On Monday night, Death By Audio hosted the legendary Ben Wallers (aka The Rebel), or the bloke behind twangy punk outfit Country Teasers, for a rare solo performance. Wallers, who’s now 43, fronted the UK-based band starting in the early ’90s. He’s developed something of a cult following and he’s rarely seen around these parts. Even Edan Wilber, who runs Death By Audio, told us, “Never thought I’d see him live.”
It seems the last time Wallers was nearby, back in 2008, he was at WFMU recording The Rebel’s first studio album, Northern Rocks Bear Weird Vegetable (released by local label Sacred Bones).
While an opening band played, Wallers waltzed into the venue wearing a track jacket blotted with winged dollar signs and a floppy brown cowboy hat. His set included a few Teasers tracks such as “David I Hope You Don’t Mind,” but consisted mostly of his weirder, bedroom-psycho solo stuff.
Whereas a mere mortal would have fallen back on a drum machine, Wallers hacked a Game Boy and hooked it up to an amp, which sputtered occasionally and belched out bizarro dark electronic beats. Wallers strummed the guitar and crooned, and sometimes felt the need to delicately tap his guitar head onto an adjacent keyboard. The set was sonically different from the Country Teasers’, but lyrically The Rebel retained Wallers’ provocative, misanthropic voice and preoccupation with sex, booze, and shame.
As we first heard back in September, Death By Audio, one of the last remaining DIY venues on the Williamsburg waterfront, will close in just over a month. Yesterday, Wilber told us DBA’s last show will be on November 22. Though he declined to say exactly what bands are set to play until all are confirmed, he promised “there are going to be a lot of fun surprises before we turn in.” And if Ben Wallers’ performance is any indication, DBA almost certainly has some truly amazing acts on the horizon.