Frontmen of the rock n’ roll carnival: Jack Terricloth vs. Walter Sickert ; 06.29 @ BMH

World Inferno

[dropcap]G[/dropcap]alaxies collide this Saturday when a pair of un-fucking-touchable rock n’ roll carnivals — New York’s THE WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY and Boston’s WALTER SICKERT AND THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS, respectively — take turns reconfiguring Brighton Music Hall into their own, self-styled temporary autonomous zones. The uninitiated might assume that Sickert’s gathering of demonic folkees lack common ground with World/Inferno — a NYC orchestral punk collective with an arguably unhealthy obsession with early 20th century film star Peter Lorre. But the uninitiated would be wrong.

Both outfits have very long names, larger-than-average rosters, a penchant for spectacle, and similar philosophies with regard to boredom, in that they both seek to destroy it. Furthermore, both acts are closely identified with — if not somewhat defined by — their charismatic ringleaders. Between the indefatigable Sickert and the equally indefatigable Jack Terricloth, who is the more potent pied piper? Because we have some time to kill, let’s check out the tale of the tape…


THEATRICALITY: Forever with a wineglass in hand, Terricloth’s hyperkinetic, suave-as-anything stage presence overwhelms the criteria for “theatrical,” and World/Inferno have occasionally shelled out extra production value for extra-special shows. But last year, the Army of Broken Toys pulled off 28 Seeds, a full-blown musical, in which characters coped with a Dr. Strangelove-esque end times scenario. Since there’s nothing more theatrical than participating in actual theater, Sickert takes this category.


MINIMIZING TURNOVER: Compared to the Broken Toys, more big muckamucks — such as Franz Nicolay and Brian Viglione — have joined and un-joined the ranks of World/Inferno over the years. Furthermore, at least 30 players have spun through the cultish conclave’s revolving door since the late ‘90s (Terricloth might tell you that this was all part of his master plan). In some respects, Sickert has have done a better job recruiting dependable company — mistress of auxiliary instruments Edrie Edrie has been a Broken Toy since the beginning. However, so sayeth Edire herself, no less than 37 individuals have served, in some capacity, as Broken Toys within the last five years. But that doesn’t matter, because Terricloth would still win this category on a technicality. Drummer Mora Precarious, formerly of brainy Boston rockers Ketman, has yet to quit World/Inferno. Ketman was awesome.


FASHION SENSE: Onstage, Sickert dresses like a high-ranking priest in the Temple of Thelema who has forsaken all but the most crucial worldly possessions, except for a wedding dress he found at a thrift store. Nobody’s saying Terricloth’s signature suit and tie ensemble isn’t classy and snazzy, but… well, but nothing. Dressing like an androgynous Thelemic priest is cooler than wearing a suit.


ABILITY TO TELL FUNNY STORIES: It’s fairly safe to assume that, having spent the better part of his adult life on tour, Terricloth carries a more substantial arsenal of amusing anecdotes. For instance, there was that one time when he walked in on a member of the Blue Man Group doing blow in the Paradise bathroom (which the ‘Dise staff would absolutely not have approved of, by the way) or that time the drummer from the Adicts punched him in the face for no reason.


EVIL: World/Inferno may be in league with his unholiest, the master Lucifer Beelzebub Smith, as well as dozens of other deities of various levels of repute. But they’ve only ever displayed a passing interest in the forces of darkness. Their message is more about jubilation — as one fan famously explained in a mini-documentary, the idea that “We are going to break everything, and it is going to be okay.” Meanwhile, one of the best known Broken Toys tracks — the aptly titled “Off With Her Head!!!” dwells on decapitation. Sickert once penned a moving ballad called “Heroin Pig,” and the apocalypse pops up somewhere in the ballpark of 25 percent of his lyrics. Maybe Terricloth and Sickert both fight metaphorical monsters, but the kingpin of so-called “steam-crunk” spends more time staring into the abyss. The abyss is fuckin’ metal.


WHO IS BETTER AT MUSIC?: Kind of weird how it didn’t occur to me to put this category first, isn’t it? Anyway, World/Inferno and the Broken Toys both play whimsical, uproarious rock n’ roll that sways toward various disciplines of cabaret and folk music (especially if we consider punk modern folk), so pitting their records against each other isn’t apples to oranges. If we ask whose career hit the highest watermark, either 2006’s Red-Eyed Soul or 2007’s Addicted to Bad Ideas would handedly seal the category for Terricloth. However, if we match our combatants’ most recent opuses, the situation becomes more competitive. In fact, the latest from Sickert and his cohort — the meditative yet menacing Soft Time Traveler could be the soundtrack to a 2013 Tod Browning horror film if he hadn’t died in 1962, and would trounce 2011’s disappointing World/Inferno record, Anarchy and the Ecstasy, in a drinking contest.


At the moment, it looks like Sickert came out on top by winning three categories to Terricloth’s two. But I suspect both acts would agree that rules are for suckers, life isn’t fair, and math is also for suckers. Therefore, in the spirit of Saturday’s show, I’m declaring Jack Terricloth the superior frontman because… um… the two categories he won counted double?

Yes, the two categories he won counted double.


WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY + WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS | Saturday, June 29 @ Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave., Allston | 8 pm, all-ages, $15 | Advance tickets | Facebook event page

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