Flipper: Live Target Video 77–1980-81: DVD

There is no getting around the fact that Flipper is an acquired taste. I, for one, am fully in awe of them. My first exposure to them was hearing the song “Sex Bomb” probably six or seven years ago and hating it because it was repetitive and just barely hanging together. A couple years later though, I heard the song “Ever” and something just clicked. There was no pretense to the song. It was about the most naked and direct song about feeling like shit that one can make. The fact that it was able to sum up a bunch of hard-to-express thoughts and emotions into a simple three minute song was god-like to me. I think therein lies part of the secret of Flipper’s charm. They are able to pull moments of truth—and even beauty—out of chaos. The two shows on this DVD perfectly showcase Flipper in all their rough glory. The punk rock here isn’t pretty at all. The band fucks up all over the place. Even when something isn’t breaking, some of the songs are still almost too painful to listen to. Case in point is the song “The Wheel” from the 1980 show in Berkeley. The song is twelve minutes long and literally consists of Will Shatter singing, “I am the wheel” over and over while doing the wheel dance, which is basically just spinning one arm in a circle. The first set from Berkeley in 1980 is a little bouncier feeling and has a lot of songs like “Friends” and “Oh, Oh, Ay Oh” that I don’t actually recognize from any of their albums. Basically, it feels like a Flipper house party among friends. The second set is from a year later when the band opened for Throbbing Gristle in San Francisco. Except for “Low Rider,” all these songs are on Generic and Gone Fishin’. This set feels more ominous and darker, as it has the band playing heavier material and doing things like breaking both a bass (on accident) and a guitar (not so much on accident) through the course of the set. These sets probably won’t win over new fans, but it’s fascinating to see the band during its heyday. –Adrian (MVD Visual, PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456)