As everyone who has ever spent a Halloween here at Perverse Osmosis knows, this collective entity loves itself some Zeke. We dedicated a whole October to them a few years back, and they are on moderate listening rotation for your humble narrator. That said, our friends from Seattle hadn’t released much since Til the Living End, which, for many of us, is not we had come to worship. I know that bands gets bored of playing the same stuff, and that it is important to grow as a musician, but still. I am out for one thing: 78 RPM mayhem. The band went into semi-retirement and key parts left, leaving me to wonder if we had seen the last of Zeke.
This long preamble encapsulates the excitement and the fear when I joined MK Ultra for a Zeke show in prime material plane Baltimore. I hoped that I was going to get face-melting speed rock, but I dreaded that I might get three guys and Marky playing mid-paced car metal. Roughly an hour after a woman stole a twenty I dropped on a dirty street by sticking it in her mouth to prevent retrieval, all questions had been answered.
Zeke is faster than ever.
I know there will be a lot of doubting clerics out there, saying “What, faster Zeke? Pish posh.” To which I say, “Go to the show, you damn fools. Get out of vespers and see the band.” Some songs such as “Slut” and “Holley 750” are already available as faster live versions on Alive and Uncensored, but the versions in Baltimore were faster than even those recordings. “T-500” was done in about 45 seconds; “Lawson,” stolen by Perverse Osmosis to make “Lich Lord,” was somewhere between listening to the LP at 33 and 45 [maybe 38 RPM]. Each song went into the next one, and six or seven song made a block. At the end of the block, everyone would hoist their guitars and catch their breath before laying waste into the next six songs.
A big surprise for both Ultra and me was the range of material played. The set went in a semi-chronological order by album: several of the first songs were from Super Sound Racing, in addition to the aforementioned “Slut” and “Holley,” they played “Mainline”, “302 Cubic Inch”, a blistering “Running Shine” and “Galaxy 500” [I think]. Sadly, “West Seattle Acid Party” was not among the represented. After a few songs–all good and fast–from Hellbender, the Flat Tracker part began with songs like “Chiva Knievel”, “Mystery Train,” “Raped”, “Wanna Fuck”, but no “Fight in the Storeroom” [probably too slow]. Throw in some more Hellbender material, including “Hellbender” and “County Jail” and things were looking up. My fears were baseless.
Then came a feast of fast from Kicked in the Teeth: “God of GSXR”, “Twisted”, “Fuck All Night,” “Shout it out Loud,” and “Zeke You,” which bled into “Lawson.” When this set, plus some stuff I undoubtedly missed because I was in awe of how good Zeke was, was over, MK and I had a similar feeling: is this the end? They had played about 20 songs in 30-32 minutes, which is the usual Zeke gig.
Wrong: smart guy. Very wrong.
Opening with “Mountain Man,” we were then treated to the Death Alley encore of the evening. “Arkansas Man” and “Death Alley” made an appearance, And right when I thought it was for real done, Zeke played “Eyes of Satan” and my night was complete. Or so I thought.
When the show was over [about 11:20], I realized that most of the people had already left. I guess they had to go home to sleep or something, but, frankly, what kind of 5 INT half-orc walks out on Zeke? Ultra and I briefly talked to the new drummer and new bassist on the way out–both of whom were incredibly gracious–and whom did we see outside? Blind Marky himself. He notices my Miskatonic University t-shirt [Go MU!], comments on it, and away we go. I opened with “The show was life affirming.” His response, “No one has ever told me that before.” We start talking about his love of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, I tell him that my sage subject is HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. I bring up the song “Horror at Red Hook,” and he talks about how difficult it is to write Lovecraft-themed Zeke songs. This leads him to start talking about his daughter, whom we owe this tour and album to, and how she reads these authors as well. She plays guitar and the two were going to be in an “against what is going on now” crust band. He was about to book them a gig when she told him that she didn’t want to play Slayer riffs anymore. She was more interested in playing like Jimi Hendrix. Another person wanted to talk to him, and knowing the fan code of non-monopolizing time, I thanked Marky for the tour and found a cab.
What Blind Marky probably doesn’t remember is that in 1999, MK, Ray, and I shared a jazz cigarette with him, Donny Paycheck, and Dizzy Lee Roth at the Shim Sham Club in New Orleans. It remains a highlight of my underground life.
Ed. note: I know there are no Dirty Sanchez songs in the setlist. They didn’t play any, not even “Let’s Get Drugs,” which leads me to suspect there is a legal sanction against playing material from the album.