White Cowbell Oklahoma is now 10 years old, which makes them the same age as a fifth-grader. As a collective unit, that is; there are at least a couple geezers in the band. I wasn’t aware that the oldest of them, the skullet-headed Sergeant, had left WCO, giving them one less voice, guitar, and rhinestone-studded cowboy outfit. (He was always the best-dressed member, too…) But alas, they’ve soldiered on with their slimmed-down lineup, and celebrated their 10th anniversary in style last nite at Lee’s Palace.
And when I say in style I mean KISS style, GWAR style and Skynyrd style, all rolled into one. These guys are the most entertaining, over-the-top live band in Toronto, and no one else comes close. While their XXX-Mas set featured some Cowbell staples–Chainsaw Charlie cutting through three large stuffed animals, a couple strippers dressed as trailer park girls–they upped the ante with the addition of some guest, erm, performers, making the stage even more crowded than usual.
The MC for the evening was Colonel Sanders, or rather a guy who spent a lotta time putting together a Colonel Sanders costume. When somebody yelled “Fuck you and your chicken!” he responded by saying “Well, in prison we used to do some stuff… But don’t you talk that way about my chicken!” He was joined on stage by a Bible-burning Southern preacher, Ebenezer Scrooge, Hank the Hanukkah Hot Dog (erm, yeah…) and a Santa Claus with a sizeable shooting penis that would make Oderus Urungus jealous.
The band mixed live staples (“Shot a Gamblin’ Man”, “Cheerleader”) with songs from their new album Bombadero (“Piece of the Action”, “Buried in the Desert”) and exhausted their canon of handjob songs (“She’s Got My Love in Her Hand”, “Happy Ending”). For half the set, they had almost as many drummers (two) as guitar players (three) on stage. At one point, The Cousin Who Hath No Name donned a light-up suit for a guitar solo rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy”. And of course, there was the most abused cowbell in Canada, which was set ablaze with a blowtorch and sent sparks flying when pressed against a power sander by Chainsaw Charlie. Did I mention that he sawed a stuffed banana, tiger, and dalmatian in half, the latter of which had a smaller stuffed dog inside that was later nearly decapitated? With the Colonel high-kicking the stuffing into the crowd, things were starting to get messy…
I gotta say, there was a lot more interaction with the crowd than I’ve seen at past WCO shows. Lead guitarist Hollis P. Cartwright III stopped the band member introductions to thank the people for coming out and tossed a buncha “vintage” Cowbell Ts (that were seven to 10 years old) our way. Announcing they had one more song, the band played oral sex anthem “Put the South in Your Mouth” with guest appearances from members of Billy Talent and Sum 41. Of course there was an encore, even at 1:30 in the morning. They called for the ladies to come up on stage while Chainsaw Charlie brought out the Styrofoam Cock Cannon–a leaf blower with an appendage shooting Styrofoam on the end of it. They sure packed a lotta foam into that thing, and it wasn’t long before the pit was covered in it.
Leaving the show, we all looked like we’d stepped outta a snowstorm, with white stuff everywhere. I’ve still got that shit all over my toque and jacket, but I’m not gonna run em through the wash — or run over em with a vacuum cleaner. (I kinda feel sorry for the Afro-headed dude who’ll be picking that shit outta his hair for a while. My beard was mostly untouched…) I feel kinda like my buddy who always wears a white suit to GWAR shows, ‘cept instead of liquids and goos, I’ve been covered with solid white residue. Sure, I’ll get some funny looks, but that just means I was there, and you weren’t. Besides, the rain/snow should wash that stuff off eventually, right?
P.S.: I’ll be starting Smokin’ Green off with some White Cowbell tonite, before playing some Maryland doom. Be sure to tune in at 1 am at 88.1 fm, Rogers channel 947, or www.ckln.fm on yer computer.