Friday, June 1, 2012

Reggie and the Full Effect - Greatest Hits 84-87

Reggie and the Full Effect are an elaborate joke. Yes, they have some very good songs, and they are an absolute delight to see in person, but that's because Reggie fans are in on the joke. The unassuming consumer might be lead to believe that Reggie and the Full Effect was around in 1984, which is all in keeping with Lucas' advice to Marc that bands should always mess with their fan's heads (Empire Records reference. Love that movie).

I saw Reggie and the Full Effect because they were headlining a show with Motion City Soundtrack. I wanted to see Motion City Soundtrack because they were the closest heirs to The Rentals at the time (yes, my obsession with The Rentals is going to keep popping up. It was one of the driving forces in my music consumer habits at the time). Motion City was great, and I'll never stop being amused by seeing their keyboardist do flying donkey kicks from his keyboard stand. At the time, I knew nothing about Reggie and the Full Effect, but anything half decent would have been gravy on that night. Little did I know that I would be seeing the greatest small stage show I would ever see.

Here's how Reggie shows worked back then. The band would come out in red suits, black shirts, skinny red neckties, black mustaches (even their female keyboardist wore one), and jet black wigs cut in a Prince Valiant style. They would rock some of the more straightforward Reggie and the Full Effect material in a flamboyant and crazy manner. After that, James Dewees would come out dressed like George Washington on rollerblades (this is his Fluxuation persona) and skate through the crowd as he performed the electronic songs as well as some of the sillier Reggie songs. Then the band would come out in all black as Common Denominator, the pretend Norwegian black metal band. They would blast through some dark material about linking verbs and dwarfs as well as the darker Reggie material. After they were done, the band would come back in their red and black duds and finish out the set as Reggie and the Full Effect. The whole display was both hilarious and completely awesome. I didn't stop being entertained for a single second.

I had never heard Reggie and the Full Effect before that night. Normally seeing a band live makes you predisposed to enjoy their albums, but I find I like Reggie much more in person than I do on the album. The albums, which are constructed like mix-tapes, delve into some genres I don't particularly care for like screamo. Greatest Hits 84-87 is one of the better Reggie releases because it features some of the best songwriting the band has ever delivered. I like the albums, but I love the live shows. They're like Kiss in that regard.

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