There has never been another band like The Tubes.
From the start, they were one of the most in-your-face acts around, skewering American pop culture and politics with brash lyrics, flamboyant personalities and over-the-top stage antics. A Tubes concert has never been just about their music; it has always been a visual and auditory onslaught, which in the past has included exploding televisions, chainsaws and scantily-clad dancers.
No telling what they’ll come up with for tonight’s performance at Thunder Valley. There may have been a bit of mellowing over the years, but The Tubes are still capable of making showy glam rockers and serious punksters look pretty ridiculous.
When the San Francisco group’s eponymous debut album (produced by Al Kooper) came out in 1975, the song titles themselves were enough to startle, if not shock — consider “White Punks on Dope” (those Pacific Heights kids!) and “Mondo Bondage.” Lead singer Fee Waybill took to assuming the onstage persona of Quay Lewd, a staggering and swaying presence. But the band was self-aware and self-referential from the beginning, as evidenced by the lyrics to one of their first songs, “Up from the Deep”: “Tell me how you want it, that’s how I’ll have our guitar player, Roger Steen, play it.”
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It didn’t matter if nobody knew who Steen was at the time. Everybody soon would. When “The Completion Backwards Principle” was released in 1981 and the song “She’s a Beauty” hit the Top 10, there was no doubt The Tubes were here to stay. And when they appeared playing the rock portions of “Dancin’” in the Olivia Newton-John movie “Xanadu,” they hit a new high in both popularity and absurdity.
Behind all the fun, though, there is, as there should be in all satire, a dose of disturbing truth. There may be an outrageous personality singing the song, but consider the lyrics to “White Punks on Dope”: “We’re white punks on dope … hang myself when I get enough rope.”
The Tubes play Thunder Valley at 8:30 p.m. tonight ($19.50, $32.50). Saturday, the MMA fighting of “Gladiator Challenge: Season’s Beatings” (7 p.m.; $50-$150) arrives at the resort. Sunday features a “Luxury Trunk Sale” in the Holiday Pavilion (2:30-6 p.m.) as well as “One More Try: My Husband’s Lover,” a musical based on the popular TV show from the Philippines, and a good time to appreciate the battered island nation’s pop culture (6 p.m.; $88, $118). For tickets, go to www.thundervalleyresort.com/