Last Thursday, on April 21st Electric Six brought their incredible energy to the intimate stage at Club Congress downtown Tucson. This was the first concert I had ever attended at Club Congress and I think it was the perfect setting for this style of show.
Before discussing the main event, I would like to discuss the opening act of the show. To kick it off, Electric Six invited Nashville base duo VOLK to bring the energy and get everyone excited. VOLK is a duo that consists simply of a drummer and guitarist; are you thinking White Stripes? You would be partially right. The lead singer of VOLK is female and she is also crushing the drums while the guitarist and backing vocalist is male and he is a natural performer who understands what it takes to get a crowd going. From a sound perspective, much of their music does actually seem to draw on similar roots to The White Stripes. They have a messy, gritty, and punk style combined with upbeat country vocals that create an ear-blasting experience and leaves you amazed that only two people can be so loud. VOLK is certainly a fantastic live act and hopefully they gain more mainstream traction in the near future because I would love to see them be successful.
Moving on to the meat of the evening, the Electric Six performance. As the name suggests, Electric Six is a six-piece rock band formed in Detroit in 1996 that brings a blend of garage, disco, and punk rock sound that is bolstered by the consistent use of a synthesizer in many of their songs. Watching all six band members walk out onto that cramped stage at Club Congress set the scene for a fantastic show ahead. The lead singer and only permanent member of the band, Dick Valentine grabbed the mic and immediately began referring to the crowd as “Pima County” and talking in the awkward and choppy manner that he is known for. Is it an act? Or does he actually interact with others like that? We may never find out but the mystery makes it that much more intriguing. Soon after, the band launched into a full-speed performance drawing on tunes from their immense discography that features eighteen full-length albums.
Three songs that I would like to highlight are “Down at McDonaldz”, “Gay Bar”, and “I Buy the Drugs”. “Down at McDonaldz” was played at about the midpoint of the concert and the timing was perfect. They had just played a song that neither me nor much of the crowd recognized and there is no better way to regain your audience than letting them shout “My people need a place to go!” over and and over again. Followed by Dick Valentine rapping the song's chorus at warp speed. When it comes to “Gay Bar”, you can’t lose. This song has been a staple of their set list ever since it was released in 2003 and there is good reason for it. It’s edgy, angry, fun, and kinda inappropriate depending on your definition of that word. It is hard to describe how fun it is to see a crowd of mostly fifty year olds yell: “I’ve got something to put in you…. at the gay bar, gay bar”. Finally, hearing “I Buy the Drugs” live for the first time was a special experience for me because it was my introduction to Electric Six as a band and it was the first time I had ever heard it live. I first heard this song about five years ago and although I hate to admit it, it took me another three years before I went back and actually began to explore the other discography of Electric Six. The performance of “I Buy the Drugs” was perfectly dialed in. The band has clearly played this song an innumerable amount of times and it was really impressive. I personally enjoyed it because I knew every word and was able to scream along as they played. Dick Valentine made sure to include his signature move of standing perfectly still, smirking, and blankly staring out over the audience during vocal breaks in the song. This is something I had seen in some of their older concerts on youtube and to my delight, he continues to do it to this day.
This show was a fantastic demonstration of hard rock and the energy that is required when performing live. For a band that has been around since 1996, I applaud their ability to make any given show feel special and important to the audience. As stated by Dick Valentine, Electric Six always loves performing in Tucson and they have put on nearly twenty live shows here and intend to come back sometime soon. So if you are intrigued by anything you have heard in this concert review, keep an eye out for the next time Electric Six storms through Tucson.
Reviewer's Name: Ellis Laveen
Date of Review: 4/27/22