BILLY CHILDISH & THEE HEADCOATS
“Half the songs I steal ideas direct, the other half indirect,” head Headcoat Billy Childish once said. “Sometimes I have an idea of my own.” Since he’s released more than 70 records with Thee Headcoats, Thee Headcoatees, Thee Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, and others, it’s no surprise that most of the three-chord ditties the 39-year-old Brit penned for last year’s The Messerschmitt Pilot’s Severed Hand (Damaged Goods) sound familiar–especially the sneering, Sex Pistols-y “We Hate the Fucking N.M.E.”–but it’s no disappointment either. The more recent Brother Is Dead…But Fly Is Gone! (Vinyl Japan) is even more blatant–a trashy sendup of 14 rockers that run the gamut from Bo Diddley’s “Diddy Wah Diddy” to the Electric Eels’ 1975 proto-punk anthem “Agitated” to Thee Headcoats’ own “Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot.” As on most Headcoats records, the trio’s raw anger and joyful exuberance overcome the shitty production and lack of originality. That’s fine by the dyslexic, often self-contradictory Childish, who considers himself more a writer and artist than a musician–over the past 20 years he’s produced 1,000 paintings, 30 poetry collections, and two autobiographical novels, in the later of which he admits that “singing and performing…is just a cheap way of showing off….My parents and a whole string of failed educators assure me that I lack all musical ability and talent and am, in fact, tone deaf. I have also been practising my singing and my dream is to be adored by a loving and admiring audience.” Thee Headcoats play Saturday at 10 PM (the Nerves open); Childish performs his “blues poetry” to their accompaniment Sunday at 8 PM. Both shows are at Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. CARA JEPSEN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Marty Perez.