I’ve seen Andrew W.K. live. I’ve seen Steel Panther live. I’ve seen Alice Cooper live. I’ve seen Kiss live. But I can certainly guarantee you that there’s nothing quite like an Electric Six show. From the spiffy suits of the band members to their creative and adventurous lyrics to the wild mind that is Dick Valentine, it’s truly a one of a kind experience. Earlier tonight, I had the privilege of seeing Electric Six for the third time at the sensational club known as Middle East located in Cambridge, MA. The band’s frontman, Dick Valentine, acknowledged that this was their fourteenth time coming to Middle East to a loud response from the excited crowd. One of the absolute greatest parts of tonight’s show, aside from the setlist that he described as “the greatest hits and the deep cuts”, is Dick’s stage presence and him as a frontman, but we’ll get to that later.
The show started at 9:00 PM with the first opener, Les Sans Culottes, a spectacular seven person group from France, whose energetic tracks, which included songs about Jim Morrison, LSD, Douches, and a French cover of These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, provided a great start for the night ahead. The second opener, My Jerusalem, provided a mellow rock soundtrack, and in my opinion, had shades of Smashing Pumpkins. Electric Six always has great opening bands accompanying them and tonight was no different.
Around this point, I looked at the clock and it said Electric Six time. For those who have yet to listen to the band’s music, they are a wonderful mixture of genres from alternative to new wave to punk to funk and even more where that came from. After seeing them live for the first time in 2011, I learned that their sound is far more than their big hits Gay Bar and Danger! High Voltage!. When I listen to them, I feel like I’m going on a psychedelic journey. And playing their CDs in the car is one thing, but I’m about to describe to you the power of Electric Six live.
The band’s setlist for this show was a well-balanced portion of new and classic songs. And like I said before, the band’s lyrics and song titles are out of this world. They kicked off the set with Synthesizer off of their debut album, Fire, followed by a song off of their latest album, Mustang, entitled Nom De Plume (which means a pseudonym adopted by an author). Then came a flashback from I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master, the song is called Down At McDonnelzzz, with an addictive chorus paying tribute to a certain fast food chain and their clown mascot. Following this came more new and old, including a new song entitled Adam Levine, the catchy guitar-riffed Pulling The Plug On The Party, the always popular Formula 409, and of course, the band’s signature hits, Gay Bar and Danger! High Voltage! On this very night, they followed Gay Bar with the criminally underrated song, Gay Bar Part Two. After Dick dedicated a song to the lesbians (We Were Witchy Witchy White Women), the band left the stage to a thunderous ovation. And right after this ovation came a “One More Song!” chant, which led to them coming back on stage to perform Show Me What Your Lights Mean which is simply put, groovy. And of course, no Electric Six concert would be complete without Dance Commander from all the way back in 2003.
Like I mentioned before, it’s not just the band’s skills, chemistry, and stage presence that truly makes it an Electric Six show, it’s the incomparable Dick Valentine. From that very first time that I saw him live two years ago, he has gone into the record books as one of my all-time favorite frontmen. He’s sophisticated, he’s witty, he always rocks a suit on stage, and his lines are instant classics. Tonight was certainly no different. He let the crowd know which song number they were on which always puts a smile on my face. For example, tonight he said, “This is song number two, a song off one of our albums.” And I will gladly say that he’s got some sweet dance moves on stage too, which included shooting the finger guns to the audience, as well as doing a backstroke while standing during Gay Bar. Speaking of Gay Bar, he was kind enough to give us an additional song (Gay Bar Part Two) “free of charge”. Though he has been known to stand in one spot, look at the audience and either smile or shoot finger guns throughout the guitar solos of Danger! High Voltage!, this time he took his wallet out of his pocket and began to count his dollar bills. It was hilarious! Also of course, during one of the instrumental parts, he proceeded to do his signature which is him singing a section of Touch It by Monifah. And how could I forget? He actually saw me in the crowd and recognized me from when I interviewed him for Journey of a Frontman back in June. and gave me a shoutout, mentioning Hartford, Connecticut and referring to me as a good looking guy. Night made? Check.
Another surprise came when I got a setlist after the show and had it signed by the band’s guitarists, “The White Wolf” Johnny Na$hinal and Da Ve.
An Electric Six show is a combination of a concert, a theatrical experience, an art exhibit, and a showcase of the immortals. Like Andrew W.K. and like Fozzy and like Calabrese, the best way to see this spectacle is in a club with rowdy fans who love their music. It’s no wonder why Electric Six keeps coming back to Middle East! In an area that has a well-known and flourishing music scene, Electric Six stops by one night a year to give the great people an unforgettable phenomenon. And now, to quote an Electric Six song title, “The Countdown To The Countdown” begins once again until I get to see them in Cambridge, MA once again.