Cramps, The, Lords of Altamont: at 4th & B, San Diego, 10/25/2002, by Eric Rife By Kristen K

Nov 30, 2002


In the wild world of punk rock, not too many bands can survive for more than twenty years and not sound irrelevant. Some bands cross over, others take themselves too seriously and others, however inadvertently, find their music being used to hawk expensive cars on television.

But despite all the turmoil they've experienced, despite all the different musicians who've filled their ranks, the Cramps continue to be one of the most dependable bands of any genre. From their earliest days over twenty-five years ago with drummer Nick Knox, guitarist Kid Congo Powers and the late Bryan Gregory through their latest, umpteenth incarnation, their campy, b-movie punkabilly continues to last in ways most bands would surely envy.

Opening the show were the Lords of Altamont, a band whose taste in drive-in biker flicks provided the perfect compliment to the Cramps' own interest in Saturday afternoon horror films. With keyboards that literally burned (note to aspiring bands - lighter fluid is a great stage prop for those on a budget), the Lords set the stage with a set that blended the raw energy of MC5-era Detroit with an iron cross sensibility that Russ Tamblyn and Hershel Gordon Lewis would be proud of.

When the Cramps - who for all intents and purposes is Lux Interior and Poison Ivy - took the stage, it was hard to distinguish any real difference from their earliest appearances. Clad in black pumps, tights and a black leather shirt, Lux was at his creepy crawliest while Poison Ivy, decked out in knee high go-go boots and a classy, trashy leather mini-skirt type of ensemble, struck her trademark ice queen pose, pulling off throbbing, eerie guitar riffs.

Although their catalog has become vast, with over a dozen albums, several bootlegs and dozens of collectable singles, the Cramps are still at their best when cranking out the classics. While later albums like Flamejob, Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon and Look Ma, No Head have their bright, shining moments, the band knows they are at their best when cranking out classic tracks like "Human Fly," "Goo Goo Muck," and their immortal covers of The Novas' "The Crusher" and the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird."

To paraphrase their earliest PR, the Cramps oozed. We throbbed.