A music writer who's interested in true crime gets to write about the dark side of human nature more than some people might think. Mainstream musicians give up plenty of fodder: Michael Jackson and his alleged Russian hands and Roman fingers, Whitney Houston's adventures with chemicals, gangsta rap's many transgressions (see B-Sides for the latest on Snoop Dogg's legal problems). But for those willing to dig a little into rock's underground, there's a whole world of music that blends good old-fashioned rock & roll and a healthy fascination with murder and doom. For those who think murder can be fun, there are several shows to check out this week.
Two are courtesy of the Supermen, a local band that's been compared to GG Allin and GWAR (see Critics' Picks) for its wild stage shows. The band members, with names like Sensei Almighty, Dan Stallion, The Alpha Male Jimmy Alldick and Jodi Whoreable, dress in wrestling masks and host a bevy of seminude ladies onstage while they bash out Misfits-style songs like "Smells Like Teen Pussy" and "Girls That Fall for Emo Boys Are Brain Dead Retards." Obviously, it's not for everybody, but Sensei Almighty promises that anyone who shows up will have a good time.
"People who come who don't know who we are will watch [the show] just because there's something going on onstage," says Almighty. It's the opposite of what he refers to as "T-shirt-and-jeans bands" -- bands who don't make an effort with their stage show. "Most of the time people go to a show, it's just T-shirt-and-jeans bands, they all sound the same," says he. "It's all boring, there's nothing to look at. You'll sit through three shitty T-shirt-and-jeans bands just to see the band you came to see. We just thought we'd do something different. People may not even like the music, but they'll like the show."
The Supermen, who over the past few months have all moved from satellite cities to the south side, say they want to play only two shows a year in the Lou, in order to make those appearances special occasions. If you're looking for more incentive, consider that Saturday is the second night of the Supermen's (or, more precisely, the band's booking alter-ego Luchaporn's) Fabulous February Fiesta at the Way Out Club. Friday night's show features Joplin's Frail, the Scared and KC's Swill; Almighty promises "a big Goth/industrial party." Opening both nights is the Warped Minds True Crime Tour, from the creators of evilnow.com, featuring screenings of real-crime videos and giveaways including dirt from the grave of original psycho Ed Gein.
"I'm not really that much into it," says Almighty, "but I think there's a lot of people who's way into true-crime shit."
Once again, this stuff isn't for everyone. As someone who owns a first edition of In Cold Blood and reads the FBI's Crime Classification Manual in his spare time, I'm not one to throw stones. But the True Crime Tour isn't the only murderous connection to the Supermen's show. Opening for the band on Saturday is Kill Allen Wrench, whose lead singer (Allen Wrench) has been implicated by conspiracy theorists in the murders of Kurt Cobain and El Duce of the Mentors.
If you're thinking, "Hey, I didn't think Cobain was murdered," please note that I said "conspiracy theorists." It's bullshit, but, according to Almighty, it's bullshit Wrench uses to mess with people's heads.
"It's great for [Wrench]," says Almighty. "He's a really great guy. I don't believe he killed anybody, but it's really great promotion for him. People hate his guts; Kurt Cobain conspiracy theorists believe it. He denies, but he definitely has fun. Especially because, with the type of music he does, it's really good to have people hate you."
Despite the creepy connections, Almighty and the Supermen are only looking to rock you, doing whatever it takes to reach you (I was relieved to hear that Bob Putnam at the Way Out nixed their fire-eater). Despite what people have said, Almighty doesn't see too many connections between his band and legendary poop-flinger GG Allin.
"GG is awesome, but our thing is completely different," Almighty explains. "With GG, you'd go and expect him to punch you or throw shit on you. But our show is just a big huge stupid-looking party. We just all dress up in luchador outfits and we've got balloons and girls and Mardi Gras beads and all that kind of shit. The only thing that would be comparable is that I do a wrestling-style blade job on my forehead and bleed."
Oh, okay, that's cool. Wait, you cut yourself?
"The first time it's kind of weird, because you can hear it, in your head you hear it pop a little bit," Almighty says with the same tone you'd use to explain how to throw a curveball. "But after the first time, it's all right."
Kids, don't try this at home. But if you do, please note that Almighty cuts his head old-school style.
"A lot of new wrestling guys do it sidewise on the forehead," Almighty says, "along the wrinkle line. But I do it up and down, the old Japanese and American style, on the hairline. It just looks cool, and people leave and talk about it. Anything that'll make people talk about it is important."
It's all good (if not clean) fun, promises Almighty: "The only damage that happens is to me."
The third show this week with ties to crime is a benefit for the West Memphis Three taking place February 23 at the Blue Note in Columbia. The WM3 have become a cause célèbre over the past decade, as filmmakers, authors, Henry Rollins and others have rallied around the trio of allegedly framed convicted child killers. I don't know if the WM3 are guilty or not. But take it from a true-crime junkie: Before you hand over your cash to the WM3's cause, read up on the case.