It feels safe to say that no one at the Fleshtones show at Knuckleheads on Saturday night was having a better time than the band itself.
For almost the entire duration of its 70-plus minute set, the four-piece band from New York was in motion, executing loosely synchronized dance moves onstage, dancing on tables (while playing guitar, in Keith Streng’s case) or mingling with members of its audience on the floor.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
It all aroused a charming vibe, one that complemented the band’s bright, groovy music, a mix of garage rock, power pop and soul.
The Fleshtones have been around in various incarnations since the mid-1970s (some of which included Clem Burke of Blondie and Fred Smith of Television). This version includes two founding members: Peter Zaremba, on organ, harmonica and lead vocals, and guitarist/vocalist Streng, who wore a leopard-skin jacket, zebra-print boots and black pants with studs along each outer leg.
They were joined by the rhythm section of Ken Fox (bass/vocals) and Bill Milhizer (drums/vocals).
They tore through a set list that included “Some Kind of Fun,” “Whatever It Takes,” “Feels Good to Feel,” “Way Up Here,” “Laugh It Off,” “Double Dip,” “Way Down South,” “Remember the Ramones,” “Hitsburg USA,” “Let’s Go,” “My Kind of Lovin’,” “My Love Machine,” their instrumental version of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” and a cover of a song by the Coastliners, a ’60s pop-vocal band from Texas. It was all unvarnished riff-rock, melodic and groovy and buttered with harmonies.
Throughout, Zaremba and Streng tried valiantly to get their small but attentive audience (somewhere between 75 and 100) out of their seats and onto the dance floor. Their efforts paid off toward the end of the set, when almost a dozen or so were on their feet and moving; some were dancing.
The crowd’s laid-back enthusiasm didn’t deflate the band’s spirit, however. When you love what you do, you always have tomorrow to look forward to, and it was clear all night that the Fleshtones not only look forward to the next gig and the one after that, they also treat each one like it might be their last.