Far different from their main projects, Drunken Sufis don't bother with pop music. But what the Sufis do share with parent bands Exit Clov and Jukebox the Ghost is a tendency to hop and blend genres. Billed as a punk side project, the Sufis couldn't resist straying from that path at the Velvet Lounge. The important thing to the players is having fun, and it showed and moved through the crowd.
Clowning around from the get, they claimed their first song was titled "Dick Cheney Has a Small Penis But It Will Get Big Eventually," and you couldn't quite tell if they were kidding or not. It's just the kind of title they'd put on a song and just the kind of anti-establishment comment that runs through their songs (a trait shared by Exit Clov) but the smiles it elicited on the stage gave the impression that maybe the rest of the band hadn't been prepared for drummer Sir Slinky to say it. Anyway, that was pretty much a punk revival song, a burst of adrenaline, maybe stretching to two minutes in length. But their next song, "Mission Accomplished," was more post-punk with the Korg MS2000 synth and dance beat. With the title, the Sufis quoted President Bush's 2003 dog-and-pony-show news conference aboard the USS Lincoln. With the song, they asked why we're still fighting almost five years later.
All four members -- Sir Slinky, Dr. Delerioso, George W. Crotch and Renzo Sclamanna -- shared the vocals, though Delerioso took most leads, and that gave "Sacrifice" a Public Enemy-punk feel as hard vocals were contrasted by higher, wilder, yelped vocals, a la Chuck D vs. Flavor Flav. The song also strayed from punk, adding some funk and dub to the music. "I Know Where AIDS Comes From" was a perfect example of the Sufis' tendency toward outrageous, non-PC, tongue-in-cheek proclamations designed to draw attention to the absurdity of ultra-conservative beliefs. Exit Clov may hold the same opinions, but they are much more subtle with their messages. That band would never be so bold as to answer "I know where AIDS comes from" with "it comes from Africa." Likewise, "Meth Freaks" took a bold stand with the indulgent slap in the face "The war on drugs is a war on race, so let's all smoke meth and get totally faced." Meanwhile, songs like "Missiles and Bombs" and "Safety" argued against the war machine in a much more straight-forward manner.
But it wasn't just a set about spreading socio-political consciousness. Really, it always retreated to good times. The band members joked, laughed and joyously bounced about. The band is an amusement, a type of release, for its members. "Jeff Gannon (sp?) F'd the President," for example, seemed like it could have been tossed off right there for the first time, just to mess with a friend in the crowd. Or maybe they'd been messing with him with the song for years. Just a short post-punk tune with the title repeated over and over, Slinky again hit with dry humor, saying afterward, "The lyrics are posted online if you didn't get 'em." Of course, the object of the song means it was still political commentary even though the band was goofing around. Conversely, "F--- the CIA" was still goofing around even though the band was making a statement. "F the CIA" was the lead lyric, but basically, "F everything" is the message. It attacks every end of the political spectrum. The band offers "F the war on drugs" just as readily as "F the cartels." But the treat of the live version of the song was the breaks that let each band member take center stage. First, Delerioso broke in with a tongue-in-cheek monologue that maybe we should trust the government. Next, Crotch offered, "Ffffffffff--- Anderson Cooper" and followed with a list of the media darlings linked to news coverage of war, elections, etc. On this eve of Hallmark's greatest fraud, Sclamanna took his turn to say," F St. Valentine." He paused as the amused crowd chuckled, then tore through a list of saints before ending on, "F the Easter Bunny." But they saved the best for last, as the exasperated Sir Slinky said, "F voting, honestly," to introduce, on this night after the Potomac Primary, a hysterical rant about the worthlessness of voting, mocking the get-out-the-vote activists' with a whiny "Make a difference on Tuesday," and resting his case on it-won't-make-a-difference despair. Then after one more short song to bookend the set in punk revival, the Sufis were done, about 10 songs in about 25 to 30 minutes. Their longest set to date.