THURSDAY MAY 19th
Walking down Cortez to the Empty Bottle is like waiting in line for a roller coaster. You're almost giddy with pre-ride excitement, knowing you're in for some thrills and spills, and you have that near-subliminal sense of danger lurking on the periphery. It's there, but you don't really consciously acknowledge it. But it's there. So, I was anxious to get inside on time, if not early, because I didn't want to miss the Busy Signals. They had the opening slot, and after missing a good majority of Headache City's set the previous year by figuring things would get off to a late start, I wasn't trying to fuck around. All preliminary reports surrounding them had them had been positive, and of course I wanted to see our very own Eric Lastname live on stage. Aside from Eric, the Busy Signals are made up of current members of The Tyrades and Krunchies on drums and guit, an ex-Carbona on bass and vox, and a good-looking girl on lead voice. I had no idea what to expect, as Eric downplayed any attempt I made to find anything out about the band previously under the auspices of not wanting to self-promote. Which I understand. It actually made me want to see them more. I timed everything pretty well this year, as I had a chance to get a beer, catch up with old friends, and get situated before the band hit the stage.
The Busy Signals hit it, and I have to say I was impressed, as were most other people in retrospect. And that first moment of music at the Blackout is surely intoxicating. They were energetic, a little bit pop, a little bit more punk, and full of hits. At a lack for description, I'm going to identify them as having the "Atlanta" sound, which is no doubt due in part to Jeremy's inclusion and Carbonas credentials. Maybe Beat Beat Beat with more power-pop influence? I don't know, they were great. Eric was non-stop moving, Frankie's drumming was tight, the boy-girl vocal interplay was catchy. And I'm not just saying that because my friend's in the band. Just ask Cardwell, he liked 'em too.
Second on the bill: Brooklyn's Shop Fronts. They were a lot better than I thought they would be, at least better than they sounded on the split with the DC Snipers. Pretty straightforward Rip Off-styled punk stuff. They covered the other side of the Rings single ("I Wanna Be Free"). Jami Wolf was certainly the best female Lowery had in the Zodiac Killers, and it was cool to see Paddy Bullocks in person after knowing of him via message boards for years. Nothing real mind-blowing, but a decent kind-of-opening act.
Human Eye were next, You've probably heard all of the stories by now, and they all happened. They set a pretty high standard for entertainment very early into the fest. I like the LP plenty, but I'm not as apeshit as some people are for it. Live, it was a beast. First, their drummer is fucking amazing. Really. And I've seen plenty of Tim Vulgar antics before, but this was the most far out I've ever seen him get. They sounded gigantic, especially in comparison to the two bands with traditional rock instrumentation that played before hand. Reverb and schitzo Korg effects filled the room, Tim's echoed vocals bounced off walls and brains. They had a huge eyeball banner hanging behind them, a piece of that flexible heating conduit draped across the drum kit, and of course looked like acid-fried weirdos. It was just a non-stop whirlwind freak-out, about halfway into which Timmy paused and brought out some mysterious eyeball shaped packages. He held them over his head, and busted into them with his fingers. The first held t-shirts, I think, which he tossed into the crowd, and the second unleashed metallic confetti over the masses. The third time, his eyes glinty and mischievous, he broke it open to unleash some green slimy-paste that got hurled into the audience. It was at this juncture that he started becoming covered in green goo. Then I stopped to light a smoke or something, and I don't know what the fuck happened, but he had that fucking octopus out, and was brandishing it like a weapon. It got flung crowd-ward, people scattered, and then Icki picked it up and retuned fire. Tim then got out some day-glo paints (that I'm assuming were both toxic and lead-based) that he might of already had out, but he starts dousing himself and the octopus with it, and then he's wearing the thing on his head so the tentacles look like suction-cupped dreadlocks, all the while the band is laying down some Hugo Award winning sci-fi heaviness and his vocals are echoed so far out its like being underwater. Cephalopod rock. Alien soundtracks. He has the heating conduit around his neck like a gigantic boa at some point. Totally fucked look in his eyes, paint and octopus slime covering every inch of him. It was as unbelievable as it sounds, and stage antics aside, still sounded absolutely great. Human Eye: doing for garage-punk what Voivod did for speed metal. Awesome, awesome live band.
After that total mind-fuck, everyone was pretty taken aback. I was worried no one was going to top that set, and we were only three bands into the weekend. Kajun SS were due next, and I had a good buzz on. I was keen to see King Louie live for the first time, and I wasn't let down. He was in good form. No one since the mighty GG Allin himself has straddled both the power-pop and scum-rock fences as well as this guy. They launched right into "Bored of Life", which got me out the sci-fi rock stupor Human Eye had me in. We had gone from some of the farthest out sounds, to singing along with "Back in the Ring" in a matter of minutes. I loved it, but my tastes tend to run more toward the filthy side of things anyway. They were loud and Southern. No other band is gonna hit you with shit-rock like "Psychological Problems" or "Know Your Place" and well-crafted upbeat gems like "I'm Thirteen and Too Ugly to Live" and "German Kajun" in the same set. No one. They did "Automobile", insuring we heard the entire Rings' discography covered that night. The one-two punch of "(I Got A) Drug Problem" and "Heart of Chrome" was almost too much to take. After that Louie said they had one more. "Anyone know 'Cock on the Loose'?" he asked. Well, Goner board personality, Greg Cartwright fan, and ex-MOTO member Barry Goubler sure did. He joined them for a rousing rendition of GG's classic wearing a Josie and the Pussycats shirt. At some point Louie dropped trou, yelled "Crack Kills!", and to close he threw a jar of pickle juice on the crowd. Why? Not sure. But the intoxicatingly sweet stench of pickling spices that perfumed the room sure smelled a hell of a lot like rock'n'roll.
(Right click and "Save as..." to listen to Kajun SS)
As far as I was concerned, the night was over right then and there. Not a huge Fevers fan, and I felt kinda bad because there was no way they could follow what Kajun SS and Human Eye had just wrought. This years Blackout line-up threw a few curves at you, and I appreciate their efforts to have some diverse bands playing. But, hey, everyone doesn't like everything, so I took a pass on this one. Put it this way: I talked with Steve Strange and he didn't think much of Kajun SS. He is a Fevers fan, and from his reports they were great. So everyone got what they paid for. There were certainly a lot of people dancing, and they sounded alright, even though they didn't move around too much. They didn't even throw anything disgusting into the crowd! What the fuck? But hey, it would have took the equivalent of the ghost of Philip K. Dick throwing a dump GG's corpse just took into the crowd to turn my head at that point. A lot of us went back to Cozumel's afterwards (including the octopus), I do believe 'Cannonball Run' was watched, and I tried to rest up. Day One, over.
Cardwell's Blackout 2005 Faves
Human Eye pic by Mark Murrmann
1. BAD TIMES!
2. Marvis urinating on the dance floor during REIGNING SOUND.
3. FINAL SOLUTIONS proving once again that they are Earth’s greatest currently active punk rock outfit.
4. CARBONAS at Delilah’s.
5. BUSY SIGNALS flattening everyone to start things off!
Busy Signals pic by Canderson
Kajun Ss pic by Rob Karlic
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