NXNE club shows are a real treat in the sense that you get a rare chance to fully interact with gem acts. These are the kinds of acts that you write home about simply because of how different they are. On paper, a band name like Pere Ubu already stands out. If they don’t ring a bell, it’s a shame because they’ve had a legacy of eccentric music behind them. Ringmaster David Thomas has seen the band shift many forms while he’s been in charge, and you could definitely tell that it was his show this evening.
Thomas sat hunched over with a lyrics sheet beside his face. Planted right in front of his head was a craned microphone stand that stood perfectly still to pick up every single utterance from Thomas’s mouth. The entire evening was under his command despite his reserved stature. He belted lyrics, played various instruments, and spewed banter between songs. This man, of whom seemed intimidating at first, was simply your uncle that you only saw at family events. He would swear and immediately apologize dismissively. His yelps while performing were gritty but quite endearing despite the fact. Yes, David Thomas is one real cool dude.
The music itself was riveting and ecclectic. Different worldly sounds got squashed together in this art punk set; It was as if Captain Beefheart led the Talking Heads instead of his magic band. The crowd was largely mixed age wise because there is clearly a number of people who have loved Pere Ubu for decades and a number of people who have gained access to their repotoire on the information highway. The set was fun, but it was safe fun. As crazy as it all was, there was a lot of organization and restraint from both the audience and the band. I’ve heard of Pere Ubu before from various lists and I knew of their reputation, but this was a wonderful blast to the past and around the world led by a frantic mad scientist. Another trip, please?