Violent Femmes | NC Museum of Art | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Violent Femmes 

When: Wed., Sept. 28, 8 p.m. 2016
Price: $27-$45

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28

VIOLENT FEMMES

A curiously enduring artifact of punk rock's initial stateside tremors, Milwaukee's Violent Femmes never possessed the critical cachet or long-running influence of outsider peers like the Meat Puppets or X. Still, they're far better known to today's listening public on the indelible strength of hit singles "Gone Daddy Gone," "Add It Up," "Kiss Off," and "Blister in the Sun." Great songs by any measure, these minted classics have occasionally threatened to obscure the full breadth of the band's other many lasting achievements, which include nine studio albums, as many drummers as Spinal Tap, and a contentious lawsuit between founding members over a Wendy's commercial.

The endearingly oddball Femmes emerged fully formed on their classic self titled 1983 album, channeling the Modern Lovers' jangle-nerved suburban ennui through the highly idiosyncratic worldview of Gordon Gano, the band's singer and principal songwriter. The Femmes were minimalist in an era in which American indie was set to embark in an arms race of feedback-drenched volume. The three-piece group borrowed the Velvet Underground's pared-down snare-and-brushes sound and evinced throwback impulses that could occasionally make them sound like punk rock's one and only foray into skiffle. While the Femmes never quite topped the ready-made mastery of their debut, the band released a series of good to great records throughout the eighties, tackling everything from political hypocrisy to spiritual striving. All the while, this work established Gano as a kind of poet laureate of marginalized suburban anxiety, boasting a forensic acuity.

Having reunited in 2013 following a long and frequently contentious hiatus, the band has been reformed long enough to deliver its first album in fifteen years. January's We Can Do Anything is a solid if slightly perfunctory release that neither meaningfully advances nor significantly diminishes the band's legacy. Like so many acts of their era and ilk, the Femmes have enjoyed considerable success on the road in recent years, riding a wave of Gen-X nostalgia, which finds their legions of once-awkward teen admirers now flush with enough cash to drop a cool thirty bucks on a Wednesday night stroll down memory lane. For this most arch of great bands, the irony of the Femmes' evolution from the disaffected beacon of youthful disenfranchisement into sing-along comfort food for settled suburbanites must strike the band as rich indeed. Certainly, it would make a great Gordon Gano song. —Timothy Bracy

N.C. MUSEUM OF ART, RALEIGH
8 p.m., $27–$45, www.ncartmuseum.org

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