America’s favorite punk rock lounge act supergroup coverband, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, brought the East Coast leg of their tour in support of their greatest hits album, Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits (April 7th, Fat Wreck Chords), through Boston late last week, their first area appearance in close to seven years. The touring lineup of the Gimmes has been a bit of an ongoing, evolving thing over the years, and honestly that’s one of the things that keeps the band fun and compelling as a live act. On this particular run, founding Gimmes Spike Slawson (vocals, occasional uke hunter), Joey Cape (guitar) and Dave Raun (drums) were joined by longtime touring Gimme Scott Shiflett all but taking over his kid brother Chris’s spot on lead guitar and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley manning Fat Mike’s bass player battle station.
The Gimmes are always a fun time, and this particular night was no exception. One could imagine a situation in which a revolving cast of punk rock characters in their third decade as a recording and touring cover band (side note: the “Denver” 7-inch came out in 1995 and that doesn’t seem real) would have the occasion to go through the proverbial motions, but that hasn’t been the case. Bentley and Shiflett especially displayed an awful lot of playful stage interplay throughout the set, the latter using the opportunity to flex his mighty, mighty lead guitar skills that obviously get overlooked in his normal role as Face To Face’s bass player for the last few decades. Spike Slawson has long since outwardly embraced the role of schticky, occasionally raunchy lounge act crooner, so much so that you sometimes lose sight of the fact that the guy can actually, really, genuinely sing to a degree that he’s made a handful of other people’s songs sound like his own. The ukulele-led rendition of Madonna’s “Crazy For You” from 2014’s Are We Not Men? We Are DIVA! is a perfect example, though it’s worth noting that Madonna didn’t actually write the song either, so at this point it’s just as much Slawson’s as hers. But I digress. Long story short, Boston can be a bit of a notoriously finicky place for punk bands to play. On this particular night, Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s haven’t put out a new studio album (Greatestest Hits notwithstanding) in three years and still headlined in front of more Bostonians at the packed-to-the-rafters 1100-ish capacity Royale nighclub than they have played for in any of their past headlining gigs here in at least a decade, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.
Masked Intruder and PEARS provided direct and opening support in that order. The crowd at Royale turned out in larger capacity for PEARS than I have ever really seen at that particular venue, notorious for their early start times (can’t keep the EDM crowd waiting…), which was inspiring for a band that’s got a more raw, aggressive, throwback punk rock sound than many of their peers. Frontman Zach Quinn performs as though he’s from a bygone era, his banshee-like wailing and shirtless, sweat-covered pacing around the stage creating the impression of a caged animal chomping at the bit to be released.
Masked Intruder seem to be a perfect fit for any lineup that includes Me First And The Gimme Gimme’s. They might have a schtick of their own going, but it’s a really, really good one. Intruder Red was not behind the drum kit on this particular run — he’s in jail, naturally — but the band seemed to miss nary a beat with Lipstick Homicide’s Luke Ferguson taking up drum duties. Masked Intruder are a fun band who seem to take their role as a “fun band” seriously, without taking themselves too seriously. Blue and Green lead most of the high energy charge, having perfected personas as pseudo-New York tough guy common street criminals, at least until roughly the set’s halfway point, when Officer Bradford gradually loosens up and strips down, at which time the whole thing has the potential to devolve completely. Again, it’s schtick, but it’s a lot of fun and it’s all very well done.
Check out our full photo gallery below, and check out upcoming Gimmes dates here.