Thursday, Aug. 26
In light of the fact that I was feeling too lazy to change my T-shirt before going to the Rialto to see The Tubes last Thursday, it was nice to see singer Fee Waybill putting in the effort of making his signature costume changes between song blocks. Thirty-five years after the release of its first record, the band still seems to be embracing its seminal, proto-punk sound. But The Tubes' performance was more than just sweating to the oldies. During "What Do You Want from Life?" Waybill took time to ask various Rialto attendees what they want from life. Many used the opportunity as a forum for their views on partying, but a couple of people actually said what they wanted. A costume change that included an absurd green Mohawk wig kicked off the rock standard "I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk." The wig stayed on for a rousing rendering of the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There."
The band also proved it could still play as it nailed a medley of soul standards with the horn parts being handled on keyboards by David Medd. One of my favorite moments of the night came as Waybill, dressed in a James Brown-style leisure suit, mimicked Brown's signature stage practice of acting like he could not go on with the performance due to emotional exhaustion. In Waybill's version, he pretended to throw out his back. Most people seemed in on the joke and egged him on, but he was strangely convincing: a testament to the band's energy and ability to entertain.
Besides its seminal material and repertoire of covers, the band peppered in its late-'80s material effectively. Songs like "Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman," a song I enjoy the sentiment of more than the sound, fit nicely in the set.
The Tubes are a creative and prolific band and the set list wove a nice overview of its various phases. But more than offering an education on its role in rock 'n' roll history, The Tubes appeared to still be having fun as a bottle of Johnny Walker Red on the drum riser slowly emptied. I went in expecting to kick around waiting for the band to play "White Punks on Dope," but The Tubes peddled their diversity convincingly and proved that they are more than just a one-note song.