REVIEW: Fire Retarded – “Live At Mickey’s”

Grinding guitars, amplifiers feedback, ears ringing, swear pouring, heart racing. There’s just something about attending a rock show that really can’t be described by simple words. It has to be experienced. I’m not talking about a festival in a downtown park or some football arena either. Those shows are a lot of fun but for very different reasons. For me the only real way to experience a live rock show, is in a dark, poorly ventilated dive in a questionable neighborhood.

Of course that sounds uncomfortable and maybe even a little dangerous, but isn’t that what rock n roll is really about? Sure it’s great to listen to whether it be a road trip or mowing your lawn. Fun to dance to in your bedroom, car or some sort of social gathering, but those things can’t compare to being in a crowd of strangers, pushing the limits of the local fire marshal, crowding around a stage of musicians who look not much different than the one’s you’re shoulder to shoulder with. Maybe I’m romanticizing a bit, but at the time, that’s what a live rock show feels like.Capturing the very essence of that feeling is the new live album from Madison Wisconsin’s Fire Retarded Live At Mickey’s. 


Available exclusively on red cassette from Shed House RecordsLive At Mickey’s is a forty minute fury of rapid fire drums, crunchy discord guitars, and chaotic charismatic vocals only Fire Retarded could deliver. This is a band who has made a name for itself for their explosive live show, combining anti-establishment aspects of punk with the devil-may-care attitude of the snottiest of garage bands. Each song is reminiscent of acts such Black Flag, Natural Child and maybe even a hint of Nirvana, but without being one bit pretentious or on the nose.

The experience of a raw live show in a smaller venue is next to impossible to replicate on a physical format due to recording techniques and the ‘you had to be there’ mentality, but just like last year’s Natural Child Freakin’ Weekend VI cassette, Shed House has somehow captured all the excitement, urgency and even the subtle nuance beautifully. The sound is crisp and clear without sacrificing the energy and imperfections that comes along with seeing such a rowdy band. When using a decent set of headphones, the cassette has just enough warmth and fidelity to make you feel like you are actually there. Something that’s generally missing from live albums in the mainstream.


If you are a fan of Fire Retarded, or just live rock shows in general, you owe it to yourself to own Live At Mickey’s. It’s fantastic to listen to online or on your phone, but the physical copy really drives the point home: There’s nothing like experiencing rock n roll in the flesh.


For more information on Fire Retarded, visit their Facebook page

To purchase Live At Mickey’s on limited edition cassette, please visit Shed House Records

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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