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Maximum Wattage with Mike Watt

LOS ANGELES: The ex-Minutemen bassist and his band the Missingmen churn out a rollicking set of cover tunes.

For a man who just turned 50 a few weeks ago, erstwhile Minutemenbassist Mike Watt sounded pretty youthful at L.A.’s Knitting Factorylast night (Jan. 6). Following an acidic performance from Oakland’sjazz-rock fusioneers Monster Cock Rally, whose drummer Calvin Westonshared the stage with the Minutemen in the early ’80s, Watt and hisnewest trio the Missingmen ripped through a searing set of punk andpost-punk covers. Most of them were sharpened on the Missingmen’s 2006European tour in support of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and theexperience showed. Maybe Watt and the Missingmen weren’t the originalperformers of these songs, but at this gig they owned every single oneof them.

Drummer Raul Morales bashed the kit like each songwas his absolute last — sweat ringed his shirt collar by the end ofthe opening Television cover “Little Johnny Jewel.” Tom Watson’s guitardrew blood on Blue Öyster Cult’s “The Red and the Black,” and summonedthe spirit of Minutemen guitarist D. Boon on three tracks from theirclassic Double Nickels on the Dime LP. Watt’s bass was thethumping heart of the whole thing, pumping and popping alongsidemembers of Monster Cock Rally through a cacophonous jam on “Fun House”by his recent employers the Stooges. Just as evident as Watt’s abundantenergy was his gentle spirit, surely another factor in his eternalyouth. Towards the end of the Missingmen’s set, Watt offered thegenerous words “Have open heart and open mind. I’m most grateful.” Noworries Watt, the feeling’s mutual.

We asked: Who would play with Watt in your fantasy musical supergroup?