This show was a long time coming. Looking back, it had been two years since our last show and one year since Dustin wandered off to pursue a steady paycheck playing music in Nashville. After his departure I wrote a 5-part blog post outlining our time as a band. Towards the end of that post I mentioned we wanted to play a 20th anniversary show, but were afraid that we may have missed the chance. A few weeks after the story went online, we got an unexpected e-mail from Jim, who played drums with us from 1999-2005. He said he’d gladly play a show. There was one catch. Jim currently lives in Germany. He promised he would make it over regularly enough, so we agreed and patiently waited. Sure enough in the Spring, he appeared. We practiced and it sounded pretty good. He came back in the Summer. We played again and it was still pretty good. He came back in the Fall, we booked a show and next thing you know here we are. Although we had seen Jim numerous times over the years we certainly did not expect to be playing music together. In fact, it had been 10 years since his drums and our instruments made that all too familiar racket. The whole practice experience leading up to this show was surreal. We were the same people doing the same thing and with the same sensibilities, but at a totally different point in our lives. Our jokes and references hadn’t changed a bit, but the reasons for missing or rescheduling practices were totally different. In those 10 years, four marriages and five children have happened. Everything is the same, but everything is different. The songs we practice and ultimately played were a slow evolution. Jim diligently learned a bunch of songs from Requiem, but in the end I think Dave, Justin and I wanted to hear the stuff we hadn’t played in a while. So, did the show live up to all this hype? Yeah, for us it did. All in all, the show was pretty good. Black Karma Social Club played first and sounded pretty solid. Any band that covers ‘Bodies’ by the Sex Pistols will do ok in my book. Burn The Stage was next and they were great. We’ve known Ike and Nathaniel for a long time, so we shouldn’t have been at all surprised by how solid they were. Trivia time: back in 1996, 800 Octane played with Nathaniel’s band, The Drapes, in North Carolina. They were on tour from Portland, and we opened for them. Who would have known we’d cross paths so many times since then? I was pretty nervous and even a bit shaky for our set. Not as shaky as Jim, who stood on his drum stool to wave and promptly fell sideways onto my amp spilling his beer everywhere. It’s true, we are rock royalty. The set was great. Lots of old stuff. Lots of singing along. People seemed to have a great time and the word I kept hearing afterwards was “positive”. I’ll accept that. The show was a great experience. Although it wasn’t a formal “20th” affair it did the job. Thanks to Ike for making it happen, those who have seen recently, and those we hadn’t seen in upwards of 5, 10 and 15 years.
That was a lot of rock packed into one show. The Thorntown Tallboys were up first and played with some noisy rock and roll swagger. We were up second and man, it was sort of a mess. On the first verse of the first song, Dave breaks a bass string. Dave never breaks strings so we had to scrape the cobwebs off his spare bass that literally hasn’t seen the light of day in over a year. It only took two minutes but it felt like an hour. Perhaps more disappointing was that Justin was left to “entertain” the crowd. There is probably a correlation there. Then again, I wasn’t rushing up there to say anything. We started up again and three songs later we get to ‘Lost at Sea’ and I break the A string in the first verse. Fail. Trying to learn how to play a song of a different part of the guitar after so many years is a challenge, especially with an audience watching you suck. There is also a part in the song where it’s just me playing for 20 seconds and I was desperately trying to remember where on the fret board to play it. We muddled through it I swapped guitars and we moved on. To complete the holy trinity of frustration, during the last song, Justin broke a string as well. Eleven songs, three broken strings. Very unusual. Very annoying. Despite all that guitar nonsense the set was actually pretty good. Normally I write how people up front knew the words and sang along. Not the case tonight at all. We knew maybe 6 people in the crowd at best. The first few songs ended with chirping crickets, but by the end people seemed to dig it so that was a plus. The Spittin’ Cobras were up next and after 5 seconds it became obvious why we received such a tepid response. They were energetic, fast, gnarly rock with a touch of thrash metal. Motorhead meets AC/DC in a modern sounding package. They had the look, the gear, the moves and even the roadie. Very, very, very impressive set. Last up was The Independents. Sadly the influx of people that arrived for the Cobras bailed, the remaining folks were what I would call an intimate crowd. Predictably they won over everyone that remained and half way through their set they had a very, very stoked crowd watching them. All in all a very good night. Thanks to the Ash Street for having us. Best of luck to The Independents on the rest of their tour.
Longview. Thursday. Bar show. Given the criteria, I was expecting about 10 people and to my surprise there was probably 30. This may sound like a bad night in the making, but given the tiny room and the fact that everyone knows each other it was not too bad of a night. I still maintain we have more history with people in Longview than in Portland. Unfortunately, we missed the first band perform because Justin can’t tell time. Thankfully, we did arrive in time to see the Independents play. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen them play and I always forget how good they are live. They can rock it live in just about any situation, which is impressive. Whenever we play with them I also can’t help but compare notes. We’re almost the same age (they started 1-2 years before us) and they have been full time touring musicians from the start. To say I’m jealous of them is an understatement. They aren’t selling out every town or playing on TV, but they get to play with tone of great bands, have very loyal fans all over the place, get to see the country and play music most nights. Invariably, I have that moment where I think, wow, what if we would have played our cards differently and gone full time? That dream is short lived though, because the answer is we would have imploded and given up years ago. The fact we’re all still friends and get to play music isn’t half bad. I’ve digressed. We played last, which was intimidating. We can keep up on energy, but how do you follow a band with a bubble machine? You don’t. You just hope people forget and don’t hold it against you for not providing some soothing ambiance. We did bust out a few oldies including Berserker, which hasn’t seen the light of day in many, many years. After the show we headed out to a 24 hour Jack in the Box, reveled in the artery hardening goodness of the Munchie Meal (seriously, “exploding chicken?”) and with the Independents following behind pressed on back to Dave’s compound. Small crowd, but a very fun night. Thanks to all of those who came out on a weeknight and stayed late!
It’s been awhile since we’ve played a big show. Big venue. Big stage. Big sound system. Big headliner. No disrespect to the bars and dives we normally frequent, but this was a nice change. The best part about the evening was the fact I didn’t feel old at a show. For the past few years we’ve been more and more frequently the oldest people in the club. Tonight? Not the case at all. D.O.A. has been at it since 1978. For the mathematically un-inclined that’s 35 years. That’s older than two of our band members. It was great seeing people ranging from their 20’s to their 50’s getting rowdy at a show. The Clackamas Baby Killers were up first and I thought they were awesome. Very fast, super energetic and just on the edge of out of control. Circle pit during the opening band? Yes, please. Absent Minds played second and had a range of fun, catchy songs. More rowdiness ensued. It turns out we had played with them once before at a house show, however due to the tiny room I never actually knew what they looked like. We were up third. Pretty lively bunch of people up front, which was awesome to see. Nothing too unusual happened tonight, except for the performance of New Song #2, which came out of its 5 year hibernation. Highlight of the set? Dave taking a song request via phone and then denying that request publicly. Low point? Dustin starting Requiem at half speed for our second to last song. I only mention this detail because he was so ashamed of his actions. He should be. D.O.A. was up last and although I’d never seen them before I thought they were great. Everyone joked that if I played music for another 20 years I’d probably look like the singer. Black shirt, camo pants, red SG guitar, white hair and a slightly poor posture. I can see that. However, it would all be an illusion because he was a badass at guitar and I am not. In fact, it was kind of inspiring see a band of that generation rock it so hard. Most bands from the 80’s are phoning it in and these guys are still belting it out like it’s the most important thing in the world. I’m so stoked we got to play this show. Thanks to Thrasher Presents and the Hawthorne Theater!
1997 was the first time we played a show with Moral Crux. At the time we were a three piece, we barely knew anyone in Portland and hadn’t even written half the songs from ‘The Kelvis’ yet. I can remember several distinct thoughts from that show, including “I hope these people like us” and “Moral Crux is going to smoke us.” Tonight? Same concerns. We’ve only played Katie O’s once before and in my head it was dark and dingy dive bar with bad sound. This evening it was well lit, good sound and there even seemed to be an unusually positive vibe in the room tonight. The positivity may have been in my own head though, as I was elated not to be playing last again. Black Delaney was up first. I missed their set but Justin and Dustin said they were 1) from Eugene and 2) they both liked them. Brigadier was second and they were pretty solid. They had a very polished sound to them that made them immediately likable. We played third. The set seemed good. Not much movement, but not too many people running for the door either. No real surprises except that we did unearth the song ‘On My Side’ for the first time in many, many, many years. The set was short, fast and we were only subjected to one round of Dave’s “jokes”. We usually practice our songs. It may be time to practice his jokes. Moral Crux was the reason for the show and after all of these years they’ve still got it. I’m pretty sure the singer is part vampire as the dude never seems to age. He also looks as if he could be directly related to our past drummer Jim, but that’s another story. Their set was good. The songs were as catchy as ever as just as energetic as the first time we saw them. The cover of Sonic Reducer was pretty excellent as well. All in all a good night.
Given our slow pace of show bookings these days I never thought we’d get back to Longview. I’m really glad we did. The venue was the Chinese Gardens, which is a combination Chinese restaurant, dive bar and show venue all in one. It’s a strange place. As a musician I think “I would never eat here”. As a diner I’d think “I would hate to play music here”. As a dive bar patron I would wonder “why am I here?” It’s all part of the strange charm that brings us back to Longview so often. After huddling around a mobile phone at Dustin’s place to watch the History of Rap parts 2, 3 and 4 we commenced the soggy load in. The show started early and on time. That is not typical Longview, but in our advancing years we all appreciated it. As referenced earlier, I did not partake of the food selection however Justin had a boat of fries and Dave had some form of seafood. I thought they were nuts, but they said it was quite tasty and no one got sick. Appearances can be deceiving. Many familiar faces trickled in throughout the evening, most far older looking than the last time we’ve seen them. Faster Housecat was up first and sounded pretty good. They are from Portland, but I wouldn’t know because the only shows I go to these days are our own. The Slow Death was on tour from Minneapolis and sounded great. Definitely one the better bands I’ve heard recently. Very good songs and ripe with terribly, terribly amusing in between song banter. As they were winding up their set a large bearded fellow smiled and me and said “I have a pocket full of stink bombs for the next band.” I said “that sucks, because I’m in the next band”. He smiled and slipped away. I felt safe in the fact we were in a Chinese restaurant located only a few miles downwind from some paper mills. Also, we’ve had at least two shows that I can recall where I’m absolutely certain someone shit their pants and we made it through that show. Really, how bad could the smell be? After their set the singer of The Slow Death approached me and said “I heard one of you guys choke-slammed my friend in the band Off With Their Heads.” My first thought was “oh no, this dude is pissed.” It probably showed because he immediately followed it with “whatever happened I’m sure he deserved it”. Dave copped to the crime and we all got a good laugh about it. We even heard a story how the two of them (who turn out to be best of friends) had nearly fought at a wedding once. Anyway, we finally played and it was good. Real good. Not a packed house, but the folks up front were very energetic. The downside of a rowdy group on a slippery floor is the constant microphone-to-the-face beating that Dave took. People pointed. People fell over. Brady sang a song. Matt shouted “everybody better run for your life” ad-nauseam. I’m pretty sure the stink bombs were deployed. It was typical Longview wackiness. We played a lot of songs and eventually there was an “encore”. It wasn’t really an encore, it was just Brady demanding we play ‘Kelvis’. We aim to please and to be honest, it’s flattering to have people ask for your songs so we indulged. Unloading was unpleasant and wet. Again, typical Longview. Many thanks to all who attended, Eric for setting up the show, the other bands for being good, and the Chinese Gardens for having us.
When I think back to our first shows in Portland I think of rock clubs. Not clean all-ages rooms that double as art spaces, but gritty bars and dingy clubs. I think of layers upon layers of stickers and flyers, scratches and gouges on all walls, holes in the floor, and load in areas that probably double as a homeless shelter on an off night. I also think of stages. Small, covered in cords, a PA that has seen better days, and lighting that doesn’t really do anything. Aside from the negatives I think about the positives. I think about walking in and hearing music you like on the sound system, a cool staff that appreciates music and being at a place your friends may hang out at even if you weren’t playing. Satyricon. EJ’s. Tonic Lounge. They weren’t perfect, but you learned to love them, ugliness and all. By those criteria, the East End was a rock club in every sense of the word and tonight was one of those nights that took me back to the 90’s. Aside from my overwhelming sense of déjà vu, the show was pretty excellent. Stumblebum played first and dished out solid songs with a touch of hot rod sensibilities. Thundering Asteroids were second and awfully good. Catchy, energetic and fun with songs about skating and video games. It was nice to see Dwight again after all these years as we first shared the stage with his old band Thrust a few times back in 1997. Finding another old guy in the scene always makes me feel better. We “headlined” and the set felt really good. We have a very active front row who knew all the words and made the show all the more fun to play. We saw a couple of familiar faces and a few news ones. Not a bad night. Thanks to the East End for having us, Scott for setting up the show and those who stayed up late to rock out with us.
I’ve noticed playing shows sure hurts a lot more than it used to. Had I followed the advice of Tenacious D and performed 20 rock squats before our set I may be in better shape today. Our contractually obligated show openers 48 Thrills started the show and then promptly left to perform another, presumably better show. Can’t say I blame them. It’s not like we were going to play something they haven’t heard before. The Stims were up second and sounded good considering our multi year absence from seeing them perform. We make a lot of “we’re old” jokes but it’s nice to see other people in the same boat as well. We have been circling the scene with at least two other members of their band since 1998. Although we don’t hang out much, it’s nice knowing you have something in common with people that goes that far back. My New Vice was third and clearly the main attraction of the evening. They sounded great. Impressive guitar work, catchy songs and people were fired up to see them. At this point they’ve been playing for many years, but this was my first time seeing them and I dug it. We “headlined” and I think it went over pretty well. There was an active bunch of folks up front clapping, singing, and throwing their hands in the air as if they didn’t care, which really made the night excellent. The resulting puddle of ball sweat and beer says that we did something right. All in all a pretty good night. Thanks to everyone who endured the crappy weather and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning with us. Also, thanks to Brian from The Stims for setting up the show. It’s a thankless job!
About nine months had passed since our last show so we were pretty stoked to play tonight. All in all the show was pretty awesome. Cool venue, decent sound, good sized crowd and quite a few familiar faces. In fact, we saw some folks tonight we hadn’t seen in many years, some in almost a decade. It’s weird to think we played a few songs that were older than some of the people attending. Our set was pretty uneventful and drama free. We snuck in Ghosts of Monochrome, which we hadn’t played in years. Of course when you only play once a year that statement is pretty meaningless. Now, this is the part of the review where I comment about how much I liked 48 Thrills. To mix it up, we’re going Mad Libs style. 48 Thrills sounded _____ tonight, which is no surprise since they are _____. They have been one of our _____ bands since we met them in _____ while playing with _____. Hopefully your interpretation was positive and didn’t involve any phallus jokes. Speaking of phallus jokes, the highlight of the show actually occurred during the load out when at least 3/4 of the band members noticed and made inappropriate comments about what Dustin later dubbed “the world’s hottest tranny”. Stay classy Old Town. Thanks to Jeff and Backspace, all the other bands and the people who came out of a cold and soggy night. We really do appreciate everyone who comes to these shows and lets us keep playing. Next show in 2013?
This show was a long time coming. The last time played was last September of 2010. Our intentions weren’t to take so much time off, but it just sort of worked out that way. We did practice a handful of times over the past few months, but between the ridiculously cold and wet past winter, one marriage, the beginnings of additional child rearing and the ever present fact we aren’t getting any younger, it’s just been slow going when it comes to getting shows. Aside from the lack of shows, the lack of practice had sort of worn all of us down. When you have spent over 10 years of your life practicing 2-3 times a week, slow periods like this can really get in your head. Why are we still doing this? Does anyone still care? For me this past nine months has felt like about three years. Well, was the wait and months of anticipation worth it? Absolutely. From the second we walked in the door we knew it was going to be a fun night. Before we even played I could clearly trace the history of our band through the folks in attendance. There were people from the EJ’s and Kelvis era, friends we met around the time of the Return, people we knew from the Rise Again years and some folks from much more recent years. Perhaps the best surprise for us was the reformation of what was once known as the Message Board Crew. Gad to see everyone is old enough to get into bars now! It may have been an average night for all those in attendance, but I think we all agreed that it meant a lot to us. The show itself was great. Dartgun and the Vignettes were fantastic. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are a rough and dirty rock band that is a perfect soundtrack to a hole in the wall bar. Their secret weapon? The Vignettes, a trio of female singers that has the moves and sounds of the Supremes but with the attitude of The Stooges. Very, very cool. 48 Thrills was up second and they never really disappoint. They played some of the newer stuff from Hand Claps and Ass Slaps, which was excellent. I’ve said it a dozen times before, but they are always fun to watch and have really built up quite the arsenal of great instant singalongs. We played last and in a very rare move we played for a long time. Last time we played for over an hour was our second year as a band. We swore we’d never do that again, but it seemed appropriate tonight. We played about 18 songs including some older ones we hadn’t played in years and we even worked out a Bad Religion cover for the evening. The response from the crowd was fantastic. Fists, shouting, clapping and even an improvised stage dive. We’ve certainly entertained the idea of packing it in and calling it quits, but nights like this sure makes it a challenge as it’s a reassurance why we do it in the first place. Many thanks to everyone who trekked out to the show and Katie O’Brien’s for having us!