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HOT SNAKES – Nottingham Cabaret

Posted: June 17th, 2005, by Chris S

(wrote this at work and then forgot I wrote it so it’s a bit late)

HOT SNAKES – Nottingham Cabaret

My friend Joey Chickenskin has, on numerous occasions, expressed hardcore homosexual desires about John Reis, guitarist for San Diego’s Hot Snakes and a life in maximum prison lockdown as cell mates. Tonight, this very straight Henry Rollins lookalike is practically wetting his big girly knickers every time Reis lands another massive mountainous power chord.
There was a time when Hot Snakes were regarded in the shadow of Drive Like Jehu, the band Reis and vocalist Rick Froberg teamed up in previously. Which, in turn, was always in the shadow of Reis’ day job as Speedo in Rocket From The Crypt.
Maybe it’s the fact Hot Snakes have now made more records than Jehu. Or that Rocket seems to be in self-imposed limbo. Or that Reis has assumed the role of genuine bona-fide punk rock legend giving a stamp of quality to everything he does. But Hot Snakes seem to be less of a ‘project’ and more of a band these days. A fucking righteous one too.
Last time they came over some people expressed a preference for Jehu. In light of bands like At The Drive In – who definitely borrowed some of the forceful clang n scrape of Jehu – it’s unsurprising that the more direct approach of Hot Snakes wasn’t seen as much of a progression in certain camps. Fuck em. If you want to listen to Jehu, go listen to them. That’s the early 90s and this is now and what was once a triumphant display of confusing, technical ferocity would now come across as math rock grandstanding thanks to the watering down process administered by the band’s direct, lamer descendants while the Jehu went quiet.
What could possibly be better than marrying thumping guitars with impossible downstroke-per-second figures to the hamburger-throated vocals of Froberg? NUTTIN. That’s what.
So here we are at Cabaret for the biggest show Damn You! has ever attempted (guarantee-wise anyway). Hot Snakes 05 is a different beast to the one that made the early records – the keyboard bass of the first record remains (more of that later) but it’s doubled up with Gar Wood on electric bass. And with original drummer Jason Koulkarnis committed to Burning Brides and Scout Niblett, Mario (Clikatat Ikatowi, RFTC, Sea Of Tombs etc etc) takes his place.
They are loud, fierce, punk rock mecca.
They barely pause between songs and anyone who thinks getting older blunts a person’s commitment to live performance should watch Reis attack his Les Paul sometime. Let’s get this straight, Chickenskin is so right. I am GAY for John Reis. He is without doubt in the Top 10 guitar players I can think of. The man is a machine. LOUD LOUD LOUD. Thick globs of chunky wholesome KLANG straight into my eager eardrums.
But not as loud as the sub bass that rips my arsehole apart every time it cuts in. I think it’s being done on the desk from a synth but I couldn’t take my eyes of Reis long enough to check.
They plough through several little medleys of tunes from the records, in order as they are on the record. People fall on the stage. The band seem to be loving it. It gets quite warm. Froberg attempts a Nottingham accent.
They encore with Bullet Train To Vegas and Luau by Jehu. In this context the songs rip. BTTV is probably the most Hot Snakesish of the Jehu tunes but the complexity of Luau is morphed and extended and jammed with Reis’ guitar cranked right up and all 4 of them looking like there’s nothing on earth they’d rather be doing.

Chris S

Chris lives for the rock and can often be seen stumbling drunkenly on (and off) stages far and wide. Other hobbies include wearing jumpers, arsing about with Photoshop and trying to beat the world record for the number of offensive comments made in any 24 hour period. He has been married twice but his heart really belongs to his guitars. All 436 of them.


1 Response to HOT SNAKES – Nottingham Cabaret

  1. clairol

    yes, it was being done on the desk with a synth – i saw them on this tour in glasgow and made the mistake of standing next to it – i had to collect my teeth in a bucket afterwards – fantastic :)