Saturday, May 21, 2011

Show Review: The World/Inferno Friendship Society

The World Inferno Friendship Society @ Club Lambi.
Written for the CJLO Magazine

It was Wednesday May 18, 2011—just three days before the impending Rapture that would kick off the end of the world (as predicted by Harold Camping). In anticipation for that fateful moment, I made a list of five simple things I wanted to do before death on Saturday:

  1. See one last show
  2. Party with friends
  3. Dance like crazy
  4. Sing 'till my voice turns hoarse
  5. Find a partner in crime to loot with

I figured what better band to go see right before the Apocalypse than The World/Inferno Friendship Society.

Over the last 15 years, this punk rock cabaret collective from Brooklyn, New York have gained an international cult-like following due to notoriously crazy performances, particularly at their annual Hallowmas celebration.

Their devoted fans—the Infernites—are known to dress up and congregate in mass numbers to sing along and mosh their asses off at World/Inferno shows. These people like to party, and (as the legend goes) the party doesn't stop until all the fancy outfits are shredded and doused in cheap wine and beer, everyone does the “claw”, and at least one acolyte begins to bleed profusely.

This rumour excited me. Right away I could scratch four things off my list: show, party, dance, sing. And from what I had heard, frontman Jack Terricloth will smash shit up and steal right along with you when the riots start. A partner in crime—that makes five. My list would be complete.

I called out to everyone I knew: "Come with me to see this show! It-is-going-to-be-epic." But there was no answer.

Distraught, I put on my usual concert garb: chucks, jeans, and a t-shirt. But out of respect for the band I later changed my mind and slipped into my best dress, put on makeup, wore heels, and hurried off to Club Lambi by myself. I prayed on the way that the Infernites would be there to celebrate our last nights on earth.

But, to quote the “Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." There were about 30 living people at the venue that night, and maybe two or three ghosts of dead punk rockers. What happened, friends?

(Note: CJLO's own Matty Matt from Radio Fun sent a text later and joined me at the show!)

Even with poor attendance, it was pretty damn great to be there.

On tour to support their latest release, The Anarchy and the Ecstasy (what a fitting title for the Apocalypse!), the World/Inferno came to Montreal with seven band members, many of them new to the lineup. Performing that night were Mora Precarious (drums), Leslie Wacker (alto sax), Rebecca Schlappich (violin), Frank Morin (guitar), Matthew Landis (keyboard), Sandra Malak (bass), and of course Jack Terricloth (vocals, guitar).

Before taking the stage, Jack introduced himself to every attendee personally, and invited us to come toward the stage and see the band play. The true fans went right up front, and when the World/Inferno opened with “Tattoos Fade”, the tiny crowd went nuts. They danced so hard it made the floor bounce.

The show lasted about an hour, and mixed old and new songs. “I Am Sick Of People Being Sick Of My Shit” and “Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK” made the usually calm Canadians in the audience panic just a little, and old favourites like “Cats Are Not Lucky Creatures”, “Just the Best Party”, and “Only Anarchists Are Pretty” (the encore) left the one or two true Infernites in attendance very happy.

The stand-out track for me was the ballad "The Politics of Passing Out", due in part to the lyrics and music reminiscent of Billy Bragg's “A New England”, and the accompanying vocals of bassist Sandra Malak (her voice complimented Mr. Terricloth's so well).

The acoustics at the venue were solid, and minor technical difficulties (a temperamental mic stand, and a guitar mistakenly left unplugged at sound check) became part of the on-stage banter among the band.

No World/Inferno show would be complete without Terricloth's storytelling. He lamented the loss of his punk-rocker friends long since passed, and asked the crowd which dead-and-gone Canadian punk bands they knew. In response to The Nils, Jack told the tale about how some dude named Paul stole their van when The Nils toured the US. The band tried to find the elusive “Paul” and get their gear back. However, since Jack was less than helpful in giving clues of Paul's whereabouts, the search was in vain. Punk rock history, folks!

The event wasn't crazy, but it was intimate and nice. There were even a couple of guys in suits. Thankfully the Rapture never happened, and the World/Inferno Friendship Society can come back. Listen friends, this band has it all, they just need us.

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