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Red Elvises at The Mystic Theatre

by VM Brasseur on April 2nd, 2007

After a long day of Thai Brunch, train riding, hiking, Guitar Hero and onion strings with chipotle ketchup, the Albertellis and I capped it all off by seeing The Red Elvises perform live at McNear’s Mystic Theatre.

I first heard of this band when I saw Six String Samurai, a post-apocalyptic guitar samurai movie for which they wrote the soundtrack and in which they have a cameo. It’s a goofy fun movie with a soundtrack to match, so naturally my interest was piqued when I saw that the band was going to be playing near me. That pique was amplified when I saw that tickets were only $12. At that price it almost would be worth my time even if the show sucked.

We arrived at the venue right as doors were opening and were some of the first ones in. It was not a sold out show, but our tickets were general admission so we wanted to make sure to get decent seats. The demographics of the audience were surprising to me. They were mostly older with few folks our age or younger. Maybe that’s what comes from playing in Petaluma. As this was my first visit to the Mystic I had no experience with its usual crowd.

The opening band was The Pyronauts. I think that they were really good, but to be honest the sound levels were miserable in that room so most of the time the different parts being played all bled together into a musical mush. I’d probably go out of my way to see them again (if only because they allowed the bass player to take a turn at the lead line of Dick Dale’s Misirlou), but not in this venue.

The Pyronauts played for forty five minutes. It only took about twenty minutes for the stage to be prepped for the Red Elvises. Both bands are their own roadies, which was kind of refreshing to see. The instrumentation of the Red Elvises was eclectic. They had the usual rock band paraphenalia, but they also had a bari sax, clarinet, flute, accordian, tuba and a three string bass guitar shaped like a monstrous red balalaika. That should give you a clue that this band is all about camp.

The Red Elvises played two sets. For the duration of it most of the theatre emptied from their seats to dance (badly, for the most part, but they get points for trying) in the area in front of the stage. No one would ever make the mistake of saying that the Red Elvises play good music. They play their songs well, but they’re hardly classics of the genre. What they are is pure unadulterated fun. This is one of those bands that plays for the sake of playing and for the sake of seeing their audience having a good time. Despite the fact that I barely knew any of their tunes before showing up (and the Albertellis knew even less) we still really enjoyed the show. A Russian surf rock band covering Tom Waits’ Telephone Call From Istanbul? That alone made this show worth my $12.

Despite the fact that I stayed up way past my bedtime on a school night, this was a really good show. Everyone (through the “it’s almost midnight” yawns) said they enjoyed themselves. Overall, it ended up being a brilliant end to a fun day.

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