In 2003, Detroit six-piece, Electric Six, became a household name in the UK with hits from their debut LP, Fire, including “Danger! High Voltage”, “Dance Commander” and lest we forget “Gay Bar”. Whilst their commercial success has peaked and the band has seen numerous line-up changes; their longevity is down to their ability to reach out to their most devoted fan base and having a strong DIY ethic any new and unknown band should take note of. By putting themselves on Band Camp and successfully funding six projects via Kickstarter; Electric Six has been able to continuously create an ongoing intimate fan experience which has rewarded them with the release and touring of a further thirteen LP’s since their debut.
Support came from The Lounge Kittens, a British three-piece girl band with soothing cacophonous voices which has earned them comparisons to The Andrew Sisters. With a keyboard player, these three ladies gave The Puccini Sisters treatment (minus the backing band) to early noughties pop-punk and metal hits beginning with Andrew WK’s “Party Hard” followed by Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of the rich and the Famous”. The Lounge Kittens continued with a melody of Sum 41, Wheatus, Bowling for Soup, The Offspring and Blink 182.
This choice of songs The Lounge Kittens selected was appropriate, as the majority of them were released around the time Electric Six made their commercial debut. The Lounge Kittens continued the reminisce joyful memories from the Empire by playing a melody of hits of retro TV children’s shows which consisted of Transformers, Gummi Bears, Pokémon, Thunder Cats (with an impressive meow from the trio of kittens) and the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. The Lounge Kittens then played out their set with Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin’” and a melody of Queen songs.
Both fans and the Electric Six were excited for this, the band’s thirtieth London gig. Devoted fans dressed in stick-on Abraham Lincoln beards and large distinguished black Abraham Lincoln hats protruded to the front of the stage and blocked fans vision from virtually every angle, drawing Wilkes Booth resentment from some fans. Opening with lesser-known songs to the wider public, including, the interestingly titled, “Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)” and the catchy, “Down at McDonnelzzz”, Shepherds Bush dug these and needed seldom motivation to be moved by these songs. Many Lincoln dressers quickly formed a mosh pit which reached a crescendo after the first half a dozen songs when Electric Six then played “Gay Bar”.
The moshing amongst fans continued (as did beer throwing). The catchiest songs were those that had either ‘dancing’ (not just “Dance Commander”) in the title or the lyrics. “Improper Dancing”, “Synthesizer”, “Dance Epidemic” and “I buy the Drugs (with a slowed-down tempo resemblance to “Smooth Criminal”) were especially impressive. When the strong fusion of funk with rock was at its most potent; fans were at their most elated. Acknowledging that the devotees, who continued to support them, Electric Six played their greatest hits, which naturally included, “Dance Commander” and “Danger! High Voltage”.
Whilst frontman and co-founder Dick Valentine showed signs of middle age not visible in the 2003 videos and allowed himself to occasionally not project all the key, catchy keywords in his songs or hit all the high notes; Valentine nonetheless proved himself as a master entertainer who wanted to give the most personal and interactive experience to his loyal fan base. Despite having time in the limelight, Dick and the current Electric Six line up seem at their happiest playing small venues and being the band that plays at “the pub”. Whilst some will fairly argue that Electric Six has released too much material in a too-short time frame and not delved as deeply as potentially possible into innovating their sound; the case for saying they are uppity or arrogant is groundless. Electric Six is an impressive example of a band who rewards loyalty and strive to continuously give love and face to face interaction to their fans the same way they did before they peaked commercially in 2003.