Much like Spinal Tap (and their flower-power predecessors, the Thamesmen), Powerman 5000 is one of those bands that tell you more about the trends around them than their own emotions.
When this band burst out of Beantown in 1994 with the indie release True Force, it built on the rap-metal foundation established in 1991, when Anthrax dipped their hard-rock chocolate in Public Enemy’s hip-hop peanut butter. To their credit, Powerman beat Limp Bizkit to the punch by three years. To their detriment, they sounded like Limp Bizkit.
Curse the Form,
Fri, Jul 14
$12 (advance); $15 (day of show)
2410 N. St. Mary’s
Over the ensuing decade, Powerman has flirted with nearly every shifting breeze in the rock biz. For instance, the group’s screaming cover of Bjork’s “Army of Me” was blatantly influenced by Marilyn Manson’s cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” After dabbling in sub-Radiohead space-rock, group founder Spider shelved a 2001 album called Anyone For Doomsday?, and built a new-model army for the emerging Fuse generation.
The resulting disc, Transform, recast Powerman as an angst-for-angst’s-sake, pseudo-emo brigade. “Theme to a Fake Revolution” and “A is for Apathy” deliver the requisite cynicism, but not a crumb of insight. With the ironic “That’s Entertainment” (stealing an ironic song-title from the Jam, who stole it from a giddy pop standard), Spider mercilessly lambastes the processed phoniness of contemporary music. The song’s biggest irony, however, rests in the fact that Spider is inadvertently pissing in the same cesspool in which he swims.
- Gilbert Garcia