Me First And The Gimme Gimmes deliver good times

A review of Me First And The Gimme Gimmes at the Paradise Rock Club on October 21, 2010

, Staff Writer

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are a band known for their live shows: the punk supergroup, formed in the mid-90s, bring to the stage an ever-changing array of costumes, as well as extensive setlists filled with famous covers. Combined with a high level of musicianship from each of its members, the band delivers a live experience that is maybe a bit easy, but nonetheless tons of fun. It’s no surprise, then, that when the band rolled through the Paradise Rock Club last week, the audience was given an energetic parade of jazz standards, showtunes, and even folk songs, all distorted and sped up, that left everyone sweaty and satisfied.

The band took the stage wearing their trademark matching Hawaiian shirts, all save vocalist Spike Slawson, who wore a swanky white suit over his. After the requisite “Hey we’re in Boston” banter, they dropped into a relatively slow rendition of “Summertime,” Dave Raun lazily slapping his snare drum. After the first verse, though, The Gimmes kicked things into double-time, giving Chris Shiflett a verse to lay down an impressive guitar solo. “That was amazing”, Slawson quickly commented, before “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” started blaring through the speakers. There’s something hilariously endearing about seeing a group of bro-y punk fans scream the song at the top of their lungs while trying to mosh.

Really, it’s hard not to have fun at a show that consists entirely of cover songs. Granted, some tunes were lost on a lot of the crowd (myself included), but for every one of those, there were three instantly recognizable ones. “Who Put The Bomp” was one of those instantly recognizable ones, and was pretty much to a man known by heart by those in the crowd. It seems unlikely that the band chose the song based on the old Leonard Nimoy demo at the Omni Theater, but hey, it’s a nice thought, right?

What’s great about a band like The Gimmes is that it essentially boils down to a live performance of what every young band does in private. You never have more fun than when you’re in a band, playing a cover of a song you all love. With that in mind, it’s pretty clear to see why the band is so fun to see on stage: it’s clear they’re enjoying performing as much as the audience is in hearing them. Slawson perfectly embodies the frontman’s personality, complete with leg kicks, little quips in between songs, and, as previously stated, a pretty snappy suit. His most endearing moment may have been a solo ukulele performance of David Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World”, which itself preceded “I Believe I Can Fly”.

The show pretty much continued in this fashion all evening, for over 20 songs: the band would kick into a cover,and the crowd would explode with a massive sing along. There wasn’t time for the shtick to grow stale, simply because that rush of excitement at hearing a familiar song just never got old, and the songs were all short enough that they were over before the novelty had time to wear off. The set continued through “Me And Julio Down By the Schoolyard” and “Country Roads” before ending with “My Boyfriend’s Black”, a parody of the original Angels tune, and a fantastic and faithful (though punky) “Stairway to Heaven”. The show concluded with “End Of The Road”, which it seems the band pretty frequently likes to finish evenings with.

So, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes are literally doing nothing new: they’re a hodgepodge group collected from various other bands who have come together simply to play punk versions of pretty universally-loved songs. Having said that, they put on a live show that is pretty tough to beat in terms of energy and gusto. It’s pretty clear to see why they have such a rabid fanbase with such a perfect storm of familiarity and enthusiasm.

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