Question Mark & the Mysterians at Kraftbrau Brewery
Kalamazoo, May 5, 2007
What better way to spend Cinco de Mayo than with the greatest Mexican-American garage band of all time? They put on a hell of a show, and if you ever get the chance to see them in action, you might never be the same afterwards. I know I’m not.
What a show! After a painful drive crammed and hunched in the practically non-existent backseat of car that should not legally call itself a “four-person” vehicle, we arrived just as GLONO faves, the Sinatras took the stage. Their set was perfect. Broken bass strings, special guests, rarely played songs, what more could a fan want? I didn’t think there would be any chance that a bunch of old guys could follow up such a great set.
But I was wrong.
Question Mark and the Mysterians came out and absolutely blew my head off! From the Seger-looking MC to the ever-smiling bass player, Frank Lugo, those guys were total pros (in all the right ways). And Question Mark himself, wow. I’ve never seen a more charismatic frontman—I could not take my eyes off him. Unbelievable. Words (and even photos) cannot express how fucking awesome that dude is.
You’d never know he’s recovering from a terrible tragedy. In January, his house burned down, killing four of his beloved dogs and destroying all of his possessions. He alluded to this in a moving cover of “Stand By Me,” but talked more about the victims of Hurricane Katrina than his own troubles. His sincerity and his soul were so clearly exposed.
For all the gimmickry (his crazy name, born on Mars, always in sunglasses, etc.), I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more honest performance. No bullshit irony or sarcasm. Just pure, glorious rock and roll.
Huge thanks to the Sinatras and the Leppotone gang for organizing such a great show. The Mysterians don’t tour with all their own gear—just a guitar and a bass—so they borrowed the Sinatras’ back line. Which, being the music maniacs the Sinatras are, did not include some newfangled synth with a cheesy “organ” preset, but an actual vintage Ace-Tone organ and Vox amps! Needless to say, the sound was perfect.
The pictures below don’t even come close to capturing the magic. But take a look anyway.
If you want to help Question Mark, find out how at 96tears.net.
Photos by Patrick LaPenna, Jeff Sabatini, and yours truly.
7 thoughts on “Photos: Question Mark and the Mysterians”
I saw them maybe 3 years ago at the Empty Bottle, and not only did they rock, they didn’t feel like a nostalgia act in the slightest. ? and the Mysterians really rocked the joint that night, too.
I’m so jealous. What a great-sounding night.
I never knew ? was black — I always pictured him looking like the Riddler on Batman for some reason — some obvious reason I guess — this was clearly a simplistic conflation.
Heritage: They’ve been hailed as the first Latino rock band, but don’t tell Question Mark. He hates terms like Latino and Hispanic, he said, and if anyone calls them that, “I say, no, we’re all Mexicans.” They never promoted their Mexican heritage, and the music is more rock from Mars than Tex-Mex.
I saw them 3 or 4 years ago at The Warsaw in Brooklyn. They were the main act after a night of smaller local rock bands. They were a blast.
Have they put out any recent albums?
hey just want to let? mark that they really rock.i’m also a mexican american that plays in a local band in defiance ohio.it would be great if i could get to meet them.mark ordaz member of the local band from defiance,ohio strawberryhill. keep on rockin.
hey ? just wanted to say you guys rock .i too am mexican musician. i’m a member of a band in defiance,ohio called strawberryhill.we play music from 1965-1970, nothing before or after these years.your song 96 tears is on our set list to. i play a twelve string haggstrom guitar and sing some lead vocals.i think it would be so great to meet you and the band. and maybe even jam with you guys.hope to hear from you soon. ps i’m really sorry to hear about the fire .may god bless you in everything you do?.