Words By Jenny Talbot – Photos By Angel Felix Soto
The much anticipated CD release show for The Damn Dirty Apes this past Friday at The Funhouse in Bethlehem brought out old, new and even unexpected fans to a packed house after a three year long wait for new material from the punk’n’metal Lehigh county and New Jersey natives.
Opening the show with a satirical, ruthlessly heavy version of Grease’s ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You,’ the Apes clutched the audience with immediate attention. Followed shortly by the first song off the new album, ‘Broken Hearts & Bloody Messes,’ they slammed the crowd at absolute full throttle. There is no denying they are a take charge no-nonsense attitude filled band. With a sound that harks back to heavyweights like Gwar and G.B.H. intertwined with infectious grooves and chanting anthems, there’s no getting around they are the able to capture both the roughness and intensity of both.
With such songs as ‘Territorial Fistings,’ ‘SICK!,’ and ‘Who Cares,’ the Apes have proven themselves to genuinely harness the rebelliously demanding mentality of punk/metal that is clearly predominant in both lyrics and musical style. Guitarist Andy Clark laid heavy, distortion-laden guitar riffs as well as fierce solos that were nothing short of Slayer-meets-Pantera brutality. This was ferociously displayed on their new song, ‘Vanishing Act’ which I can easily see as the band’s best hit.
There were zero fillers in this strewn unadulterated show, which included such anthems as “Police Truck” by the Dead Kennedys, “Death Comes Ripping” by great The Misfits [!], “Slut” by G.B.H., “Freddy Krueger” by S.O.D, and a crowd favorite, “Beat on the Brat” by the legendary Ramones. These songs are nothing short of being undoubtedly included on every punk’s “best of” playlist, and were nobly performed.
Jody Hauck is no stranger to the music scene, being a frontman in several bands for the past 20 years. While spitting out Vodka-coated and grainy, tactless vocals, he is one of the most crowd-interactive performers I’ve had the pleasure of encountering in the scene recently. From relentless acrid call-outs to singing on the floor among the welcoming crowd while sharing the microphone on songs like, ‘I Don’t Wanna B U,’ and ‘Faultline’ which reminds me “Scumdogs of the Universe”-era Gwar, Hauck was intrinsic keeping the audience engaged, entertained, and even curious as to what his next antic will be. There was one moment where I thought he was going to pull the notorious Stiv Bators’ “choking by microphone cable” routine, but I’ll leave that outcome to be seen by the reader at their next show! His improved humor was also a highlight during any given moment of their performance.
Eschewing from some expected cookie-cutter rhythm sections, bassist Stacy Feit and drummer Philip Mahr are anything but typical. It has been some time since I’ve seen such a hard-hitting yet technically equal pair, and because of that I was more appreciative than anything. Feit’s speeding use of arpeggios and scales is an indubitable reflection of influences from John Entwistle of The Who and can be heard throughout each song. His versatility was shown when he sang vocals on ‘8 to 9’; a song he penned the lyrics for himself. Mahr’s drumming is all over his kit, reminding me of the iconic Vinnie Paul, with staccato skin beating and break neck blasts that fused the Damn Dirty Apes together, most notably on ‘Detached’.
Channeling pure angst, exuberance and energy the Apes left the crowd wanting even more after a full unrestrained two-hour set that was performed with no breaks and ending with Gwar’s “The Salaminizer”. This band is solid with aggro, attitude and uncompromising loudness. In closing I’ll leave you with this: See you at the next show.
The Damn Dirty Apes will be playing at The Riveredge Ballroom (next to The Silo) in Reading, PA on November 29th, and Walsh’s Tavern in Warminster, PA on December 13th. Their new album, ‘Ape Diablo’ can be found on iTunes, Amazon.com, and their webstores, www.thedamndirtyapes.com.