Th' Losin Streaks and the Introducers: Live at the Blue Lamp in Sacramento By Benke

Dec 26, 2004

I got an email from Davide of the Introducers the other day, which took me back a few weeks to the night they played the Blue Lamp in Sacramento. I was supposed to see a movie with the Missus in downtown Reno that night, but when I strolled up to the theater, she was talking to Pete, who chastised our taste in cinematic venue ("You're gonna watch a movie in that fuckin' place?") and invited us to see the two most recent acquisitions to his label roster, th' Losin Streaks and the Introducers. Sounded like a no-brainer to me. It was 7:30 and the bands were going on around 10:30. The Missus and I could even catch our flick at the multiplex.

"Sounds good, Pete. Where's the show?"

"At the Blue Lamp..."


" Sacramento."

Whah??? There's a Blue Lamp bar in Reno three blocks from here. What the hell's wrong with that Blue Lamp? The decision whether or not to attend the show was inevitable. Despite the logistical problems, despite being pressed for time, and despite the impending movie date with the Missus (she graciously insisted that I head to Sacramento), I decided that my night would be spent at the Sacto Blue Lamp, making new friends and enjoying international punk rock.

The Missus and I went straight to the nearest watering hole and had a couple pre-departure drinks. Tears were almost shed at our parting of ways and we made out indecently to the chagrin of some, the delight of others, a public display of affection that pleased even the mildest voyeur drinking at the bar. We went our separate ways, she to the cinema and I to Pete's house, where we waited for a couple others to show. Dave and Camille arrived and we strapped ourselves into the car for the two-hour trek across the Sierra Nevadas to Sactown. The drive was so uneventful that it can mean one of two things: One, that that night it just wasn't meant to be and the show was gonna suck; or two that that was the calm before the storm and the coming show was going to be a riotous, rave-up, rock'n'roll bonanza. Was it bleak foreboding or a last peaceful respite before a night of depraved debauchery?

We pulled up to the bar around 10:30 and within seven seconds, Pete was surrounded by friends, had gained free entry to the show, and received a fistful of drink tickets from some guy I've never seen before. I was left scratching my nuts and asking after the nearest ATM location while Camille and Dave made introductions and said some hellos. Pete offered to split the three-person cover charge ($21) four ways, knocking the entry fee down to a manageable five-and-a-quarter. We milled around outside for a few more minutes, met some of the Introducers and a Losin' Streak, and made our way into the show.

The bar was at about three-fourths capacity, half of which was nine-tenths pure Sacramento hipster hotties! There was a cute Betty Paige look-a-like who wouldn't return my gaze, a smokin' little Asian knockout who turned her back when she caught my eye, and a big blonde bombshell who visibly and physically deflated when I smiled at her. To all of them, I have this to say: "Sorry, ladies, this punk rock stud is spoken for." I pointed at my wedding ring and smiled at them apologetically. They didn't show it, but inside I knew they were shattered.

I felt a bit bad after breaking all those hearts, so it was straight to the bar for the only elixir prescribed to chase away the sorrow of having to toss rejection into the face of stunning beauty - Double Captain and Coke. And, for eight fucking dollars and fifty fucking cents, I was wishing that I had applied for one of them newfangled medical prescription discount cards I've seen advertised on the toob. Without my alcohol meds, I start shakin' and shiverin', but not in a cool, hep cat sorta way, crushing headaches pound my brain, and the ability to regulate my urinary system goes missing. The Blue Lamp played Merck to my financially strapped, legal drug dependent senior citizen, and I forked over the cash and sucked like Taking Back Sunday at the two little red cocktail straws.

The Introducers set up and took the stage, and the rock'n'roll extravaganza began. About half the songs were instrumentals, the other half had lyrics, but I couldn't understand a thing they were singing. These Eye-talians had enough style and attitude that profound lyrics and philosophical meaning are secondary, hell, tertiary even, to what's happening on stage. Pico (bass) was mugging and hopping around like a shorter version of That '70s Show's Michael Kelso. Stefano was so skinny that the drumsticks looked like extensions of his forearms. Vincente hammered chords and leads while smoking a cigarette and looking like he could give a shit. And Davide simply whipped everyone's ass in the room with piercing leads, wild instro stylings, and alcohol-fueled energy. He jumped off stage into the crowd and crawled between people's legs WHILE HE WAS BUSTING A FAT INSTRO LEAD!!! Stefano followed him out into the audience and continued around the corner and through the front door of the club until he was playing on the sidewalk to clueless passersby. The rest of the band kept in time, not missing a beat. The crowd was into it, but clearly somewhat taken aback and unsure of how to respond to the sheer electricity of it all. But who cares about the crowd, they're from Sacramento, fer christ's sake! The set ended, the Introducers tore down, and I met Dave, Pete, Camille and a true Wildman named Skipper at the bar for a round that Camille hospitably paid for.

Th' Losin Streaks got their shit set up and, goddamned, they are some good-lookin' cats. Tim and Stan are a couple of Troublemakers, Matt has done time in the Zodiac Killers, and Mike is the Best Guitarist in Sacramento, so I was looking forward to hearing 'em on something other than the lousy speakers hooked up to my computer. My, what a difference a few hundred watts make! The sound pounding outta the speakers was fuzzed-out '60s garage mixed with some o' that new millennium soul. Songs like "Beg, Steal or Borrow" and "Fine Line" showcase the stylistic range of which the lads are capable. Combined with the highly stylized '60s wardrobe, the overall aesthetic is one of Swinging London hipsters and frat rock crazies. Did I yet mention that Mike and Matt are two of the fucking best performers I've seen on a punk stage? Mike is a true showman, sacrificing a spot-on solo to whip the guitar strap from around his back and balance his axe in one hand whilst a single, solitary note rings out in sustain that would make Nigel Tufnel combust in a spontaneous explosion. He shivered and shook onstage without the help of alcohol withdrawals. The ladies stared at him wantonly, and I at the ladies luridly, before catching what was going on behind the drum kit. Matt K. Shrugg heroically kept the pace with a mustachioed intensity that soon boiled over into barely controlled dementia. This guy was in another world altogether as he unrelentingly banged the skins. A young Keith moon comes to mind, I shit you not. The two Troublemakers held it down out front like a couple of professionals, and the set came to a close with the crashing pandemonium of each guy laying it all out on stage, inspired by what the guy next to him was doing, and pushing just a little harder because of it.

We packed the equipment into the cars and headed to Tim's place, the Pet and Puppy Center, to unwind after the show. Unwinding was the last thing anyone was up for. The details are foggy, so I won't say too much. Liv and Tim were the most gracious of hosts. They supplied the tequila, and Dave made sure everyone's shot glass was perpetually filled. I saw way too many Italian cocks that night, and the Introducers are the sexiest cross-dressing man-whores to ever walk the streets of Sacramento. Skipper is the last of the great hipster wild drunks, and all y'all can stay at my house anytime ya like (if I ever get a house, that is). Who's that drunk asshole in the jean jacket on the website, Davide?