Maybe we all hold a certain fascination for bands with offensive names. That, and there always has been, at least on my part, a compulsion to hear the inner voice of a class of people one would otherwise not care to hang out with. “I was born to do dishes,” Joe Queer sings, “And my mom’s really bummed out.” But when you get past all of the shock song titles and boil the Queers down to the actual nuggets of what their songs are about, you find the usual themes of unrequited lust/love, cheating, chemical indulgences, along with lapses into racism and homophobia and internet porn, or other modern themes, such as the late punk-rock cophrophagist GG Alin: “He always had injuries. He wasn’t too cool.”
From New Hampshire, the Queers started in 1982 but did not break out for over a decade. In 1993, Love Songs for the Retarded put them on the post-punk map. True to punk form, I don’t think there’s a Queers song longer than three minutes, but what they bring to the table is a melodic scheme culled from old surf-flick soundtracks and surf records from the 1960s. Their tribute to surf pioneer Duke Kahanamoku was not by accident: “He can shoot the curl around the world. He’s cooler than you and me.” You get the feeling that a young Tom DeLonge must have spent long nights in his teenage bedroom in Poway watching Queers videos on YouTube before he put blink-182 together.
Had schedules permitted, I’d have loved to ask Joe King — he’s Joe Queer, the only founding member still in the band — about life in the shadow of the Ramones, with whom the Queers are doggedly compared, and about the notion of rocking the teen locker-room humor well into the spread of middle age. Can it be done well? We’ll find out.
D.P.I. and Guttermouth also perform.
The Queers: Sunday, October 7, Brick by Brick, 8 p.m. 619-276-3993. $15 advance/$18 at the door.