Violent Femmes October 11, MGM Resorts Village.
The last time I saw the Violent Femmes, I was 16 and probably the youngest person in the crowd. Nine years later, singer Gordon Gano, bassist Brian Ritchie et al sounded just as good at the Wine Amplified Festival on Saturday, and when I closed my eyes, it was like they hadn’t aged at all.
Despite the distractions—drunk bros taking selfies and chatting, weed clouds and pockets of fans singing every word—I stayed fixated on the stage and the giant screen plastered with Gano’s face. How was that squirmy, angsty, perfectly imperfect drawl, completely unchanged from 1983’s self-titled debut, coming out of the aging man with the pot belly? And was drummer Brian Viglione really beating those snares with whisks?
The Femmes continued to play said debut in its entirety, beginning with “Blister in the Sun” and powering through the rest: “Kiss Off,” “Please Do Not Go,” “Add It Up” and “Gone Daddy Gone” featuring Ritchie’s iconic xylophone solo. And the intensity remained high. Joined by brass section the Horns of Dilemma (fronted by Stooges saxman Steve Mackay) and additional percussion, the Femmes played for an hour, rotating between instruments and ending with off-album cut “American Music.” Blink-182 would take the stage a few minutes later, but anyone who witnessed this show knew who the real headliners were.