The Fucking Champs, Philadelphia 2005

A full set of mp3s (pretty damn good quality for a bootleg, I have to admit) of this show can now be found here. It didn’t seem like they played for 52 minutes. Time must have flew since I was enjoying it that much.

A crappy recording of the Washington DC show the day before can also be found here.

The consensus on the internet about The Fucking Champs is that no one can really make up their mind about The Fucking Champs . Just about every net reviewer seems to wonder if they’re a joke, as if all their guitar virtuousity could only be accompanied with tongues planted firmly against cheeks. And, everyone has some wacked out visualization of them, how they’re a mix of (insert really good riff guitarist here), (insert something metal-ish here) and (wildcard here: some dead composer, a video game or maybe a nothern European country). To me, The Fucking Champs fall somewhere between Thin Lizzy, Deadly Towers, the Baroque period and my own guitar awkwardness.

But one thing is certain: they’re not cool.

I love them; definitely been my current fave band ever since I warmed up to them. I just wouldn’t play them when anyone else is riding in my car. I listen to the Champs much like how I listen to J.S. Bach. Actually, during their only cover, I listen to the Champs while I’m listening to Bach. They’re musicians before anything else and tout their own genre of “total music.” You can find plenty more on the band on the net, so I’ll stop here with all that. This post is a review of their Philadelphia concert attended by bear, loki and myself this Thursday.

The brothers Gray were quick to knock the locale. I guess it wasn’t as bourgeois as what they’re used to, but I thought it was swell. The big question I brought to the place was, “How exactly will/can a crowd rock out to the Champs?” Even Rush’s wierd time signatures were brief or at least repeated in a way that you got rhythmically tap your fingers to them. The Champs, on the other hand, is the kind of music you crash your car to, because it rocks, but not in any given time. And, after all, I’m not exactly sure how keen people are going to be to dance to the tunes played by, as loki pointed out, someone who looks like Ned Flanders. Take into account most of their band goes by “Tim.” Sorry, bear, but how un-hip is that? Nope, no Slash’s, Axl’s or Bono’s here. If MTV and all that is pop culture is cool, the Champs are not.

Before the Champs went on I had a chance meeting with an old acquaintance and classmate, who’s only a couple degrees away through some good friends. He asked if this was my “scene.” I didn’t have an answer. If there was one, it was “No,” barring the several other Minibosses fans that can be found at any given Champs show. Actually, the only guy, other than myself, who sang along with the lyrics in the sparse places they are found, is best described as some dude sporting a couple of those Emo ear ring thingies (which, upon research, I’ve found out are called “lobe plugs”).

Regardless, I put forth my best effort to be a good crowd member. It was neat seeing a band that never once used a set list. Hearing, “What do ya want to play? What? OK,” only seconds before the music began impressed me a little. But they played alot of their more rocking-ness pieces, which happen to be my least faves, and only one of my faves. I’m kicking myself now for not at least trying to yell out for some “Thor Is Like Immortal” or maybe some “Nebula Ball Rests in a Fantasy Claw,” but, alas, it seems like they play out their more mainstream stuff, if one can even say they have any. But, then the most interaction the crowd got from the band was an annoyed flash of a peace sign from the drummer, while they were trying to figure out which song to play next. It was really like no one was there but them.

Then I got to have a small chat with the drummer (well, drummer when he’s not on guitar), Tim Soete. I just had to talk to one of them and represent the Minibosses crew while at it. He seemed pretty cool and matter of fact, just having a chat at the bar after a show. Funny, he mentioned how the night before in Washington DC, the show’s crowd wasn’t all that excited. I’m thinking, “And they would be responsive to what exactly?” There’s about as much showmanship at a champs concert as there is at a famous violinist recital. Sure, it’s neat to see the fast fingers but there’s very little in any other bodily gyrations. But, of course, a rock band wants and feeds from the energy of the crowd. That’s an obvious fact. The problem is that the ones most rocking to the music are enjoying it on a different level; not really the level that I tuned into. You’d think that the Champs would have figured this out already. I don’t know.

So, with personal a hats off to their music, I left, stopping in awe when I caught sight of the legendary Fucking Champs gig van, the one that recently rolled over 400,000 miles and that they apparently drive to every State-side concert.

5 thoughts on “The Fucking Champs, Philadelphia 2005

  1. Well, the locale was a bit of dump, but Northstar was a very cool club. And as you’ve said – it was an incredible show.

  2. Nice write up. I quite enjoyed the show and the Northstar Bar. We will be returning there sooner rather than later; hopefully Mike has already bought tickets.

    The first band, Brass & Pearl were decent. A little to riffy and noodly, but not bad. The drummer was nuts. He got… into it.

    Next up was Parchman Farm. They opened with a song where the singer basically shouted “Give it to me!!!” over and over. Very late 60’s, early 70’s hard rock. Entertaining to say the least. I thought it was pretty funny when the drummer’s bass drum broke or something, and the whole band just left the stage for 20 minutes.

    The Champs were great. Incredible musicians, an incredibly tight band. The first 3-4 songs were the highlight to me, culminating with the song last song off of IV (I think) where the drummer got up and played a bit of guitar.

    All in all, a great show and I can’t wait to go back.

  3. “I listen to the Champs much like how I listen to J.S. Bach.” how exactly DO you listen to Bach?

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