This year's well-received, high-profile '90s revival tours (Pavement, Superchunk, Faith No More, etc.) tend to overshadow bands from the era who never stopped performing, some honing their live shows to face-melting levels. One of those acts is the Woggles (not to be confused with Australian kiddie band the Wiggles), an Athens, Georgia quartet that formed in 1987 amid the rich music scene that had birthed bands including R.E.M. and the B-52s.
Eventually championed by the E Street Band's Little Steven Van Zandt and signed to his Wicked Cool Records in 2006, the Woggles, whose latest album is 2009's "Tempo Tantrum," churn out buzz-grinding blues-based garage rock that includes equal parts soul and surf. But their live show is a truly one-of-a-kind experience--during their non-stop one-hour set opening for Southern Culture on the Skids on Saturday (Oct. 16), the Woggles touched virtually every inch of Maxwell's floor, plus the top of the bar.
The Woggles cultivate their rockabilly rave with everything from slick vests and double-breasted military jackets to their pseudonyms--lead singer "The Professor" Mighty Manfred is backed by guitarist Flesh Hammer, drummer Dan Elektro and Buzz Hagstrom on bass. From the opening intro to "My Baby Likes to Boogaloo," the Professor lured all eyes with his sweeping step-touch and flailing tambourining. He introduced new B-side "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo" by explaining that "all the guys are here for you, ladies--they cleaned out their nose hairs and earwax, and this song is advice for you from the Woggles on choosing that special someone for the night."
By "Push," the Professor had traveled to the rear of the room, mic stand and all, to "make sure you folks in the back are getting your money's worth". He ended up singing from flat on the floor and up on the bar, offering the mic to crowd members during choruses while other fans managed the cord behind him. By the time they performed new single "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me," the whole band minus drummer Elektro had joined him on the floor. A wireless microphone might have made things easier, but nowhere as bad-ass.