It would have benefited the entire music industry to attend the Tripping Daisy concert at the Black Cat Saturday. There, the industry would have experienced a night of flashing lights and raw, mind-blowing sounds that would have reminded it what rock ‘n’ roll is all about.
Who would expect the fragile seeds of the 43-year-old musical genre to blossom in the raucous sound of a washed-up alternative rock band? Despite all prejudices and misconceptions about today’s music scene, Tripping Daisy embodies the purest from of rock ‘n’ roll.
The Black Cat sits nestled comfortably a block and a half from the U Street-Cardozo station on the Metro’s green line. After several impressive opening acts, Tripping Daisy took to the club’s small stage and showed the 40-person audience why it was the headliner.
Drummer Ben Curtis took his position first, as a light show of garbled wildlife images flashed behind him. Curtis pounded out a rhythm that only could be described as fierce and mammoth. The force of his drumming was so powerful, the listener could feel his heart thumping in rhythm with the sound.
After a few intense minutes, the remainder of the band joined Curtis on stage. Guitarist and organist Wes Berggren staggered onto the stage in confusion, with two beers in his hand. Dressed like a cowboy, Phil Karnats picked up his guitar and began pumping a reeling and rocking assault of electric sound. Then Berggren joined in, precisely tapping and adding to the squall with the indifference of a man changing a light bulb. The pounding continued to grow heavier and more frantic with each beat.
Bassist Mark Pirro added bottom and coherence to the driving, frenzied clamor, as lead singer Tim DeLaughter entered the scene. Dressed in an aquamarine Miami T-shirt and checkered pajama bottoms, DeLaughter proved he was the frontman, captivating the audience with the odd persona of someone who mixed Prozac with his coffee after a long, comfortable hibernation.
As the driving fury reached its pinnacle, the music abruptly stopped, and DeLaughter set the tone for the show by singing “g-r-o-w spells GROW!” With that, the band started a set of unmatched music, so rambling and distorted, yet so together it only could be called “Tripping Daisy.”
Songs melded together in a wave of anarchistic sonic booms and explosions. The vibrant squawks and squeals never let down, but continued to build. The drummer banged harder, and DeLaughter threw his body into action, while Karnats batted his eyes in psychotic synchronization with the light show. The audience stood enveloped by an indescribable sound that only can be called “alternative” because it is more inspired and interesting than any of the latest chart toppers.
All the elements connected – the light show of atomic holocaust in the background, the catatonic smile on DeLaughter’s face and the picture of people holding hands on Tripping Daisy’s latest release, Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb!
The only downside to the evening was the scant audience that witnessed this show of genuine rock ‘n’ roll. The music scene needs a band to restore the mighty rock tapestry of Elvis and the Rolling Stones. The world needs a healthy dose of Tripping Daisy.