Gang of Four
February 11, 2019
Globe Hall, Denver, CO
“Nirvana started as a Gang of Four and Scratch Acid ripoff”- Kurt Cobain. This was my first exposure to Gang of Four (and Scratch Acid) but it wouldn’t be until years later that I happened upon the album “Mall” by them randomly for free in college. I didn’t think much of it. Fast forward ~3 years and a friend gave me a copy of “Entertainment!” and then it all made sense! Well not the Nirvana part because I still don’t really hear their Gang of Four’s funky post-punk influence in Nirvana’s soft-to-loud angry grunge, but more-so thinking these guys are actually really good. I had the opportunity to see them live ~ 8 years ago in Boston back before I moved out west to head up the West Coast Division of MAME Magazine. They surprisingly really blew me away with their stage presence as I honestly don’t have the highest expectations sometimes seeing older bands.
Seeing them Monday night, the first thing I noticed unfortunately when this gang of four musicians came out was the lack of aging I was expecting from a band formed in 1977! Besides the guitarist, they looked too damn young and spry. They opened with a couple of their darker and moodier songs that were a bit boring live. This would set the stage for what I would call a tale of two shows. On one hand, their more upbeat songs were in sync with what singer John Sterry was going for with his posturing and stage antics. On another, some of their songs were just kind of boring, not meant to be played live, and made for a good beer break.
The highlight of their set for me was opening their encore with “I Found That Essence Rare” my favorite song by them. This was the Gang of Four everyone wanted to see. Even the too hip to be at a show cross-armed types were getting into it. Performances like this and “Damaged Goods” made up for some of the more lackluster songs. While I enjoyed the rhythm section, I wish they would have cranked up the guitar a bit to get more of that angular sound they’re known for. It did feel at times like they wanted the guitar to be just background noise instead of piercing in between base lines. Overall it was a very mixed bag as a set but with enough good songs to make it worth going to.
On a non-music note, I saw a dude at the show who was ~40-50 and looked like a taller Danny DeVito but with the front two spikes of his balding horseshoe hairstyle spiked up into devil horns. It was captivating, but in a bad way. Do not let this be you if you ever enter the horseshoe bald phase in your life. On this Monday night, I went straight from a full day of work, to a 3-hour night class, to the show and woke up the next morning remembering I am in fact 32 and can’t be doing this shit on a Monday night. That being said, I’m still happy I went and after Tuesday passed I would do it again.
Article By: Christopher Beliveau