What sort of cover band can sell out the DNA Lounge and leave a long line of people out front hoping to get in the doors? Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, that’s who. Of course The Gimme Gimmes aren’t your run-of-the-mill cover band, playing punked-up versions of songs that will get even the crustiest of tough guys to admit their appreciation for show tunes as well as the likes of Neil Diamond and John Denver.
For Thursday night’s show, Gimme Gimme regulars Spike Slawson (vocals), Joey Cape (guitar), Dave Raun (drums) and Fat Mike Burkett (bass) were joined by Scott Shiflett (Face to Face) on guitar. Taking the stage sporting matching pink Hawaiian shirts, the guys kicked things off with some banter that would almost suggest that they don’t take themselves seriously … that is until they start playing. Opening with Stairway To Heaven, the band managed to turn an 8 minute lumbering opus of 70’s arena rock excess into a anarchic pit on the floor that quickly sent the not-so-die-hards fleeing to the sides of the room for safety.
In no apparent rush, the guys mixed things between songs as they busted out the John Denver, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, the Beach Boys, Stan Jones and more. About mid-way through the set, they brought things down a notch when Spike brought out his ukulele for a solo number but that didn’t last long; following up with Tomorrow got the crowd back redlined for the balance of the night.
Throughout the set, Fat Mike kept asking to play “that Japanese song.” Finally they obliged, ripping through Hero from their “Sing in Japanese” album; while no one in the crowd could understand the words (including native Japanese speakers, apparently), it was hard not to sing along to the chorus (well, at least the “hero” and “haha” parts).
The crowd got a bit of a surprise when Chris Shiflett (presumably in town for the Foo Fighters set at Outside Lands) took the stage instead Cape for the encore who eventually returned to the stage to help wrap up the hour-long set with backup vocals on Rocket Man. Looking back at the setlist, it’s hard to figure out how all those songs ended up being crammed into a 60 minutes set until you remember that they were all played in double-time. In any case, not a bad little warm-up for their European shows later this month.
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