The Kissers

Kerry Irish Pub

May 20, 2005

The Kissers played three sets of vibrant Irish rock at the Kerry Irish Pub Friday night. None of the five members were of pure Irish descent, but that's not the point. The point is that the group from Madison, Wisconsin played enjoyable covers and originals that were reverent to the Irish/Folk form. Still, The Kissers performed with a playful, devious glint in their eyes. Attribute it to their age, which ranged from 21 to 27. Like The Pogues before them, The Kissers added a little rock "Umph" to Irish music. The difference was that The Kissers were more aggressive than The Pogues. Punk beats and fuzzed-out bass lines popped up.

During "Scum of America," an original off their debut CD, sounded like a traditional Irish dance number. The bobbing vocal rhythm followed the synthesizer and violin rhythms--ba ba bop/ba ba ba bop/ba ba ba bop/ba bop. But, no sane person would call the lyrics traditional.

"Brush aside a genocide a feather in your stock/We'll pave a paper empire and rock around the clock/Red as our necks, white as our trash/Collar and nose the bluest/Home the brave, and ecstasy raves/And land of the opportunist

We're an acquired taste, dregs of the human race/Only in America would scum like us belong/What the hell, might as well sing along

Son this was your revolution/Son this was your gain/Everybody's selling something truth and crack cocaine/One if by land, two if by sea/Three if a marketing ploy/New and improved as seen on TV/A credit card army deployed."

"Strawberry Blonde" was darker and mid-paced. Drummer Jamie Ryan busted out a ?uestlove-worthy hip hop beat while Peter Colclasure played a funereal accordion. A catchy, sad synthesizer dictated the melody. Why were The Kissers a smart band? They quickly turned the pensive song into a skipping, dancing rave-up.

The Kissers played the obligatory "Whiskey in the Jar," but they also tackled some Americana with the Shel Silverstein-penned Johnny Cash song, "25 Minutes to Go." Bassist-singer Caitlin Oliver-Gans sang in a detached tone during the minute-by-minute account of a man meeting his death sentence.

The whole band was energetic. They shouted the lyrics here and there. Fiddler Kari Bethke synchronized her body turns with the music as she turned out impressive, speedy solos. Cloclasure played a synthesizer solo that was orchestra worthy. He was punching down chords like metal kick drum hits.

Unfortunately, the crowd disappeared as the night went on. There was a decent amount of people up front at the beginning, but not a one danced.

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