Concert Review: Meat Puppets at The State Room

I’m going to be honest with you, it was a very male crowd at The State Room last night. It was, forgive my crassness, a real sausage fest.

And, you know, I think that’s how it’s supposed to be at a Meat Puppets show.

At one point the man who was seated by himself directly behind me shouted out, “Alright!” and stood up in the aisle to air guitar to the song—which I’m guessing by his reaction was one of his favorites—before he virtually skipped towards the stage. It wasn’t just him, the room was full of men of a certain age who seemed to be delighted to be out on a school night past 10 p.m..

But, this is the connection the Meat Puppets have with their (mostly male) audience. It’s the feeling of recaptured youth, albeit a passing one, for men who spent their formative years listening to punk, psychedelic or grunge music.

So, it was with great irony, it seemed to me, when they sang out the chorus of their most radio-friendly tune, “Backwater.” After all, the song repeats, “Some things will never change,” when clearly, this was an audience who had changed plenty since they first heard the band’s seminal album Too High To Die, or saw Nirvana cover three Meat Puppets tunes on MTV Unplugged.

The Kirkwood Brothers—Cris and Curt—joined by a shirtless and sweaty Shandon Sahm on drums and son/nephew Elmo Kirkwood on guitar are a tight unit. They bounded from song-to-song with enthusiasm and little banter—although, I do admit I got to the show a little late, it was just on time to hear one of the brothers refer to someone as a “gas pumping mother f**cker,” whatever that means.

They’re a tight unit of a hard-rocking band—prone to turning songs into much longer jam band affairs of guitar solos and hot bass lines, switching tempos and styles with flair and even covering a more traditional song, “Mockingbird Hill,” with ease—adorably harmonizing and whistling and singing in rounds—but, you guys, they did it in a total rock & roll way.

And it’s astounding really, the amount of genres the band integrates seamlessly. From note-to-note, you’re listening to a band who seems to pull as much inspiration from Waylon Jennings as they do Jefferson Airplane. The Meat Puppets are still a little bit country and a whole lot of face-melting punk rock & roll.

Because I guess it’s true. Some things will never change.

Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy is a former managing editor at Salt Lake magazine. Though she writes about everything, she has a particular interest in arts and culture in Utah. In the summer months, you will find her at any given outdoor concert on any given night. In the winter, you will find her wishing for summer. Follow her on social media at @whynotboth.

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