For most bands, getting the boot from just about every bar in Charleston would be a glaring sign to throw in the towel. But for Dante’s Camaro, it’s a badge of honor.
For 10 years, the group has been entertaining, confusing and all-out offending audiences (depending on who you talk to at the end of the night) with their satirical spin on metal music. Band leader Ben Dante breaks it down more specifically: “Eighty percent of the crowd digs what we do, and 20 percent of the crowd absolutely hates it and doesn’t get the joke,” he said.
For those who have seen HBO’s “Eastbound and Down” comedy series, Dante’s Camaro is like a musical version of the show’s main character, Kenny Powers, which is played by Danny McBride. They swear, insult and parade around the stage like the “biggest and best-looking band ever,” according to Dante.
The band is only welcome at about two venues in Charleston these days, he added, after too many innocent bystanders, bachelorette parties and laid-back surfers were repelled by the band’s nothing-is-sacred shtick.
“We wore out our welcome at a lot of places because we did act like a bunch of (jerks), but there was always a lot of people who appreciated what we did. It’s satire,” he said.
One time, the group was hired to play the 65th anniversary of the Charleston Chapter of Hells Angels, a biker group that didn’t take kindly to their breed of comedy. They were chased out, and “barely made it out of that parking lot alive,” Dante said. “It was like ‘The Blues Brothers’ or something, for real.”
Still, Dante’s Camero has managed to make it to the 10-year mark, an achievement the band and a handful of their friends in other local groups will celebrate at the Tin Roof this weekend.
The rock group is a hodgepodge of musicians from other longtime Charleston bands who got together as a side project, and ended up veering into a purely comedic act after discovering their shared love for wrestling. Every show they play is almost completely influenced by an over-the-top wrestler’s spiel before he takes on an opponent in the ring.
“If you’ve ever watched wrestling promos where a wrestler would get up and talk about who he hates and who is going to fight and what he’s going to do to the other person’s girlfriend, especially back in the ’80s, that’s where we get our marching orders from,” Dante said. “We’re low on talent, high on show.”
The joke, Dante admits, is that they don’t write original music, and that the whole show is oriented around his trash-talking throughout the set.
“I would never say we’re relevant to Charleston’s music scene, but in the act, we’re the only band that matters,” he said. “What we’re doing in between songs is the most important because we’re not like, ‘Thanks guys for coming out,’ we’re like, ‘You’re lucky to see us. We’re the best band you’ve ever paid $5 for,’ ” Dante said.
There’s also a significant amount of wrath hurled at other bands, “especially the ones we’re playing with,” he said, gleefully noting that this weekend’s show at the Tin Roof is the band’s first opportunity to play with their longtime friends in the local rock group Madam Adam. “If you want to see these bands’ demise, we are going to end their careers on stage in front of all their fans.”
Scott Gould, lead singer of Madam Adam, said he’s not too worried.
“It’s all in good fun. Ben, he gets real excited about these shows so he can, I guess, roast his friends. And then everybody plays along and he likes to be beat up as well ... but in a friendly way,” he said. “If you leave with a bad impression, then you don’t have the type of humor that needs to be going to that show anyway.”
Dante said the anniversary performance this weekend will be the band’s last show, since all the members have “big boy jobs” and are starting to settle down with families. But it’s hard to know whether he’s crying wolf.
He’s been known to bill previous performances as farewell shows to “see who would show up to our funeral,” he said.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.