SAN FRANCISCO — Wednesday was a busy night for drummer Dale Crover and bassist Steve McDonald at Slim’s. The pair did double duty; McDonald joining openers Dale Crover Band on bass, and Crover drummed for seminal glam-punk band Redd Kross during its headlining set.
Even though brothers Jeffrey and Steven McDonald formed Redd Kross 40 years ago, the band shows no signs of slowing down. The quartet’s lively 90-minute set featured shredding guitars, rock-and-roll poses, endless hair flipping and pounding percussion as it blasted through hits and deep cuts from throughout its storied career.
The set began with the legendary band blasting its 1991 seasonally appropriate single, “Super Sunny Christmas.” Singer Jeffrey McDonald dominated the stage, flanked by his brother and guitarist Jason Shapiro. Barely stopping to catch their breaths, the band members launched into, “Crazy World,” from 1995’s Phaseshifter.
Jeffrey McDonald strapped on a purple electric guitar and introduced the band’s third song, “Stay Away From Downtown,” from its most recent album, 2012’s Researching the Blues. Steven McDonald, wearing a garishly awesome red and white suit, delivered a series of Eddie Van Halen-style licks while Shapiro struck a relaxed pose, leaning back under the weight of his white Les Paul.
During a momentary lull, the bassist asked fans to promise, “no matter what happens tonight, let’s have the greatest fucking time ever!” While this may have been hyperbole, the enthused audience did its best to comply.
Crover’s pummeling drums began the next song, “Blow a Kiss in the Wind,” from the band’s 1984 album, Teen Babes from Monsanto. The song’s Stooges-esque groove eventually gave way to an amazing bass breakdown featuring the tastiest tones of the night.
“Uglier,” from Researching the Blues, featured searing wah-wah-inflected lead guitar playing and all four band members singing the chorus’ anthemic “woos” in unison. “Switchblade Sister,” from the 1993 album of the same, name continued the vocal harmonizing and featured a complex guitar and bass breakdown replete with hair-tossing rockstar moves from both McDonald brothers.
Before “Jimmy’s Fantasy,” off Phaseshifter, Steven McDonald told the audience the song was inspired by his brother’s experiences busking in India. The song’s relatively quiet verses and thundering choruses showcased the band’s dynamic range.
Redd Kross closed out its initial set with a blistering series of short but sweet punk gems, including “Annie’s Gone,” during which the frontman played with a square of sequined fabric. He posed with it like a bullfighter with a muleta before draping the glittery scrap over his head. “Saviour Machine,” with its heavy and spacey blues riffage, unleashed a wall of sound that crashed over the crowd. Finally, the blistering “Peach Kelli Pop” strafed the crowd with its chugging ferocity before exploding with sustained power chords, guitar feedback and more rock-and-roll posing before the quartet left the stage.
The quartet returned and played a frenetic four-song encore that included a rousing cover of The Dickies’ “Pretty Please Me.”
The Dale Crover Band, a solo project for the legendary sludge rockers the Melvins’ drummer, turned in a powerful and varied set that included songs by the Melvins, Altamont (the band Crover formed in the ’90s with Joey Osbourne and Dan Southwick of Acid King), as well as songs from Crover’s 2017 solo album, The Fickle Finger of Fate.
Joining Crover on stage were Steven McDonald, who currently shares the rotating bass player role in the Melvins with Butthole Surfers’ Jeff Pinkus; famed engineer and producer Toshi Kasai on keys and guitar; and drummer Mindee Jorgensen.
Crover ventured out from behind his drum kit to play guitar and holding down frontman duties with apparent ease. Kasai and McDonald shared vocal duties, but it was clearly Crover’s moment in the spotlight, which he seemed to enjoy as he delivered his snarling vocals.
Occasionally, Crover would put his guitar down and play a stand-up drum kit he had positioned at centerstage. Together with Jourgenson’s drumming, the resulting percussive onslaught was both precise and earthshaking.
Redd Kross has been making music for four decades and the Melvins have been at it almost as long (Kurt Cobain used to be the band’s roadie). It was clear Wednesday night that all that time on the road has honed their skills, both as musicians and performers. But it was even clearer that these musicians are still deeply in love with performing their music for people, which probably explains their longevity.