Review by HARRIET KAPLAN and Photos by SCOTT FREE
Fur Dixon and her band are courting controversy and attention with their moniker WTFUKUSHIMA. It’s definitely a timely and controversial name.
Their new, upcoming album, Return 2 Sender, addresses much of what a “nuclear” toxic dump America has become.
Dixon, the infamous singer and bassist of The Cramps, expresses her outrage and frustration through song. The relevant material is made of up of invigorating, driving punk-inspired rock songs and they are unforgettable. Recently, at the Maui Sugar Mill Saloon, WTFUKUSHIMA! played a tight and dynamic set. This entertaining show featured some of the new songs on the album.
Fur Dixon’s Single ‘Don’t Tread On Me’
The breakout single, “Don’t Tread On Me” will appear on Return 2 Sender. The talented band ran through a fun set list and also played a great, raw rendition of Brian Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire.”
A captivating lead singer, Fur Dixon has a striking presence with stylish Pixie cut hairdo dyed blue. Wearing all black leather, she embodies rock and roll to its menacing core. Her piercing eyes have an incredibly intense gaze that can cut right through you. Dixon has unusual, high-pitched, girlish vocals. Her unique vocal delivery gives the topical material its distinctive edge.
Outstanding Band Members and Collaborators
The part of musical backbone of the band comes in the form of guitarist Bernard Yin of Fuzztones. Yin, however, did not perform with the band because he is on tour with The Bellrays playing bass. Instead, Matt Lee filled in at this show. Lee, who mixed and mastered the new album, played along with bassist Dave Provost of Dream Syndicate. Keyboardist Paul Roessler was not available to play at this show, either. Jack Ruby is the band’s sax player and he will play with the band in the future. Dusty Watson of The Sonics powered through the drumming with an explosive fervor. Watson was incredible to watch as his energy was unflappable as it was exciting.
‘Never Give Up’ Fur Says
Periodically, during the show, Dixon spoke to the audience from the stage. She poignantly remarked how she almost gave up on making the new record. Then, with obvious excitement and smile on her face, Dixon explained, she found the right person (Lee) who could mix and master it.
That’s when things turned around, she said. And, now at this time, her focus was for the band to tour to support it. She then asked the audience, and didn’t mind “begging,” to buy and download it to help make that a reality.
Overcoming Life’s Hurdles
Dixon was also in a reflective mood. She shared with the crowd that she was close to overdosing on drugs once. Fortunately, she stopped using, and survived triumphantly coming out on the other side of it. Dixon was also mourning the lost of a very good friend Henry Peck for who there will be a memorial at the Echoplex on June 3.
It’s not every night you go to your local valley bar and expect to hear a really good original band. Especially with one that has something interesting to say through their songs. And is enjoyable to watch and listen to. One you hope to hear more from and are truly curious about. WTFUKUSHIMA fits that bill and much more.
Dixon opened for the remarkable Alice Bag, whose advocacy-themed songs champion a range of society’s long-overlooked population. She has a great new video and her latest album is called Blueprint.
Fur Dixon and WTFUKUSHIMA set list: 1. Don’t Tread on Me; 2. Are Your Good Times Really Over For Good; 3. Codine; 4. Out of Darkness Slowly; 5. Daydream Walking; 6. Baby’s On Fire; 7. Sugar Sweet; 8. Get That Saddle Off My Back; 9. You’re Gonna Miss Me
Alice Bag Rocks Maui Sugar Mill
Alice Bag is many things: a punk rock singer, musician, educator and feminist archivist. At the Maui Sugar Mill Saloon Bag stormed the stage front and center. She was in constant frenetic motion. Her ballsy and confrontational performance immediately grabbed the attention of the people in the packed bar. Bag has an equally aggressive band that possesses a blistering sonic intensity.
She did stop for a minute to reflect soon on turning 60 and the many things she sacrificed to follow her dreams. Bag explained she has no regrets. Bag even encouraged the audience to do the same thing. She said one day she could very well be brought onstage in a wheelchair but still, would let nothing will stop her. Even in her youth, Bag was always adventurous and a trailblazer. She was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first wave of punk bands to form in the mid-1970s.
Her latest album is Blueprint, a follow-up to a 2016 self-titled solo effort, politicized songs seen through a lens of a “Chicano rebel in love with music and voice and the ways they can combine to create a movement.” Alice Bag can say that she has done that. Bag has continued to celebrate all she has achieved through Blueprint leaving her mark and legacy on various media.
Egrets on Ergot opened the night and Billy Bones presented.