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Queer as punk

Cruelty and innocence commingle at Darkside

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The Queers brand of punk is overshadowed only by - their enormous feet.
  • The Queers brand of punk is overshadowed only by their enormous feet.

There was a time when I, with my bleach-blond crew cut, motorcycle jacket, Chucks and blue jeans, bought absolutely everything Lookout! Records released.

There were some stinkers, sure -- Kamala and the Karnivores, The Couch of Eureka and Yeastie Girlz come to mind -- but the label was, by and large, putting out more delightfully bubblegum pop-punk than anybody else. These were the halcyon Weasel Days of Punk, my four-chord wonder years, and among my favorite bands (also on Lookout at the time) were The Queers.

Formed in New Hampshire in the early '80s, The Queers are one of the most iconic snot-punk bands to buzzsaw your ears. Frontman Joe Queer (ne King) has a knack for the nyah, blending good-naturedly nasty lyrics with occasionally brilliant doses of Beach Boys-influenced melody and straight-up pop that fall, of course, between bouts of unswervingly overt punk rock.

What's funny about The Queers is their penchant for vacillating between cruelty and wide-eyed innocence. The song "See Ya Later Fuckface," from their newest disc, Pleasant Screams, gets about 30 "fuck yous" into the mix but also "See you in the funny pages" -- about as offensive a piss-off phrase as "After a while, crocodile."

Whether it's conscious irony ain't the point. The hook is that The Queers have, for 20 years, allowed the sentiments to coexist. Where Screeching Weasel was outright anger and the Nobodys were gross-out rock, The Queers are ingenuousness delivered with a sneer.

After a stint at Hopeless Records, the Queers returned to Lookout! in 2001 with a new lineup. They're still doing what they've always done best: blasting uncomplicated Ramones worship with bile, humor and grit.

This isn't to say that uncomplicated equals unsophisticated. But would it matter if it did?

-- Aaron Retka

capsule

The Queers with The Independents, The Mansfields and Boxsleeves

Darkside, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $10; call 866/468-7621 or visit sodajerkpresents.com

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