Local Lifesavers: These Charming Men
By Libbi Rich

I’ve wanted to write about these guys for a while now.  Last Summer, I’d come into a club at the tail end of their set, and liked what I’d heard … a punk, kind of psychobilly, kind of hardcore, high energy fizzy blend of sound. But I was there to cover another band, and I had to set up, and they had to break down, and so went my first encounter with Phoenix area band These Charming Men.

Fast forward … or maybe we should call it ‘twittertime’ … I find out that TCM will be opening for one of my local favorites, The Limit Club. I don’t remember what intervened this time; if it was the flu, helping kids with homework, an event I had to cover elsewhere …

Finally, Wednesday, February Twenty-third, fate found my fortune at the (wait for it) Big FISH Pub. It was a terrific lineup: Blitzkid was headlining on it’s last tour with founding member TB Monstrosity*. Opening were  local bands, Look Out Look, Every Dying Day, Jack the Cat, and, FINALLY (well, first on stage), These Charming Men!

I’d gotten to know TCM’s guitarist/vocalist, Kelly Carcinogen, at a couple of Limit Club shows; he is a really nice, very funny guy, and he’s full of fire for the music.  Kelly rips chords from his guitar; moving around the stage like a dervish, and delivering powerful backing vocals.  The band matched Carcinogen’s vibe, with driving rhythms laid down by drummer Cory Wahlen and bassist Harvey Gross.

Vocalist Ray Valenz brought a mix of slyly tough smoothness and theatricality to the hard hitting songs, and the show was a blast.  A taste of what I experienced:

These Charming Men – Power Rangers (Ray Valenz on Vocals)

Obviously, a band that closes with the Power Rangers theme (“Go go, you fucking power rangers!” indeed) gets big love from this quarter.

I found out a couple of days after that show that vocalist Ray Valenz was parting ways with TCM.  Carcinogen told me the band was going to proceed as a trio, with Kelly fronting.  I was fortunate enough to get to see the revamped outfit just a few weeks later, at Chasers, on March 11.

Kelly Carcinogen & Harvey Gross

These three charming men (you knew it was coming) rocked the house!  Carcinogen delivered growling, hardcore vocals, bringing a completely different dimension to the songs.  I really enjoyed Valenz’ performance, and the recordings I’ve heard, and I mean him no disrespect, but I do love me some hardcore, and TCM duly delivered!

These Charming Men – TV Casualty

TCM is the kind of band I really love seeing in a club.  They bring a contagious energy to the stage that gets your heart racing and your whole body moving along.  And they have fun; it is clear that these three guys love what they do.  The more the crowd got into them, the more they delivered … it was a punk chain reaction: energy+hard beats+razor lyrics combining to leave the audience sweat drenched and wanting more.

Check out more pics from both shows here.

*And, it turns out, as of today, the last tour with guitarist Nathan Bane and drummer Rick O Mortis.

Libbi Rich (40 Posts)

Middle-aged punk princess; pop culture hound; geekgirl; liberal activist and general shit-stirrer; reader of nanopunk/cyberpunk/comics/ anything-I-can-get-my-hands-on; wife and mom.