A riotous, uncompromising musical odyssey, The Terrorism of Everyday Life chronicles musician Ed Hamell’s hard-edged life and career as he shouts, sings, and strums his opinions on our messed-up American culture. If you don’t mind a little walk on the wild side, along with plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, then by all means go check it out. Trust me, it will rock your socks off.
Hamell is first and foremost a seasoned touring musician. He’s played in several bands since his teens, ultimately settling many years ago into his successful solo act, “Hamell on Trial”. In this identity, Hamell has toured the United States and the UK, often with his good friend Ani DiFranco, leaving in his wake enthusiastic new fans of his sarcastic, inventive rock narratives. So, fittingly, the bulk of The Terrorism of Everyday Life is composed of songs from various points in his career, each of which offers audacious yet refreshing commentary on a variety of themes ranging from mortality to drug addiction to American gluttony.
In one of my favorite moments of the show, he expresses his disdain for our nation’s obsession with food in an uproarious country-tinged plug for “The Trough”, an imaginary restaurant where patrons are encouraged to eat until they’re sick, and then some. Like the rest of the show, Hamell’s food fantasy is shocking, hilarious, and perhaps closer to the truth than most of us would like to admit.
Hamell is a true guitar hero. While singing or speaking his gut busting, heartbreaking appraisals of modern life, he can pull off a jangly rockabilly line and then quickly transition into a thunderous metal riff or grinding punk breakdown. He displays a total mastery of the guitar across several varied styles, and his powerful, diverse sonic assault takes what would otherwise be an utterly enjoyable standup and spoken-word routine and transforms it into an electrifying concert event. There’s a reason that out of a field of over two thousand productions, The Terrorism of Everyday Life won a coveted “Herald Angel” award for its 2007 premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the granddaddy of Fringe Festivals worldwide.
Between songs, Hamell fills the time with stories of dive bars, adolescent growing pains, drugged out friends, family tragedies, and other big themes from his life, along with plenty of dirty jokes that, admittedly, are not for everyone. With its unfiltered tales of hard living and loud, sometimes punishing guitar, this is definitely an in-your-face show both in message and in medium. Those with delicate sensibilities need not apply. But if you think you can handle the bitter pill that Hamell is pushing, then you absolutely must not miss the epic experience of The Terrorism of Everyday Life.