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31 July 2008, 7:00 pm No Comments

Washington DC: Golden Powers

Event Details: Golden Powers - :

Growing up in the L.A. suburbs, listening to everything from Ranchero music at weekend-long family parties to his sisters’ Stones albums, watching drive-ins from his roof, carousing with neighborhood garage band “Hogwild,” and living off a steady diet of Creem and Rock Scene magazines–Kid Congo Powers was the ultimate 70s fan boy, at one point even president of the Ramones fan club.

Despite zero experience playing music, Kid quickly fell in with the L.A. punk scene’s combustible look and sound, and founded influential roots-psychobilly band, Gun Club, a group “out to destroy music as much as create it.”

But before his professional music career exploded (working with everyone from the Cramps to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to D.C.’s the Make-Up), a deeply personal experience shaped Kid’s direction as an artist. At fifteen, his cousin, the only person he’d ever come out to, was murdered. The tragedy was a huge blow to Kid, cutting off an emotional lifeline and “sealing his outsiderness.”

Kid was lucky enough to come of age when the punk and underground garage aesthetic celebrated the outsider–the New York Dolls, Lydia Lunch, Lou Reed, Siouxie, and Patti Smith were the Seniors that ruled the school and took Freshmen like Kid under their collective wing. Kid has said, “A band is creating your own world,” and it’s clear by his b-movie vamp and camp, rockabilly, punk and underground garage, and electronic collaborations that he’s created a world unbound to any one notion of genre or queer identity.

His life so far is punk anthropology 101, and the proof is in the liner notes–Kid is credited on over 37 albums, to date. My favorite KCP anecdotes hail from his days recording the Cramps’ second full-length LP, Psychedelic Jungle. (Pictured is an excerpt from the scrapbook Kid kept during his days with the Cramps.) Kid and his fellow Cramps would “take so much speed they sounded like ghosts” on the playback, ironically borrowed Karen Carpenter’s crash cymbal to record “Don’t Eat Things Off the Sidewalk”, sang with entire Styrofoam cups in their mouths, and generally lived an ethos of mayhem carried over from Kid’s Gun Club days. During live performances, Cramps front-man Lux would wrap the mic cord around Kid’s legs mid-song, and like some sort of punk-rock rodeo calf, Kid continued playing guitar while bound and dragged around the stage.

The 21st century Kid is spending more time on solo projects, releasing Philosophy and Underwear in 2004, which is flavored with electronic experimentation, good old fashioned rave-ups, and what sounds to me like John Waters doing cabaret covers of the Silver Jews. (Listen to KCP’s rouser Black Bag or sweetly soft Power.)

Even if this sounds like nothing you’d listen to, and punk history puts no steam in your engine, you gotta give it up to an old-school rocker that’s gonna tell you his life story AND his family’s famous enchilada recipe.

D.C. is fortunate to claim Kid as one of our many queer underground legends-in-residence. He brings his “solo cholo” swagger, trash, and vaudeville style to the Ft. Reno stage tonight, along with hometown heroes The Shirks, and Girl Loves Distortion.

July 31 / Fort Reno*
Kid Congo Powers
The Shirks
Girl Loves Distortion
*Shows start promptly at 7:15 p.m., over by 9:30
**Tonight’s show is also the instrument donation drop-site for the Girls Rock! D.C. camp.

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  • Vicki said:

    Great post, coach. Nice to see Kid Congo getting some love…he’s old-skool “alterna-queer”! Psyched about tonight’s lineup. I also hear Kid will be joined on stage by some other “left-of-center” DC rockers. Fort Reno forever!

  • Jenny Miller said:

    Mm, that Power song is nice. Bummed to be missing this tonight.

  • Anonymous said:

    Kid did a great show last night. It had a heavy, lush early 60′s Chicano vibe. The sound rolling through Fort Reno was a unique brand of garage psychedelia but with witty, sexy lyrics. DC is lucky to have him. He sounds like no one else here.