The Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer snarls “this ain’t no fucking punk concert!” at the Commodore in Vancouver

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 20, 1982

By Steve Newton

Talk about fun! I never thought I’d have such a bursting-out-laughing good time at the Commodore as I did in ’75 when Kiss was there, but last Friday (August 13) at the Ballroom Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom, and Lee Rocker–the Stray Cats–had me grinning like a Cheshire kitty.

Not that the two bands invite much comparison. It’s just that both concerts seemed right on time. I was ready for the comic-book theatrics of Kiss back then, and I was ready for the cool-cat image and rockabilly righteousness of the Strays Friday night.

I got to the club a little late–I missed the opening act Los Popularos–but as soon as I got up the stairs and into the room the electricity of the whole affair caught me. Everywhere people were standing and shaking. A few even took to dancing on table tops. And the front of the stage was sheer pandemonium. Allright, so I’m getting carried away. Let’s just say you had to be there. But it was quite a visual show.

Lee Rocker’s upright bass was a different sight, as was Slim Jim’s drum kit. He only uses one cymbal, one snare, and one bass drum–and a pair of sticks. Phantom and Rocker used their most basic of instruments to create a gelatinous platform for Setzer’s Cochranish boogyings and spirited lead vocals.

Songs like “Fishnet Stockings”, “Rock this Town”, and “Stray Cat Strut” kept a large number of the 1,000 or so in attendance on the dance floor throughout the show. After an energetic set and encore, the band left its fans fairly drained and satisfied from a non-stop dose of fifties rhythm ‘n’ boogie.

Only one unwanted incident occured during the performance, when someone from the front of the stage was dragged out by a couple of burly bouncers. At that time Setzer was heard to snarl, “Nobody spits around here…this ain’t no fucking punk concert.”

He was right. It sure wasn’t.

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