MEAT PUPPETS + FORD MADOX FORD + STONEFIELD @ THE ECHO
Photos by Sheva Kafai Recap by Ron Garmon
I knew something was bound to go sideways the moment rounding the curve on Sunset to see the famously ever-revolving podiatrist’s sign deal me a Sad Foot. Sure enough, there was a fuckaround at the door of sufficient length to make me miss Stonefield, the opening act. These Australian psych-rockers seriously piqued my interest but all I got out of the raves over their set from the smokers on the patio was serious pique. A friendly fellow in a motorcycle jacket shoved a fuming pen vape under my nose and bade me fuhgetaboutit. It was a sold-out show and scalpers prowled the sidewalk outside selling tickets and LSD as the Echo’s main room jammed to near-capacity for Ford Maddox Ford.
Named for an early 20th Century modernist writer who had a lousy World War One and built around brothers Chip and Tony Kinman, Ford Madox Ford is a four-on-the-floor reconfiguration of their first-wave L.A. punk act the Dils but resembles it only the way a truckload of retro-looking parts resembles a 1956 Studebaker. Over-the-top punk brio combines onstage with an sledgehammer blues approach to rock composition that seized the audience’s attention at once. We bellowed and howled as Chip told us we’re a good-looking crowd and so we were. An agglomeration of young and middleaged punk rockers dressed in varying degrees of frumpy stylishness, the audience’s median age looked about thirty-one and acted about nineteen. FMF’s fantastic set ended with crashing abruptness and they swaggered off stage like champs.
Meat Puppets were founded by brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood in Phoenix back in 1980, or well before many in this overstuffed room were born. One of the first SST bands to gain any kind of national foothold, their hypercharged punk-inflected cowboy psychedelia was a poor fit for the reigning hardcore aesthetic, but kept them on oldtime college radio long enough for emerging tastemakers like Kurt Cobain to discover and popularize them. Now portly and grizzled, they’ve outlived bad decisions, changing tastes, and other music-biz hazards to become one of the greatest live acts of their generation still up and wailing. Spellbound, the audience followed every careening turn and stratospheric twist of a lengthy set. The band wandered back onstage for one encore, which rose, coruscated and crashed like a microcosm of the set preceding it. This, as Hunter Thompson said of the Doors, is how rock ‘n’ roll music is played.