Review: The Nutley Brass: The Misfits Meet the Nutley Brass at the Fiend Club Lounge

(This is a review I penned for Deadtide.com back in 2005. I was looking for something else, and found this, and wanted to give it some new life.)

Crawling through gutter muck in the deep purple predawn isn’t my normal mode of transportation, but my car got towed, my cell phone died, and the so-called friends that I’d been drinking with all night suddenly turned vicious and administered boots to the head while I was pissing on an alley wall. So there I was, crawling along in a light but persistent rain, feeling awful and desperate to be somewhere other than on the nearly deserted downtown streets. Out of the corner of my swollen eye, a flickering neon sign cast a ghoulish glow. I thought I knew all the clubs and bars and after-hours joints in this town, but I’d never heard of The Fiend Club Lounge. Reasoning that more drinking couldn’t do any more harm, I pushed through the moaning piles of garbage (wait a minute… moaning garbage? I made a command decision to let well enough alone) and knocked on the rune-incrusted door. After a minute, the door slot slid open, exhaling a puff of foul, greasy smoke that reeked of the open grave. I girded my soul and stepped up to the door as a pair of faintly glowing eyes faded into view.

“Yeeeerrrssssh,” said the door…man? Woman? Thing?

“I’d love to come in an have a drink,” I attempted to say, but with a drunken tongue and painfully split and swollen lips, what came out was an unintelligible mush. To my surprise, the door swung open and several pairs of suspiciously rotted arms reached out and roughly dragged me into the Fiend Club Lounge.

“Wellllllllcuummm, zir,” he said, possibly mistaking me for a patron. The doorman thing was huge, bloated, and thoroughly pierced with a variety of hooks, pins, staves and a few extra arms which were busy groping me. Through the persistent gloom and smoke, I could just make out the contours of a bar full of people, so I shook off the welcome wagon and bellied up to the bar. The barman could have been the doorman’s sawed-off Siamese twin, and before I even ordered a drink he was tossing together various ingredients. I could have sworn that a few chunks of flesh flaked off into the drink, but in the semi-dark it was hard to tell. Sitting back in the stool, I sipped the odd tasting concoction and took a good look around.

There was a dude on stage dressed in a funeral home reject of a suit, leaning on a mic stand and telling jokes that no one seemed to hear or understand. Plenty of good looking ladies were at the bar, or sitting at tables, and they all had a particular look; sort of a late ’50’s glamorous thing, sexy dresses and steely hair. And the other patrons? well, they looked the worse for wear. Decay seemed to be the order of the night.

On stage, the comedian was dying a proverbial death (and possibly a real one) while behind him and band was setting up. Good, music… that was what was missing from the whole equation; a lounge as decadent as this needed a killer soundtrack. After a few minutes the comedian said, “Ladies, fish, and gentlemen, the Fiend Club Lounge presents the melodious sounds of The Nutley Brass!” Muffled applause squeezed through the thick smoke, and the lights came down, plunging the room into darkness.

The Nutley Brass kicked into the first song, and something (or someone) started squeezing my thigh, but I tried to ignore it because the opening bars sounded hauntingly familiar. The band was illuminated from below, a spectral glow that cast perverse shadows on the walls. I was tapping my foot and half-singing some words when the shock of recognition went through me… this was a Misfits song that I liked… “Last Caress”! I leaned over towards the bartender and said, “I’ll have another one of these things… what’re they called?”

“Epiphanies,” he said, slinging bottles around. Fair enough, I thought. If a brass band is going to do Misfits covers, what better place to take it in than a lounge from hell populated by the undead and their ravishing women?

“Good evening, thanks for coming out to the Fiend Club Lounge,” said the band leader, “I’m Sam Elwitt and this is The Nutley Brass. We’d like to dedicate this next one to all the undead aliens out there… this is for you,” as they broke into the classic “Astro Zombies”. That got a blurry cheer from the crowd, some of which started dancing with their dates, occasionally slipping on the blood covered floor or getting their feet tangled up in someone’s intestines.

“This isn’t an Iron Maiden song,” Sam said next, “but it’s called ‘Where Eagles Dare'”. It started with a weird sitar-like riff before the brass popped in. I was totally into it; there weren’t any vocals, but I knew the words to these songs… I’d grown up on the Misfits, after all.

“Please welcome to the stage Claire McKeen, she’s going to add her pipes to this next one… Claire McKeen, everyone. No relation to Dave, so don’t ask her.” All velvety curves, she swayed as the opening strains of “Some Kinda Hate” cut through the gloom. “Hybrid Moments” and “Hatebreeders” went by in a flash of brass before Sam cut loose on the mighty marimba, signaling the start of “Teenagers from Mars”, while Claire and the band added odd train sounds to the background.

This was all very fun stuff, a rather severe retelling of the classic Misfits songs but done with a sense of humor and tongue firmly planted in rotted cheek. The undead where getting down on the dance floor, sweat and body parts flying through the air as songs like “Attitude” and “Angelfuck” (complete with a mad scientist’s gruesome experiments) whipped them into a frenzy. And then it was over, almost before it got started.

“You’ve been a great crowd, thanks so much for coming out tonight, we’re The Nutley Brass. We’d like to leave you with two real chestnuts,” intoned Sam, “This is ‘Skulls’… and the last song we’ll be playing for you tonight is ‘Die, Die My Darling’, which we dedicate to all the hell dogs, earth rats, and rivet heads out there.”

When they were done and the lights came up a bit, I detached the hand that had been massaging my thigh and looked around for its owner. Not finding a likely candidate nearby, I stuck it in my glass and oozed out the door. Dawn was swiftly arising, my head was throbbing, and I’d be humming those Misfits tunes for weeks to come. I never did find that hellishly haunted lounge again…

STANDOUT TRACKS

Last Caress
Astro Zombies
Die, Die, My Darling

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