You won’t find the Fleshtones working the oldies circuit for Bic-toting Boomers looking to rekindle, if just for that moment, the fire of their youth. That’s because “America’s garage band”, contemporaries of the likes of the Cramps and the Ramones, have never stopped going since guitarist Keith Streng struck the band’s first power chord in 1976 New York. Indeed, amidst their endless touring around the world, the Fleshtones – comprised of Streng, drummer Bill Milhizer, bassist Ken Fox, and frontman Peter Zaremba – released their 22nd album, WHEEL OF TALENT, in early 2014.
The band still fires on all cylinders, as demonstrated during a November 2, 2014, performance at World Café Live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Fleshtones mined their nearly four-decade-old catalog, turning out crowd-riling gems like “Pretty Pretty Pretty” and “Girl from Baltimore,” but they also played recent songs, such as last year’s “Haunted Hipster” from the Halloween compilation MONDO ZOMBIE BOOGALOO. Fox and Streng, their lean frames poured into impossibly fitted jeans, are as restless onstage as ever, while Milhizer’s ace beats and Zaremba’s signature Farfisa organ and enthusiastic vocals pry loose even the most inert audience member. But perhaps as satisfying as the band’s seemingly boundless energy is their resilient and evident enthusiasm for their craft.
Prior to the show, my 8-year-old son and I spied Zaremba lingering about the bar at the back of the venue. We promptly picked up a copy of the band’s 2003 disc, DO YOU SWING?, at their merch table. I handed it to my son.
“Go for it, kiddo,” I said.
We headed back toward the bar, where my son waited for a break in conversation to approach Zaremba, who graciously signed the disc for the boy.
“I’m happy to sign any one of our albums,” Zaremba announced, “and do you know why? Because I’m proud of every one of them.” He then turned and handed the disc to a man at the bar. It was Milhizer, who also signed the CD.
My son, elated, thanked them both. Milhizer smiled.
“Thank you for having us here,” he said.
More photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leekinginc/sets/72157649241257901/