Date: March 18, 2010
Venue: Le Poisson Rouge
Text by Jim Hoey
It made perfect sense that when I walked into this show, down the stairs at (Le) Poisson Rouge, Mixel Pixel was already on stage in fuzzy animal costumes with guitars and a laptop and a big screen projecting cartoons, and little kids were dancing in the light, encouraged by their way cool parents to run around. Everything was fuzzy and bright, and just a bit day-glo, despite the dark interior.
So this is what a King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) show was going to be like, I thought. I had no idea what to expect because even though I was one of the teens growing up in 1992 who heard them on MTV, I lost track of them later (I was probably a bit too young to see ’em live, not yet in college, and more drawn to hardcore bands like Shift and Quicksand), but I could vaguely remember songs about doodie in the sandbox, stealing stuff from work, violence and Martin Scorsese, and of course one about some sort of strange sexual disease/complex that leaves a man with the unfortunate ability to become separated from his penis after a long night of partying, much in the same way that he might lose his wallet or keys.
Imagine my surprise when they took the stage and the same cool dad rolling around on the floor with his two little kids during Mixel Pixel was now up there on stage with a mic in one hand and one of the kids in the other, shouting and raging like a pro of spoken word, with a band backing him that was at times early punk or indie rock, and at other moments crossed over to noise, blues and jazz.
This was John S. Hall and King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) 2010, back onstage and reunited with original guitarist Dogbowl, featuring Dave Dreiwitz from Ween on bass, John Kruth of TriBeCaStan on guitar, flute, mandolin and blues harp, Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi on soprano sax, Justin Kantor (owner and founder of (Le) Poisson Rouge!!!) on cello, and Billy Ficca of Television on drums. The idea that a so-called 90’s one-hit-wonder or novelty act could muster the support of such heavyweights attests to the fact that there’s a lot more going on with King Missile than many seem to remember, after the overplay backlash of that one hit they had (what was it called again?…). In fact Hall, with his lyrics and delivery, taps into a beat tradition that could be on par with the absurdity and wit of such classics like Roth’s “The Breast”, Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, and Gogol’s “The Nose”.
When you get down to it, King Missile can still hold a crowd too, and this new lineup may have hit on a working formula that Hall should try to duplicate if they decide to do any more shows: a batch of absurdist, observational, spoken word diatribes bordering on comedy and childlike wonder, but cut with enough sarcasm to give them a sting, played with a band that can touch off a mood, swing into the blues or hold back to let the words hit. Hall even stepped off the stage for a few minutes in the middle of the set, letting the cello, sax, and guitar rage a little bit while he checked in with the kids and wife, and it got deep. When he stepped back and checked the time with the sound man, Hall and the band were waved on and kept playing, crowd hugging the stage, and it all sounded great. They even had time for that one from MTV (what was it called again, damn, I can’t remember…).
More about King Missile in DBDBD