The Darkness w/Diarrhea Planet
April 3, 2018
The Showbox in Seattle, Washington
Words by Andy Bookwalter
Photos by Andy Perkovich
Why is Diarrhea Planet so damn good? Why does such a great band have such a terrifically terrible name? Did two pretty good bands merge into one Nashville superband? And what’s with all those guitars? These are questions I asked myself the last time I saw Diarrhea Planet. I was covering them for this very website, and, I must admit: I froze up. I sucked. And there’s no excuse.
Actually, there is an excuse. I was tired and cranky, and if I can’t use a review as a springboard to talk about myself, sometimes I just don’t care. But Diarrhea Planet deserves better. Every time I’ve seen them play, they’ve delivered a beautiful cacophony of sound, with guitars playing the rock-and-roll until there is no more to be played, even when they’re performing at the Showbox on a Tuesday night.
Since there’s nothing more rock and roll than punctuality, let the record show that the Diarrhea Planet’s allotted half hour set on April 3 started at 9 p.m. on the dot and finished PRECISELY 30 minutes later. No gimmicks, just exactly 30 minutes of great, straightforward rock. (Although to be fair, you could say that four guitars in a six piece band is a gimmick, unless it’s terrible prog rock or the Trans Siberian Orchestra, and DP is neither.) If AC/DC played through a filter of punk and pop instead of blues they might sound not quite totally unlike DP.
The Darkness is also a good time, but they’re not a Nashville rock band, they’re pure British glam metal and, although I didn’t ask, I doubt they’d deny it. We were catching them on the fifth stop of their “Tour De Prance.”
For reference, everybody in the world should know the band’s big hit “I Believe In A Thing Called Love.” Remember early 80’s metal videos, like Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law,” where they robbed the bank with their guitars? And the uncool bank guard only had a cheesy cardboard guitar, which was no match for the awesome crime committing metal onslaught of K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton? It’s almost that good.
Aside from the legally-mandated performance of their big hit (played right before the house lights came on and we were ushered out the door), The Darkness’ set recalled classic 80’s metal like Motley Crue, back when Motley Crue had something to offer besides disgusting overdose stories. (I had to do an unofficial survey of friends and family to find out if there ever was a time “when Motley Crue had something to offer.” Results were mixed.)
Lead singer Justin Hawkins is no Vince Neil, though. Justin Hawkins is a British metal vocalist, which means he’s more like Ronnie James Dio with a soaring falsetto.
I wanted to assume The Darkness was a spoof band so I could toss in easy Spinal Tap comparisons, but it doesn’t fit. Like Diarrhea Planet, they just seem like a bunch of guys who like what they like and play for the sheer fun of it. My elderly cynical brain is tuned to find irony and be annoyed by it, so I wasn’t ready for completely unironic music played for the sheer pleasure of it.
For the record, the Showbox was sold out, so maybe there’s still hope for the kind of unabashed joy that comes with familiar but perfectly-executed hard rock. Towards the end of the show there were two guys standing in front of me with matching mullets, rainbow sweatbands, and fringe festooned shirts. I was so inspired that I didn’t even run them over with my car on the way home.