The Fags have been around the block a few times. In fact, their blog page proudly states they’ve been “burning rubbers since 1981.”
The Fags broke up in 1986 only later to reunite in 2008 when they paid homage to their fallen lead singer – Upchuck Gerra who lost his battle with AIDS in 1990 – when his career-spanning CD Upchuck: Gone But Not Forgiven was released. The reunion show went so well The Fags decided to reform.
The quintet built a following in Seattle and later New York thanks in part to their insane live shows where you never knew what you were going to see in their performance.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Variety Show” captures a rare and definitley entertaining live concert which features the talented Ben Ireland (aka Ben Gay) on drums, his equally talented sister Barbara (aka Barbara Boots) on bass, with Dahny Reed (aka Danny Dildo) and Dave Bayro (aka Dave LeDouche) on guitars. Handling the lead vocals are a variety singers including both Barbara and Ben along with guest musicians Charlie Thunders, Rob Morgan, and Mike Refuzor.
The DVD begins with some pre-show footage, and then the intimate live show opens with Charlie Thunders handling the vocals on the punk-driven “Darling Darling” and “Saturday Night.”
Ben Ireland steps out from behind the drum kit to front the band for their top 40 hit “Breeders” and taking over for him on drums is Dain Hudson of Green Apple Quick Step fame. Sister Barbara hands over the bass to Ben when she takes lead vocals for the song “Don of the Dead,” which was written by the Irelands in a “dark little crummy apartment off the Bowery in New York.” The song was written about frontman Don Vinil of the San Fransisco band the Offs. It is a smoldering bar room number which Barabra handles the vocals perfectly. But before she can truly get into the song, she stops and has to put on her sexy shiny red leather boots, with the assistance of Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard and a man dressed in fetish wear, who happens to be Upchuck’s nephew Aaron.
Barbara continues on showcasing her love for Tom Jones on the fleshed out “I’m Alive.” Rob Morgan comes up the stage and channels his inner Joey Ramone for two killer punk rockers, The Ramones’ “Havana Affair,” and the Stooges cover “Loose.” The Fags really hit their stride here, thundering through the jam powerfully and flawlessly.
Mike Refuzor steps up to the stage wielding his Les Paul Studio guitar and belts out the vocals for “I Die for You” and “Jim Jones,” songs he wrote and used to perform in his band The Refuzors back in the early ‘80s
For the encore everyone returns to the stage where they play a raucous version of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Veteran Seattle punker Criss Crass is crawling on all fours on the stage and stopped underneath Barbara, who sat down on him like a pony and played bass. Brass stood up and soon Barabra was towering over the stage rocking her four strong.
All in all, The Fags “Rock ‘n’ Roll Variety Show” is an 11-song gem of one hell of a fun punk rock band. The band sounds great live, like they haven’t missed a beat. The Fags are one tight band with the dual guitar attack and the impressively talented Irelands holding down the back beat. The future is uncertain for the Fags, so grab this DVD while you can for a little piece of rock ‘n’ roll history.
Currently, The Fags are preparing to release a CD of the old Fags music which will also include some new Fags songs (including the first three in this show).