For me, going to a show has never been as simple as paying the cover, watching the band and going home. Nothing is ever that easy for me. So when a band I want to see rolls into town, watching 40 minutes of live punk rock takes about 24 hours of preparation.
The first hurdle is transportation. I gotta confess right off that I do own a car, so it would seem that all I have to do is put the key in the ignition and go. The reason I don’t drive is because I like to drink, and the fact that I’m already a cop magnet is a good sign that I should not risk getting behind the wheel after a few beers.
The second hurdle is I don’t drink just a few beers.
I like to party. And when I say party, I’m the guy who immediatelyputs on the lampshade and heads towards the ice chest as soon as I walk your house.
The third hurdle is I have no money. I mean it. I basically live off about $185 a month, so lately live bands haven’t been too high of a priority.
“But maybe you would have some money if you didn’t buy beer,” I can hear you asking.
Yeah? Well, maybe you’d talk less is you didn’t breathe.
So when the Lost Sounds came to town in August, I started plotting the week before. I made all the phone calls to friends, figuring I could sucker someone into picking me up, buying a few beers and more than likely end up crashing on their couch (I’m presently sleeping on a floor).
Of course, no one could make a weeknight show, but Todd, the editor of this very website and magazine, said he could get me in if I reviewed the show.
That solved my cash problem. Now I just had to clear the first two hurdles: get to the show and get loaded.
After a week of trying, I had no ride, and since the buses stop running back to my side of town after 9 p.m., it looks like I was stuck driving to Spaceland to catch the Lost Sounds.
When it comes to the keyboard explosion over the past couple of years, I’ve always believed that history does repeats itself, so despite all the hatred towards keyboards in the ’90s, it was no surprise when the ivory came back with a vengeance in the ‘Zeros. Certain bands have pulled it off with the occasional keyboard track on a recording (think Screeching Weasel), but very few can make it a full-time live instrument. The only two that come to mind are the Lost Sounds and the Spits. Nearly every time you hear a band trying to rock with keys, it’s comes off as being trendy.
The reason why the Lost Sounds stand out is because they are the best at what they do. Their spooky, lo-fi garage with the combination of male and female vocals is one of the most original sounds that’s coming out today. And their live show is even more intense.
As they took the stage at Spaceland, they tuned up about four guitars and set up six keyboards in front of the drums and amps. Without even looking at each other, they kicked into their set, barely even pausing between songs. Jay started out on vocals and guitar, playing and singing his guts out until I thought he was gonna puke. Then they broke into a second half where Alicja moved from keyboards and took over on guitar and vocals while Jay leashed up his axe and moved behind the keys. It was almost as if the band was playing two sets, but they transitioned so smoothly, looping some wacky Moog noise while they swapped instruments, that I barely noticed.
Their set consisted mostly of tracks from their last two LPs on Empty. Both releases are insane low-fidelity silicon punk that screams in your face when it’s not whispering in your ear, and the live show was a great visual to match.
I walked out of the show with a smile, congratulating myself for a plan working out getting in for free, having a couple of drinks and seeing a great band until I saw the $40 parking ticket on my car.
Fuck, 17 hours of planning just to get in for free cost me a total of $54 for the night. When I saw the ticket, I actually started muttering, “Ah, shit. Now how the fuck am I gonna pay for this?!?” when a girl I just met saw me cursing and stomping and asked, “Larry, do you want me to give you $10 towards your ticket?”
Call me a sucker, but I just can’t take money from girls.
But I had absolutely no problem accepting free beers from friends a couple of weeks later at the Riverboat Gamblers show at the same venue.
I started the week with the same routine: I called and emailed everyone I knew to see if they wanted go check out the show. I lucked out this time with a friend from San Diego said he wanted to cruise, and it just so happens Spaceland is only a half mile away from his pad.
I showed up at his doorstep with a four dollar 12-pack of Old Milwaukee. We pound them down and after 10 minutes in the cab, we’re standing in front of the club.
Just for the record, I’m not always a cheap bastard. I was more than happy to pay the $8 to see the Riverboat Gamblers. I’d only heard the Gamblers’ new full-length Something to Crow About twice and instantly realized that these guys rock so hard that if I didn’t see them now I would later kick myself for missing a great show. (Good thing I did because the Gamblers’ tour was cancelled a couple of days later, but more on that later.)
With the first note, Spaceland exploded with vocalist Mike climbing over bodies and the stage canopy. It was as if someone unleashed a 130-pound Samsonite gorilla in a tight T-shirt on the crowd. He screamed, sang, and surfed while carrying the vocals through each song, never missing a beat or pausing to catch his breath. Bassist Patrick and guitarists Colin and Freddy, when put together, add up to a second vocalist bantering back and forth with their choruses and sing alongs.
They tore right through most of their tracks of their new record with the front row squeezing in just as many words as Mike. The kids were tight tonight.
The show ended way too soon, but with the exception of booze, it’s always better to want more than to have too much. I walked out of the club with the 75 cents I walked in with and a huge smile on my face.
Unfortunately, disaster did strike the band a couple of nights later when Patrick was bashed in the face with a microphone at their San Francisco show. The poor guy had most of his teeth smashed and had to suffer through hours and hours of surgery to reconstruct his face. I sent them $10 to help out with the some of the bills.
I told you I wasn’t always a cheap bastard.
* * *
I’m not always obnoxious, I’m not always drunk, and I’m not always annoying. Good luck trying to catch me when I’m not one if not all three. In the meantime, listen to the New Bomb Turks and read Genetic Disorder.