In the 1980’s in South Carolina there was a really hot band called The Killer Whales. This power trio turned out originals with tight funky riffs that still sound great, and could easily blow away any of the alternative drek being churned out today. It’s a strange twist of fate that their compadres from the same era, REM, made it big while the Whales faded into obscurity for nearly twenty years.
Several years ago I attended the first reunion of the Whales at the original Handlebar here in Greenville. My college roommate and I showed up, and it was as if someone had transported a party from our college years twenty years into the future – the same music, and the same people. I was hoping for a repeat as the Whales headlined a show at the new Handlebar.
It’s apparently been a long time since I’ve been to a live show, because I should have known that a 9:00 PM showtime really means 9:45, at best. A group called Blankety-Blank opened. They did what a good opening act should do – stink out loud so that the audience really wants the headliner even more. The lead guitarist was very talented as long as he kept his mouth shut. Unfortunately, the same could be said for the lead singer. The drummer didn’t wear a shirt, and and bass player was the dorkiest one dude I think I’ve ever seen in a band. The group engaged in some of the worst on-stage rock band cliche antics, and my only thought was, “Grow up.” I guess I’m getting old. After being subjected to three more not-so-great songs by a friend of the Whales, the main group finally took the stage. They were as tight as ever, in stark contrast with the opening acts.
Since I was there by myself this time, I spent lots of time observing the crowd. There was a large contingent from my era, although no one that I recognized. With their current tour, the group seems to be attracting a new set of followers, some of whom must have been in diapers during the original heyday. In addition to listening to some great tunes, I had about as much fun watching the dancers. There had to be at least a dozen women on the dance floor dancing by themselves or as a collective. I kept wondering where the guys were. This music is incredibly danceable, and I’d be out there myself if my dance partner were with me. Dancing skills ranged from long tall slinky Miss Tube Top with swaying moves, to bouncy Miss Spastic, who somehow equated dancing with hopscotch. The guys eventually showed up with beers in hand, but they were hardly dance partners. Miss Tube Top’s escort stood rock solid behind her staring at the stage as she continued to sway. Miss Spastic’s partner was quite the opposite. They seemed to play a game of Tag, as they chased each other all over the dance floor with an arhythmical gait that was almost, but not quite entirely out of tempo with the music. At least they were having fun.
The music was great, but by 12:30 I was getting tired of being there by myself (I’m sure the ton of topsoil I shoveled this afternoon had nothing to do with it), and I felt the need to move away from the Spastics before damage was done.