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Spanktunnel Brooklyn, NY 11/13/04

By Rob Kern

Photos by Rob Kern

Set list: Bike Gang, O.M.O.M., Summer Too, Rat Park, Hot Tubbin’, Delia, I Hate Myself For Lovin’ You, I Drink, Wild Turkey, Bud Pounders 

November 13, a scant two weeks after George W. Bush wins a second term.  America stands divided: both coasts vs. the Midwest, Right vs. Left, Ted Nugent vs. Dave Matthews.   One of the few benefits of times of political unrest is the musical creativity it spawns. 

Most people refer to such artists as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell when politics and music take the stage together.  I’ll not argue that point, they made people stand up, take notice and protest for change.  Sorry to say but when folkies strum about unrest it makes me think, “wow, the system sucks, the man is unfair, the religious right is trying to bring me down, I’m so bummed out, sniff”.  Hell, I don’t know about you but I Wanna Rock.  Forget that simmering, subdued anger vibe; I like my protests more in the vein of Blue Cheer, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Slayer, etc.  Rawk music, boys and girls, the kind that makes those religious do-gooders hair stand on end.  Music that screams, “F*CK THE MAN! F*CK THE SYSTEM!  WE WILL DRINK, SMOKE AND FORNICATE WITH YOUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS!!”  Belly up to the bar, friends.  I’m happy to report that rock is alive and well and Spanktunnel are here to give the Finger to The Man. 

“Spank-wha?” you ask.  Take a tablespoon of MC5 add a dash of The Melvins and boil rapidly with large amounts of alcohol.  After cooling, mix it with your favorite rolled substance and light it up.  Lead guitarist Frank Milliron, bassist Chris Hall, Chris Beach on vocals and drummer Nick Cearlock hit the stage for Spanktunnels’ debut gig, wowing the crowd with a fast and furious ten song set that featured nine original fist pumpers. 

The band kicked things off with “Bike Gang” as Frank Milliron whipped out the chords, clad in a black ski mask looking primed for a musical jihad.  The metal-tinged rocker “O.M.O.M.” followed with vocalist Chris Beach, looking like a bastard spawn of a young Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant, firing up the crowd as he pointed and jumped about the small stage area.  If Spanktunnel had opening night jitters it didn’t show as Canadian-in-training Chris Hall (catch him before he moves to Vancouver, kids) pounded the bass between swigs of Wild Turkey and Nick Cearlock beat the skins for the hooky “Summer Too”.   

New York’s Grand Ferry Park was immortalized in the next tune, “Rat Park”.  Call the NY Board of Tourism, I smell a new ad campaign.  The originals continued with the one-two combo, “Hot Tubbin’” and “Delia”.  Spanktunnel has a real knack for writing songs that combine great riffs and fast paced vocals that are full of fury and a good dose of humor to boot.  A quick pause in the action for a few chugs of beer then the boys treated the crowd to a tasty cover, a ‘Tunnelized version of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You”.  The band infused the cover with their energy and emotion, something many bands fail to do when covering a song.  While the cover was a cool nugget from the past, I would love to hear what Spanktunnel could do with the MC5 classic, “Kick Out The Jams”.  Next up was an alcoholic 3-fer to close out the night. 

“I Drink”, had the crowd saluting the band as Chris Beach extolled, “You drink, well I drink too!”  Chris Hall then worked the neck of his bass with his always-nearby fifth of Wild Turkey as Spanktunnel launched into the coincidentally titled opus “Wild Turkey”.  Spanktunnel then ensured that they will never be booked for an AA dance by wrapping up the set with “Bud Pounders”.   

If Spanktunnel hits your town, grab a six-pack or four and prepare to have your ears Spanked.  Their mix of energetic riffs, intensity and attitude will have you wanting to charge out stick it to the system.  Which is exactly what rock and roll is supposed to be all about.

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