Mike Watt is one of very few remaining punk rock stalwarts. He’s an emissary of the spirit of the U.S. punk from the early ‘80s that included legendary bands like Black Flag, Misfits, Circle Jerks and scads of others, as well as Watt’s brilliant trio, the Minutemen. In the Missingmen, Watt created a similar punk/jazz/hardcore folk fusion trio that spews an energy somewhere close to that old school slam-vibe, and keeps the funky Minutemen sound alive.
Friday night’s Missingmen set at the Larimer Lounge was a rough-edged, thrilling period piece that directly connected the current trio to the past. It was also a prescient, scribbled guide to a regeneration of the shrill funk-core of that old scene. Tom Watson and Raul Morales more than backed up the lightning-fast, almost nonsensical Watt bass performance, as the trio fused together a sound that recalled John Coltrane’s meditations as it did Greg Ginn’s punk-as-hell Black Flag.
Watt entered the tightly-packed Larimer Lounge bass in a case strapped over his back, along with a full backpack and an orange knit cap — as if he’d walked from his last gig. He appeared angry as he scrambled up on the stage over the monitors along the front. No fooling around, he and the other two musicians (who’d been soundchecking as he made his way in) jumped right into the music.
Thudding, slapping and loopy bass lines coupled with impossible guitar licks and quick chords, while rhythms impersonating off-kilter shopping cart clangs and hurling locomotives jumbled together and fell onto the small mosh pit in front. Watt and Watson split vocals, though the songs were so short that it was almost impossible to distinguish one from the next.
Watt’s been calling his latest record, “Hyphenated Man,” his third opera, one that was born from finally building up the courage to immerse himself in the old Minutemen music. He’d done pretty well avoiding that since the tragic death of the band’s singer/guitarist, D. Boon, in 1985. The reconnection showed in the Missingmen last Friday night, just a little more than it had for the previous two records.