But Alabama Thunderpussy, or The Pussy as we have taken to calling them, are well-travelled rockers, and they kept lock-step timing throughout the whole show. Despite the testosterone and tattoos, the band played metal riffs that were more Blue Oyster Cult, more trebly and precise, than say Pantera or Sepultura or other bands that look really tough. In fact, The Pussy has all the right equipment for a decent southern rock band, complete with harmonizing lead guitars.
There was a moment when I thought I’d hear some pumped up southern blues, when frontman Johnny Weills announced “We’re going to kick it down a notch, but it’s still gonna kick you right in the nuts.” He did slow it down slightly, but only to Judas Priest levels.
There’s a classic and telling scene in Jailhouse Rock, when Elvis storms into a party of college-educated “squares” and makes fun of them for listening to jazz music, which required too much brain power for Mr. Presley’s character, who was, of course, an uneducated cracker who liked to beat people up and stuff. Rock is the revolution that evens the playing field: all those big brains and all that studying is nothing compared to just having a good physique, decent jeans, and working man songs.
Forty years later, the whole world has bought into the aesthetics of the uneducated cracker, and more and more frequently we get the disturbing realization that intelligence and creativity are VICES in rock. Weezer, The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand are greeted at first, but then turned on for being posers… for just not being dumb enough, for not rocking.
This has had us thinking recently: how dumb do you have to be to really rock? We thought, for example, that a band called Alabama Thunderpussy would be dumb enough to rock. But there were many moments when the singer’s lyrics revealed a flicker of intelligence and, therefore, self doubt.
The crowd, well-stocked with mullets without irony, seemed to get antsy despite the perfectly constructed song structure. For one thing, most women had fled early on, so it was only a group of a hundred pumped up XY (and XYY) rockers eyeing The Pussy. For another, The Pussy didn’t start a fight, get upset or do anything more uncivil than be tattooed and keep the amps pretty loud (not jarringly loud, mind you, and always perfectly balanced.)
The solution was this: Alabama Thunderpussy sounded crisp, and they were pretty dumb and aggressive, but, as indicated by the fact that they even found Iceland on the map, they just weren’t dumb enough to really rock. For real rock, we have to look to locally produced talent.