It was appropriate that the Slickee Boys kicked off their Saturday night appearance at the 9:30 club with a cover of Mott the Hoople's "All the Way From Memphis," a reflection on aging and careerism in rock music. As the area's reigning rock institution (but hardly a national one), the Slickees have had to stave off the effects of age, complacency and frustration in order to keep their joyfully noisy rock sound and party ethos more than just an act.
To their credit, their exuberant performance proved them capable of rocking with youthful abandon while still growing in the sophistication of their rock synthesis. The band's original songs, like "Escalator 66," were storming rockers constructed from bits of psychedelia, thrash and punk, all bound together by Martin Kane's churning rhythm guitar and Marshall Keith's imaginative lead work. For all the colorful noise the Slickees unleashed, there was no lack of melodic verve, and lead singer Mark Noone was even able to extract some moments of real poignancy in the midst of all the jubilation.
The Slickees' performance seemed doubly vibrant thanks to the rather conservative and trend-conscious opening set offered by New York City's Brandos. The group drew on '60s song-oriented guitar rock, but neither the reverential covers nor the empty anthems, like the group's own "Gettysburg," reflected any special creativity. Cloaked in self-importance and sincerity, the band seemed unable to risk having fun.