2. Saigon Kick - Third Street Live/Big Dogs, Cedar Rapids February 12, 2000
This might have been an OK concert if my expectations hadn't been set so high by a previous concert 4 or 5 years earlier.
Although I knew of Saigon Kick in the early 90's, they had gotten pigeon-holed in my brain due to their one huge hit Love is On the Way. I think the same thing happened for most people. Even though I kind of liked the song, the video was played so often that anytime I heard Saigon Kick, all I could think of was Matt (the lead singer) trying to act all sexy and sensitive with the microphone. Not really a picture that I wanted stuck in my head...it was even worse than Jason's (the guitarist) poodle hair. I know a friend had played the full album of The Lizard for me a couple of times but I was never able to get into it. At the time I was very metal and full of angst, so all I wanted to listen to was Megadeth or similar.
This was a mistake on my part. Saigon Kick would be lost to me for several years. A few years later while rooming with my good friend db and working for my college's student radio station KGRK (now KULT), I heard that they were playing a gig in Cedar Rapids. Even though not a huge fan, I was intrigued and cocnerts were my main way to let of steam. I was reintroduced to Saigon Kick and this time it clicked. These guys were talented, wrote great songs, and had awesome harmonization. db played their older albums and I grabbed the new release from the radio station...unfortunately, I didn't have too long to get into the music the concert was only a week or 10 days away and it was the end of the semester which meant papers and projects were due. I went into the concert only vaguely familiar with SK's music. I wasn't sure what to expect...I knew they had lost their singer and their guitarist had taken over singing duties. With as much harmonization that the band had, I wondered if all the talent had walked and these guy's were still trying to ride the coattails. I couldn't have been more wrong. Jason (guitarist turned singer/guitarist) seemed to be the talented one and I quickly went from being weary to enjoying one of the best shows I have seen (except for the ballerina chick hitting on/dancing for my brother Kelly throughout the show - that was just weird).
Unfortunately, after this tour Saigon Kick kind of drops off the planet for a while...once again I am late to the party. SK released a Live/Greatest Hits and then their final CD Bastards was only released in Japan...but for all intents and purposes the band no longer existed in the United States. I had heard that the band had broken up. Around 2000-2001 I heard that Saigon Kick was touring again and were once again stopping in Cedar Rapids at Big Dogs...the same location as the last concert. I was excited...the last show had been so killer that I couldn't wait for this one, plus I was infinitely more familiar with their music so I would be able to sing along, request songs, etc... By this time, Saigon Kick had become one of my favorite bands.
I was on pins and needles due to anticipation for a couple months but disturbing details began to emerge. Jason (who had impressed me so much) had indeed left the band and formed Super TransAtlantic and Saigon Kick was touring as "The Original Lineup" even though I was pretty sure Jason was in the original lineup. I convinced myself that A) Matt couldn't be that bad as he sang on the first couple records which were very good, and B) the rest of the band totally kicked ass just five years ago, not that much could have changed with them right?
Wrong. Saigon Kick (The Original Lineup, AKA:TOL) came out with a bored and uninterested air that lasted throughout the show. It wasn't terrible when taken by itself...but when compared to the earlier show it was a night and day difference. No intensity, no energy...this was really the show that I was kind of expecting 5 years ago. You know when you go to a live show and it just envelops you but then you get home and listen to the record and it just sounds flat? That was how these two concerts compared...the Original Lineup just sounded flat and drab.
Here are a few things that I found especially lame about the show.
1) Ego Attack - With Matt back in the back band, Saigon Kick (TOL) only played music from their first two albums. Although I understand Matt not wanting to play music from when he wasn't in the band, it is forcing the other members to abandon 2-3 albums worth of material that they worked hard on...and it is great material. Matt could have swallowed some ego and admitted that the band didn't revolve just around him. I've seen this happen with other bands too but it always seems like a dick move. Matt, you are playing a concert for 50 people tops...you are no longer a rock star. Bite the bullet and play some of the great music even though it wasn't your era...as it was your material was getting stretched really thin by the end of the show.
2) Heroin break - OK, I guess I don't know that it was heroin but I am sure something was ingested. After a couple songs, Matt walks off stage. Matt looked normal. Everyone stood around for about 10-15 minutes waiting for him to return. It was like an encore break two songs in! It was lame. Matt does come back but looks pretty fucking far from normal. His skin was now flushed a bright red...not a healthy pink color, he was red (Hellboy red). The veins in his neck now looked like rope overlaid his skin. And of course, he now had to wear sunglasses for a couple songs. Never having done drugs, I don't really understand the appeal but this definitely didn't look pleasant, I thought the guys was going to stroke out on stage. He did finish the show without dying though, I'll give him that.
3) Muffin top - Some of the band members. Specifically the guitarist and the bassist decided to wear a either no shirt or a fishnet shirt and tight leather pants. They wore the exact same outfit 5 years earlier and looked decent. Now however, they were about 20 pounds heavier and no longer had the chiseled muscles. They would have looked alright in jeans and a t-shirt, but these outfits were too revealing for their new body types. Yep, complete muffin top spilling over the tops of there parts. It pretty much summed up "has-been" in my mind at the time.
4) No Harmony - Saigon Kick's vocals have always seemed to be built around harmonization, much like Alice in Chains was. Originally, I thought Matt was the key, but after seeing the previous concert I realized that Jason was the master harmonizer. Matt can sing, but he could not harmonize with the band. Jason was great at doing both. Without the harmonization the vocals just seemed flat and lacking...like you were only getting one side of a stereo recording. The depth and emotion was completely missing.
Here is a video from the concert that someone posted on youtube. I am sure you can see the back of Kelly & I's heads a few times. Listening to it again, I once again think that it was an OK show but expectations were probably too high due to the previous incredible show. Even with Jason it still might have been disappointing...but with Matt it probably never stood a chance.
Even though this was a disappointing show, I would still go see Saigon Kick any time they come through on tour...and with recently minted website and facebook account, who knows? I really wish Jason would be part of it too.
*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more. I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.