Separation of rock and message, that’s what I say. It’s all well and good for a party-hearty band to espouse some kind of philosophy to justify their putative stick-it-to-the-Man stance (although none seem to have succeeded with half the panache of the MC5, and we’re talking, what, thirty-some years ago), but when I want my coat pulled to the Message, I listen to hip hop or hardcore. Under no circumstances do I turn to guitar bands to fine tune my politics with slogans cribbed from the revolutions of yesteryear.
Come on, now. No one’s saying rock ’n’ roll has to be an empty-headed hedonist good time, but really—it’s better that way. I’m old enough to know better, so just humor me by playing devil’s advocate for the senseless and ferally satisfying. Give me the let’s-drink-and-take-pills bands over false prophets with Marshall stacks any damn day, I mean it. Give me a band like the Streetwalkin Cheetahs.
The fact that they rip their name (as did Minneapolis’ late Halo of Flies) from one of Iggy Pop’s finer moments should tell you right where they’re coming from: nuts-out guitar rock on a par with the best of the old-schoolers they’re taking their cues from. Heard much rock lately? Proto-punk is back but hard. We could talk about who’s been rifling through whose rock ’n’ roll underwear drawer looking for riffs to put together which Streetwalkin Cheetahs tune, but how’s about you and me not spoiling the moment with words we’ll only regret. You’ve heard this stuff before. But get ready to hear it better than you’ve heard it in a real long while.
If the band’s recent live offering (Live on KXLU, Triple-X Records) is any indication of the kind of fire they’re going to breathe at the Cowboy Bar, the Cowboy Bar should be in for a show to make the Hellacopters look like a bunch of Holly Hobbies wanking their way through a Swedish transliteration of the Yankee real deal. I mean, I know plenty of people who uphold that Hellacopters show (late spring of ’99) as some kind of high-water mark, and it was a good one, and it’s nice that the Swedes finally got over death metal long enough to rock but Americans invented this stuff, dammit, and the Hellacopters weren’t that amazing and isn’t it pretty lame that everyone had sparks in their Speedos over a bunch of Swedes when there are bands like the Streetwalkin Cheetahs (who claim many of the same influences) blasting off in their own backyards?
But you don’t have to take my word for how bad the Cheetahs lay it down. Consider that Wayne Kramer is a fan, as is hard-case rock critic Legs McNeil, as is Radio Birdman guitar mastermind Deniz Tek (who, as an interesting footnote to Australian rock history, is now an EMT at Saint Patrick’s in Billings). Tek played with them on a recent 7-inch of Birdman covers. What higher praise could there be? Don’t let a Sunday night prevent you from seeing this rock revival.
Streetwalkin Cheetahs play the Cowboy Bar on Sunday, April 30 at 9:30 p.m. Cover $3.