So, while you were home watching reruns of That 70s Show, we were at Slabtown experiencing bitchen first-hand. And, you really did miss out on this one. It looked like it would be just another low-dough four-band show, but it ended up being one of the most memorable shows we've had.
When I was first putting this show together and contacted Ben from DEAD CULT about playing, he told me that his new band BLANK STATIONS were looking for a place to play their first show, too, and I had to jump on it. First off, I love watching a band's first show. There's something about the weird nervous energy, something about waiting to see just how things will come together or fall apart that really gets me going. We want yr band to play their first show here. But, also, I'm a huge fan of DEAD CULT and what Ben brings to that band, so I really wanted to see what another project of his would be like.
The only disappointment was that BLANK STATIONS didn't seem to have any of that first show anxiety or tension that I love. They played like they'd been playing with each other for years. Otherwise, it was everything I'd hoped for. A little less moody than DEAD CULT, a little more WARSAW and a little less JOY DIVISION as far as musical influences, but still firmly in the vein of early UK post-punk. I've got them booked again for a show with SYSTEMATIK on 4/13, but that's another story...
Before this show, I had only seen DEAD CULT at Laughing Horse, and I was really looking forward to hearing them through a full sound system. Again, not disappointed. The musical dynamics really came through--Tawni's somewhat crooned vocals, the play between the bass and guitar. I just wish I was familiar enough with all their songs so I could sing along with more than their cover of MOB's "Witch Hunt." (Side note--When I was planning this show, I was drawn to the idea of having the members of DEAD CULT set up in different places around the room, surrounding the audience. Chris the Sound Guy nixed the idea, though. Maybe next time...)
SAD HORSE are a two-piece drum-and-guitar outfit that veers between straight-up rocking and almost arhythmic song deconstruction. Those who know me know that this is another sub-genre of our little music scene that I'm really into. With the male-female dual vocals and stripped-down instrumentation, the first comparison that comes to mind for me is the Bay Area's STREET EATERS. Also to love: they still release their stuff on cassette.
So, up until this point in the show, things have seemed relatively normal. There's about 50 people there, but I'm getting restless because nothing's going wrong.
But then SOCIAL GRACES finish setting up and unroll a huge paper screen to block off the audience's (and my) view of the stage. Behind the screen, SOCIAL GRACES have started playing "Schlabtown Baby" to the tune of FLIPPER's "Sex Bomb Baby."
A little back story. Erin from SOCIAL GRACES and I have been friends since the tail end of the 80s. There was a point in the whole Slabtown deal where I might have been taking over the space but would have been unable to purchase or use the name Slabtown, so I had been talking to Erin about other possible names for the club. One night, Beastie from SOCIAL GRACES called me drunk from their practice and said they had a name for me. Schlabtown. (Side note--Our "signature drink" for the night was the Social Grace: vodka, lime juice, and a spritz of Triple Sec. "It's What They Drink at Practice.")
Anyway, people are telling me I'm supposed to crash through the paper screen, but I'm a little too thick to understand that I'm supposed to come running through from the stage side like a football player pre-game. So, instead, I do a head-first flip through the screen from the audience side, not really knowing what I'm diving into. Paper breaks, and they release a couple dozen balloons. As I stand up and turn around to look into the crowd, everyone is wearing Schlabtown t-shirts that the band has had made. While I was busy getting ready to yell at the neighbors about parking, Erin, et al. had passed the shirts out without me even noticing. Lydia starts throwing Schlabtown stickers and Schlabtown buttons into the crowd (pink and with an old picture of me on them that makes me look like Moe from the Three Stooges).
And an awesome set from SOCIAL GRACES. Beastie dedicated each song to Schlabtown, and throughout the show the vibrations from her bass kept popping the balloons floating near the ceiling. I love a basement show, but SOCIAL GRACES are another band that need to be seen in a venue to really catch everything. Lydia's guitar riffs just seem to get lost in a basement. That and the vocals. (By the way, will someone tell these ladies that they need to record something? I'm sick of walking around with "Fight Song" stuck in my head and not being able to get any release by actually listening to it.)
When they're done, 3/4 of DEFECT DEFECT take the stage and have me do "Nervous Breakdown" with them, and the show ends with Felecia giving me a pie in the face.
DEAD CULT on youtube
SAD HORSE's website
Nervous Breakdown and the pie in the face