Much like “hair grunge,” “arena punk” makes about as much sense as buying a pair of Jordans for a double leg amputee…at first glance. But after witnessing the sheer spectacle of Diarrhea Planet’s wall of shredding guitars, I can honestly say that I can now see Eddie Van Halen and Iggy Pop making beautiful music together. No shit…here’s why.
One thing 80’s metal had going for it, at least in regards to the commercial bands, was a sense of honest to goodness fun. And while grunge came along and wiped all the smiles off of those cake-makeup-covered faces, the siftable remains pulled from the hairspray fueled fire is the feeling that musicians don’t have to take themselves so goddamn seriously all the time. Maybe Andrew W.K. is the messiah of of this new genre “arena punk.” Maybe we should make the white t-shirt divine.
Diarrhea Planet seems to get this theology — but that’s not to say that they are just fucking around onstage, because they most definitely take what they DO very seriously. In fact – I’ve rarely seen a band walk onstage, and immediately command an audience like they did last night, taking a lulling, chattering group of aging bloggers (me and my boys) and college-aged kids, from dry and complacent to sweaty-as-shit and chivalrously moshing in seconds flat.
I don’t remember the song order, and I don’t remember the stage banter, but I do remember freaking out when they launched into “Separations,” lunging immediately into the surprisingly sexually-diverse group of swirling bodies. Guitars were seemingly over my head at times, and literally in front of my face at times when members of the band hopped off the stage.
They played with their teeth. They played behind their heads. They took off their shirts, and stood on their monitors. And luckily for us — that energy never faltered, nor did it ever start to wear thin. It was a show of energy, pleasure, and overwhelming positivity for all involved. And judging by the line at the merch table and the number of vinyl copies of their just-released LP “I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams,” floating around post-show, they picked up some disciples in Chapel Hill.
I will be the disciple Matthew. And I will spread the word.