Go straight to hell with Flaming Fire | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
click to enlarge Acid-trash darlings: Flaming Fire
Acid-trash darlings: Flaming Fire

This band dresses up in identically colored garments, plays high-energy music with call-and-response vocals, and is led by a long-haired, wild-eyed preacher figure -- it's like an evangelical congregation whipped into a glossolalian frenzy. Sound familiar?

No, it's not the Polyphonic Spree. If anything, Flaming Fire, a New York apocalyptic-cabaret supergroup, is the exact opposite: a red-clad horde sent to banish any mellow vibes such a namby-pamby group might have left behind from its show the previous evening. (Ahem!) They're the Jonestown answer to the Danielson Famile, the Mansonic answer to The Winans -- and the retort to any other uplifting, clap-your-hands gospel outfit you can name.

For the Flaming Fire have arrived not to call you to heaven, but to bring you down. Way down ... but in the best way possible. Bearded, crimson-suited Patrick Hambrecht (who sounds a bit like gruff Michael Gerald, from Killdozer) belts out tales of Biblical plagues; his wife, Kate Hambrecht, adds vocals on tracks such as "Breaking Your Own Heart" ("your pagan books / French poetry / what does decadence mean to me").

Originally formed in 2001, as a one-off project with Dame Darcy, Flaming Fire stuck together when lost souls responded favorably to its combination of trash-rock, art-goth and avant-prog sensibilities. (Much has been made of a melodic comparison to the Residents.) Since then, a bunch of CD releases have made the group a darling of the elite WFMU crowd in the Big Apple, as well as of Vice magazine.

Flaming Fire's newest album, Kentucky Shroud, features guests and admirers including members of Pere Ubu and They Might Be Giants, plus the managing editor of High Times magazine. With songs like "Kill the Right People" and "Acid Trash," it's a helter-skelter romp through Sunday school as taught by Woody and Juliette's characters from Natural Born Killers. Yet Flaming Fire shows proper reverence for Scripture -- the band is the middle of a huge effort to compile a completely illustrated King James Bible with 36,665 artworks (one for every verse). Anyone who comes to a show can bring an original drawing to help the cause.

Just don't think you'll emerge from this Babylonian event unscathed by harlots and idolaters. Glance back at the venue a bit too wistfully when you leave, and you might just turn into a pillar of salt.

Flaming Fire with Dirty Faces, Amoeba Knievel and Machete. 10 p.m. Fri., Nov. 16. Belvedere's, 4016 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $6. 412-687-2555

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