Clem Snide Brings the Funny

October 14th, 2009

Clem Snide – Mercury Lounge – October 13, 2009

Clem SnideWe’ve all been to rock and roll shows where a guitarist has broken a string and where metaphoric shredding becomes literal. Well, last night I saw Eef Barzelay, frontman of Clem Snide, break a microphone string. Well, not the string—microphones don’t have strings—but early on in the set at the Merc, the cable just spontaneously popped out of the back of the mike. “That’s never happened to me before,” he exclaimed. I’m not surprised, though, because Barzelay was certainly shredding the microphone all night with goofy banter between songs and bipolar singing that was crooned and snarled, over- and under-accentuated. The sound in the room was perfect, highlighting the vocals with a crispness that ensured that not one lyric was missed.

And with Clem Snide, you certainly don’t want to miss a single word. They featured a bunch of new tunes off a to-be-released album: One called “Denise,” with a wonderfully bloated bass line, and another with perhaps the funniest lyric I’ve heard in a while, “I got high with a Sufjan Stevens fan in Normal, Illinois.” The Illinois rhymed with girls and boys in a nice bit of wit. After a story about his son finding a used condom in Prospect Park, the band played a new song, which apparently was written from the point of view of whoever left behind such detritus (featuring the line “I plant my seed”). A two-song solo stint for Barzelay was anchored by a strong version of “The Ballad of Bitter Honey” (you know, the song about a music-video dancer that starts with the line “That was my ass you saw shaking next to Ludacris”). For the encore, Barzelay announced a Michael Jackson tribute (“He died for our sins…. No, really, he did!”) and launched into a surprisingly awesome, high-energy mashup of “Man in the Mirror” and “We Are the World.” —A. Stein