by WestCoast Weasel WestCoast Weasel and Photo Gopher
May 21, 2010

May 14, 2010
The Bourbon
Vancouver, B.C

I’d yet to witness the rambunctious live show that Big John and his Voodoo Dolls have notoriously shared with many here in Vancouver and abroad.  Being back home after a trek down south, I chose to swing by The Bourbon for both a chat with Big John (interview here) and to validate the tales of his live prowess.

Waltz Darling (presumably named after Malcom McLaren’s album of the same name) led the evening’s revue.  The bluesy, yet new wave influenced four-piece were cohesive and—thanks to the perfect engineering—well represented from the word go.  Playing “Far From Today” and “Slackjaw” early on showcased a perfect blend and contrast of both electric and acoustic guitars.  Atila Breti’s vocals were unique enough, considering today’s rock n’ roll norm; his voice was reminiscent of a man somewhere between Micheal Stipe (R.E.M) and Fred Schneider (B-52’s).

“Love Song #5″ contained a seraphic verse: bass driven and inter-woven with delicate leads—though the bland chorus took away from its essence, overall.  Another mellow, yet wholly more delectable number “In Red Blood” pulled their influences even further back in time during the 50’s style ballad.  The band has its Eastern European roots both ethnically and clearly musically, heard on the polka fused “Oh My Dear.”  An enjoyable opening act, to say the least.  Catch their CD release at The Railway Club on June 12.

Unaware of the mid-slot burlesque performance routine, I sat intrigued as Villie Loveless graced the stage with her dangerous curves.  Between an impromptu music interruption (which to my pleasant surprise was “Hechizo De Amor” by Tiger Army) and a lack of any moves I’d consider exciting—her routine left me hoping for a more fruitful follow-up.  Voracious V donned a straight jacket and seductively she slipped out of its grip amidst a killer, Tarrantino-approved tune.  Her style, moves and overall grace had the show moving in the right direction.  Ms. Crystal Perious (Dollhouse, Sweet Soul Burlesque) followed who had a deep, soulful voice that could move mountains—an interesting, unique attribute.  That was, however, where the appeal seemed to both start and end.

John too had some ladies of his own to showcase during his bluesy, punked up, rockabilly set.  The Voodoo Dolls (who were a tad more fit for fighting) were introduced playfully, while he and his band started with “Bangtown,” showing promise beneath the stage’s blue and green lighting.  “Gothsylvania” spoke spooky lyrics while the Dolls strutted in a sugar skull styled masquerade.  The gals turned to naughty nurses and borrowed a victim from the crowd—whom they medicated with Jägermeister via a prop syringe—during “Shotgun Shack.”  The tune, about getting off the wrong train stop, played out with that ol’ locomotive style and swagger.

A good cover can be key when homage is paid to grimy groups such as Judas Priest and Turbonegro on “Breakin’ The Law” and “All My Friends Are Dead,” respectively.  Original cut, “Rattle On” heard Brandy Battery’s sweet vocal interjections and J.T’s rattle of both cowbell and pipe, welded to his tiger-striped drum kit.  Following it was yet another apt tribute when The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Much” played near the end of the set.

Though the girls were a notable part of the show, the tight trio before us needn’t rely on any distraction.  John’s reverberated Gretsch was expectedly defined amongst heavy, bouncy stand-up bass lines.  A full out jam ensued with J.T incorporating unorthodox drumming on the face of the bass drum and bass guitar strings alike.  The Dolls proved they weren’t about to be shown up by any of the above; they fired up their flaming tassel outfits just before the multi-song encore that included the classic “Voodoo Bar-B-Q”, the gritty, psycho “Dig Myself a Hole” and finally “44 Love Bites.”

As the story goes, Big John Bates and his vicious Voodoo Dolls know how to throw a dance party.  Take that hipsters.  Leave it to a few scraggly rock n’ rollers and their dames to have Gastown’s ass rockin’ into and through the weekend.

…Weasel Was Here

SL = Slide Show FS= Full Screen

Photographer: Kris “Photo Gopher” Mayor

Visit these artists online:

Big John Bates & The Voodoo Dolls –
Waltz Darling –

“Bangtown” music video

“Dig Myself A Hole” – live in Palermo, Sicily – 2008


3 Responses to “Renegade Rock Review Vol. 25: Big John Bates & The Voodoo Dolls w/ Waltz Darling”

  1. [...] Renegade Rock Review Vol. 25: Big John Bates & The Voodoo Dolls w/ Waltz Darling 05/21 [...]

  2. [...] WestCoast Weasel reviews and interviews Big John Bates and The Voodoo Dolls at The Bourbon.  29 HQ pro gig (including [...]

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