Time Out New York
Issue 517
August 25-31, 2005

Top Live Shows

CBGB; Fri 26, Sun 28

"It was kind of like Spinal Tap, except the bass player keeps dying." That's the explanation from singer-bassist Bruce Loose about Flipper's ill-advised early-'90s comeback. He wasn't joking. From 1979 until the 1987 overdose of second bassist and vocalist Will Shatter, San Francisco's most confrontational export specialized in a slow, labored caterwaul that sneered at and outwitted the era's formulaic hardcore. The quartet's sloppy, addictive riffs carried lyrics that were filled with existential wisdom ("Life is the only thing worth living for") and hedonistic humor ("If I can't be drunk/I don't wanna be alive"); those scathing tunes would profoundly inform grunge (Kurt Cobain adored them), artnoise (likewise Thurston Moore) and underground metal (the Melvins too). But sans Shatter, Flipper's major-label cash-in, 1992's depressing [i]American Grafishy[/i] descended into parody. Even worse, the group's reconstituted lineup dissolved acrimoniously, and replacement bassist John Dougherty succumbed to an overdose as well.

But this weekend, to raise money for CBGB's rent fiasco, the band will rise again, augmented by a "surpise guest" on - you guessed it - bass. (Pray it's not Moby, who briefly subbed for Shatter in 1982). Sure, Flipper's reunion is suspect, but unlike many of the punk relics who've rallied to save the struggling club, these particular misfits recorded a handful of enduring, genre-defying classics. So satisfy your morbid curiosity and see whether Loose has recovered sufficiently from his debilitating 1993 auto accident, or if Steve DePace's Bonhamesque drums and Ted Falconi's abstract-expressionist guitar can still scare the skinheads.

Jordan N. Mamone

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