Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The Suicide Commandos and Pere Ubu, two new acts on Blank Records, brought the stylistic extremes of the New Wave to the Psyche Delly in Bethesda Wednesday. The Suicide Commandos, a young three-man outfit from Minneapolis, played in the straightforward, high-energy approach called "punk."
Although the Commandos have a reputation for inciting crowds to material destruction, they created little stir with their simple, bass-heavy style that failed to invigorate or escape punk basics by adding visual or instrumental flair.
Drummer Dave Ahl was most effective in singing that evoked some of the angry tones of '60s teen angst, and had the energetic flair of the Who's Keith Moon. Best were his vocals in the band's recreation of Manfred Mann's "My Little Red Book," a Mersey beat classic.
Pere Ubu created a more interesting and immediate visual impact as the group's overweight and curly-haired lead singer, David Thomas, took the stage in dark suit and red shirt announcing, "This is great, a bar with a deh."
The band's sound owed less to basic rock 'n' roll and more to the art rock styles of bands like Roxy Music and Talking Heads. With a synthesizer, weird rhythmic changes, Thomas' bizarre vocal effects and unusual percussion, the band created music that was experimental and provoking, but without the simple joys of three-chord rock.
Pere Ubu opened with "heart of Darkness," which like many of their songs was hypnotic in the manner of the progressive jazz of John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman.