Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Radioactive Chicken Heads Redux

A few days back I wrote a review on a band of musicians who dress up as puppets and call themselves The Radioactive Chicken Heads (you may read the piece here if you like).  The band is extremely over-the-top and in your face and I felt that I should respond in kind with a certain degree of humor that was both brutal and hyperbolic.  The band subsequently posted a link to this review on their Facebook and MySpace pages, which led to a noticeable upsurge in my blog readership for a day or two.  

The Chicken Heads referred to my blog post as a “Hilarious bad review!”  (I found this description flattering as few people actually find my humor very funny - let alone hilarious).  As it turns out, though, a handful of Chicken Head fans didn’t find my review amusing at all.  Most of these confined their comments in this regard to the band’s fan pages. However, several folks left comments at my blog and on my MySpace newsfeed (well, actually on the Chicken Head’s newsfeed, but, since we’re “friends” and all, I received the comments as well).  My favorite of these was left by Happy Fun Bonko Slut (you may read comments here).  Basically Happy disagreed with me and told me, quite pointedly, that I was a bad critic.  I asked an arts writer friend of mine what she thought and she concurred that I had not quite explained why I took the Chicken Heads to task.  While I preferred my friend’s rather more gentle criticism delivery to that of Happy’s smash and dash approach, the point was well taken... I obviously didn’t take the time I might have to completely flesh the Chicken Heads out.  

So, just to clarify, when I first listened to the band I enjoyed their music, but then I watched their videos and their appearance on the Tyra Banks show and had a change of heart (for the sake of brevity I’ll let you visit their site and watch the clips for yourselves).  Now if you could think of their music for a moment as a house of cards, where each card is a necessary and vital component to the whole construction, each supporting the other in a very precise and balanced, yet delicate, even tenuous manner... and then you add that one last card, the one that you really don’t need at all, and it’s weight causes the whole thing to come crashing down... well that’s how I felt about the band after watching them perform:  The costuming - in fact the whole spectacle - was just one card (or even a deck or two) too many.  And the qualities I had at first enjoyed in their music collapsed under the weight of all the excess.  

I do find them amusing (in the same way I find Glenn Beck crying on Fox News amusing), but I don’t think they are a good band.  Now if they dropped the costumes and let the music stand on its own, I might feel differently, but as things stand, I just can’t get past the visuals.  I could say otherwise if that would make their fans more comfortable in dealing with opinions that differ from their own, but that would make me a liar.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

Perhaps if I could amend my previous review in any way, I would change the conclusion, in which I stated that there isn’t anything remotely interesting about the Chicken Heads once you get past their name.  If that were true, would I still be investing any time or thought into their act?  In truth, the more I get to know of them, through their fans and just thinking and writing about them, I find myself appreciating the humor (albeit of a rather dark variety) inherent in the unapologetically low-brow nature of the Chicken Heads.  Yes, they did push some buttons in me, mostly regarding the garish and grotesque nature of the capital consumerist phantasmagoria they so brazenly embrace behind the guise of punk rock icons I firmly believe represent the polar opposite.  But that’s just show business.  

So, I hope that was a more thorough analysis and that I have, at least in part, placated some of my more outspoken critics.  And if not, that’s what the comments page is for.

Have a merry and happy whatever it is you celebrate!


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