Some Emergencies Are More Fun Than Others

July 16th, 2009

Emergency Party – Mercury Lounge – July 15, 2009

Always get there for the opener. That was a lesson I learned a year and a half ago courtesy of Emergency Party, who reached across the threshold, caught me unawares and gave me a musical titty twister I won’t soon forget. Since then, catching another gig has been like trying to catch a firefly with chopsticks. So I didn’t hesitate when I saw they were playing the Merc this week, no matter how late it was on a weeknight. And despite the fact that the time it took to get the stage ready nearly equaled the 35-minute set time, it was well worth the effort.

That’s because Emergency Party is all-caps F-U-N. Imagine slurping up a milk shake that’s equal parts Frank Zappa and John Belushi through a punk rock straw and you have at least a starting reference for what an Emergency Party show is like…kinda. Splashing around in his own sweat, saliva and beer, guitarist and lead singer Gian Carlo Feleppa was a rock and roll tornado. With Jen Hoopes on bass acting like the straight man and the whiplash drums playing the enabling sidekick, Feleppa flailed across the stage, starting and stopping songs without warning. At one point he knocked his mike stand into his guitar, which dislodged the cord, rendering his axe mute for a moment in an unscripted bit of physical comedy. While the rhythm section chugged along, he plugged back in and atoned with a breakneck solo and a stay-with-me-if-you-can segue. Emergency Party oscillated between not taking itself seriously enough and taking itself much, much too seriously. Virtuosic guitar solos and surrealistic love songs. It was a flash of energy and then it was over: a lightning bug in a bottle. —A. Stein