Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson
“We’re the Supersuckers. Maybe you’ve heard of us before. We’re also known as the greatest rock and roll band in the world,” said bassist Eddie Spaghetti onstage at Valentine’s Music Hall, with a slight grin and a ten-gallon hat. Yes, there was irony in proclaiming his band to be the best on Earth. But he also meant it.
A case could be made for the Supersuckers as the world’s number-one rock band, based at least on their local appearances over the years. During an opening set for Reverend Horton Heat in Troy in 2005, they largely upstaged the psychobilly masters. They more than held their own on a blazing triple-bill in 2000 at Northern Lights, alongside skuzz-merchants Nashville Pussy and heavy metal legends Motörhead. And I recall their set at Bogie’s back in the ’90s as mind-blowing: one of the fastest, yet most precise, rock and roll shows I have ever seen — punctuated by lots of well-timed, boots-in-your-face leg kicks.
“The show as you’ll remember is about to begin now,” Spaghetti said immediately after proclaiming his band’s greatness. That was ironic, because the Seattle quartet had just dispatched three or four opening songs at fast tempo, including “Luck,” a standout from the band’s first studio album, The Smoke of Hell, released on Sub Pop Records in 1992 with comic book artist Daniel Clowe’s iconic cover of an aperitif-sipping, red-skinned devil.
Rock and roll depravity is a common Supersuckers theme, you could say, and they launched the show’s reset with “Bad, Bad, Bad” and “The Evil Powers of Rock ‘n’ Roll” before settling on a riff from glam-rocker/pedophile Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll.” A few songs later came white-trash calling card “Doublewide,” two new ones (“Something About You” and “Get the Hell”) and the well-titled anthems, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Records (Ain’t Selling This Year)” and “I Want the Drugs.”
Few in attendance would quibble with the band’s lack of humility, even though they’re not quite the same band as they were in their early-’90s heyday. After multiple lineup changes, and some forays into country music with 1997’s Must’ve Been High, frontman Spaghetti holds the band together, while founding guitarist Dan “Thunder” Bolton remains. But drummer Christopher “Chango” Von Streicher — dressed at Valentine’s in a Dwarves t-shirt — was new, and guitarist “Metal” Marty Chandler replaced founder Ron “Rontrose” Heathman in 2009.
If one thing hasn’t changed, it’s the band’s distaste for encores. Or at least, as Spaghetti sees it, the pretense of bands retreating backstage and pretending to be called back only by applause. “Our job here is pretty much done. You’ve pretty much been rocked,” Spaghetti said before giving up three more without leaving the stage: “Supersucker Drive-By Blues,” “Pretty Fucked Up,” and the early classic, “Born with a Tail.” They even got a few leg kicks in on the last one.