Band like the Queers? Can't stand 'em. In fact, I dislike 'em so much I spent a large chunk of the '90s living in my Queers "Fuck You" All-Stars t-shirt and listening to every record and reissue with their name on it. How could I devote myself to learning the words to almost every song they recorded and seeing them live around two dozen times unless I really, truly found their music revolting? So when I saw that Joe Queer and Co. would be playing a show in London, I thought to myself, "Sheeeeeeeeiiit, I'm gonna have to go see the Queers on Tuesday night."
I am a working man, and sometimes a working man has to stay late at his shit job and finish the filing, so I couldn't tell ya what the opening bands were like. The Shocker was billed as "former members of L7" if that's any help. Panic wasn't even listed on the bill, so I stopped at their merch table to see what they were all about. The t-shirt girl was a guy who offered me a sticker and a flyer for the next Panic gig in exchange for my Beatnik Termites Summer '98 Tour t-shirt. Like I needed more winding up. Wild sense of humor on the Panic t-shirt girl - the waiter at the restaurant in his head should bring him the reality check ASAP. "Garcon!"
To the bar for a beer and a cigarette (I'm a product of last decade's leftist PC hysteria, so, though socially acceptable in England, you'll never hear me refer to a cigarette as a "fa..." er, homosexual??) as the house lights dimmed and the Queers took the stage. As anticipated, Joe Queer came out with two guys that bore no resemblance to any rhythm section I'd seen him play with before - Phillip (Teen Idols and Screeching Weasel?!) on bass, and, uh, the drummer. "We're the fuckin' Queers, motherfucker!" That was all it took. I couldn't fight it anymore. I had to let go my hate and enjoy myself, man. And, sonofabitch if I didn't enjoy myself. Their set was as I remembered it - blocks of nine or ten songs in a row, then a quick break before launching into another nine or ten song block. They set a breakneck pace, flying through tasteless numbers like "You're Trippin'," "This Place Sucks," "I Want Cunt," and "Tulu is a Wimp" before pausing for some inspirational words for the kids. "Get off of that bass amp, motherfucker," to the kid whose ass was perched atop the bass head. "If you fuck up the sound it's gonna piss me off." It was reassuring to see that Joe Queer's adolescent fascination with the word "motherfucker" hasn't matured one iota - he used it like punktuation for his sentences: "How's everyone doing tonight, motherfucker?"; "This next one's a Beach Boys tune, motherfucker!"; "I dropped my pick, has anyone seen it, motherfucker?" And, somehow, he managed to make it sound charming, endearing, even.
I had forgotten the Queers' purity of juvenile belligerence, and stood relishing the moment while teenage girls crawled through Joe and Phillip's legs as they played "Punk Rock Girls." The blissful moment extended through a barrage of Don't Back Down tunes, a variety of kids getting up on stage making jerks of themselves, when my concentration was broken by the appearance of someone at Joe Queer's side. Pointing in shocked disbelief, I cried out, "Is that Glenn fucking Danzig!?!?" I double-timed it to the front and smiled with satisfaction at what I saw. It wasn't Glenn Danzig, it was some other midget. And not some old, craggy lookin' midget like you see in The Wizard of Oz or on "Seinfeld" or at a Danzig show. This was a young midget, smokin' and drinkin', wearing black and white checkered trousers, and dancing from one side of the stage to the other. He and his buddy even knocked over one of the drum mics, so I guess he was a rowdy midget, too. All I could think to say was a drawn out, incredulous "Ho-o-o-o-lee-ee shit!" Who needs paintings of dripping stop watches and burning giraffes when you can get great live surrealist entertainment like this for seven quids?
With a highlight like this, one would think the last third of the show would be anti-climactic. Not so. Joe turned on the mock ignorance, thanking the driver for hauling the band through Italy "and some other fucking country, I think it was Germany," and taking the piss out of Sum 41 and the Dropkick Murphys ("This next one's by my favorite Irish band, and it ain't the Dropkick Murphys, it's the Undertones."). Covers of "Rockaway Beach," "The Kids Are Alright," and "My Old Man's a Fatso" kept my heart a'racin' until a handful of originals including "I Met Her at the Rat," "Love Love Love," and "Ursula Finally Has Tits" nearly delivered a five-point exploding heart punch to my sternum. And that's when those old feelings of hate started to creep back into my head. After a show like this, what have I got to live for? Like a lover who fucks you into ecstatic delirium then leaves you, the Queers have ruined me for other bands (for at least the next two weeks!). What slutty whores!! It will be a while before these wounds heal and I can reflect fondly on the night of passion shared with the Queers (my first foursome). Until then, I'll feed my hate with cold, batter-fried fish, piss-warm bitter, and the other "civilized" contributions the English have made to Western Society.