Sunday, November 6, 2011

Photos/Review: Meat Puppets @ Le Poisson Rouge

Meat Puppets @ Le Poisson Rouge - November 4, 2011
Photos: Chris / Review: Colin Fitzgerald

I missed "Backwater."

Aside from the original tunes so lovingly associated with Nirvana's Unplugged cover performances, it's the only real "hit" in their career. The song came at the perfect time, however, with Unplugged literally making the Meat Puppets a household name. I know that I personally bought Too High to Die as soon as it came out, despite my tender age at the time. I was really looking forward to covering them, having never seen them live, but always wanting to. After a long and mind-blowing 60 or so minutes of music I really needed a cigarette, ran outside for a couple of puffs, and returned to have found they just played "Backwater," their huge mega-hit. It was probably just as well, from the perspective of music journalism. At least I could concentrate my review on other stuff besides their biggest hit.

The live band consisted of the Kirkwood brothers, Cris on bass (ie. important ones), Curt on guitar, a young guitar player, and another guy on drums. Cris, (who you may remember has gone through a rough couple of years) was on point, energetic and tight. It was a good feeling knowing he came out on top of a pretty rough ordeal including prison time, and a bullet to the back. Google it. 

Curt's guitar style was startlingly familiar, as if, although a fan, I never realized how unique his playing is. It is a very identifiable and signature sound, full bodied, overdriven and warm, sometimes chorusy and reverb soaked, other times booming with classic rock power-ballad fullness.

They kicked off the show with "I'm a Mindless Idiot," an instrumental and personal favorite of mine from Meat Puppetts II. It was probably the best possible song I could have hoped for them to open with. The drummer was solid, perfecting the slightly rushed style of groove associated with their earlier stuff. Vocally, I can't imagine they were ever better. It was thrilling to hear them on “Plateau,” singing in perfect unison. Harmony-wise, it was sometimes difficult to believe I was listening to just two vocalists. I won't even try to avoid the term 'elfin', because resistance is futile. There were some definite elfin vibes. Throughout the surprisingly jammy set, the band had throngs of hip people bouncing around to some pretty obscure (to this crowd at least) grooves. Think electric polka, psychedelic country folk, etc.

The highlight of the show for me had to be “Oh Me.” I think it was the first time in the set they unveiled the strobe lights, but I could be wrong. Needless to say it was an amazing moment, everyone singing along, and the band destroying on stage. “Lake of Fire,” perhaps the most beloved of the Unplugged contributions, was, I think its safe to say, the crowd favorite,. It was practically metal and the strobe lights were turning people into to rock monsters. A mosh pit was close to breaking out, however the woman next to me didn’t appreciate me spilling beer on her as I riled the crowd. Ah well, I tried.


Check out a full set of photos from the truly great show below, as well as the full setlist...

I'm a Mindless Idiot
Touchdown King
The Monkey And The Snake
Comin' Down
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights (Freddy Fender cover)
Oh Me
Up on the Sun
Seal Whales
Hey Baby Que Paso
Open Wide
The Whistling Song
Shave It
Where Does a Little Tear Come From (George Jones cover)
Sloop John B (The Beach Boys cover)
Lake of Fire


  1. "A young guitar player, and another guy on drums"? Dude! The drummer is Shandon Sahm - Pariah, Pupps ca. "Golden Lies", Gibby Haynes and His Problem...He's Doug Sahm's son. (Sir Douglas Quintet, Texas Tornados.) The guitar player is Curt's kid Elmo Kirkwood (Kirkwood Dellinger).

    Other than that, great show review & pics, thanks for posting!

  2. Ha - both Colin and I realized that was Curt's son the day after. What's funny is that Colin ran into him after the show and asked him, "so how'd you get this gig?" and Elmo just looked at him and said, "Nepotism." Neither of us knew who the drummer was.

    Thanks for pointing it out though, and thank you for reading!