Monday, September 24, 2012

Back to My DIY Roots: The Game Room Opens for Shows

Since long before I bought Slabtown last February, I wanted to run a DIY music space, a place where I could put on shows for my friend's bands, for touring bands who don't "draw" enough to play bigger venues, for those weirdo bands who will always have a small but devout following, and for fledgling bands who've never played in front of people they don't already know on a first-name basis. So, I've decided to set up what amounts to a second venue within Slabtown by converting our back game room into a part-time show space. We held our first show in the Game Room last Friday, with Rat City Ruckus out of Seattle and Raw Dog and the Close Calls. Thirty or so people and it was a fucking blast.

Some details... We're working with a smaller PA set up--a 600 watt power mixer, speakers, and vocal mics--in a room with a capacity of closer to 50 than 150. This means two things: First off, I can "take a chance" on any band because I'm not paying a sound guy or closing off the entire bar for a show with a cover. Secondly, bands who may only bring in 25 people are now playing to a relatively full room instead of to a room sprinkled with bodies, which always makes for a more funner show. Since we're using the main room for larger shows and most Friday or Saturday night shows, we'll be doing the Game Room shows mainly on Sundays and weeknights, with an occasional matinee show on the weekends.

So, I'm telling you now: I want yr band to come play the Game Room at Slabtown. Well, certain conditions do apply... The Game Room is perfect for yr band, if:

1) You're okay with a minimal PA set up. Lo-fi, punk, garage, indie, semi-acoustic, fucking kazoos--all bitchen in the Game Room. But, if you have SEVEN FUCKING MARSHALL STACKS and need to TURN THEM UP ALL THE FUCKING WAY, the Game Room won't work. The PA just won't cut it. Well, then again, maybe it will work, as long as you don't give a shit if people hear the vocals or not.

2) You want to interact with the audience. The shows there will get very personal, and someone from the crowd will touch you. If you don't like that or if it'll fuck you up while you're playing or you want to be on a stage and have people watch yr performance instead of engage with it, the Game Room won't work.

3) You don't have a huge draw. It is a small space, after all. If 80 people are going to come see you play, we may as well do that in the main room, right?

4) Music is yr passion, not yr profession. Lux Interior once said that any rocknroller worth his or her salt wants to play in front of as many people as possible, but let's not push it. The Game Room is not yr stepping stone to stardom, it's yr stepping stone to playing a bitchen fucking show with other bitchen bands. This is especially true if yr band is in no way, shape, or form commercially viable.

One last thing: If you're a homophobe, a bigot, a misogynist, or just a douchebag in general, don't bother getting in touch. I don't work 60+ hours a week so you can push hate and idiocy. You have plenty of other places to go. Move along.

I think that pretty much covers it. Just drop me a note at, and let's set something up. I have a venue. You have a band. Let's fucking go, huh?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Election Time: "Sandwiches and Ammunition" video from BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS

I absolutely love BOBBY JOE EBOLA AND THE CHILDREN MACNUGGITS. I absolutely love Tales of Blarg. I absolutely love claymation. I absolutely hate election season. BJE's "Sandwiches and Ammunition" (by Janelle Hessig of TofB) is like a perfect storm that I can only hope to ride until November 7.

Dig the lyrics. Indulge yr fantasies...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I tried writing a press release for this show a while back and found myself at a loss for words in trying to describe NUDE BEACH in a way that really captures what they're like and about as a band. It wasn't until I was driving around late night listening to English pre-punk that the comparisons finally started coming to mind.

NUDE BEACH are first and foremost a band out of the DIY punk scene, although I'd never describe their music as punk. Too many bands from our little scene these days seem to listen to little else, to be influenced by little else, and to sound like little else than other bands of their ilk. Alternately, too many bands these days are so busy emulating bands from the good old days that they've lost all relevance outside of their own myopic sub-sub-genre of independent music.

But, NUDE BEACH is their own animal. They're often compared to both TOM PETTY and BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, but I'm equally reminded of ELVIS COSTELLO's earliest singles, possibly even EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS, played with the energy of THE JAM. And, as their video for "Walkin' Down My Street," the first single from their latest full-length, demonstrates, NUDE BEACH seems to just want to hang out and play music at a packed house show. (Unfortunately for those of us who love their music and want to claim it as our own without sharing it with the rest of the world, the days when NUDE BEACH will be able to play small clubs like Slabtown for five bucks might be drawing to an end. After completing this solo tour, they're slated to open for Roky Erickson on a tour of the East Coast and Mid-West, and the word will be out.)

And speaking of bands-on-the-verge, our own DIVERS will be there as well Friday night. Like NUDE BEACH, they are another band with strong DIY roots but influences that roam far and wide. For most of their existence as a band, DIVERS seemed to play infrequently if not rarely around town. Lately, though, they've started playing out and about more often, and they've started picking up more and more gigs that will introduce their sound to people who never got the invite to the house show they played last month. And, as much as I'd like to keep them as my own private secret, it's bitchen to see them starting to get the recognition they deserve because they truly are one of the best bands in Portland.

The other two bands on the bill, DEFECT DEFECT and BI-MARKS, feature two of the best frontmen in Portland (Seriously, the only one better who immediately comes to mind is August Alston from WALLS.). DEFECT's Colin Sanders brings his playfulness directly into the crowd, often pointing the mic at random audience members in an attempt to get them to sing lyrics they may or may not know while mussing their hair or otherwise just invading their personal bubbles. Evan Johnson of BI-MARKS, on the other hand, seems to be channeling Henry Rollins as he throws himself to the floor in the midst of the crowd, and whenever they play, my first thought is to clear the empty glasses from every table within fifteen feet of the stage. As a firm believer that live music is meant to be experienced and not just passively received (You can always watch TV at home if you want to be bored.), I cannot get enough of either of them.

Friday, September 14. Doors at 9. $5.

Some links:
NUDE BEACH's "Walkin' Down My Street" video.
Two songs from NUDE BEACH's innovatively-titled "II" full-length.
DIVERS on Facebook.
DEFECT DEFECT's self-titled full-length on bandcamp.
BI-MARKS on MySpace.