Suspect Device, Kings of Nuthin’ – Middle East, Cambridge, MA (April 12, 2003)

Here’s the deal. The Street Dogs and the Hudson Falcons played this show. But that afternoon I heard a rumor that the Street Dogs weren’t playing. “So,” I reasoned. “I don’t need to get there until 10 to see the Falcons.” At approximately quarter to nine I began preparing a ridiculously elaborate Italian-style dinner in my kitchen. It was a task that, once begun, couldn’t be broken off halfway through. Then there was the eating of it. Long story short, I walked through the door of the club as the Falcons were carting their stuff offstage. To make matters worse, Mark told me later that it was their last show of the year (they’ve played 600 shows in the last three years and are ready to take a step back, he said). I also learned that the Street Dogs did indeed play. Great.

Anyways, now the big question was, would the Kings of Nuthin’ light stuff on fire as they used to? The answer was no, and frankly, that makes sense. (Especially considering the Cambridge fire marshall was in attendance.) The Kings can and did play a kick-ass set without the use of lighter fluid.

If for some odd reason (detox stay, space travel) you haven’t seen or heard of the Kings of Nuthin’ before, I’ll sum up with the boilerplate description that they look like 1930s gangsters and sound like the rival saloon’s windows shattering from a blast of dynamite tossed out of a screeching black sedan. Chuck Berry on speed vs. Jerry Lee Lewis on downers. Or “Tom Waits and Slapshot” in the words of singer Torr, who phlegm-roars himself hoarse every show, backed by a finger-snappin’ maelstrom of drums, guitar, upright bass, piano, and saxophones. (The band currently has three saxes)(and no more washboard.)

Highlights: They rolled out a new song named after their two favorite things, “Women & Cadillacs.” Closed with “Fight Songs for Fuck-ups,” then for an encore brought out Kevin Stevenson (Shods) to sing “Born to Lose” by the Dead Boys. Fans onstage threw beer on everyone.

Suspect Device played last. Overall for the night there was a fantastic turnout. Unfortunately, half the crowd jetted after the Kings. Their loss, because they missed a great set by Suspect. (In fairness, many may have been trying to catch Mung and Gang Green at the Linwood that same night.)

Like the Falcons or, yes, Stiff Little Fingers, whose hit song gave this band of Roxbury punks their name, Suspect Device play catchy, moving street rock songs that are fun to drink to and sing along with, and sometimes even give you the chills. They played a new one tonight that singer/guitarist Jason said will appear on a split 7″ with Fit For Abuse, Tommy & the Terrors, and I forget who else. During that song, a fan doused Jason with water.

“The fact that I have an electrical appliance strapped to my body completely escaped you, didn’t it?” Jay asked.

Next up was a cover of Cock Sparrer “Take ‘em All” that got everyone jumping around up front, followed by a new one sung by guitarist Matt. “This goes out to everyone who left – it’s called ‘Fuck ‘em.’”

Well, those who stayed would not regret it.

By Pat Kennedy

The Kings of Nuthin’: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

Not quite in the genre of celtic/folk/punk/whatever are the Kings of Nuthin. I recently came across them by accident when they played with The Skels at the Linwood in Boston and they really blew me away. Their Debut EP ‘Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying’ is eight tracks of bad-assed rock-a-billy infused with the intensity and attitude of punk along with the best vocals this side of Tom Waits.

June 2001