Veteran rockers Wayne
Kramer, Michael Davis and Dennis Thompson faced a significant challenge at
Metro on Friday night as they attempted to evoke the spirit of their
legendary band the MC5 without two of that groundbreaking group's key
In interviews, Kramer stressed that this band can't be the MC5,
since rhythm guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and Rob Tyner, one of the most
distinctive vocalists in rock history, both died in the early '90s. The DKT/MC5
is a celebration of his old band's music by a group that is living in the
present, he promised.
The DKT/MC5 almost fulfilled that pledge, delivering a set that drew from
the MC5's three albums in the late '60s and early '70s -- including timeless
songs such as "Kick Out the Jams," "Ramblin' Rose" and "Sister Anne" that
helped pave the way for punk rock-and nicely illuminating the group's major
influences: revved-up '50s rock 'n' roll, sweaty Detroit soul (it paid
homage with a cover by the late Ray Charles) and wild free jazz (it also
performed its cover of Sun Ra's "Starship," complete with guests from the
Kramer's Stratocaster effectively summoned the roar of one of Detroit's
biggest V8 engines. Thompson and Davis were still a massively hard-hitting
but very swinging rhythm section. Power-pop legend Marshall Crenshaw did an
admirable job of stepping into Smith's shoes. And Mudhoney vocalist Mark
Arm, who sang about half of the songs, reminded the packed crowd that after
Kurt Cobain, he was the strongest and most distinctive singer to emerge from
the Seattle grunge scene of the early '90s.
The problem was that the vocal chores were divided with erstwhile
Lemonheads leader and alt-rock lightweight Evan Dando, who was assigned the
job of singing the MC5's slighter, poppier tunes, including "High School"
and "Shakin' Street."
Dando volunteered for the job because he is allegedly a huge MC5 fan, but
he couldn't remember any of the lyrics, and he continuously referred to
cheat sheets that had been taped to the stage at his feet. When he was
singing, he jumped up and down and rolled on the floor like an
over-caffeinated idiot. He continued his efforts to draw the spotlight
during Arm's songs, awkwardly shaking a tambourine, doing cartwheels across
the stage and more or less screaming "Look at me!" like a petulant
At one point, as Dando leaned into the crowd, a fan thrust his middle
finger in the singer's face. Dando didn't back off, and neither did the fan.
Kramer finally ended the stand-off by thrusting the neck of his guitar at
the angry fan and backing him away from the vocalist until security escorted
the man out.
I felt sorry for this fan-turned-critic: He was expressing the opinion of
everyone at Metro. Instead of defending Dando, Kramer should have slapped
him upside the head and fired him on the spot, because he seriously
detracted from what was otherwise an intense, magical and historic reunion.
Opening the show were the New York garage band Suffrajett, whose striking
frontwoman Simi underscored the connections between punk and soul first
charted by the MC5, and an ad-hoc combo of local musicians (bluesman Nick
Tremulis, drummer Stone and noise-guitar hero Rick Rizzo) who backed writer,
former MC5 manager and revolutionary agitator John Sinclair for an
entertaining set of attitude-laden Beat poetry.