Volume 93, Issue 33

Thursday, October 28, 1999


Square Root keeps adding up

Superchunk still smiles

Watt charges up the Office audience

Air shows Symptomes of greatness

Watt charges up the Office audience

By Neil Malhotra
Gazette Staff

Live music has been sparce in the Forest City since the school year started, but things were a little different Tuesday night as London played host to musical legend Mike Watt. Backed up by the Pair of Pliers, Watt brought his blend of alternative rock to centre stage for an anxious crowd at Call the Office.

Plainly said, Mike Watt is the consummate musician's musician. His legendary status stems from his time with The Minutemen and Porno for Pyros, where he supplied his trademark bass skills.

Mix in time spent with some of the biggest alterna-rock stars of the early '90s – Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Evan Dando (Lemonheads) and Les Claypool (Primus) and it's obvious his resumé is as long and impressive as any other musician's.

The opening five song sequence (which included "Big Train") set the pace for the remainder of the night. Despite the low energy crowd, Watt and his three-piece band drove through the beginning of the set with powerful and tight musicianship.

The remainder of the set consisted of some old classics from his Minuteman and Firehose days, along with material from his two solo albums, Contemplating the Engine Room and Ball Hog or Tugboat. The band rounded off the performance with a variety of covers, which name checked everyone from Bikini Kill to John Coltrane.

It is rare in today's era of one-hit wonders and video stars to find a band who has mastered the art of performing, but Watt's group provided a perfect compliment to his grooves. Vince Meghrouni's drumming was a solid foundation for the band to work around. Guitarist Tom Watson's extremely experimental style complimented the band nicely and Watson took advantage of every tool he could find, including a handful of effects boxes and even the keys in his pocket.

But the centrepiece of the night's superb musicianship came from Watt himself. Watt's bass playing can be regarded in the same manner of a Bootsy Collins or a Victor Wooten – it's so unique and experimental, it stands out heads and shoulders above his contemporaries. Not only does Watt have the ability to lay down fat rhythm riffs, but he also has the ability to add provocative colour to his songs by turning the bass into a lead instrument.

All in all, the show was a great opportunity to hear one of the most creative minds to come out of the rock/alternative/punk scene.

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