The Violent Femmes began as a rhythm section consisting of bassist Brian Ritchie and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo. They took off as a full band when they teamed up with singer and guitarist Gordon Gano.
The Femmes released “Blister in the Sun” in 1983. Minimal instrumentation, subversive lyrics, and a riff built around an unconventionally long pause made this piece of folk punk into a monster hit with popularity and airplay that endured for decades.
The band enjoyed quite a bit of studio success but their electrifying live performances were really what made them into an icon, and this recording captures that quite well. It’s not just the dramatic tension they build on stage, it’s the raw, visceral, almost palpable performer-to-audience connection, half of which Gordan creates with his eyes.
“Blister in the Sun” is arguably The Violent Femmes’ most well-known song and was kind of a classic teenage anthem of the 1980s. In 2007, lead singer Gordon Gano licensed it to Wendy’s for use in a commercial. This pissed-off bassist Brian Ritchie and his mullet to no end and locked the former bandmates in a court battle for years. But eventually, it settled, Brian and Gordon rebuilt their friendship, and the band actually got back together.