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fIREHOSE Plays with Combination of Subtlety, Great Force

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 3, 1989

by Steve Pick

MIKE WATT, the bass player of the rock group Firehose, which played Wednesday night at Furst Rock, stood on stage and denigrated musical technique and intellect. Then, as the music began again, he and his cohorts continued to demonstrate their mastery of musical technique and their keen intellect. Watching Firehose perform live was a real treat. These three musicians have spent the better part of the last three years touring the country and playing almost every night. Watt and drummer George Hurley have been doing this for the better part of the decade, as they were previously teamed in the Minutemen. We're talking about one tight band here. Guitarist Ed Crawford is ostensibly the front man of the group, since he does most of the singing. But, he more often serves as a foil to the incredible abilities of that rhythm section, which is unlike any in rock 'n' roll. Crawford's thin but punchy rhythm guitar and his short leads bounced around the powerful bass playing of Watt and the complex rhythms of Hurley. Watt plays bass with the expression of a man chopping down a tree. Even when he was playing a quiet passage, he seemed to be breathing heavily. He has absolute command of his instrument and demonstrates technique that would stun jazz players and an intensity that would knock over heavy metal musicians. Hurley plays drums with the same combination of subtlety and extreme force. There are many drummers who can hit as hard as he can, and as perfectly in the pocket as he can. There are many drummers who can work in as many different time signatures, and with as many starts and stops, as Hurley did this evening. There are many drummers who can make such wonderful use of the range of the drum kit. There aren't very many drummers who can do all of this as perfectly as Hurley. Perhaps there are none. The opening act was the local group Uncle Tupelo. They blazed their way through forty-five minutes of dynamic folk/punk/country/rock.

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