Better Than Bowling rocks'n'rollicks

A healthy sense of humor can lift a rock'n'roll band to unanticipated heights.

Take Devo, for instance, or Alice Cooper or even Kiss.

Locally such acts as the Stompin' Suede Greasers, Electric Chick Magnets, the Disco Biscuits and especially the Buttafuocos all thrived on satire as well as song.

Now we have Better Than Bowling.

'Dig a Pony'

I dare you to name another local band that plays "Dig a Pony" by The Beatles - a song which John Lennon called "a piece of garbage" - and "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" by Genesis - another animal-titled tune based on a Peter Gabriel nightmare.

But it's not the repertoire that makes Better Than Bowling better than other classic rock acts. It's the personalities.

Singer Sharon Allen has a cheery disposition and a chimera's vocal cords. Drummer Dave Clement repairs computers by day and renders rhythms by night. And he's open-minded enough to allow his daughter, Erika, to sing with the band. Guitarist Tom Marr is fascinated by Vargas girls. Guitarist Paul Power punctuates his picking with harmonica blasts, and bassist Tom Navagh regularly launches into surreal commentaries that even his bandmates can't quite grasp.

Hear 'em for yourself for free at 9 p.m. Thursday April 21, when Better Than Bowling entertains at the legendary Shifty's Tavern, 1401 Burnet Ave.; 474-0048. They play everything from "Badge" to "Black magic Woman," and also throw in a few originals like "Furry Murray."

The band's motto is "It's our job to make life fun...for a couple of hours, anyway."

Even the heckler had fun

Still not convinced that Better Than Bowling's all that?

Consider this roadhouse recollection from guitarist Tom Marr:

"In 10 years I'll exaggerate this story to mythic proportions, so at least you're getting it while it's pretty much literally true.

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