“It’s been ten years since I have been back on American soil,” Hank von Hell (Hank von Helvete) shouted at the crowd. He is one of many former lead singers of the Norwegian death punk band Turbonegro. Hank dropped out of music to pursue acting, radio, and even being a judge on Norwegian Idol. After delaying his current North American tour due to a visa issue, he is back touring with new material from his first solo album entitled Egomania.
Several Turbonegro supporters attended the show. I know this because the fan base named Turbojugend (Turbo Youth) wear denim jackets with the Turbojugend logo and their chapter stitched on the back. I saw patches from all over the United States and a few other countries in the crowd. There are 2,300 chapters worldwide (who knew). They were there to witness the return of Hank von Hell.
Coming out all dressed in black with Alice Cooper like make-up, Hank stormed the stage ready to rock. He looked slimmer compared to pictures of from the beginning of the tour (dancing and singing must burns calories). The band played mostly material from his new album. Hank’s between song banter was weird in a charming Norwegian way. He thought it was hilarious to discuss the Blake Carrington character from the 1980’s television show Dynasty that took place in Denver. I guess it didn’t matter that most of the audience wasn’t born yet when that show aired (that series must still be playing in Norway). He also claimed the song Too High was about Denver (there’s always a marijuana joke). Hank rambled on about not being eligible to become president of the United States of America because he wasn’t born here. That’s why he is running for Empire of the U.S.A. Hank’s first order will be to instruct the country to shake their bum. That’s Norwegian humor (I guess) and the signal for the band to launch into Bum to Bum – “You know the situation/But I work in aviation/Move your ass and shake the nation/Bum to bum/Is the beat of my drum.”
Instead of flashing the standard rock and roll bullhorn hand jester, Hank instructed the crowd to use their middle finger. He stated, “It’s the true sign of punk music. “ Hank von Hell even flips the bird on his latest album cover as well.
Toward the end of the night Hank confessed to making mistakes in his life and bad decisions (possibly using the true sign of punk music on his album cover). That’s when he sang a heartfelt version of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt with only a guitar as an accompaniment. It was quite moving even for a guy named Hank von Hell. The encore was a sing-a-long to Turbonegro’s All My Friends Are Dead. It was a celebration of music and the fans that love it.
There were three opening bands, but only one with a lead singer wearing a green jumpsuit, a graphic novel series, and their own podcast. The band making all that commotion is MF Ruckus. This summer they even opened for Blue Oyster Cult (the Don’t Fear the Reaper guys that need more cowbell). Lead singer Aaron Howell dedicated the show to his recently deceased brother who played at the same venue with the band in January. Read about that show by clicking here. Many members of the audience were hugging Howell throughout the night giving him their condolences. The band didn’t have a set list or time for a sound check because they played New Worst Fest in Fort Collins, CO earlier that day. They played name that tune with the audience driven by guitarist Tony Lee who was wearing his own Chicago chapter Turbojugend denim jacket. After every correct answer, Lee and Howell yelled with great joy, “You win nothing.” A song about rehab named Half Way to the Half House was played with fire and passion. They ended with their signature song We Don’t Party which spotlights Lee’s wizard like guitar playing and Howell’s uninhibited energy. MF Ruckus definitely did Howell’s little brother proud.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one wondering why that Norwegian bearded guy is flipping me off.