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Blaster the Rocket Man, with special guests, Calibretto 13
The Monster Spring Tour
Mid-March, 2000
By Todd Ballard 

Correspondent Todd Ballard packed up the family and drove them four-and-a-half hours to experience this event. The ride home started at two-thirty a.m. Welcome to the sleep-deprived mania of the Rocket Man.--editor

The city was Terre Haute, Indiana, the venue, a small church. The band, Blaster the Rocket Man, one of this reviewer's favorite punk bands.

The first band did an MXPX cover followed by a hardcore band called Canterbury Effect that got a good groove going. I headed back stage and met with the Blaster guys who were eating vegetarian tacos. I spoke with Dave "Heater Hands" Petersen, the instrumental guru of Blaster. On this tour he is playing drums, but he has played guitar on past tours. Drummer and guitarist are both natural rolls for Mr. Hands. On their new album, The Monster Who Ate Jesus, Mr. Hands plays all of the drum and guitar parts. Erich, of Calicoes fame, is supplementing the guitars for Heater for this tour.

Mr. Hands joined me out front to watch the show. Calibretto 13 took the stage. The lead singer is short, very short, but he maintained an energetic stage presence for this very compelling show. The three guys were tight and maintained a boisterous and happy performance. The drummer is a smiley, shorthaired blonde with piercings. He wore an Operation Ivy T-shirt. His drumbeats were smooth and often jazzy yet he occasionally tossed a stick and caught it. The bass player is quite a bit taller than the lead singer and his shaggy mop of brown hair stuck up here and there. He maintained a steady groove and provided backing vocals that complemented the lead singers' shrill, Gordon Gano-esque voice. The three piece charged into some catchy up-beat songs that displayed both their Violent Femmes and Operation Ivy influences while they hashed out the acoustic punk sounds of the former. They explained their provocative lyrics between songs and caught a lot of flack from Otto and Heater of Blaster who stood up front and constantly heckled their performance. But the guys in Calibretto took it in stride, considering it an honor to be razzed by one of their favorite bands.

At last the moment everyone was waiting for. Even Calibretto 13 stood in front to watch Blaster take the stage. Otto duck-taped the set lists in front of each band member and commented, "If you ever join a band and decide to become the lead singer, make sure you know how to play an instrument or they'll have you doing all their dirty work for them." A few chuckles from the crowd, but no one really laughed. "C'mon, you guys were laughing it up for Calibretto 13. What gives?" Soon, no one was laughing as  Blaster dove straight in with "All the Way to the Blood Bank," and it wasn't long before Otto was spitting water on the crowd, leaping in the air, and writhing on the floor. The sound was muddy, and I could barely hear Otto's vocals, but no matter, the crowd was yelling the lyrics for him.

The band headed into "Baby Unvamp," a new song from The Monster Who Ate Jesus, that caught the fans off guard but still moved a few up front. Next the boys charged into "Man Eating Plant," an old favorite that provokes some in the crowd to lean into the microphone and scream on the chorus. The grind continued with the most driving track off the new album, "Ransom vs. the Unman," and although no one sang along except for friends of the band, no one could sit still either. The boys took a breather and played the pop 50's rock of "Tundra Time."

It was disappointing that Otto was drowning in the mix despite one of the guys from the church adjusting the vocals to no avail. Blaster's amps and drums were drowning out the mains. Otto screamed, "Here come the heads, Here comes the chosen heads of the bodiless men!" as Blaster changed tunes into their "March of the Macrobes," a tribute to C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength. On the next song Otto suggested that the crowd do the vocals alone. They obliged as many as could rushed the microphone to sing along to "I'm Only Humanoid" wondering what "the current stati" of our "censory apparti" are.

The gimmick of the whole evening seemed to be how many slams Otto could get in on Calibretto 13's lead singer. The guy must really love Jesus (the guy from Calibretto, not Otto) because he just laughed off every poke Otto could muster. The four man band introduced the next song with a parody of the Violent Femmes' "American Music" singing "Do you like American Werewolf? I like American Werewolf. We like American Werewolf too, baby." They ended the song, continuing the parody with another Femmes' tune, "We're meeting werewolves, nice werewolves too. We're meeting werewolves, nice werewolves like you." Otto complimented Calibretto for enjoying the joke before they continued the litany with "I Like Lycanthropy," a charging new song critiquing "equal rights for werewolves."

Blaster segued to a beach party with the surfy, near instrumental "Venus at St. Anne's" and continued with "King of the Beach." The boys shifted into a 50's rock-n-roll rampage with "Lovebot's Revenge" and the new, unrecorded "Rock-n-Roll Nightmare." The set ended with "Stampede," "Hopeful Monsters are Dying Everyday," "Human Fly Trap," and "Beehive Beehave." Towards the end of "Human Fly Trap," Otto donned a full-face fly mask and sprang into the crowd. The set ended with him sprawling on the floor as the crowd parted like the Red Sea.

Blaster had taken the stage at eleven and the set ended about 1 a.m. But after they peeled off of the stage (and floor), a few people chanted, "Blaster!" Otto emerged and asked if the guys wanted to do an encore. Heater Hands and Erich of the Calicoes seemed reluctant so Otto went out into the audience and screamed for an encore. Back on stage he commented, "Look, these guys aren't going to leave until we play some more for them." That did it for the band. They came back out as Otto lead the crowd in the Destroy chants of "Deploy All Monsters." The encore was a medley of the destroys from "Time Machine" and "Deploy" mixed with Credence Clearwater Revival's "Travel'n Band" among others. Otto was as energetic during the encore as he was during the set and nearly took out a main and Oxford Don after flying through the air in one of his crazy fits. But after the feedback and shrill of music died down, Otto spent time explaining the gospel to the audience who sat dutifully and listened attentively.

All in all it wasn't a bad show, considering the late hour, the poor sound and the all-night drive. If that is what it takes to see one of the most energetic punk bands team up with one of the most unknown, yet creative, acoustic punk bands, then I'm all for it. If you would like to see Blaster unleash The Monster for yourself, contact Boot to Head for dates at xbxtx@aol.com or vistit the web page at www.boottohead.com.)


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