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LIVE REVIEWS FALL 2004

Key: (JG: Jeff Greenback)(RK: Rich Kroneiss)(EL: Eric Lastname)(TK: Todd Trickknee)(MTC: Matt Coppens)

Spits/Destruction Unit/Tyco Party @ The Hideaway, Seattle, WA Ė 9/24/04
Tyco Party sucked major dick. Funny for the first 30 seconds, incredibly annoying for the next half hour. Enough said. I realized very early on into Destruction Unitís set, right about when the mic stand whipped by, mere inches from my face, that I should never take my eyes off of Ryan Wong. He was a bit wily this night - calling him drunk would be the understatement of the year Ė and his foot looked incredibly fucked up too. All of this likely explains why they only played five or six songs. No Tokyo Electron, Mere Mortals or Digital Leather songs either (they had just played as DL the night before) as had been rumoured. While I could have gone for a few more, it was still worth it to see songs like ďSo ShatteredĒ and ďDo You Want to Kill Me?Ē played ass-fuckingly raw with a singer who was literally self-destructing before our very eyes.
Hadnít seen The Spits for ages and thankfully not much had changed. They were drunk, we were drunk, they yelled and jumped, we yelled and jumped, and everyone acted like a buffoon. You know, the usual. Though Iím not sure how much Iím into the ďletís play every song we know, every time we playĒ thing thatís been happening at their shows recently. I can understand doing that on tour, but in your hometown all youíre going to do is piss people off. Maybe thatís the point? At least they didnít play any songs twice this time. (JG)

The Packers Suck...So Let's Rock! Festival @ Main Stage, Green Bay, WI 10/15-17/04
Friday, October 15:
The Mudgetts are kids from the WI sticks (Stevens Point) who run off a New Bomb Turks/Heartbreakers type punk mess. They kinda annoy me (the singer is very punchable), but the crowd seemed to dig it, especially the Trailer Park Tornados dudes and some random New Yorker who "does a magazine" and "is good friends with Murphy's Law."
Milwaukee's AluminumKnotEye hadn't played bandleader KeithV's hometown in nearly 2 years, so it was damn nice to see 'em again. The Main Stage's regular-nighter audience of mulleters, bikers and cokeheads actually stayed put as Keith harassed, harangued and crawled on the ground making monkey noises. I don't think I've ever seen them this tight and powerful, and it was a killer set.
Big Neckers the Trailer Park Tornados brought down their speedy, punky/hardcore brew as a knife/chain fight ensued near the back door of the bar. It was a pretty good soundtrack to the melee, with noisy/loud phase-washed guitar screaming over the one-two one-two bum-bum-bump-bum-bum backbeat. It was all over in a blur, and it was time to go smoke & drink with the world's biggest dog & rabbit until the sun was ready to peak its head.
Saturday, October 16:
For some reason, Headache City decided to go on when most people were still considering supper plans, so I walked in after they'd already started. They put out what is possibly my favorite single of the year, a catchy Jonathan Richman/organ groove that doesn't really sound quite like anything else around today. They don't puke, spit, fart or break bottles over their head, (though Shit Sandwich CEO Norah did repeatedly moon a guy in a Hard Rock Cafe shirt after they were done) they just play them tunes and play them well. They have a new drummer since the last time I saw 'em (at the Blackout), and she pulled it off nicely. Norah's parents were in the audience, and her Dad (see pic for back-of-noggin look) said she "looked bored."
Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones are ex-Tears/Knockers/Strong Come Ons/probably 20 other Algoma, WI units, and have been knocking us out at the Main Stage quite a bit over the last few months. Casey told some stories about his nuts, and they were off. Two drummer/two guitarist no-bullshit rock-pound with Casey's nasty-funny poetics bumping up against Ted's Reigning Sound-isms - great as usual!
I wasn't sure what to expect with Thee Shams, as their album is well-done but sorta the expected garage move. Maybe I was drunk (maybe?), but the one dude's Brit Invasion numbers were solid and rockin', and the other song-dude's just-pre-metal tunes kicked out a nice groove. They looked A LOT like the Cuts, but threw themselves into the songs with a lot more abandon than that. The great drummer (Greenhorne-drummer's brother and sometime fill-in) made an intersting diversion whenever the songs started to lose me. Perfect band for the after midnight drunks, and well received all around.
Sunday, October 17:
Disaster from the word "go" - Mystery Girls couldn't locate their singer, Modern Machines cancelled, and Dan Melchoir thought he was supposed to be in Green Bay on NOVEMBER 17. A small crowd of hungover-types watched the Shutups do the loud rawk thing (very well, mind you, but I certainly woulda prefered Melchoir), and cleared out in time to hit the sack for work Monday morning.
Here's hoping that the weekend voodoo lifted the Packers' cursed season, as they won on Sunday. Next time, we'll beat & drag Favre along & give him some Vicodin & pour some Pabst down his gullet & set him up with a toothless biker broad to perk him up.(TK)

Million Dollar Marxists/Headache City/Operation S/Camaro Rouge @ Cal's Liquors, Chicago, IL - 10/22/04
A very sober and tired me arrived at Cal's at about 9:15 p.m. or so and grabbed a beer. I quickly found Norah from Headache City, who was gracious enough to introduce me to the rest of the band and participate in a real short interview (see this ish) and make fun of me for being "nervous" later on. Nice folks. Heard the Million Dollar Marxists from outside. They sounded like the heaviest elements of FUCKIN' RAWK mixed with the worst elements of FUCKIN' PUNK. They bored the FUCKIN' SHIT outta me. I sipped at my Pabst like a girl and didn't venture inside once during their set. Next up: Headache City. As always, they were fun and good. The new drummer's working nicely. Could be my new favorite Chicago band, if you're takin' notes, which you are. Anyway, after what seemed like one helluva wait, highly-anticipated Operation S slinked onto the "stage" (floor), and the nerdies were poppin' woodies as Cecilia writhed, kicked and moaned her way through their set of future-wave keyboard punk -- cameras were a-flashin', heads were a-bobbin', and everyone seemed muchly impressed. They pulled out a few choice covers (The Avengers' "The Amerikan in Me" and the No-Talents' "(We've Got A) Riot"), which were killer, and their originals hit with even more force. Great set. Consider me converted. Next were Camaro Rouge, whose sound escapes me, as I was pretty much full-on soused at that point and don't remember a whole lot except for making fried egg sandwiches after everyone left my house later that eve. Those sandwiches were awesome! (EL)

Whores of Babylon/Clams/Spits @ Kraftbrau Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI - 10/4/04
Within the last year or so it seems like Kalamazoo, Michigan might be the only town in all of Michigan for a somewhat unknown rock & roll band to go through the trouble of making the stop to play. Detroit has become a gigantic waste of time for any band from anywhere outside of the Motor City to play. Luckily for us Michiganders in the rather unlikely location of downtown Kalamazoo a small independent brewery called the Kraftbrau has opened its doors and allowed these unknown garage/punk/garage-punk/rock & roll bands to play their music.
My car full of 5 pulled into town from my home in Grand Rapids about an hour before show time which gave me plenty of time to slug back as many beers as possible before the first band took the stage. I was standing there working down my third or fourth beer when in walked the Spits. The Spits are originally from Kalamazoo and I knew they were a local favorite there but I had no idea how much these Kalamazoo-ians were into the Spits. When the Wood brothers stepped into the room people started throwing drinks their way immediately. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ernie Quintero (the guy filming all the bands at the Blackout) whom I met briefly a few months earlier in Chicago, working the Spitsí merch table.
I was shooting the shit with Ernie when the first band the Whores of Babylon of Coldwater, Michigan got up and started throwing down their fucked up brand of rock & roll. Iíve seen these guys play at least 20 different times as they play with my band Glorified Trash quite a bit and theyíre always a tight, fast, and to-the-point unit and this night was no exception. Imagine the Dead Boys sped up with screaming vocals, plenty of excellently thrown in guitar leads, a guitar player with enormous amounts of charisma, and a skinny hollowed out madman of a vocalist hurling himself onto/into any object above or below knee level and you might have the Whores of Babylon. Up next were the Clams who donít have a member that looks a day over 17 and have been getting quite a bit of local attention lately. Iíd only seen the Clams one time prior to this show and they were pretty good but good can either turn to bad or great within a matter of seconds so I was pretty excited to get the chance to see them again. They took the stage all clad in matching white t-shirts and blue jeans and already the kids in the crowd started pogoing before they even hit their first note. Once they did hit their first note though the place went crazy as the Clams kicked out a fast, catchy, sloppy blend of punk-rock very similar to the early day Rip Off bands. Give the Clams a little more time and I would not be surprised if theyíre a band we hear of a lot in a couple of years. After the Clams set I ran back to the bar and ordered myself two beers and a glass of wine as I could see the crowd edging closer to the front of the stage in anticipation of witnessing the Spits. The Spits came out quickly dressed in matching caps and gowns and proceeded to hit the crowd with the most energetic, belligerent, and dumbest Spits set Iíve witnessed to date. Iíve never seen a crowd so worked up as on this night. One kid flew through the air off of a monitor only to kick me in the nose and smash one of my glasses of beer. I looked behind me from the very front of the stage to see 150 people hopping up and down all at the same time and literally going crazy. There have been rumors as of late about a Spits break up in the near future and Iím not one to say whether those rumors hold any water or not. But if it is true I would definitely check them out live as soon as possible because on this night they were one of the most fun live acts Iíve caught in quite some time.(MTC)

Dwarves/Bill Bondsmen/2 other bands not worth mentioning @ Alvins, Detroit, MI - 10/22/04,br> Detroit is probably my least favorite city Iíve been to to catch a show in all of the Midwest. You either have to deal with garage rock pecker head types with afros and brown leather jackets or angry balding punks in their mid 30s who are just looking for you to make the wrong move so they can pounce all over you. Not exactly the most welcoming city in the world. With that said, I figured Detroit would be the perfect place to witness some good down home Dwarves violence.
The first band to hit the stage was Bill Bondsmen. I saw these guys play a year or so earlier in a bowling alley of all places and was mildly entertained. I donít know whether these guys got really good out of nowhere or if the alcohol was going down smoothly and putting me in the right mood but these guys kicked some major ass this night. Bill Bondsmen mix Born Against style hardcore with fast 80ís style punk similar to the Zero Boys all done with a sense of humor. They played an intense but short set (about 10 minutes) that left me very impressed. Up next were two shitty metallic hardcore bands. I spent my time far away from the stage getting properly inebriated in anticipation of the Dwarves.
It took the Dwarves forever to come out onto stage. When they finally did the crowd reacted very mildly to them at first but warmed up after time. I donít know anybody who likes any of the Dwarves newer material, myself included, but the band was still very tight and energetic. The Dwarves only played one or two songs off their new album ďThe Dwarves Must DieĒ and pretty much stuck to older hits from their Sub Pop years. Something seemed missing though. All the hype Iíd heard about all this insanity and Dwarves violence/mayhem was definitely hype. What I saw that night was a professional and obviously aged band playing into an old image theyíd created for themselves nearly 20 years earlier. The legendary Dwarves violence was reduced to Blag Jesus popping me on my head once with the microphone for harassing him. That was it, no near riots, no flashed tits, no blood, just a bunch of old men doing their jobs. Still not a disappointing live act but certainly not worth the $16 ticket price any more.(MTC)

DEAD MOON/THE PRIESTS/REVEREND SINN @ The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY - 9/28/04
I don't mind driving the 45 minutes to The Bug Jar to see a good show on occassion. It's a great club. What I do dread about going to Rochester for a show is the endless succession of shit bands that pop up as opening acts for touring bands. See, Rochester seems weird to me. I usually only see crust punk kids and wallet-chain Gearhead greaser types at shows, and rarely anything in-between, unless their out-of-towners. Lots of costumes and posing it seems. Not like a lot of places are any better, but Rochester bands always just seem so completely forced. Reverend Sinn are perhaps one of the worst acts I have ever seen, in Rochester or anywhere. Guns'n'Roses looking dudes (lots of scarves, headbands, stretch jeans, and shit) doing some acoustic bullshit that was just mind-bendingly terrible. Nothing I can say can get across the immense amount suck existent in their performance. They had candles lit, played on stools on the floor, and actually had flower petals strewn about, as the singler warbled over not-even-close to competent backing. Just so, so awful. Later, I overheard some dude say in all sincerity, "Man, they sounded just like the Velvet Undeground." This little comment actually caused me to do a spit-take with my drink it was so preposterous.
Next up were Get Hip records garage suckbags The Priests, a band who seem to be so full of themselves and their totally amazing garageness that it's vomit-inducing. Rochester eats these clowns up though. They make 'Rock Star God' era Makers seem credible. The tunes are the typical bunko re-hash crap that Get Hip excels at putting out. The lead singer hams it up. Dude, Michael Maker needs his circa-1995 moves and sneer back, 'cause Question Mark has finally realized he's been robbed and is looking for his schtick. The bar was packed for these guys, and they got a great response. Well, their drummer isn't bad. The rest of them can get lost.
After these guys end their set, I realize that this shadowy figure perched up in a high corner of the room is Fred Cole, who just witnessed both incredibly shitty bands. I imagined what he must have thought of this joke being passed off as music. But then the biggest joke of all: more than half the place cleared out after The Priests! Dead fucking Moon played to maybe twenty people, when The Priests had just 'rocked' a crowd of at least fifty. Unbelieveable. I felt ashamed to be a human being, just by association with the crowd. What bullshit. Anyway, Dead Moon were great. They maybe played a little longer than necessary, but Fred still puts out guitar-wise, and Loomis is a fun drummer to watch. But the Rochester lameness kind of ruined it for me. Fuck, Dead Moon has gear older than The Priests, and they played to less than half the crowd. Once again, I say bullshit. BUt the people that were there did dig it, they played all the hits with a bit of new stuff, and I think some hot older lady was flirting with me throughout their set. Not as mind-blowing as I remember them being like seven years ago when I last saw them, but it was good that I got to see them again at all. No pics, because my camera turned out to be as lame as the people who left before Dead Moon played. Fuck all of you. (RK)


Destruction Unit pic by Matt Wong
Shams pic by Trickknee
Operation S pic by Eric Lastname
Spits pic by Angie Faoro
Dwarves pic by Jay Walker


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