Anti-Racist Action Benefit, Bernies, 8-20-2011

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabeeNo need to skim this post; I’m skipping straight to the Nazi part.

It was during the long lull in Saturday night’s Anti-Racist Action benefit, while we sat at the patio table waiting for The Bloody Irish Boys set, that a couple of Nazis slunk out from whatever degenerate suburban hovel they typically cower in, and came to the backdoor at Bernie’s.  I didn’t get a good look at them.  On a decent night at Bernie’s, one sees his fair

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Skankin' to the beat.

share of shady looking dudes, so I didn’t look twice at a couple of shaved heads coming to the back door.  Maybe I thought They were on our side, but I should have known better.  Nazi skins are usually easy to distinguish from regular skinheads because real skins have some idea how to dress themselves, whereas Nazi boneheads usually go around looking like total dweebs.  I think these  two were dressed in, like Tapout shirts and shorts, looking like the type of guys you’d see in your hometown, bumping ICP in the Giant Eagle parking lot at midnight.  They approached the dude watching the backdoor and asked what was going on.  The door guy told them it was a benefit for Anti-Racist Action, and gave a brief description of ARA’s confrontational, anti-fascist tactics.  A dark cloud of shame and resentment hung in the air as the one bonehead grumbled to the other, “See, I told you so,” and the two skulked back to their cousin’s basement and their books on Norse mythology.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabeeI know I should be writing about the bands and the show, but I spent four hours yesterday reading the ARA website, so all I’ve been able to think about all day is stomping fascists.  I grew up in Saint Louisville, Ohio; the Nazis and I have a long history filled with deep personal acrimony.  Back in the nineties, the town was filled with racist graffiti and shirtless kids with homemade KKK tattoos, but since there were no minorities in a good five-mile radius, most of their hate activities were directed against the town’s three skate punks.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Decades old personal scores aside, it really does warm the heart to see Columbus reviving ARA in these days of right-wing resurgence.  As the legend tells, Anti-Racist Action started back in ’87 when a crew of anti-racist skinheads in Milwaukee known as the Baldies started taking action to keep a racist gang called the White Knights from taking over their scene.  After a year or so of fighting Nazis in the streets, the group was expanded beyond the narrow confines of the skinhead subculture and took the name Anti-Racist Action.  ARA branches sprang up in cities across the US and Canada, gaining a reputation throughout the nineties for showing up in mass numbers and wrecking Klan rallies.  It’s always been a controversial tactic. Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee Liberals tend to take the line that confronting the Neo-Nazis and the Klan gives them the attention they seek and therefore plays into their hand.  The liberal strategy is to ignore the crybaby Nazis until they stop throwing their shindigs and eventually give up.  The ARA strategy is to use whatever means are necessary to prevent the fascists from being able to organize.

A few dedicated anti-racists have been trying to revive ARA in Columbus over the past few months.  ARA has a long history in this city, but has been inactive for several years.  Last Saturday, as far as I know, was the newly reformed Columbus ARA’s first public event.  In keeping with the group’s punk rock origins, it was a benefit show at Bernie’s.  I’m hoping some of the money raised goes to making cool anti-swastika patches.  The ARA booth at Comfest was my main source for political fashion accessories during the first W Bush administration.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Bloody Irish

Shandi and I arrived at the show late.  We missed Thee Now Sound and a group called Intervene that I was told “sounded like Nirvana.”  The comparison was offered to me as a compliment, but you can interpret it however you will.  When we got there, the back patio was spattered with black-clad folks with crazy haircuts and superfluous zippers on their gear.  From a little distance it looked like Bernie’s in the old days, but when we got downstairs and paid our five bucks, we found the bar nearly empty.  A gutter punk with his t-shirt hanging loosely from the angular contours of his bones approached me to talk about the patch on the back of my jean-vest.  A few sentences in he was spouting something that started with, “I hate capitalism, man.  I hate this whole system, it’s fucked!”  He sounded like a stoner character delivering a tirade in a Richard Linklater movie.  It was brilliant.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

The guys from Downtrodn used to be in the Bloody Irish Boys... but not anymore.

We waited an hour for the Bloody Irish Boys to start.  Their set was unfortunately plagued by equipment problems throughout.  There seemed to be some trouble balancing the electric guitar with the acoustic and the fiddle.  Once they finally got things going, the first few songs were buried under feedback and the whole band seemed like they should have been twice as loud as they were.  They also made it spectacularly clear between each song that they couldn’t hear themselves in their monitors.

The Bloody Irish Boys have been playing in Columbus for years now. Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee They seem to be a rotating cast of musicians centered around Shane, a skinny kid with an imposing mohawk and a pair of baggy Dockers who plays fiddle and sings.  I don’t know whether or not all the Boys were Irish, but then again I have no reason to suspect that they weren’t.  The music seemed Irish enough to tempt you to two-step up a few Riverdance moves.  I never learned how to jig, so I kept to skanking.  No need to mess with a classic.

I talked to Shane at the end of the night, but couldn’t make out much of what he said.  He was in the middle of getting Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabeethe old ear toss from the bar staff.  I saw it as a mark of integrity.  Here’s a guy who doesn’t just sing about drinking till he passes out on the floor and gets thrown out of bars; he lives it.

Up next on stage was Miles, aka Marvin the Robot, who I can say for sure is a hell of a guy with a gap-toothed grin and a disarming, high-pitched laugh.  I left the bar for a few minutes and completely missed his set.  I’ve known Miles for something like four years and have somehow managed to never see him play.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

DOWNTRODN

I made it back to the bar just in time for the first song from Columbus punk rock regulars Downtrodn, whose set turned out to be the apex of the night’s rock and roll energy.  The amps were turned up and the fans were on their feet, crowding Bernie’s half-foot-high stage and pumping their fists.  The members of Downtrodn are probably the only people I’ve known who haven’t changed their looks a bit in the past ten years.  I can’t inagine them without Daeron sitting at the drums with his mohawk and Aaron wearing a sleeveless t-shirt with his hair combed into a Dracula point in the middle of his forehead.  Their sound, however, has gotten steadily better.  At one point between songs, Crow from Mors Ontologica told me, “These guys get better every time they play.”  He was right.  And they’ve been playing for over a decade.  There weren’t really enough people in the bar for a mosh pit, but Downtrodn managed to to get one going anyway.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Downtrodn gets the crowd on their feet.

Mors Ontologica played next.  Mors is one of those groups of such thoroughly competent musicians that I feel unqualified to review them.  Their sound is a sampling

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Mors Ontologica

of the best influences from rock’s history.  It’s sort of a classic Stones vibe with a wiry, dreadlocked hippie dominating the center of the stage from behind his keyboard.  The first time we went to see them, my little sister described them (via text message) to a friend as, “what punk rock would have sounded like if it was around in the sixties.”  The description always stuck with me.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabeeDuring the Mors set, someone began circulating ARA literature to the crowd.  I haven’t yet had the chance to peruse the two newsletters I was handed, but I did read the flyer from Columbus ARA calling for a boycott of Columbus hipster hate-core band The Unholy Two.  From what I can make out, the Two are a trio of dubiously talented scenesters who fill their songs with racist and anti-Semitic lyrics to get attention.  They have declared it to be their mission to “Put the Nazi back in rock,”  whatever that means.  Whether they’re fascists, right wing half-wits, or just faking it to be shocking is a matter of no small debate.  What is clear is that the band and their supporters are creating an atmosphere in which it’s fashionable to spout racist ignorance, even if it is just an “ironic” pose for the club kids.  Before you dismiss the threat from these jackasses, keep in mind that this town is a positive greenhouse for ironic posuerism.  After all, saying things like “epic,” and, “bring the thunder” started out being ironic.  The way the lemmings around here copycat each other, every beardo at Carabar could be sieg heiling by next Christmas if the right people decide this shit is cool.  And some of them already have.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Children of Reagan

The last band of the night was Children of Reagan, who, for some godforsaken reason, I had never seen before.  For some reason, I always thought they would be a tough guy hardcore band that sounded like a generic Blood for Blood.  I was wrong.  Children of Reagan were incredible.  The played ska-tinged Oi punk that sounded something like Operation Ivy working out in a prison yard.  It was exactly the kind of music that you would want playing in your earbuds while you got some fascist nose blood on the sole of your boot.  The tragedy was that by that time of night there was hardly anybody left in the bar to hear it.Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

The benefit suffered from unfortunate scheduling.  I was personally invited to five different events on that night, and I’m remarkably unpopular.  For those who may be on the fence about supporting ARA, however, I offer the following:

The first political action I was ever involved in was a counter-protest against a Nazi rallyPhoto by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabeePhoto by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee that the November 9th Society put on in Newark for Hitler’s birthday in 2001.  ARA showed up in full force, and the Nazi rally ended up shut down before the fash even got in a decent seig hiel.  What’s more, the community rallied together and threw an anti-Nazi block party outside the apartment that the November 9th Society organizers were staying in.  I met neighbors I would never have talked to otherwise.  Black folks and white folks from the neighborhood got together, shut down the rally, and made the Nazis look like a bunch of whiny pussies.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabeeContrast that to a few years ago, when the National Socialist Movement threw a rally in downtown Columbus.  This time there was no ARA, and the majority of the Columbus activist community decided not to gratify the Nazis with the attention they wanted.  The counter protest was disorganized, confused, and ineffective.  We stood in the police cage looking like a bunch of limp dicks while the National Socialists looked like a legitimate organization by comparison.

These days right-wing extremism is on the rise.  People are looking for answers and the liberal establishment has been selling out the working class at every opportunity.  Showing up to fight the fascists is worth it.

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

 

 

 

 

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

 

 

 

 

Photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shugabee

Screaming Urge at Carabar, 7/16/2011

Screaming Urge  Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabeeNo surprise, my favorite new band that I’ve come across in recent months had their heyday two years before I was born.  I’m referring, of course, to legendary Columbus punk pioneers Screaming Urge, who played their “final reunion show” Saturday at Carabar.  The band was so great that I feel like a sleazebag for trying to come up with smartaleky comments to make about the show, but I’ll do my best.

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

Carabar was packed with all kinds of people...

I describe Screaming Urge as “legendary,” but the truth is I never heard them before a week ago, when a friend posted the Youtube video for their song, “Hitler’s in Brazil,” on Facebook.  I clicked the link and immediately knew that their show on Saturday would be the most important thing I would do all week.  That’s not hyperbole; I’m still looking for work and so I have a pretty relaxed schedule.  So I spent a good heap of time over the next week combing the internet for more videos and more info.  At first I thought they were from Brazil, but when I found out that they were one of Columbus’ first punk bands who were tragically boxed out of ever having a record contract by legal shenanigans, who rocked in the face of repression from uptight Ohio Reaganites, from the Columbus police and from racist club owners, who toured the country in a rickety van and basically created the local

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

...Even hippies and "celebrities."

punk scene around themselves in the late 70’s, well, it hit me that I didn’t know where Brazil was anyway, and that the show on Saturday might be the biggest thing all summer.  Needless to say, Facebook was abuzz.

The show was slated to begin at ten, which in bar time means sometime before eleven.  We rolled into the dirt lot across the street from Carabar around nine-thirty and tailgated in the Benz with some Jeremiah Weed Roadhouse Tea.  Because of my recent digestive problems I couldn’t drink any serious booze, and the slight buzz I got from the tea wore off quick.  I

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

Michael Ravage

was counting on Screaming Urge to be really bitchen to help me overcome my intense social anxiety.  The bar was filling up with half the people I’ve known over the past five years and a disturbing number of people who I knew from years ago but didn’t recognize right away.  It was giving me an existential crisis.  The milling crowd felt pensive and nervous.  I think people were on edge because Damon Zex was in the house.  I didn’t live in C-bus when the Zexter was doing his cable access thing, but one friend of mine admitted to being starstruck.  Thank god the tension was cut by a barre chord ringing through the amplifier.  I looked to the stage and saw Mike Ravage adjusting the mike stand.  The time, it seemed, was upon us.

The show would have benefited from an opening act.

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

Myke Rock

Before anyone knew what was happening, Michael Ravage’s daughter Mona said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Screaming Urge,” into the microphone and the band tore into their first song.  For a second, everyone in the bar seemed stunned.  The Urge opened with a pop-punk barnburner from decades ago that sounded somehow more current and more vital than most of what you hear from much younger bands, as the bar patrons waddled toward the stage like beerholding zombies.  We took our spot right up in front of Myke Rock, who, while demonstrating the proper execution of every punk rock bass player move I ever used on stage, was wearing the American flag as a kilt, which, apart from being a punk fashion statement is also a violation of the Flag Code.

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

Dave Manic

Only having heard the three songs available on Youtube before the show, I was expecting most of their tunes to be the sort of plodding, “Richard Hung Himself,” style punk tunes that I had listened to on the internet to get pumped up before the show.  Screaming Urge turned out to have a much more diverse sound than my web searches had led me to believe.  A good percentage of their songs were fast paced, poppy numbers played with energy and showmanship that didn’t seem to have diminished over the past thirty years.  Compared to the band, the crowd seemed like a bunch of deadbeats.  We were a diverse group that night, the band members’ families and fans from way back in the day mingling with seasoned scumbags around my age and brand new punks still ripe with the stink of New Mohawk Smell.  It was a great gathering and everyone was appreciative even if they did seem scared to dance.  To be fair, Damon Zex was right by the stage exhibiting some very Richard Simmons-esque dance moves and people were probably afraid to compete or be associated with him.

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabeeScreaming Urge played thirty songs that night, an impressive feat for a band half their age.  At one point Ravage invited Don B to the stage and said, “Back in 1978 we were the first band ever to play ‘Batman’ with Don Bovee.”  My friend Paul Weaver leaned into my ear and said, “Even if that’s not true, it’s true now and for the rest of time.”  So there you go, in the official annals of Columbus rock and roll, Screaming Urge was the first band ever to

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

BATMAN!

play Batman with Don B, a piece of trivia that not only makes you look like a scene genius but also establishes a direct line of continuity between Screaming Urge in 1978 to all the Bernie’s punks of the 2000’s.  It’s on the internet now, which means you can link to it, which means it’s the god’s honest truth, so there.

I thought the highlight of the show would be “Hitler’s in Brazil.”  For my money, Shandi missed out on the best part of the night, which came when she slipped outside to have a cigarette and the band played a little tune called “War is not OK.”  As Rock and

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

I came out of the bathroom and Shandi was taking this picture of Jeanette posing with Myke. And that's how I met Myke Rock.

Ravage shouted the song’s simple, effective pre-chorus (“Don’t Go, Don’t Go!”) I mused about why so many of today’s punk bands seem terrified to take any political stand.  These days the hipsters stroke their dirty beards and say you’re “too political” if you make any social statement that isn’t backhandedly, “ironically,” anti-political or vaguely fascist.  “War” made me long for the days when punks weren’t scared to be anti-American when the truth was on their side.  When they followed that tune up with “Kill Poe Leese,” I decided Myke Rock was my new rock roll model.  Apart from having a ton of awesome songs (“Hell Yes I’m a Dreamer” was brilliant), he played bass without a pick, which I’ve always considered to be the “right way” to play bass, a prejudice based entirely on my personal clumsiness with my right hand.

Once in a while, some jerk looking for trouble at a bar somewhere will give me a load of

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Punx not dead

garbage about how “Punk is dead.”  People who watch too much VH1 get it in their heads that punk rock has something to do with Malcolm McLaren or that it ended when the LA hardcore scene died out in the early 80’s and the Clash released Combat Rock.  But it’s been three decades since then and people are still putting on house shows and cutting the sleeves off their Crass t-shirts.  Every year I go to Bernie’s and there’s a new crop of kids with patches sewn all over their jackets bearing the names of bands that broke up in the seventies.  Punk manages to survive specifically because it has never been about the music industry or the famous people.  It lives on through all the outcast kids who can’t afford guitar lessons and need a place to belong.  Punk doesn’t come and go when the fashion magazines decide spiked belts and Chuck Taylors are or are not hot accessories.  It was never about being popular.  It’s about all the nobodies, all the punks, the communities we formed, and the hundreds of bands, like Screaming Urge, who never had a record deal, who never made any money, who did it for the love or because they had something inside that they had to scream over amplified power chords or because they were too drunk to ever learn to play the guitar.  I got to be there for Screaming Urge’s last show, and for that I’ll always consider myself lucky.

Photo by Shandi Rine www.facebook.com/shuggabee

Show your photographer some love!

Southern Culture on the Skids at Beachland Ballroom, 6/5/2011

photo by Shandi Rine, http://www.facebook.com/shuggabee

Southern Culture on the Skids

We pulled up to the sidewalk in front of Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom and Tavernafter following our outdated, unlicensed GPS navigator on a meandering path through town,

The sign says Beachland but we couldn't find the beach.

looking for a beach that we never found.  It was Sunday, known as the Lord’s Day to followers of traditional Christianity (no offense to our Seventh Day Adventist readers), and we arrived to find a sort of religious gathering already in progress.  A crowd had gathered around a makeshift patio comprised of picnic tables and caution tape to watch a matinee set by Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival.

Uncle Scratch's Gospel Revival

The Gospel Revival consisted of two guys dressed in vintage polyester outfits that made them look like huckster preachers who had just stepped out of a Cadillac in the 1970s.  They played fuzzed out country blues with the vocals shouted into a CB receiver and pushed through a practice amp to give it that extra-lo-fi sound.  After the crazy little televangelist dude on guitar flinging himself all over the place, what you noticed first about USGR was their drumset, an apparently homemade mess of big, industrial cardboard tubes.  The drummer occasionally sang or talked into a contraption fastened to his face that sent his distorted words through a megaphone that poked out of his makeshift bass drum like the blower on a

One of Ohio's coolest drum kits.

hot-rod Camaro.  Later, the guy from Whiskey Daredevils would say of Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival, “The one practice they’ve had in the last sixteen months really paid off.”  It’s true that their sound was intentionally sloppy (a sheet of paper taped to the drum read “Lo-fi on a Jesus High”), and the music sometimes seemed to take a back seat to the goofball, faux-fundamentalist pageantry, but that’s exactly what made USGR so much fun.

Shandi and I, having emailed a link to this blog to Southern Culture on the Skids’ manager, were on the list for the show, so I felt a certain amount of pressure to scmooze the bands and come up with a really brilliant write-up.  We showed our IDs to the door guy and headed down a cool hallway where the merchandise tables (and a table with a petition to put the repeal of Senate Bill 5 on the ballot) were set up, leading to the ballroom.  The ballroom was an impressive auditorium, with fancy molding like an old-time movie theater, a big, open dancefloor and folk scenes painted on the walls.  This wasn’t a rotten punk bar; it was an honest to God concert venue.  Was I, then, ready to act like a real journalist?  I doubted it.  We headed to the bar in the back room for tall boys.

Whiskey Daredevils

The Whiskey Daredevils opened the show.  Their singer was a Garth Brooks-looking guy in a cowboy shirt who was given to Mussolini-esque dramatic gestures, and I’m pretty sure the guitar player was Wes Studi from Last of the Mohicans.  Sitting in the bar before the

No, he's not really that guy from Dances with Wolves

show, Shandi had read my horoscope, which advised me to seek love by buying a drink for a man with tight jeans a handlebar mustache.  I was surprised and a bit frightened to see exactly such a man seated behind the Whiskey Daredevils drum kit.  The front man informed the crowd that this show would be their bass player’s last gig with the band.

The Daredevils played a tight set that got the crowd moving, even if we were all anxious for them to finish up so that Southern Culture could come out.  Their sound reminded me of a slightly more rockabilly Beat Farmers without Country Dick.  The song 200 Miles to Wheeling appealed specifically to Columbus folks, which I appreciated.  Why should Memphis get to have a monopoly on all the good rockabilly songs?  For their last tune, they bid farewell to their former bassist and welcomed his replacement to the stage.  The new bass player turned out to be Sugar, of former Lords of the Highway fame, the well-known rock and roll scene queen who once scandalized reality television with her provocative cavorting on the upright bass.  sugar can always be counted on for a good show, and her appearance at the tail end of the Daredevils set brought the energy level up to where it needed to be as we all anticipated the advent of one of the coolest bands ever, S.C.O.T.S.

One of the coolest bands ever…  That sounds nonspecific and needlessly hyperbolic, but that’s a weakness I have in approaching this subject matter.  The truth is, I’ve just been a tremendously nerdy fan of Southern Culture on the Skids for years.  They’re the band I always go on to my friends about after I’ve had a few drinks.  For people who know me, Southern Culture is like Marxism, one of those things I carp about endlessly, so it’s better to wait until I run out of steam and not question me.  For the most part, my friends haven’t been interested.  Apparently no one in my age group is, either.  Most of the people packed into the Ballroom looked at least ten years older than me.  The thing with talking to older people at bars is they always want to make a big deal about how young you are.  Like, wow, you were born in the ’80s, you’re such a kid.  Now that I’m older than a lot of the kids, I’ve caught myself doing the exact same thing at punk shows and I wanted to die.

Rick Miller

Hardly anyone left the dancefloor when the Whiskey Daredevils finished up.  We all waited, trying to sidle into that spot closer to the stage, buzzing like excited atoms in a high school physics filmstrip.  A guy with sideburns saw me shimmy into the spot by the stage in front of him and looked peeved.  I turned the awkward moment into an opportunity to meet another older rock and roll guy and hear about how young I was.  The guy said Shandi and I reminded him of some couple from twenty years ago.  I talked to a couple dudes down front from Toledo and another guy who was really into ska.  We all shifted nervously, bumping into conversations that we were only half interested in as we watched the stage, waiting for something to happen.  Then, without any introduction, Rick Miller stepped out onto the stage and picked up a guitar.

The crowd exploded as, one by one, Dave Hartman, Mary Huff, and a fourth guy with his

Mary Huff

face covered in a red beard who I didn’t recognize but whose Danelectro guitar identified him as “Tim,” took the stage.  Suddenly, Mary was right in front of us, this shimmering pillar of tights and hair, smacking her lips and teasing her bass guitar.  The band broke into “Too Much Pork for Just One Fork,” and the Beachland Ballroom spent the next two hours shaking around to the drums, making air-guitar fingers, pouring sweat, and-the rarest thing of all in any bar in Ohio- smiling.

Dave's drums were set up way in the back of the stage, making it hard to get many good pictures.

Seriously, everyone’s face was stretched in a giant dipshit grin.  That’s the kind of show Southern Culture on the Skids puts on.  Their rock and roll, a goofy, irresistible blend of country, surf, rockabilly and an offbeat sense of lower-class pride, is powerful enough to make the tough guys stop acting hard, which, on a Sunday or in Cleveland, feels like a miracle.

I suppose sometimes people can get carried away.  When they brought out a big guy in an Elvis costume and luchador mask for a song, a guy from somewhere behind us got too excited, pushed his way to the front and practically started climbing over Kevin, from Toledo, who I had talked to before the show.  Toledo Kevin pushed him off, but the dude kept barging up to him, so desperate was he to slap hands with the luchador.  When the two started shoving each other I thought, great, this is just the type of situation where I always end up getting pummeled for no reason.  I tried to push them apart, which didn’t work, as it never does for me.  A different guy did the same thing I had tried, pushed the interloper away from Toledo and the scuffle finally ended, freeing us to enjoy the rest of the night.

Shandi ditch diggin' with SCOTS

Before they played “Ditch Diggin,'” Mary called for people to come on stage.  Shandi and I saw it as at least a good chance to get pictures from a few new angles and rushed up.  I missed the instructions on how to do the Ditch Diggin’ dance, so I had to fake it.  I felt like there was one step that I was missing, but it didn’t matter much.  By the second verse all of my fellow back-up dancers had given up doing the correct dance moves and the situation was devolving into a barely contained riot of women in their thirties.  Shandi was at the front of the stage boogieing with Rick while I stood back by the amps, doing the twist and trying to figure out what I was doing wrong with the digital camera.

Got an 8-piece box!

The time came to play “8-Piece Box,” which usually serves as a kind of climax to any SCOTS show.  It’s during this song that Rick invites another group of fans onstage to open a bucket of fried chicken, dance around and throw Original Recipe at the audience.  This time, when the song ended they kept one woman on the stage.  Her boyfriend came out

The happy couple

with what looked like a massive diamond ring and proposed marriage.  She said, “Hell yes,” and the couple shared an instrumental dance.  Afterward the husband to be got to introduce the song “Camel Walk” and practice for his honeymoon at the same time as he leaned into the mike and uttered the famous phrase, “Baby, would you eat that there snack cracker in your special outfit for me, please?”

After the encore, SCOTS closed with their own incomparable version of the old gospel tune “Great Atomic Power,” a fittingly religious ending for a Sunday night.  The joy and exhaustion we felt after letting the loud music and collective good time briefly relieve us of the considerable burden of our own egos, it was the same feeling as a pentecostal church service without all the self-indulgent wailing and confession of sins.  We didn’t stick around to talk to the band, but to me that doesn’t seem too important.  What some people have trouble grasping about rock and roll shows is that it isn’t about anything as trite as worshiping some gang of chemically dependent musicians.  It’s about freeing ourselves from our crusty, tiresome personalities and creating a space where we can enjoy ourselves for a change.

I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head.  Are you ready for that great atomic power, will you rise to meet your savior in the air?  Will you shout or will you cry when that fire comes rolling nigh, are you ready for that great atomic power?

Shit yeah.

 

Our upcoming reviews..

So this weekend we are lucky enough to have gotten ourselves on the guest list for a Southern Culture on the Skids show in Cleveland. I am unbelievably excited that we managed that and can’t wait to finally see the band live!

So look out for our review of that soon.. and in the meantime, leave us some suggestions for other shows this month in the Columbus area that we should check out to feature in our blog!

 

Shandi

The Queers at Carabar, 5/30/2011

The crowd during the Queers set.

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.

Tori at the merch table.

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 guy from All Eyes Path

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.

Proving he’s more than just a sequin vest.

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

The other guys from All Eyes.

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.

Vacation

The kids enjoyed Vacation's set.

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.

I had fun, too

Meg from Now Sound rockin' out. The night's most effective use of hair.

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.”

The Now Sound in heroic wide shot

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

Now Sound gets the pit going.

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

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

Joe on Geetar

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?

The Queers are here

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,

random crowd shot during the Queers set, notice the kid grimacing and the guy laughing at him.

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.

Your humble narrator and your beautiful photographer