This weekend I went to see the same band two nights in a row. I’d never done that before, but for this particular band the concerts were a decade in the making… and well worth the wait.
I went to the Woodward Theater to see the Ass Ponys, a Cincinnati band that formed in the late 80s and had a brief brush with national fame in the post-Nirvana wave when major labels started paying much more attention to indie rock artists. They went on hiatus in 2005 and this past weekend marked their first full-length shows since then.
Probably the most apt adjective that can be used to describe the Ass Ponys is “eccentric.” They were a classic Donnie & Marie band: a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll. Their lead singer, Chuck Cleaver (yes, his real name), looks like a refugee from a biker bar in the bad part of town, but often sings in a sweet falsetto. And their songs were unique, to say the least. They exposed and even celebrated the weirdos, the freaks, the outcasts, the underbelly of society. In other words, my kind of people. What other band can boast of songs about bed wetters, the morbidly obese, craft-crazy grandmas, wall-eyed girls, $25 death cars, people with polythelia and parrot-hating, pickled-egg eaters who die of indigestion?
And the songs weren’t novelty songs, they were damn good. 10 years later, they still sounded damn good.
In a better world, Ass Ponys would never have broken up. But when your band name is Ass Ponys and the first single off your major label debut is “Little Bastard” you’ve really limited your chances for broad appeal. Chuck Cleaver is now in the band Wussy, so obviously he doesn’t put his band names through focus groups. But the bottom line is both Ass Ponys and Wussy are brilliant.
Here’s a sampling of their catalog, in chronological order. Their entire recorded output is well worth repeated listens.