Friday, May 8, 2015

Clockcleaner -- Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, May 29, 2005

Bands that have a geeky, bespectacled wise-ass as their frontman are few and far between these days. Fronted by the crass and sarcastic John Sharkey, Philadelphia’s Clockcleaner takes us back in time to 1988 when Big Black released the classic Songs About Fucking and a year before the Jesus Lizard first landed.

Following sets from The Hell and Corbeta Corbata came Clockcleaner. Hailing from a town that prides itself in displays of brotherly love and being the greatest battery-chuckers in the sporting world came Clockcleaner. On this evening, the theme for their set was short but sweet. In support of their recent EP The Hassler, they blew through their nine-song set at a jailbreak pace. Playing only two songs from said EP (“Hands Are for Holding” and “Shingles”), Sharkey took every opportunity to remind the assembled crowd that the next song was something we hadn’t heard or was on a record that we didn’t have. Another bit of Sharkey between-song banter happened when a young lady made reference to the nipples of bassist R. Slegel. Sharkey immediately fired back with the obligatory request that she show off hers as well. Closing out their set, Sharkey started repeating “Bye” in a prickish, bored monotone.

It may sound extremely strange, but the antics of Sharkey and contemporaries like Steve Albini and David Yow are put-ons 90 percent of the time. It’s just an added flavor in their collective bombast. Without it, they wouldn’t have had half of their appeal. Strangely enough, this type of behavior doesn’t work anywhere else in the rock spectrum. A collective ass-wupping would await your average touring singer-songwriter if he would try and pull that act off. Yet through and through, regardless of the flippant attitude of Sharkey, Clockcleaner rocked. Sure they were a ripoff band—but they were a damn good ripoff band.

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