Fu Manchu, Artimus Pyledriver rock Cinci
Jeff Napier
March 22, 2007
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Last week I had to drive to Cincinnati and catch Artimus Pyledriver and Fu Manchu who were playing at this place called the Madhatter's in Covington, KY, across the river from Cincinnati. A real shithole. But then again, they got a Fu Manchu show, and Indianapolis didn’t. A couple local bands, one shitty band with a killer name (Angels of Meth), and the other so shitty that my brain has completely jettisoned any memory of them. Then, those proud sons of the ATL, Artimus Pyledriver came on and wowed the crowd.

Without Pyledriver’s lead singer Dave Slocum, Artimus Pyledriver would be just another southern-boogie punk rock metal band along the lines of Alabama Thunderpussy and Goatsnake. But Slocum is a deranged little fucker; all over the place strutting and shouting like a young Jagger, taunting and cajoling like Iggy. Truly the consummate lead singer, Slocum took complete control and elevated such songs as “Dirt Road White Girl” and “Dixie Fight Song” into fiat-pumping anthems.

Boston-based Seemless was the odd-man out, with a slick metal grind that was made for the second stage at ozzfest, not a KY shithole sandwiched between Artimus Pyledriver and Fu Manchu. At least they had the good sense to keep their set short.

Proving that an entire catalogue of awesome music can be based solely upon skateboarding, hot rods and space travel, Fu Manchu came out in full fury with “Pigeon Toe.” Guitarist Bob Balch and Lead man Scott Hill were all flipping hair and power chords, while Drummer Scott Reeder and Bassist Brad Davis may just be one of the tightest and most devastatingly punishing rhythm sections in rock right now. Davis in particular killed with a stunning bass solo in “Saturn III.”

One thing about the FU is the element of danger that is inherent in their performance. I was dead in front of Balch and any numbers of times throughout the set I would be banging my head to the music and would look up to see Bob’s Guitar’s headstock centimeters from taking my face right off. Hill is similarly in your face, but a bit more sardonic in his approach. In response to repeated calls for “Godzilla” from the delirious hillbillies in Fu Manchu shirts (and one in no shirt) down front rocking out. He plays the first few bars and then goes into “Eatin’ Dust.” Hill also pleads with the crowd to quit smoking, even going as far as to offer a free CD to everyone who quit smoking. Sure enough not another fag was lit for the rest of the set.

Curiously, the set was heavy on material from earlier CD’s like “Action is Go” and “In Search of…” With only “Hell On Wheels” and a supercharged version of “King Of the Road” representing King of the Road, Nothing off of California Crossing or Start The Machine and only two songs off their excellent new CD We Must Obey, the ZZ Top meets Desert rock sleaze of “Hung Out to Dry” and the Speedy guitar
workout “Sensei Vs. Sensei.” Even without “Mongoose” or “Squash That Fly” in the mix, it was still a classic Fu Manchu set, full of everything that makes this band one of the best hard rock bands in the country right now.