Like many good things, the Chrome Cranks formed in Ohio (Cincinnati, to be exact). As would eventually be befitting, the band played its first show there opening for Pussy Galore, but it wasn’t until singer/guitarist Peter Aaron and guitarist William Weber made their way to New York that the band founds its calling (or perhaps it found them). Hooking up with Jerry Teel, formerly of the Honeymoon Killers, who at one time included Jon Spencer of Pussy Galore, and eventually with Bob Bert (formerly of Pussy Galore and Sonic Youth), they released a handful of records that channeled their noisy lineage through a Cramps-like filter of greasy, garage rock. They may not have gained the notoriety of some of their Lower East Side brethren (Spencer most notably), but between 1992 and 1996, they created a sound at once caustic and fetchingly primal that was an essential cog in that niche.
It’s hard to say if interest in a reunion has mounted since the Cranks’ disbanding. But with the band’s records out-of-print, there has certainly been a need for The Murder of Time, a new compilation of tracks taken from those albums. In conjunction with its release, the group has gotten back together to play four shows, with this early show at Santo’s Party House being the second.
Whatever the case, as was quickly proven upon entering the club as the Chrome Cranks were running through “Slow Crash,” some things just need to happen, public demand be damned. Loud and fierce, the band could have just as well been in their prime (or maybe they still are) because, besides Weber putting on some pounds and Bert showing some crow’s feet, there was little sign of age. Aaron was at once glib and feral as he stalked the stage, a look on his face that seemed in defiance to anyone who might dare second guess the band’s re-emergence. Teel too appeared focused on the task at hand, and with barely time for a breath between songs, the set was one blast of white heat after another. Somewhere in there were “Hot Blonde Cocktail,” “Lost Time Blues” and “Desperate Friend,” Aaron howling each wanton syllable through clenched and bared teeth. I’ve rarely seen a band so intent, not wasting a single second or watt of energy, taking the gig like a prizefight. I’m sure I’m pretty jaded, or at least a bit desensitized to the standard ebb and flow of your average rock show, and so I got to think it’s something when I’m left awed. The Chrome Cranks left me suckerpunched, a little wobbly and weak in the knees. I’m hoping this won’t be the last we see of them (there is one last show in the States scheduled for Friday), but if it is, then at least it’s a sure thing that they gave as good as they had to give.