The Fleshtones' dedication to simple party raveups remains undiminished. Courtesy photo
The Fleshtones return to bask in the glory of a new garage-rock revival

How can we as a culture be in the midst of our third (yes, THIRD) documented garage rock revival since the dawn of the '60s if no one really ever stopped playing garage rock in the first place?

Perhaps some proselyte rock critics honestly believe that the great MC5 politely put their instruments down one fateful day in 1972, and magically locked their recordings in a time-release vault, specifying that their sonic secrets could only be revealed to a handful of lazy latter-day Katzenjammer Kids with bad hair and no sense of history. Personally, I think this is a misleading myth, one that must be swiftly and scientifically dismantled.

On Saturday, September 6, the Fleshtones headline an army of surly old garage bands at Taco Land, amply supported by locals the Sons of Hercules and Where the Action Is. Supported, that is, in the credible supposition that garage rock never dies, it just goes underground in cyclical intervals to keep from being completely co-opted by the ignorant masses.

This could easily be one of the most stunningly ear-splitting lineups of the year. The Sons of Hercules and Where the Action Is need no introduction for San Antonio residents, unless you haven't left the house in the last 10 years. Likewise, the Fleshtones should require no introduction, but for those of you tender youngsters who think those sweet little boys from White Heat invented the three-chord shuffle, here goes:

The Fleshtones formed a quarter century ago in Queens. At the time, the Ramones ruled CBGBs. Richard Hell was an eloquent (albeit drooling) prophet, and pop was a decidedly dirty word in the smoky clubs of New York City. Since the beginning, the Fleshtones have drawn equally from '60s American garage-rock and sugary British pop, with a smidgen of Farfisa soul thrown in for good measure.

This was a combination quite unlike the heady musings of their late-'70s contemporaries Patti Smith and company, the chaotic/cathartic rants of Television or the all-out nihilistic rampages of the Dead Boys and the Sex Pistols. The Fleshtones' ongoing disregard for the status quo has kept them relatively pure in their fused aesthetic, which in terms of the music business translates to an underground band with a cult following - perennially almost famous.

with Sons of Hercules
and Where The Action Is
Saturday, September 6
Taco Land
103 W. Grayson
Like any long running, well-intentioned and deserving ensemble, the Fleshtones have had their share of minor brushes with fame. Like many cult favorites, they've been bounced from label to label more times than humanly possible. However, I find their side projects - particularly those of frontman Peter Zaremba - infinitely more interesting than the standard "this band could have been blah blah" hypothetical banter.

Zaremba was the host of MTV's The Cutting Edge in the mid-'80s - you remember, back when MTV actually showed videos? Zaremba is also a print journalist, covering everything from stylish weekend getaways to obscure eastern European skin products for Time Out New York. In other words, he's an all-around, post-modern renaissance man.

The Fleshtones' latest release, Do You Swing?, on Yep Roc Records, clings as relentlessly to the old aesthetic as always, but now the band actually finds itself in tune with the times. They lay down the law of garage rock in the song "One Four Five," possibly the only pop song to ever devote itself to celebrating a chord progression.

But despite this and other recent, genuinely good recordings on a slew of indie labels, the Fleshtones' creative proving ground remains the stage. Most of their recordings could be dismissed as frivolous party band material - if, and only if, you have never seen them live. Their presence is vibrant and intense, mixing just the right amount of polish and choreographed posture with undeniably solid licks, all delivered at a volume setting of eleven. They serve as a perfect foil to the Sons of Hercules' unnerving puissance and the coolly detached, lackadaisical demeanor of Where the Action Is. •