The Meatmen / Against the Grain - Live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Meatmen / Against the Grain

Live in Philadelphia (2015)

live show

“If you’re gonna be a legacy punk act, you gotta do it right… unlike Black Flag or the Dead Kennedys without Jello Biafra… that’s right, I said it!” spat Tesco Vee from the stage of Philly’s Kung Fu Necktie on May 2, 2015. He continued, “You gotta do it right, like Negative Approach… or us!”

The chest beating and contemporary band dissing was standard fare for the evening. Between every three or so songs, Vee would tell the audience about how great the Meatmen are and how other people suck. Danzig got no less than three admonitions. It was probably Morrissey who got the nastiest smack. Right before “Morrissey Must Die,” Vee stated, “Starting 20 years ago, every night, I would pray by my bedside that Morrissey would get cancer… well, he did! But, then he got better. It looks like I have to start praying again.” Brutal!

Still, the band’s nasty barbs served to highlight their skill. Those types of insults would fall flat if the band themselves didn’t back up their bluster with beef. Luckily for them, the Meatmen rocked. Likely because last year’s tour focused on the excellent new-ish Savage Sagas,, for this tour, the band played a greatest hits set merged with several rarities.

Classics like “Meatmen Stomp,” “Tooling for Anus,” and “War of the Superbikes” were given jacked, hard versions. The band was an energetic, but fiery unit. A punk band in the truest set, the band was combustible, but had just enough professionalism to give these songs the deserved punch. Meanwhile, Vee was in top form. As he made it clear to the crowd that he is no youngin’ (“I’ve been doing this for five decades!) he sounding great. As always, his growly voice was menacing, but that impish, boyish glee was always hiding just underneath the venomous attacks. Although he’ll be sixty in three months, Vee didn’t show it. He was full of energy, piss, and vinegar, and really, looked about 20 years younger than his actual age. (I guess they don’t call him the Dutch Hercules for nothing).

The band did manage to slip in a few of the new tunes, including “I’m gonna fuck you up,” the GG Allin tribute “Rock n Roll enema,” and a personal favorite, “The Dwarves are the Second best band in the world (after the Meatmen).” In a bit of sly reference, Meatmen bassist Dirtbag Danny shrieked like Dwarves sidekick Nick Oliveri on that last tune. Tellingly, they’re both bassists, bald, and have goatees. Call it heretical, call it uninformed, call it biased, but if you ask me, the newest songs really are some of the best material the band has ever written. The sharp, quick new tunes show the fire and jaggedness of first wave punk, but also, more than ever before, show that the band knows how to write a fundamentally compelling song- a merging of the classic and revolutionary, if you will. They kicked ass.

And of course, Tesco saluted the penis throughout the night. He took to the stage wearing a red boa, flashing devil horns, cool guy glasses, a d a gigantic, inflatable penis. Throughout the night be produced another giant penis that shot confetti, a smaller penis that shot confetti, and another oversized member. You could say that the constant shit-talking and wang-slinging is mere audience baiting, but as Vee seemed to allow himself a sly grin after every attack (musical or genital) the band didn’t seem to be scowling at the human condition so much as celebrating it’s ridiculousness. Certainly, “Abba, God, and Me,” which got its due course during the night, exhibited that.

Prior to the Meatmen, openers and fellow touring band Against the Grain hit the audience with a set of revved-up Detroit influenced Hard rock by way of classic punk. But, in lieu of Stooges style animalism, the band went for more of an MC5 crazed blues-rock angle. The songs where heavy and fast, and in a way, reminded the audience that modern hard rock darlings like Mastodon and Torche have history to thank. At times, especially when the band veered almost towards proto-thrash cadence, the band was reminiscent of Nazareth and Motorhead. (One guitarist had several Motorhead tattoos and Lemmy style facial hair). The band walked the fine line of playing a classic form without being ironic or redundant. They tore it up, and in a rare bit of leniency, the notoriously nasty Philly crowd shouted “Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!” at the end of their set. Well done.

Random notes:

-Oh, also, Metallica got dissed right before the Meatmen covered Venom. No one was safe!

-In a true display of Philadelphia style class, some guy (perhaps in some primitive territorial showing?) put his half full can of beer directly on top of the Meatmen’s merch… while Tesco Vee was sitting there! Immediately, Tesco’s usually friendly visage flashed into a demonic scowl and he picked up the beer and handed it directly back to the guy, who I’m pretty sure shit his pants right there. In case you don’t know. Tesco Vee is actually a really, really big guy with really, really big fists.

-Celebrity fashion watch: Jackal of Philly hardcore heroes YDI was spotted wearing his trademark Punisher t-shirt. A fellow Meatman fan was spotted wearing the famous “On your knees sinner” Meatmen shirt from the 80’s. Yours truly was sporting his Blowlfy shirt which parodies Celtic Frost’s Return of the Emporer. Do YOU know the Blowfly – Meatmen connection?