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From the archive: Supersuckers at the Middle East Downstairs, 2011

Originally published on Back Tracks Music, 11/26/2011

"Eddie Spaghetti" at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA, (c) Sarah Belclaire

Eddie Spaghetti isn't quite as starchy as his namesake. (c) Sarah Belclaire

This past weekend the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, Massachusetts hosted a rock n’ roll show consisting of three bands that are all headliners in their own right. I went to see Sasquatch & The Sickabillies, a band I’ve always loved for their local roots. But, this was a Sickabillies show like no other, as the rock n' roll trio opened for hard rock legends Nashville Pussy and the self-proclaimed “greatest rock n’ roll band in the world,” the Supersuckers.

The Sickabillies set the night off properly, shying away from that dreaded “rockabilly” label given to all bands whose lead singer has a pompadour. Lead vocalist and guitarist Sasquatch, with his throaty, driving vocals and superb guitar prowess concocted a set combining country, punk, and metal into a raw, raunchy fusion of rock n’ roll ideology. It was a heavily male-dominated crowd at the Middle East, and right away the Sickabillies prepared any spectators in the audience for what they were about to witness the rest of the night. Their version of the Vince Taylor classic “Brand New Cadillac,” though often associated with greaser car culture, is hardly the Clash’s or Brian Setzer’s version. It’s sped up to a heart-pounding pace, and somehow fits into a set so red-blooded that it could only be followed by a band called Nashville Pussy.

As Nashville Pussy, the hard rock quartet from Atlanta, took the stage, the crowd shifted into bar fight mode. With Eddie Spaghetti of the Supersuckers filling in on bass, Blaine Cartwright, Ruyter Suys, and Jeremy Thompson delved into fist-pumping crowd favorites like “High As Hell.” I had been previously skeptical of Nashville Pussy, partially because they’re so intimidating and partially because, growing up in New Hampshire, “redneck rock” genre can be tiresome.

Though I’m certain Ruyter Suys would beat me in an arm wrestling match, she sure is a charismatic guitarist.

She’s the most passionate member of the group, throwing herself to the ground in a frenzy as she blazes through solo after solo. Looking out at the crowd, it’s easy to see that the people closest to Ruyter’s side of the stage are the ones most engaged in the show, throwing their hands towards her.

A superb night of chanting, moshing, and throwing beer on people had only begun when Supersuckers charged into their set. I’ve been to shows where it’s hard to tell who is the opener and who is the headliner by just looking at the lineup. This was one of those shows. Supersuckers had to try pretty hard to upstage Ruyter & Nashville Pussy, but they narrowly pulled it off. For a rebel-rousing, “I don’t care” kind of band, they put on a pretty polished show. Lead Singer Eddie Spaghetti dons his uniform of cowboy hat and aviator sunglasses, while he and his guitarists move in coordinated rhythms back and forth on the stage. Their main objective is to assure that everybody in the crowd goes as wild as possible. They slashed through songs like “Coattail Rider” “Hell City Hell” and “Pretty Fucked Up”—during which an obedient fan trotted happily onto the stage before being tossed back into the crowd by security.

As the revelers got rowdier towards the end of the gig, I was slammed neck-first into a railing. Lucky for me, I wasn’t injured, and I got to get up onto the backstage ramp for the rest of the show to avoid being crushed by a crowd of drunk 6’5’’ dudes slamming into each other. There I got some awesome shots of Eddie leading the crowd at the end of the concert.

This was a positively American rock show. Eddie Spaghetti, insisting that it wouldn’t be over until they had “properly rocked,” indulged the crowd with a set that included a seamless encore with no off-stage break. The set ended with the Supersuckers classic “Born With A Tail,” as the devout crowd threw their middle fingers in the air. For anyone who craves the rabble-rousing, barfight-like experience of southern rock, it was a pleasant surprise to get such a great lineup and raucous crowd in the otherwise fairly quiet Boston ‘burbs. For three groups that may well pride themselves on being vulgar and loud, these are also bands that don’t play games with their fans. They respect their crowd, they play all the hits everybody wants to hear, and their greatest pride comes from knowing the crowd is having a blast.


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