May 17, 1998
Robin Zander at the fair.
Gordon says a few words
after Frank Sinatra's death.
Story and Photos by Phil Bonyata
Cheap Trick and the Violent Femmes on the same stage at the Burlington Chocolate Fest? Man, these local sweet tooth promoters really know how to grab talent above their venue's capabilities. Hear, hear to overachieving!
The familiar old boys saunter onto the stage making many think that they might have lost a step and suddenly Rick Nielson belts the neck of his guitar like he was choking the life out of the last turkey on Thanksgiving. Robin Zander, looking like he aged after his songs couldn't find a home on the charts anymore, flung his hair back and spat onto the stage. Stardom is fleeting, but anyone caught in the whirlwind thinks it will last forever. Cheap Trick may not be relevant anymore, but who cares the band still sounds good.
Robin's blonde hair, contrasting with the Ferris wheel in the background, shook all over as the boys busted into the jiggly sweet "Surrender." The band have a narrow slice of artisitc style and the fact that they would not or could not change makes forgetting them even easier.
Robin wantonly peers out to the first few rows of girls and starts preening "I Want You to Want Me" - the women shiver and shudder. Guess there is a pulse.
Milwaukee's Violent Femmes took the stage after the heat cooled from the boys from Rockford, IL. As Gordon Gano pounded out the opening lyrics to "Prove My Love" the whole audience turned into a sea of up and down waving moshers. These fans were here for the Femmes and the Femmes only, they twisted and turned and got swept up and then fell to the undercurrent. Damn they like this music!
On "Please Do Not Go" punk music found a temporary friend. Raw would be a understatement. The band has found a middle ground in the punk world between the Sex Pistols and Nirvana. Not quite as hard as the former and not quite as passionate as the latter, nonetheless the band has found a sound that is uniquely their own.
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