Queers Invade Philly

Don't be scared.

ATN Philadelphia correspondent Chris Nelson reports: Hot

on the heels of the Ramones' pass through town last Friday night (Feb. 16), the

latest Lookout Records' package show blew into Philly on Saturday (Feb. 17).

Featuring the Queers, the Mr. T Experience, and the Smugglers, this show was a

rock solid punk happening that would have done Joey and Johnny proud.

The

Trocadero is a small old theatre that provided an ideal setting for the

Smugglers. This Canadian five piece, unlike so many of its peers, knows the

value of putting on a show, rather than just ripping through their

latest album cuts haphazardly. Their performance smarts stem from the band's

eye toward '60s R&B groups for inspiration, rather than the '77 punk revolution

or early 80's hardcore. They know full well the air of cool a band can create

with matching uniforms. And these guys not only have the suits, they even throw

in choreographed hand moves on a couple of numbers. Most important is the

Smugglers' talent for finding a groove and working it, rather than bashing the

audience over the head with their material.

Headlining the show was New

Hampshire's Queers. Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Joe Queer has had the

band together in some form or another for about 15 years. He's recently

replaced his drummer and added a second guitarist, but the band is so tight

(and the Queers' songbook is so simple) that this incarnation sounded as if

they could have been together all along.

Sometimes Queers' shows seem like

they belong on the oldies circuit ­­ that is, despite the fact that they may

have just released a new album, they often concentrate on songs that were

written in the first couple years of their career. It's all the more

frustrating because their recent material is some of the best they've ever

written. Last night, however, the Queers touched on every album they've made

with a whopping 35-song set that maintained a machine gun pace so as to never

become boring. The lion's share of the material came from the Lookout release

that jump started their career in 1993, Love Songs for the Retarded, but

the best songs of the night were from last year's Move Back Home. Toward

the end of the set, Joe called for "Rockaway Beach" and managed to pull it off

better than the Ramones had the night before. Of all the current claimants to

the Ramones punk-rockin' throne, perhaps the Queers alone have the persistence,

the snottiness, and songbook to inherit it.

Between the Smugglers and the

Queers, the Mr. T Experience laid down their own set full of pop punk flavor.

While the band has made consistently good records in the East Bay style (they

helped create it, after all) for ten years now, it hasn't been easy going. Dr.

Frank, MTX's founder, singer, guitarist, and songwriter, is the only original

member left (he jokingly refers to Mr. T as the "MTX

Starship.")