It was a wonderfully cockeyed musical evening at the 9:30 club Saturday night. You could have country-gone-punk, courtesy of Jason and the Nashville Scorchers, or pop-gone-decadent, courtesy of D.C.'s Tru Fax and the Insaniacs. The Scorchers, looking like four escapees from a hillbilly mental ward, commanded the stage with a frenzy of loony dancing and cacophonous rock 'n' roll, playing, surprisingly, mostly traditional country classics.
If the Scorchers' formula, sort of New-York-Dolls-meet-the-Grand-Ole-Opry, sounds parodistic or incongruous, it wasn't. Whether it was Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" or George Jones' "The Race Is On," the Scorchers' crunching assault embodied a commitment to the fury of rock and the passion of country. Hank Williams may have rolled over in his grave, but he had to be grinning.
Backed by the increasingly assured, yet off-center, hard rock of the Insaniacs, Diana Quinn's wide-eyed, droll stage personality is one of local rock's more involving dramatic forces. On their best songs, such as "Pinned Under a Jet," the Insaniacs broke out of their heavy-metal drone to provide a perfectly crazed musical embellishment for their lead singer. On their remake of "What the World Needs Now," David Wells sent a manic fuzz guitar line circling around Quinn's downbeat delivery in perfect ironic counterpoint. And when Quinn threw her head back in mock hard-rock ecstasy as the Insaniacs broke into double time on the Velvet Undergrounds' "There She Goes Again," you had to laugh at her physical satire and set your feet to double time, too.