Every band has a theme. For vast swaths of rock and roll, that theme is partying, drinking and relationships. But sometimes, bands manage to break out of that mold, in ways both serious and goofy. Missoula has the funny happenstance of hosting two Seattle-based theme bands in one week. On March 28, there's Tacos, a metal band that advocates for tacos, and on April 3, Warning! Danger dresses up in construction outfits and plays punk rock.
If you're tempted to view these bands' artistic merit with suspicion, let's pause and consider how many other rock bands have already made their name on unlikely themes. The Aquabats started out playing ska in superhero costumes. Masked Intruder wore balaclavas, pretending to be robbers. Now they're signed to Fat Wreck Chords and a roadie runs around dressed as a cop during their stage show. There's GWAR, whatever you want to call that theme (RIP Dave Brockie). The Spits' aesthetic and vocal delivery is inspired by robots. And there's Fartbarf, a trio that plays electronica while wearing Neanderthal masks.
These days, bands have to be pretty clever to get attention. (The band named Jawbreaker Reunion did a hell of a job at this.) Sometimes a band's theme is more of a loose veneer. This appears to be the case with Tacos, a two-piece that plays satisfyingly chunky, short metal songs with bellowing vocals and a sense of humor, like "Sexy Nap" and "Cobra." I couldn't hear nary a reference to salsa or tortillas on Tacos' eponymous album, but I was pleased to find that I would totally want to headbang to this at a show.
In the case of Warning! Danger, the construction theme only goes as far as the album titles; the songs are all snotty, irreverent pop punk. I can't help but like "Pluto is a Planet God Dammit" and "Captured! By Robots." (Yes, that song is about the band Captured! By Robots.) "Raves Are Dumb" is probably my favorite track on Warning! Danger's Keep Out album, with an Oi! kind of vibe to the chorus: "We really think that raves are dumb/ You're better off at a rock club."
Warning! Danger's songs don't break any musical ground, sure, but critiquing the musicianship is missing the point. These dudes are definitely having fun. That's the point of a gimmick. And sometimes, gimmicks have surprising staying power.
Tacos plays the VFW Fri., March 28 at 10 PM, along with Mordecai, Buddy Jackson and Shahs. $5. Warning! Danger plays the VFW Thu., April 3, at 10 PM. Cover TBA.