Photos of Bent Outta Shape and Ringers by Cheryl Groff
Nights like these keep me from feeling distant from my friends miles and miles away. It started off with me sweet talking my roommate, who had just returned jetlagged from India, into driving me to a party in Oakland. Driving anywhere in San Francisco, especially Oakland, is a fucking tedious and arduous task, but she agreed to take us. A shot, a beer, and a quick brush of the teeth later, we were on our way.
I slugged up to the party and confusingly looked around, and, to my surprise, none of the bands had played yet. I stood around, taking nervous sips of my beer and trying not to say anything immediately that was too stupid too soon out loud. Then my friend Jamie from Bent Outta Shape came up and gave me hug and I started feeling a little better. I knew he would need some pills, so I tried to bring a few, which he asked me for promptly.
Before I knew it, Shitstorm was playing and Jamie was passing around a bottle of whiskey. I didn't get to catch much of Shitstorm though, 'cause I wasn't drunk yet and I am a social coward without booze in my system, which is strange because I am a complete social buffoon with booze in my system. A few more pulls off the whiskey bottle and I had begun my initial descent into Pleasuretown just in time for the Ringers to begin. They let loose with their style and I felt like I was watching a show at Gilman twelve years ago for punk part two. They really got a D4-meets-Crimpshrine Lookout feel to them. That is, before Lookout became a hip label, gave up on punk rock, and started sucking. Needless to say, the Ringers were bitchin', and by the end of their set I knew I needed their record.
When Bent Outta Shape came on, the band was speeding around, getting ready to play. Their set was a religious experience. Before I knew it, we all fell on top of each other - taking sips off of whoever had the hardest bottle open at the time - but there was always at least one forty ounce upside down while the band played. It was a landslide victory once the booze hit me.
I started the token heckling of "pizza!" when a man and woman turned around. The woman had on a pink t-shirt that said "Brew Not Bombs," and the man told me that he, in fact, loved pizza as well. What a small and glorious world. And when he yelled "pizza!" I informed him that I enjoyed his company.
Bent kept playing and the crowd kept dancing. But when they strummed into the first chords of "Rudes and Cheaps," my heart sunk and my hands rose up to the sky, embracing everything I both loved and hated. As I found myself tossed back and forth from one direction to the next, I realized the pizza punks will never die, like the Goonies.
Even if I'm not sure if I am a piece of shit rude or a piece of shit cheap, I continued for the rest of the evening telling everyone and everything that "we're doing all right," just like the song says. That is, until I told everyone on the bus at the end of the night that the revolution was ours. The show ended with a dog pile on top of Bent Outta Shape and a smile on everyone's faces. I said my goodbyes and drove into the night to try and see the Marked Men.
Crossing over the Bay Bridge back into San Francisco, I realized that I have seen a lot of the same kids at shows over the last year and I love seeing them. Their metabolism isn't bitter yet. And now, after the music stops, I go outside panting for air, trying not to puke. But the kids keep drinking. I guess that's what Sparks and Tilt are for.
But, like I said, I was on my way to see the Marked Men, which is the only reason I left. They were playing at Thee Parkside, and we pulled up outside just in time to see them start their set. I ran in frantically, trying to find somebody who could get me and my two friends that were outside, inside. But to my disappointment, the show was sold out. On my defeated march toward the door, I bought a 7". My friends looked at me with eyes of bummer as we listened to a few songs through the thick red concrete walls of Thee Parkside, but it wasn't the same. It started to rain, so we called it a night.
I wasn't too disappointed even though I had been dying to see the Marked Men since I last saw them at the Fest. Bent Outta Shape and Ringers left me warm and fuzzy inside. I got dropped off at the Hemlock for last call and continued to make an ass out of myself. The night was over for me and I continue to say, "We're doing alright." I love you all.