stomp,” “Pray Til You Sweat,” and “Divine Horseman,” as well as a bunch of songs from this years I Used to Be Pretty, like “My Life to Live,” the re-recorded “Pony Dress,” and “Black Temptation.” They paid tribute to punk forebearers the Sonics, with their cover of “Cinderella” and dove deep into Pete Green’s Fleetwood Mac with a demented cover of “Green Manalishi.” When the main set closed, Chris D left the stage briefly, but soon returned for a searing rendition of the Gun Clubs “She’s Like Heroin to Me,” and the sprawling epic “Ghost Cave Lament” from Pretty.
Opportunities to see such a fine group of musicians all in one place is rare and that’s reason alone to catch them when they come to your town. Otherwise, the Flesh Eaters are just an excellent band with a sound few have been able to imitate despite their best efforts. You should see them on this principal alone.
– J. Kevin Lynch (words); Carson Allen (photos)