By CRAIG HAMMONS
Turbonegro, the madcap lads from Norway, recently landed in Amerika to promote their ninth studio album RockNRoll Machine. Since 1988 when these six punks from Oslo started a band called Turbonegro, little did they know some 30 years later they would still be touring the globe bringing their brand of sexy death punk rock and roll to the world.
Turbojugend: The Turbonegro Navy
They’ve also created along the way a worldwide club of fans known as Turbojugends. Today there are over 2000 chapters of Turbojugend from Los Angeles to Tokyo.
Tonight these Turbojugend party animals were out in full force and ready to rock with other fans and future members. I talked with some members from Costa Mesa and San Luis Obispo who were following the band on their recent stops and then on to Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas.
Hammons as Turbojugend Bellflower Leader
They encouraged me to start my own Bellflower chapter and get my denim jacket and live by their motto “By joining our association we expect that you do not tolerate fascist or racist behavior in your Turbojugend chapter and you won’t tolerate members with such tendencies.” I used to say “any club that will have me as a member, I don’t want nothing to do with it.” That is about to change. Some local musicians were in the house including the mighty Lightnin’ Woodcock who has been a life long fan.
Opening for Turbonegro was Against Me who had their own legion of fans in the house. Many who had no idea who Turbonegro was and left after Against Me finished their show. Laura Jane Grace their lead singer recently transitioned into a woman. The audience loved them and Laura sang her heart out as she connected with the audience with her charismatic charm. The crowd was well versed in their material and singing along with every song. I have to admit Turbonegro is a hard act to open for so I retreated to the bar for some rock and roll fellowship and whiskey.
Turbonegro Lights It Up
After seeing many of the Against Me fans leave I figured I better go get my spot up front for some full tilt mind blowing rock and roll. At 11:45 PM the stage was set for Turbonegro. These denim demons know what their fans want and they deliver what they preach. It is good to see them out on the road and kicking ass after some bumps along the way. First their previous lead singer Hank Von Helvete had to take a hiatus due to his addictions only to later leave the band. Not long after that Euroboy was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. He is back in the saddle, cancer free and a rock and roll machine.
The stage lit up and Turbonegro took off like their pants were on fire. Opening with the first three tracks from “RockNRoll Machine” it sparked the crowd into high gear, dancing and moshing in happy delight. These new tunes are all energized and come off well live. Their sound is now more refined and powerful and even includes a keyboard player. Next the keyboards were spotlighted on “Skinhead Rock & Roll.” A catchy tune full of expression and punk passion.
The Duke of Nothing
At one time I was worried that the loss of original lead singer Hank may be the end of Turbonegro but new singer Tony Sylvester aka The Duke of Nothing fills his boots nicely. He embraces the Turbonegro spirit and legacy with pride. The crowd went wild when they kicked into “Sell Your Body (to the Night)” from their brilliant album Scandinavian Leather.
They then went into their first single off the new album “Hot for Nietzsche” and bringing the energy level to new heights. There was no slowing down now as they went right into “All of My Friends Are Dead” and suddenly I was swept up in the mosh pit and lost all control. Euroboy’s playing is smooth and theatrical. He works the stage like a Norwegian panther taunting the audience just enough to engage them not knowing when he might bite.
Now that we were all sweaty, happy and drunk they go into “Wasted Again” with the lyrics “wasted again, all tanked up on the juice and gin.” It was time to let loose and forget about our problems and get it on. That is exactly what we did when they played “Get It On.” We all sang together throwing it right back at them letting them know we love them as they drove us all crazy.
The one thing about Turbornegro fans in the pit is that they may knock into you but then they give you a hug. It was a sea of bouncing heads as the show came to a close and they left the stage. But before we could catch our breath they were back out for a three song encore ending with “I Got Erection” from their 1996 album Ass Cobra.
We held our fists high in the air and screamed “erection” at the top of our lungs. They took their final bow, waived goodbye and just like that is was over. Turbonegro destroyed our senses and we liked it, loved it and still want to get it on.
Video courtesy of Jorge Granados:
Craig Hammons is a reviewer for CaliforniaRocker.com. He is a passionate concert-goer and music lover. Check out more of his work here.