Violent Femmes - Providence, RI
by Timm Carney


Back daddy back, the Violent Femmes came back and played their busker punk.  Still sparse and nasal the Violent Femmes pulled out their hits and played flawlessly and fast.  They’re much older now but time has been good to these boys.  23 years ago, the Violent Femmes were an unknown Milwaukee band with one album out on Slash records. In support of the record, they toured.  Rhode Island School of Design’s refectory was one of the stops on that tour.  The crowd wore massively oversized white dress shirts, black skintight trousers and Beatle boots.  The Femmes walked onto the raised platform aka the stage wearing bathrobes and sarongs.  A three-piece drum kit, bass and guitar were what they played. They banged and whined out songs that art student loved. Filled with desire, anger and middle class their music was fast and simple. Their second album had a dark moody country religious sound.  The third record was much more pop and followed by several completely forgettable releases.

I recently attended my second Violent Femmes show in 23 years.  Back in Providence they were the headliners at an outdoor event produced by a chain Irish Frat boy bar.  Two local bands opened up for them.  The first band was Fungus Amongus.  They were fun but played way too long.  The second band was called Lingo.  I heard that they are breaking up and honestly, I no longer cared about them half way through their second song.

No more than ten minutes later the stage lighting changed and three guys and a roadie sauntered onto stage.  Gordon Gano, Vincent De Lorenzo and Brian Ritchie, the Violent Femmes, started suddenly and with a bang. They pounded out hit after hit. They only played one song I didn’t recognize and one I hated.  The song I hate is the patriotically pop “American Music”.  The frat boys all seemed to love it though.

“Prove My Love”, “Country Death Song” and “Blister in the Sun” started the show and proved be as dynamic as they had been when they were first released.  Sadly, “ Gimme the Car” sounds ridiculous coming out of the mouth of a 45-year-old man.  Violent Femmes songs lend themselves to sing a longs.  The audience I was a member of was an eclectic mixture of old punks, neo-punks, frat boys, ex-frat boy and their lovely wives.  Everyone at one point during the show sang along to something.  No one seemed to have as a good a time as the Violent Femmes themselves.  For three old guys who don’t practice and never make a set list, the Violent Femmes put on a fantastic show.



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