After a brief set by the Features (a young Tennessee combo playing edgy pop to the accompaniment of old 16mm films) the Woggles hopped on stage, led by their charismatic red-headed frontman Manfred Jones. Dressed in pale blue barber shirts, the seasoned four-piece began the set by blasting the title track of their album Fractured. Propelled by the bright, uptempo beats of drummer Dan Hall, they increased their pace with each number, ultimately hitting a vein-popping peak when Jones leapt into the audience, howling like a hellfire evangelist as he barked out the command to "Get Tough."
Although relying mainly on Kingsmen-style barre chords for his propulsive sound, guitarist Montague Holton splashed out reverberant melodies during one surf instrumental. This tune sent Hillbilly Frankenstein's Alice Berry (one of many musicians in the crowd) into a sustained spasm of hip-shaking mania. For the grand finale, bassist Buzz Hagstrom jumped onto Holton's massive shoulders. As both men continued to play, they lumbered through the audience as a prowling two-headed rock 'n' roll monster with a Godzilla tail of feedback and guitar cables sweeping behind them.
Never ones to be upstaged, the Fleshtones made their entrance at 12:25 a.m. dressed in glitter gear and armed with cordless guitars. Singer Peter Zaremba briefly pretended to forget which city he was in before shouting out the title of their opening number, "Hitsburg, U.S.A." Guitarist Keith Streng fired off screaming Chuck Berry doublestops while perched atop the stage monitors, stand-up drummer Bill Milhizer slammed his kit with unerring precision and bassist Ken Fox underscored the action with a merciless bottom end. Remarkably, this volatile combination resulted in a smooth, irresistibly danceable sound, merging Motown beats with amphetamine speed on tunes such as "Whatever it Takes."
Guitarist Streng handled lead vocals on a number of songs, at one point doing simultaneous impressions of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page on a surprise cover of Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown." Streng also performed "Theme from The Vindicators" while bopping atop a table in the crowd. Zaremba grabbed an extra pair of drumsticks and simultaneously hammered the kit right alongside Milhizer. This intense double-drum effect shook the walls so hard it dislodged beer bottles from shelves more than 30 feet away.
In a remarkable stunt, both Streng and Fox briefly played their guitars one-handed before reaching for the necks of each others' instruments. Without missing a beat, the guitarist fretted the bass while the bassist fretted the guitar. Continuing to play, they joined Zaremba as he danced into the crowd and onto the bar at the rear of the club.
Jones and Holton of the Woggles pitched in during the final encore, the anthemic "American Beat." Then all four Fleshtones leapt off the stage, drummer Milhizer bringing up the rear while dragging and pounding a floor tom. The musicians continued playing out the front door, across the street and into a waiting silver Intrepid. Waving through the open windows, they sped away into the night -- only to return a few minutes later to sell T-shirts and glad-hand a new generation of fans beaming with hard-won adoration.
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Trashed Dance Rock Party