SAN FRANCISCO -- "We'd like to thank everyone for coming out tonight," the Mr. T Experience's singer/guitarist Dr. Frank told the crowd between songs. "I wasn't sure anyone was going to show up."
They showed up, all right. And when they left, there was likely not a disappointed one in the bunch.
Hundreds of teens from around the Bay Area put on their older brother's Bad Religion t-shirts, double checked their nose piercings and spare changed enough quarters to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Slim's so they could bask in the glory of East Bay power-pop veterans the Mr. T Experience Friday night. Celebrating the release of their new CD Revenge Is Sweet, And So Are You, Dr. Frank (aka Frank Porter), drummer Jym and bassist Joel (who go by their first names) presented to the hormonally-challenged crowd a bevy of pleasing 1-4-5 songs that addressed the trials and tribulations of love.
All that really was missing was a cover of Pat Benetar's "Love Is A Battlefield."
So caught up in the love thing, MTX even found it in their hearts to do a kickin' cover of Elton John and Kiki Dee's '70s pop hit "Don't Go Breaking My Heart;" with Joel playing the role of Kiki. The crowd had been healthily dancing all night long, but when the Elton cover was played, it was as if everyone stopped suddenly to take a breather. Aside from a few 20-something folk and yours truly, the crowd just stood and stared as if they were hearing the song for the first time. And in all likelihood many were.
The only other glitch in the otherwise unforgettable evening was when Dr. Frank's microphone went on the blink as he opened the show with "Here She Comes," the first track off Revenge Is Sweet, And So Are You. And while the crowd seemed none-the-worse for it, they missed out on my favorite lyric "She's got everything I haven't got, like savoir faire and joie de vivre and je ne sais quoi like you wouldn't believe." They were undeterred in their mission to mosh while the hometown boys rocked out, vocals or not.
The microphone situation was cleared up by the end of "Here She
Comes," which gave Dr. Frank the chance to properly introduce the next
song. "This is a song about a girl," he said before ripping into "Lawnmower
Of Love." With an entire evening of songs about girls, the introduction would be repeated over and over by Dr. Frank throughout the performance. From the excited and anticipatory "She's Coming (Over Tonight)" to the angry "The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful," the set was all about getting the girl, wanting to get rid of the girl and losing the girl.
This isn't a complaint, mind you. They earn points for consistency and raw energy. If it were not for love, all there would be is songs about cars and jobs. I'll take an evening of "Swiss Army Girlfriend" and "You You You" over an evening of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac" and Billy Joel's "Allentown" any day.
And Dr. Frank even threw in some fun-loving tunes for good measure. The set closing cover of the Marvel Comics' "Spider Man" theme inspired the crowd into a near frenzy. And while many had previously heard the song done by the Ramones on the Saturday Morning's Greatest Hits cartoon compilation, MTX made it their own for a night.
If there is a complaint about the Mr. T. Experience's set, it is that they left out the pedal steel guitar on "Hell Of Dumb," thereby transforming a spot-on country-fried song about a lover's lament into a standard issue Lookout! Records power-pop song about love gone wrong. If the boys can pick up a pedal steel guitar player before launching their tour, I see great things ahead.
Overall, Mr. T Experience joyfully blasted the crowd with Dead Milkmen rockers such as "With My Looks And Your Brains" and garage band insta-classics such as "Another Yesterday." The band was clearly there to, as they say, kick ass.
And the audience enthusiastically bent over to get the full effect. Isn't it great when people come together and work as a team? [Wed., Sept. 3, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]