I don’t really have a good excuse, but I’ve never seen Redd Kross live. The super power-pop band from Los Angeles has been together, led by older brother Jeff McDonald on guitar and vocals, with younger brother Steven McDonald on bass and vocals, since 1978. Redd Kross have made a number of fantastic LP’s, and they never broke up, but did take a bit of a hiatus (about six years starting in 1999). Well, Redd Kross is back, and their new LP Beyond The Door is definitely one of my records of the year (see the review at tinyurl.com/zubkross) and I was very excited to see that they were playing nearby.
The McDonald brothers are joined by lead guitarist Jason Shapiro and (also Melvins) drummer Dale Crover. Taking the stage at the 40 Watt club in Athens, they were a knockout from the get go.They opened with ‘Beyond The Door’ from the new LP and then their amazing version of Sparks’ ‘When Do I Get To Sing My Way,’ an inspired and demanding cover that they pulled off beautifully. Redd Kross is a band that understands rock and roll, they know it’s about the party, about the fun. When they ripped into ‘Uglier’ from Researching The Blues, guitarist Shapiro tore it up on his battered, stripped Les Paul Custom, and Jeff was jumping all around. The crowd was theirs.
One of the best parts of the Redd Kross show is the interaction between the brothers McDonald. Steven offered a heartfelt introduction for his brother’s ‘What’s A Boy To Do,’ a classic from the new LP. Steven McDonald is a rock show all to himself, wearing a white suit, long locks flowing, and wielding an Epiphone Thunderbird bass like a scimitar, he sang and played like an angel, and was a grade A ham showoff all night. Fantastic. The brothers never seem to tire of making each other laugh while playing, and their fun is infectious. ‘Stay Away From Downtown’ from Researching was a great Lennonesque workout.
Toward the end of their non-stop set, they did ‘Annie’s Gone’ from Third Eye, probably the closest to a ‘hit’ they ever had. This great song still held up at the 40 Watt. They followed with a cover of ‘It Won’t be Long’ by The Beatles that was truly excellent. They closed out the set with a crazy version of ‘Linda Blair’ from Born Innocent and ‘Annette’s Got The Hits.’
Redd Kross absolutely blew me away, they were tight, rocking, sang great, and were so much fun. They remember the prime directive of rock: have fun and keep the party going. This is a must-see band still at the height of their power. Stop making excuses and go see them as soon as possible.