By some standards, a 40-year-old man is out of place with the college crowd late on a Thursday night. After all, work comes early, but so did mid-term exams and that never stopped me from seeing a good show and last week’s was a doozy as the Demolition Doll Rods and Scull Soup rocked the stage at our favorite eclectic venue, Heather’s Hide away in downtown Johnson City.

We knew this was going to be a spectacle, too. The Indie Gentle men, Johnson City’s new band promoters, delivered to GoTriCities a press release and Web site address from Detroit’s Demolition Doll Rods. Greeneville’s Scull Soup would be performing first and despite the shock factor of the Doll Rods, the hometown boys stole the show (musically).

A few weeks ago, the doorman at the Houston Valley Club told us that Scull Soup was the band that everyone turned out for and it’s easy to understand why.

Since the late ’80s, this gang of four has been cooking a great recipe of atomic punk rock, ladled with thrash metal and 3rd wave ska. You may be familiar with punk and metal, but add a few ska tunes and you get a flavor of punk served up with horns with a reggae dance groove.

“Sinfully Hip” is a great phrase to describe Scull Soup. Their music is over-the-top and boiling with adrenaline. Their lead vocalist, Vanbuscar, brought to mind memories of Iggy Pop and Perry Farrell with Jane’s Addiction. With his ball cap slanted to the side, his performance was sensational.

Unlike a lot of punk bands, Scull Soup stirs attitude with talent. Steve Vison plays guitar for the band and mentioned that the band had taken a few turns and are back together again with Greeneville, Tenn., as their home.

Bassist Poop Johnson and drummer Tartool join Vanbuscar and Steve. These guys are great players with tribal funk under tones. When I first saw Tartool, he looked like Rupert on Survivor, but this association was pale in contrast with his animal instincts. His tempo and energy were way over the speed limit and helped fuse a foundation for the band’s intense, intelligent chemistry.

If you like high energy mayhem that’s fun, check out Scull Soup this weekend at the Sophisticated Otter in Johnson City for their CD release party Friday night. Their live shows are “Sinfully Hip” and with 17 songs on the new CD, “Cream of The Green Scream Sickle” this should be another incredible show!

Margaret Doll Rod is the vocalist for the Demolition Doll Rods. As Scull Soup was moving off stage, she stripped down to her boots, a bikini bottom and some plastic plates that loosely covered her chest. She looked like a stripper from Deep Space Nine and — needless to say — had the attention of the room before she ever strapped on a guitar.

You might describe the Doll Rods as a shock rock band that uses sex to sell the message. At best, they are loud, proud and live in the moment. Margaret has a great rock voice, but the music was nowhere near the energy of Scull Soup.

Drummer Christine Doll Rod stood for the show and only played a snare drum and tom-tom. There was no bass player and minus a regular drum kit, I thought the band was missing depth. Margaret played bar chords on guitar and performed bending over backwards as guitarist Danny Doll Rod, dressed in a thong, screamed out the band’s only instrumental melodies.

The Demolition Doll Rods are a spectacle – a sideshow of implied trashy sex that reminded me of the ’80s punk band, The Plasmatics with Wendy O. Williams. Their stage show is sure to attract like-minded creatures, but I was hoping for a little more substance.

Don’t misunderstand me. The Doll Rods attract wide-eyed fans hovering around the stage to watch as they played original music and a cover of ‘Yummy, Yummy Yummy.” They’re fun, they’re shocking, but their music leaves a lot to be desired.

Kudos to Heather’s Hideaway and the Indie Gentlemen, though – we had a great time. The venue is gaining character since the beer license has been established and the décor is improving. Together they continue to present diverse entertainment and will be presenting another wild one this weekend with Captured By Robots, a one-man band with robots as backup musicians.

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This week’s buzz topics…

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This week’s best bets for live music:

  • Scull Soup and The Royal Bangs at the Sophisticated Otter…
  • Captured! by Robots at The Hideaway…
  • Benny Wilson at The Rockin’ Horse in Bristol.


David Cate is director of new media for the GoTriCities Network. E-mail tips for The Buzz or comments to