When I was a young lad,Ugly Kid Joe we’re one of the bands that helped introduce me to heavier music. From the moment I saw the video to their single ‘Everything About You’ I was hooked. I immediately scrounged up the required funds as i had to get a copy of their album, ‘America’s Least Wanted’. Disappointingly I soon found out it was sold out at every store I went to.
25 years later the California rockers have hit the road to celebrate their most acclaimed release and giving fans the chance to experience America’s Least Wanted live, which for some young punters is a first. We get there just in time to see Melbourne three piece Dallas Frasca who’s raw desert rock is the perfect opener for Ugly Kid Joe. Dallas Frasca have already gained a dedicated fan base on their own through their years of slogging it out on the international touring circuit and are no strangers to sharing the stage with rock royalty. It’s also not everyday you get to see a band without a bass player who’s sound is so huge that they don’t really need one. Dallas Frasca herself is one hell of a frontwoman, the power and heat in her husky vocals is reminiscent of Janis Joplin’s raw, soul driven vocals.
Embarking into the congregation, she urges everyone to 'get down on the floor’, to which everyone obliges. It's quite a sight to see the patrons of The Zoo all sitting on the floor whilst being serenaded by such raw talent. The energy that this band puts out warms up the crowd and it's the perfect shot in the arm for a Monday night gig.
Ugly Kid Joe kick off their set with the hit single and album opener ‘Neighbor’ which has every fan in the room singing along and sets the tone of a memorable gig to follow. As a frontman Whitfield Crane is unstoppable and his voice is as unbelievable and flawless as it is on record. Crane demonstrates his extremely diverse vocal range throughout the night and really shows his true power in songs like ‘Madman’ and ‘Goddamn Devil’ with some of the most impressive high screams that give most metal singers a run for their money.
The band is as close knit as they were a quarter of a decade ago when 'America's Least Wanted’ was released. Showing the crowd what they are well renowned for, they drive every song home with such force, its hard to know if the next song is going to top the last. While giving everything to their performance, it's definitely more than just 90’s nostalgia, it’s what we all need to kick off the week and forget our troubles from the start of the working week. Whether it be, getting the crowd to clap in unison or jump around to a drum beat, Crane holds the audience captive with both hands and shows that he still has the drive to continue making great music and to turn a new generation on to their gritty, funk driven brand of metal.
When knocking out 'So Damn Cool’ the whole venue is captivated. Shouting the words back to the band with such ferocity, there doesn't seem to be much need for them to sing their own song. While a fan favourite and a massive hit for the band, 'Cats in the Cradle’ seems to take something small away from such an energetic performance. Even after playing together after so many years you can see that the band still has the onstage chemistry that assists them in delivering nothing less than a spectacular show.
Launching full tilt into 'Milkman’s Son’ and ‘VIP’, there seems to be no stopping this monstrous setlist with Whitfield adding 'they gave us a curfew, but we’re gonna break the hell outta that tonight’. Giving the fans everything they want and more, they depart the stage and leave support Tim Macmillan to give us his own version of a medley of Joe songs that didn't seem to make the cut on the headliners setlist.
It also assists guitarist Klaus Eichstadt to transition into 'Mr. Recordman’ to close out the main set, prompting Whitfield to draw on the crowds last scrap of energy to cheer with gusto for the amount of encore songs we want. Closing out their stage time with a triple threat of Motorheads 'Ace of Spades’, ‘Funky Fresh Country Club’ and finally 'Everything About You’, it firmly cements that the Californian quintet are back to take the world by storm once more. Farewelling the masses, they depart the stage, leaving us with the perfect start for the working week.
Review : Nev Pearce and JD Garrahy
Photographer : JD Garrahy