Violent Femmes bring some ‘American Music’ to Reno

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The Violent Femmes — Gordon Gano, left, John Sparrow and Brian Ritchie — will appear at Reno’s Cargo Concert Hall on Wednesday, June 20.

Do you like American music? Anyone who was around in the 1980s knows where we are going with this.

The Violent Femmes will appear for the first time at the Cargo Concert Hall in Reno on Wednesday, June 20. Ticket sales begin Friday, March 16.

With a gospel-ish delivery, the acoustic punk-folk trio started as buskers in hometown Milwaukee and grew to record a string of poppy yet visceral albums. Its best known tune, “Blister in the Sun,” has a simple, catchy guitar riff that is often heard at sporting events and on television. The chorus is an analogy that’s humorously poignant. Listeners either get the Violent Femmes or they don’t, and they either love them or hate them.

A lot of the hate might come from the dark 1984 tune, “Country Death Song.” Love and loyalty came with ditties such as “American Music,” “Add It Up,” “Gone Daddy Gone.” And we would be remiss to not mention the sentimental ballad, “Dance, Motherfucker, Dance!”

Singer guitarist Gordon Gano and bassist Brian Ritchie are the remaining original members, despite a dispute that broke up the band for a few years. Ritchie sued Gano for selling advertising rights to “Blister in the Sun” to the hamburger restaurant Wendy’s. The band reunited in 2013, but without drummer Victor DeLorenzo. John Sparrow has been the drummer since 2016.

The Violent Femmes recently released an LP, “We Can Do Anything,” and an EP, “Happy New Year.”

Avant rocker Ava Mendoza will open the show with a solo performance. A Brooklyn resident, Mendoza is a guitar virtuoso who, like the Femmes, plays with passion and has a penchant for improvisation.

The show is presented by Fresh Bakin,’ which last week brought the Squirrel Nut Zippers to midtown Reno for a sellout show at The Saint.

  • The Violent Femmes
    Opener: Ava Mendoza
    When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 20
    Where: Cargo Concert Hall
    For: all ages
    Tickets: $49.50 in advance or $55 on the day of the show; sales start at 10 a.m. Friday, March 16
    Purchase: and at Whitney Peak Hotel and Melting Pot World Emporium

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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