The Meat Puppets are at a crossroads.
The Arizona band’s signature sound, a curiously appealing mix of punk ferocity and simple country charm, is no longer the left-field curiosity it once was and is even garnering loads of modern-rock radio airplay of late.
What’s more, musicians ranging from the late Kurt Cobain (“I owe so much to them”) to the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary (who produced the Puppets’ latest London/Polygram album, “Too High to Die”) have proclaimed their gratitude to the band. That makes it hard to remain darlings of the underground. With sales of the current album already topping 300,000, the boys have left their days of obscurity behind them.
And judging by this sold-out Roxy show, the band is ready for the jump to popular acceptance. Over the course of 22 songs, the Puppets evoked memories of Hank Williams, Blue Oyster Cult and the Clash by alternating cowpoke and psychedelic, tossing in minor key vocal harmonies and Jimi Hendrix guitar excursions. It all swirls into the Meat Puppets’ unique sound.
Opener “Violet Eyes” demonstrated the Puppets’ dramatic appeal: Layers of fuzz-box guitar noise and soaring, fanciful vocals with the overriding sensation of that rare band able to sound both reckless and in control.
A half-hour-long, midset acoustic section did temporarily slow this 100 -minute show’s momentum, but any lost energy was quickly regained during the evening’s second electric portion.
Current single “Backwater,” catalog track “Up on the Sun,” which included a lift of Hendrix’s “If 6 Was 9,” the Cheap Trick-meets-Motown groove of “Sam” and the bizarre “Flaming Heart” fired on all cylinders, bringing the concert to a rousing close.