Self-proclaimed rock legends, The Dwarves, descended on the Sunset Strip this week, with a new album that claims they invented rock n roll. Remarkably they managed a full set without breaking anything. Here's the long and the short of it...
The Dwarves, live in Los Angeles
Venue: The Roxy
The Ramones are gone. It's high time we recognised another great US punk band, says our man Morat.
There are more than seven Dwarves
Vadge Moore, Tazzie Bushweed, Andy Christ, Chip Fracture... It's no secret that a succession of aptly named lunatics has passed through this band since they formed in the late 80's, each of them bringing their own personal dysfunction to the mix, with frontman Blag Dahlia as the only constant member. Given that guitarist Hewhocannotbenamed also cannotbehere, and that bassist Rex Everything (aka Nick Oliveri) is busy touring his solo material, we get a rather more restrained line-up this evening, if there is such a thing in such a band. That said, The Fresh Prince Of Darkness (aka Mark Diamond) has been known destroy a guitar faster than Pete Townsend.
The Dwarves are still the best band ever
Rather a bold statement, of course, but at least more easily verified than their claims to be young and good looking. And it doesn't hurt their cause that the song of the same name, The Dwarves Are Still The Best Band Ever, from 2011's Born Again opus, was an instant classic. “A cure for cancer or for AIDS, to volunteer in fire brigades,” ponders Dahlia, before inevitably deciding, “Nah, let's just get high and fuck some sluts.” It's fair to say that the majority of Dwarves tunes concern, in some way, sex, drugs, and/or how great The Dwarves are. The scary thing is they might occasionally be right.
Sometimes The Dwarves aren't always so short
While it's always great fun to watch a band that might self-destruct at any moment, perhaps only four or five songs into their set, it's equally frustrating when they don't play your favourite songs. Tonight, however, The Dwarves come armed with tall set-list that takes in the best of an outstanding back catalogue. Dominator, Let's Fuck, Everybody's Girl, Free Cocaine... and still the 'hits' come... Better Be Women, Salt Lake City... True, the band have been playing full sets, for the most part, for the past few years, but still it's a rare treat to hear so many songs in one night.
LA crowds are lame
It's not unknown for The Dwarves to play to a hostile audience who is basically there to get them back for what they did last time. It's also not unknown for the audience to get drunk and naked and cause as much chaos as the band. Unfortunately the Roxy doesn't seem to have got the memo. “Do that punk rock dance,” insists Blag, trying to instigate a circle pit among a packed crowd that clearly knows it's Sunday. Admittedly, things liven up by about mid-set with a steady stream of stage divers (including Dahlia on several occasions), but, really, there's no excuse for an all ages crowd.
There are no more Ramones
The Cramps, bless them, are long gone, too, and it's into those soiled shoes that The Dwarves have stepped. It's not enough to have been around forever, it takes something more special than that, a certain swagger that only comes from having the tunes to back it up. Nobody does sleazy, pop infused, punk rock better than The Dwarves, from the grind of You Gotta Burn and Like You Want to blistering assaults like Way Out and Pimp. In 2014, The Dwarves are our Ramones, our Cramps, our classic band that is never fully appreciated until it's gone. Rock legends indeed.