Five-man rocking crew

It seems Mr. T Experience frontman/guitarist/anchor Dr. Frank has indeed created a monster. While punkriarchial spawn such as Green Day have rocketed past them into Top-40 recognition, his own band, a 10-years-strong whirling dervish of personnel changes, record releases, and underground buzz-bin energy, have carved out a lower-profile but steady presence in the DIY circuit. A decade of three-chord tunefulness has, as their latest release "Love Is Dead" attests, honed the band's thicht, poppy, Ramones-meets-chocolate-cake edge. Underneath the considerable hooks and giddy-up rhythms of current bassist Joel Reader and drummer Jym, Dr. Frank flashes the crowd a cynical smirk amid his refreshing, honest, stream-of consciousness lyrics. In songs like "I'm Like Yeah, But She's All No," "I'd Do Anything For You," and "Dumb Little Band," it's pretty apparent that MTX are no nitwits and their pogo legs are still fresh. Attendance at this all-ages affair is mandatory for all those disciples of the 4/4 revolution who wonder why the heck they're grinning and dancing so much. Vancouver, B.C.'s five-man rocking crew the Smugglers and Detroit's own students of the old ska, the Skolars, play the part of the welcome wagon, opening the show. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $6.

A dozen years ago a Berkeley/East Bay-area band took the name of a relatively popular TV celebrity, plugged in, and started whacking out sloppy punk rock that smirked just as hard as it rocked while trashing politics, pop-culture, and the music scene in general. And somewhere along the long line that spawned eight albums, three Eps, various personnel changes, and a couple of near break-ups, the Mr. T Experience have become one of the finest pop outfits to emerge on the scene in 25 years.

Loaded with ditties about relationships, heartache, break-up, make-up, self-doubt, and self-flagellation Revenge Is Sweet, and So Are You (their latest, on Lookout!) delivers guitarist/vocalist Dr. Frank's observations over a healthy dollop of sound that though loud, energetic, and brash is melodic to the point of toe-tapping, singalong brilliance. Simply put, MTX offer up perfect pop songs that you can't seem to shake once they catch hold of you.

"There's nothing like a good pop song, even if it's not played that well," relates Frank who's calling from a Pennsylvania truck stop as the group work their way east to hook-up with tourmates Reel Big Fish (both bands hit the Palladium this Saturday). "I have a traditional approach to songwriting. With the current atmosphere of music, it makes my approach [seem] kind of revisionist."

A listen to Revenge Is Sweet bares this out. Much of the material is written in a verse, chorus, verse style. But while the approach is simple, the music isn't. The Ramones influence is prominent as it is with any punk band, but under the surface are glimmers of sources as diverse as the Everly Brothers, Dion, the Beach Boys, and Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as nods to both country and bluegrass. Loaded with hooks-galore and outstanding harmonies, the real strength in Dr. Frank's songwritting comes from his sardonic, incisive, and, underneath the rampant humor, sometimes brutal truths.

"People are a little thrown by music that tends to be sarcastic and sincere at the same time," he says. "I work real hard on getting that to work. It's really hard to latch on to something in your consciousness, which is what a good pop song does. It doesn't seem to miss the young kids, they really seem to get it right away. Older people tend to take awhile for it to sink in, if it ever does."