Columns - "If You Die, and Go to Hell, Who Cares?" 09.13.00

If you didn’t go to the Las Vegas Shakedown back in August, you missed out. I’ll rub it in until it hurts. A pat on the back is in order for Ralph Carrera, Tom Ingrim and Barney Koumis for pulling off such a memorable rock ‘n’ roll event.

However, they only barely pulled it off, thanks to a few lunkhead punks. With over $15,000 in damage done to the hotel, 15 arrests for cocaine and marijuana, a number of fights and a few frightened regulars, the Shakedown and the Grind have both been told to take their escapades elsewhere. Carrera has vowed there will be a Shakedown again next year, however the location is still very much in the air.

Despite the hooliganism, the bands were (mostly) great, with a constant supply of shows from about 3 p.m. until 3 a.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the Double Down, a local bar, hosted afternoon shows. Those who attended these smaller shows were treated to a much more intimate affair. I only caught the Saturday show and was more than impressed with all four bands who played: the DIRTY SWEETS (from Arizona), the PINKZ (SoCal), FEVERS (Bay Area) and the DIRTY LOOKS (from Chicago). And yes, the DICTATORS were stunning, despite the drunk meatheads who kept trying to start a circle pit (during the Dictators? Huh? Take it to a D.R.I. show, dudes). I’ll save you a blow-by-blow account of the weekend. I’m sure you’ll read plenty of those in zines over the next three or four months.

After the Shakedown, I flew to the Midwest with my girlfriend Mimi on a quest to ride the world’s largest rollercoaster, the Millennium, at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We flew into Chicago from Las Vegas, blew through Michigan (though I wish we could have spent more time there), crashed at a Super 8 Hotel near the Detroit airport, woke up early and got to Cedar Point right when the park opened. The Millennium is 310 feet (taller than the Statue of Liberty) at it’s highest point and makes an 80 degree drop, 300 feet down. It’s a helluva a ride, but not really scary. New rollercoasters strap you in so tight, it’s impossible to move, eliminating any fear of falling out or dying, which is really what makes rollercoasters fun. A two-and-a-half hour wait for a ride not even three minutes long. It was completely worth it. The rest of the day, we spent mostly standing in huge lines, roasting in the humid July air, which partially killed the excitement of riding the many rollercoasters Cedar Point has to offer.

The next day, we drove down to King’s Island, in Cincinnati, where the lines were shorter and the temperature was considerably more tolerable. King’s Island boasts having the world’s only wooden looping roller coaster, the Son of Beast. It’s impressive just to look out at a whole forest of cut timber perfectly arranged in beautifully huge, arcing curves, dips that quickly rise and of course, a single loop. The line moved quickly for a brand new ride. Within an hour, we were clickety-clacking up the giant hill, plunging down the wooden Goliath, only to be confronted with another hill and plunge before making the loop. Despite innovations, technological advances, gimmicks of riding on your back, with your feet dangling, frontwards and backwards, the Son of Beast’s mother, the Beast, is still the best rollercoaster in the world. This wooden monster blasts you through lush Ohio woods at speeds over 80 m.p.h., whips you through three tunnels and overall lasts almost 4 minutes! Again, it was more fun before they upgraded the safety restraints, when you were thrown from sided to side, white knuckled hands clutching the safety bar for your fucking life. Regardless, it still reigns supreme.

The rest of the trip was a rushed run through Bloomington, Indianapolis, South Bend and back to Chicago. The whole trip was far too hurried. Driving from one city to the next, trying to meet up with people, failing to see anybody, not getting to soak up any of the things that make traveling worthwhile. Each day, as I sit on BART, staring out the window, I still wish I had the time and money to take off work for extended periods of time, drive around the country, go to shows in new cities, see new bands, check out new record stores. I guess what I need to do is start a band and go on tour. Or get a grant to go on tours with bands, taking pictures. I can dream anyway.

Now, let’s get to the records...

I’ll start off with one of the better 45s to come out this year, by the above mentioned PINKZ. Featuring former members of LOLI & THE CHONES, BITCH SCHOOL and the FEVERS, this all-girl power pop band hits total fucking pay dirt with the two songs on their debut single. The first song, "USA" is a short (2 minute) blast of catchy but also punchy melodies. The flip side is a feisty, fun cover of TEENAGE HEADS’ "You’re Tearing Me Apart," which gives you a good idea of where these girls are coming from. I recommend picking up this single now, before you’re scrambling for a copy on eBay. Honestly, they’re some of the greatest girl power pop ever. No exaggeration. ($4? Radio Beat/PO Box 8198/Bellflower, CA 90707).

Kryptonite Records (827 Lincoln Blvd./Manitowoc, WI 54220) is doing their part to keep no-fi trash rock alive and kicking and screaming with their latest, a split 7" featuring the EVOLUTIONS and the SMUTS. Kryptonite sent me a whole little package of their photocopied covered records, most of which are adorned with bad porn cut out of magazines. The LAST SONS OF KRYPTON and the EVOLUTIONS both pretty much do the same kind of three-chord plummeling that you can almost pick out of the distortion. Be sure to at least get the reissue of VOM’s "Live at Surf City" 7" Kryptonite put out.

The SMUTS (former members of LAST SONS OF KRYPTON) also have a new single on the Midwest’s other premier label of loud, blaring, recorded-on-an-answering machine punk, Sack O’ Shit (PO Box 308/Kankakee, IL 60901). Their Sack O’ Shit single has so much weird echo-effect on the vocals, the songs jump outta the grooves. Your typical snot-nosed punk, with songs like "Shock Therapy" and "Teenage Fuckup." They don’t win any originality points, but it’s still a cool single. Limited to 450.

Sack O’ Shit dumped a handful of other killer singles in my lap—the GUILTY PLEASURES, which is a welcome step above your typical sneering, sniffed-too-much-glue, RAMONES/QUEERS clone. These finesse their guitars, working in some simple, but effectively sharp riffs. This one is limited to 550.

I already raved about les SEXAREENOS last month, so I’ll spare you a second gushing. This single, also on Sack O’ Shit, has four songs, two of which are on the Sympathy album (though these are different [and more blown-out] recordings). They also pull off a roaring rendition of the KNAVES’ "Leave Me Alone."

The real kick in the pants surprise though was the MASHERS LP that Ryan from Sack O’ Shit sent. I put this 12 song platter on my record player, turned up the volume, not knowing what to expect and was thoroughly pleased from start to finish, so much so that I listened to it one-two-three times in a row. No lie. They storm through each song with a gut-level rhythm supplied by a deep, dirty guitar and buzzing bass that work with the drums to really sock it to you. The vocals come out biting, chomping with a set of molars that’ll mash you flat and swallow you whole. They break up the usual heavy-handed mayhem with some crazed songs that break well out of the three chord mold. You guessed it, only 550 (110 on blue vinyl) exist.

The AUTOMATICS (the Portland band) have moved well beyond their pop-punk sound on their new killer LP, Murder Suicide (Alien Snatch/Moerikeweg 1/74199 Untergruppenbach/Germany [Licensed from Just Add Water]). Pressed on what feels like three pound vinyl, these 14 songs are still loaded with deadly hooks, but they apply a generous layer of boisterous distortion and throw in a number of well-placed riffs.

One more stunning LP this month that fits in well with both the MASHERS and the AUTOMATICS–the SHIFTERS. I liked the SHIFTERS singles well enough, but this LP is just amazing. Simple, catchy songs that deliver the goods and then keep giving. Pure sharp, sneering, snarling punk that you might almost think was from Long Beach. Stereodrive/Green Hell (von-Steuben-Str. 17/48143 Munster/Germany) released the vinyl version of what I believe was originally released on CD by Radio Records (PO Box 1452/Sonoma, CA 95476). Oh, and it’s limited to 750 copies. And in case you didn’t know...some of the SHIFTERS have gone on to be in the TRUST FUND BABIES (who are also great).

It's hard to know what to make of the BRIEFS. They're slow, more melodic, but still have a really punchy, sort of like the BOYS, for lack of a better comparison. The guitars chew on the same few poppy chords while the vocals come up with some cutting harmonies. This single is so great because it's not like every other fucking record coming out. They've got a touch of the past while tacking a big step forward. Look for their split 7" with the SPITS, and a full length album too, all on Dirtnap (PO Box 21249/Seattle, WA 98111/dirtnapradio@antennaradio.com).

Dirtnap also brings two of Montana's hottest bands, FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM and LOPEZ together, each blasting away on a side of a nice piece of coffee (with lots of cream)-colored vinyl. FIREBALLS OF FREEDOM strut in their usual style while LOPEZ tears out two blaring songs.

The fabulous KING LOUIE of New Orleans has struck out on his own as a one-man band. I'm talkin' one-man band as in he plays guitar, harmonica, drums and sings all at once. As you'd expect from this Southern veteran of trashy rock 'n' roll, these two songs are soul-barring stompers, bathed in humid distortion. ($3; Therapeutic/U.N.O. Box 534/New Orleans, LA 70148)

If you've been hurting for a new fix from HENRY FIAT'S OPEN SOUR, Proud To Be Idiot Records (c/o Alessandro Nodari/via are zovo 17c/37125 Verona/Italy/anus_x666x@yahoo.com) delivers just exactly what you need. HFOS share a 7" with the SPIDER BABIES, both bands tearing up the grooves on this record in their own loud and trashy way.

Nobody buys spoken word records, which is why Scott Soriano is either A) Crazy or B) Dedicated or C) Both A and B. Moo La La’s latest release, a sort of drunken story-telling adventure by JOSH REYNOLDS pressed on two sides of a 7" ($3; 1114 21st St; Sacramento, CA 95814) proves this. The thing about spoken word records, even when they’re completely unpretentious (as this one is), is that they’re better in theory than in actuality. Scott makes a good point on the back about how punk is "a subculture that pays 99% of its attention to music and little else to visual art, writing, film & verbal vomit." I’ll add to that by saying that a good portion of the best parts of punk are about story telling. Whether through songs, zines or just hanging out with friends on a warm late summer evening, telling stories helps bind us, gives us a collective culture, a common lore and all that. With that said, this record is awesome. You get Josh Reynolds telling a string of stories that, if they were in a zine rather than on a record, would be all the rave among those of us who love zines with good travel and personal stories. Josh (and Scott) just took another route to present the stories. Will I listen to this record more than two or three times? Probably not. Do I listen to most the records I get more than two or three times? No. Do I read zines I get more than twice? Rarely.

I think I mentioned going to see the RONDELLES and MOONEY SUZUKI play last month. Great show, blah, blah, blah. I mention it here (again or for the first time) because MOONEY SUZUKI’s debut album is out on Estrus, and all I can say is that fans of loud, dirty, Motor City Rock ‘n’ Roll shouldn’t hesitate at grabbing this disc. Though it doesn’t touch the intensity and volume of their live show, as soon as you drop the needle, you’ll have smoke billowing outta the grooves on the vinyl. I can’t imagine how often these guys get compared to MC5 (a lot, I’m sure), but of all the bands who’ve been compared to the MC5, these guys are among the most deserving of such an honor. However, they also have a kick-in-the-pants roaring garage sound that goes far beyond a lame duck MC5 comparison. Speaking of the MC5, check out www.futurenowfilms.com for the latest lowdown on the feature-length MC5 documentary, which is nearing completion.

The BOBBYTEENS' new album is out! CD on Estrus, LP on Screaming Apple. Full report next month.

While at the Shakedown, two boys from Down Under (New Zealand, if I remember correctly) held a little record sale in their hotel room. They had loads of new and reissues from New Zealand and Australia. Since I've lately taken a particular interest in old New Zealand punk, I was in heaven. They had copies of a SCAVENGERS LP (Action! Records/PO Box 8282/Symonds Street/Auckland/New Zealand/www.records.co.nz) that has been getting ample play on my turntable. 10 songs (some live, some studio) of pure Auckland terror. They also had copies of a SPELLING MISTAKES single. Three blasting (live?) songs, "Stingy," "I Want You" and of course, their classic, "Hate Me, Hate Me." The sound quality on the B-side kinda blows—it's quiet, especially after the A-side, but still really great. If you need a primer on New Zealand punk, be sure to pick up the Hate Your Neighbors LP and the AK-79 compilation, which was reissued a while ago on CD with lots of extra tracks. Both are absolutely essential. Really.

Stepping back thirty-five years, they also had lots of mid-60s garage punk and beat reissues, including a live CHANTS LP, a killer MISSING LINKS 7" and a split e.p. with the DARK AGES and GRIMM LTD.

They also had modern stuff. I blew most my money on the reissues, but did get a ROCK AND ROLL MACHINE 7", though I can't figure out what label it's on or how you could get one. The three songs are standard high-energy HELLACOPTERS/CANDY SNATCHERS rock with a little extra distortion.

Dionysus (PO Box 1975/Burbank, CA 91507) has stepped up to the task of documenting some of the best Southern California punk of the late-70s and early-80s. Their most recent addition is a full LP of material by the CONTROLLERS. It includes their singles on What and Siamese Records and comp tracks. The beginning of the record proves the CONTROLLERS as one of the more vicious punk bands. Like most L.A. bands though, by the early-80s, they started slowing down, softening their sound.

Related to the CONTROLLERS, Johnny Stingray's other, less known band, KAOS also has a reissued single on Dionysus. This collects three songs ("Alcoholiday," "Top Secret," "Iron Dream") originally on What Records. The first song, "Alcoholiday," is the best for sure.

Get Back offers a monster double IGGY POP LP called Nuggets, which collects outtakes, live stuff and a ’72 studio session from London. It has some stuff recorded with Ric Ocasek and studio stuff done with Steve Jones in 1985. Bulging with 22 songs.

At least for historical curiosity, you should check out the LINK CROMWELL 7" on Norton (Box 646/Cooper St/NYC, NY/10276). Why? Well, Link later became known better as LENNY KAYE (PATTI SMITH guitarist and Nuggets compiler). Here you get to hear him rip through two songs, typical of what would find its way on a Teenage Shutdown comp.

Another historical curiosity I found this month is a bootleg of LOU REED's pre-VELVET UNDERGROUND band, the PRIMITIVES. Their one single, with the cult classics, "The Ostrich" and "Sneaky Pete" are captured here for you to buy, listen to once or twice, pull out to impress your friends and otherwise beef up your bulging record collection.

Here’s a quick blow-through of other reissues that are out or will soon be out: ASTA KASK has both a legit 7" (Till Sista Droppen) and LP (Rock Mot Svinen) out on Honie (c/o Andreas Höhn/Hostmannstr. 30/29221 Celle/Germany/hoehnie@gmx.net). Sound Idea (PO Box 3204/Brandon, FL 33509) has put out a legitimate reissue of F’s 6-song e.p. from 1983, with an extra song from the same recording session thrown in to sweeten the deal. The CRIME--that is, the storming yet melodic UK band--is the latest band to be victim of the bootleg fairy. Now you can pick up a copy of their single with "Johnny Come Home," and "Generation Gap," for $5 instead of how much ever it's going for on the KBD rare collectibles market these days. The A-side is killer, the B-side is repetitive, tinny and slow.

Clyone Court, a co-op of the UC Berkeley campus every year puts on a show/party to kick off the new school semester. This year a bunch of bands played and it was a happening scene, complete with MRR's own Tom Hopkins singing the "Star Spangled Banner" to a group of skinheads and then running around the party, smashing every empty beer bottle he could find. The bands were all good too: The CLOSE-UPS put on an impressive show of RASPBERRIES/NERVES-inspired power pop. And the FLESHIES really blew me away. There records are okay, but come nowhere near matching their live show, which was just crazy. Kids dancing, people getting naked, mayhem and fun everywhere. I left during BLACK CAT MUSIC, when the drunk jocks at the party started out numbering the punks and were trying to start a pit, just for the sake of starting a pit. Blech.

That reminds me, I recently got one of the best zines I've read in a long time. It's called Drinking Sweat in the Ash Age. I'll warn you, it's probably too emo for some of you, so go ahead and skip on to the next paragraph. Travis from America? and Mike Taylor, who does Scenery both write about a number of subject, including: Chess, Biking, the South, Jealousy, Dancing, Punk Rock and my favorite section, Irony. Their articles are critical, intelligent and engaging, but most of all, they are fun to read. It's a combination so rare in punk. I was going to quote from Travis' piece on Irony and Post-Modernism, but the whole entire article is worth reading. Taking a bit of it just won't do it justice. Let's just say that reading it was kind of like getting to drink a hot cup of coffee on a bitterly cold fall morning. It makes things in my head so much clearer, putting together loose thoughts I had bouncing around in my head. Thank you Travis and Mike. Now get your own: $3; Travis/America?: PO Box 13077/Gainesville, FL 32604.

Quick news from behind-the-scenes...As of October, Crypt Records will join the Mordam family.

If you still feel like you can’t get enough TURBONEGRO, your prays have been answered (again) by Bitzcore. They’ve reactivated the Turbojugend Fanclub, which is mostly just a mailorder for such goodies as (drum roll please...) Turbonegro Denim Jackets! I too, will fall prey to the unashamed cashing in. Though I’m not sure exactly what is offered in doing so, you can sign up for the Turbojugend mailing list by sending an email message to: hippytim@bitzcore.de and you should also pay a visit to the Turbo Archive at: http://www.turbonegro.com.

TED FROM FLATUS!!! My backpack got stolen. Only a few things were in it—my walkman, my journal and the order you sent for a copy of the STATIC 7". Please send me your address and I'll get one out to you ASAP.

One last thing—the photobooth zine I've been working on for over two years is finally near completion. There's a good chance it'll be done by the time you're reading this. Everyone who sent in pictures will get a copy. The rest of you, email or write me for prices.

That's all. Overandout.

PO Box 11906 Berkeley, CA 94712 // icki@mindspring.com

 
 
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