Before we left for Monday night’s Queers show at Carabar, I fixed my self a tuna melt. Shandi had reminded me that Monday is dollar grilled cheese night at Carabar, and I didn’t want anything to tempt me into ordering one of those awful things. Caraber’s perverted imitation of a grilled cheese is a cold slice of American barely melted between two pieces of toast. It’s an affront to everything a grilled cheese is meant to be. Once we got to the bar I found another of the bar’s Monday night specials that I could be, and was tempted to order repeatedly. They sell a shot of whiskey and a PBR for three bucks. Cheaper than a burger and fries at Mcdonald’s.
I was downing my second cold mug of Pabst when Corey Baxter and Tapeworm Joe kicked into the bar like homoaffectionate, saddlesore cowboys in a movie, laid guitars on the bar floor and started sexually assaulting me. I had just run into my friend Megan, who told me that her band was opening for the Queers that night. I stammered, trying to remember whether or not I should have already known that, and before I had time for another thought Corey and Joe were flanking me in my barstool and trying to get their hands on my goodies.
Corey said, “We’re getting ready to tear the roof off this place,” and Joe promised to rock me so hard that my asshole would turn inside out. Then he said that they would rock so hard that they would turn everybody’s asshole inside out in the whole place. It was a thoroughly disgusting interaction, and I was glad that I was drunk enough to handle it.
It wouldn’t have comforted me any to know at the time, but I would find out in the course of the evening that their band was called Hound Phelator. The name must be a D&D reference or something, cause I don’t get it.
The first act of the night was All Eyes Path, a hip-hop group that took the stage to their deejay, DJ Self Help, spinning Wu Tang. Next he played the Batman theme song, which gave Don B something to do, but the chaotic musical intro made it hard to tell at first that there actually were rappers in the band and that a show was happening on stage. Eventually, the two MC’s, one a black guy named Michael and the other a long-haired white guy in a sequin vest and no shirt who would preen whenever Shandi pointed the camera at him. That was some real fun. Shandi started pretending to take his picture just to see what he would do.
DJ Self Help offered up solid beats that got all the white kids dancing. The problem is I can never tell what anyone is saying in a live hip-hop show. The duo of MC’s rapped, and I have to assume that the things they were saying rhymed, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you what any of it was about. Occasionally I would catch snipets of something that sounded socially aware. It seemed All Eyes Path had something to say. But what?
I lassoed Michael Bridgmon out on the sidewalk after the set, and he suffered through my awkward questions politely enough, considering I was a half-tipsy punk in a Nelson Muntz vest impersonating a rock music journalist with no credentials. When I asked about the message that motivated his group’s music he
told me that they were influenced by the things they see on TV and read about what’s going on in the world. I couldn’t think of any more questions and Michael excused himself.
Brilliant interview. I felt like a dick and tried to avoid his gaze for the rest of the night, which wasn’t hard because there were a ton of bands waiting to play and an increasingly crowded bar full of punks to be insulted by.
Next up was Vacation, a group of young looking guys with a shirtless drummer for a lead singer. They played melodic pop-punk of the Lagwagon variety with plenty of oohs and aahs in the background vocals. That kind of music tends to be better in the live show than on the CD, and vacation ended up rocking pretty hard. They plowed through their set with more balls than Blink 182 ever had and only slowed down briefly when their lead singer broke his drum peddle. Lead singer broke his drum peddle, even as I write it, it seems ridiculous.
Megan’s band, Thee Now Sound, was on next. I had talked to Meg a few times in the course of the night, and she each time she was exhibiting a sort of nervous confidence. She seemed ready and excited for the show, but it was like just under the surface she was certain that everything was about to go wrong.
I missed the first song because I was in the bathroom or buying drinks. For their second song, The Now Sound tore into the MC5 classic Kick Out the Jams. It was exactly the kind of fist-pumping, crowd-solidifying cover song that the night had been missing. I said, “Yeeeeah,” out loud and started bobbing my head. I looked at the dude next to me, and he was bobbing his head, too. Then I looked around and noticed heads bobbing all around the bar, everyone using non-verbal communication skills to say, “Hey, I know this song, and I appreciate this band playing it,” and, “I notice you like this song, too. You’re cool and so am I.”
I made it to the stage where Shandi had already tucked into a nook in the stinky, sweaty part of the pit and was taking pictures. The crowd was getting livelier with each
consecutive band. During The Now Sound’s set I had my beer dumped all over the house speaker and some gigantic blob with a face full of tattoos pummeled Shandi to the wall. Safe to say things were picking up.
From what I could tell, Meg nailed all of her bass fills and put on a hell of a show. The Now Sound’s singer was a guy with long hair and a beard who, I though, had a lot of nerve to be opening for a band whose signature song says “I don’t wanna be a granolahead.” He was a good guitar player, but it was hard for me to look at him and not turn against him for being a hippie. But why look at that guy anyway, when you could just look at Meg?
The Sound had some good songs, sometimes sounding like the Dead Kennedys, but also played some slower numbers that came off too BlitzRock-y for me.
Hound Phelator took to the stage with some seriously loud, evil guitar riffs and blazed through a short set of the kind of sleazy punk that ruins your outfit. After a band like
Hound Phelator, you’re neither surprised nor particularly irritated when you discover that your clothes are sticky with beer and covered in filth. Corey, the singer, wore a headband with big, floppy dog ears and a massive chain around his neck. He rattled the cymbals with his chain and once jumped on the crowd. Their drummer was a guy who looked like he might have been your uncle or the dude from WKRP in Cincinatti, and he drummed his ass off.
The Phelator set was pushing the crowd into an orgy of violence, but their show was over in no time. They wouldn’t play the Dead Boys, no matter how many times I screamed at them. It wasn’t until after they left the stage that I realized the band had been made up almost entirely of longhairs. They seemed to be taking over. I was a bit ashamed for California punk hotshots like The Queers to see Columbus in such a sorry state of personal grooming. I imagined The Queers, who had once favored our fair city by recording a live album here, leaving the gig saying, “Jesus, is it just me or is Columbus rotten with greasy dirtheads and smelly beardos. I hate to get up on a soapbox here, but seriously, can we get some Robin Hood type to start terrorizing the hipster bars with a pair of Wuhl clippers?
I’m trying to focus on the local stuff, but the final band of the night was, of course, The Queers. They wore the same kind of ballcaps that they wore in all their old videos. A girl was injured, trampled in the mosh pit , early in their set. To hear Shandi tell it (I was closing out the tab at the bar when it went down), she was on the ground, holding her head,
and most of the fools around the stage didn’t notice her or weren’t bothered enough to stop dancing. Somebody had to tear her out of the crowd to safety by brute force, but by that time most of the kids were too caught up in the noise and the booze and the passion of a kick-ass Queers show to know what was going on. There was an ambulance outside when we left, so I hope she was ok.
The Queers played their songs and it was good. I wish I could offer more, but years and years of punk shows has taught me something: Turn the music up loud enough, and pack the floor with enough kids jostling and threatening on another, and you’re probably going to have a good time no matter what.