I have a confession to make. No, for those of you ready to make the “what, you’re gay! LOLZ-OMG-ROFL-OKFMDOA” comment, nah, that closet door shall forever remained locked closed. What I’m referring to is, I tend to be rather judgmental towards Charlottesville, for reason that of which shall remain secretive. Yes, I hate the UVA attitude (imagine popped collars, dockers and flip-flops 365 days a year), but the RVA “scene” (emo, emo, shitty metalcore, emo) is just as detestable. At least the UVA kids aren’t hiding behind an image.
What I mean is, driving an hour plus to a show in a city I thought I hated on a Friday night wasn’t my first choice. However, Bartley of the Stabones invited me to come witness their CD release show, and I happily obliged. I’d seen the Stabones before, with the Pietasters, and enjoyed their drunken, electic onstage antics. Plus, I’ve been going to Pietasters shows since I was 16 (RIP Todd), and doing the math at being 26 now, that’s a good amount of my young life.
The first band to go on, 33 West, reminded me of Good Charlotte a few years back (1998 I believe?) when they opened for Bad Religion in Philly. No one knew them, and the only thing I could think of was “hey, look at these guys, each with a cute little alter-ego.” You see, back then, the one twin was trying to be the hippity-hopper, the geetarist was super-duper-bondage-pants punk, the bassist was looking like he left a Korn audition, and the drummer jocked-out. I’m not trying to label, it was just kinda weird seeing these guys with Bad Religion. Now back to my point. At first, I respected them for trying to get the at-first small crowd up front to “ROCK” with them, but as they started to play -- yikes. The singer bellowed like Scott Stapp, the guitarist tried his best for the A7X tight pants / sleeve tats / ironic `80s metal tee / pseudo mohawk, cheesy guitar yanks and goofy faces included. The other guitarist took time from his noodling to play an electric organ.
The music was in too many different directions; it was like Thrice meets some shitty Phish cover band. That said, all parties seemed to be very competent in their musical abilities, but the sum of all parts was not greater than the individual pieces. Someone told me they used to have horns, if that clues you in on their intentions. This, combined with the singer involving himself in a high school reminiscent name-calling match with some young'un heckling them (the kid eventually threw a beer at the Creed-esque frontman), only escalated to more ridiculous behavior when the frontman made the statement “fuck you and your whore mom.” Wow. Mom jokes. Ladies and gentlemen, the wit was never in the fucking building.
Next was the Fun Junkies. The name does not fit this band. Not in the sense that they aren’t fun, but think mid-to-late 30s dudes that have listened to nothing but Ramones / Motörhead / Rev. Horton Heat and their music will come to mind. Decent stuff, but the wrong crowd for their brand of rock. I tapped my foot and applauded in respect.
The Five Maseratis came next and I knew nothing of them. Immediately, I recognized John Darby from Pietasters and upon the first note was hooked. I feel really dumb saying this, but I can’t tell if they are an all-covers band, or just threw a few in for good measure. The music itself is an obvious take on the classic stylings of the Cars, the Kinks and some of the older Beatles stuff (rock Beatles, not hippie Beatles). The crowd seemed to dig it, and I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for more from these guys.
The Tossers made their way up next, in nice outfits and very blank expressions. The performance itself was very tight. For those of you not familiar, they play a breed of Celtic-punk not too far from the likes of the Pogues and Flogging Molly. Dancing, drinking and yelling. A good time had by all.
Next, the Stabones made their way to the stage. Being the CD release show for their new full-length Liver Let Die, the crowd was very anxious to start the party. Frontman Bartley rushed the stage in a pre-drunken fury, leaving no time for proper introductions. They immediately launched into what is probably the best track on the new album, “Drunken Express.” Now, don’t get me wrong. The Stabones aren’t going to change music, or blow you away, but they bring back an element that punk, and music in general, has been missing: pointless fun. The set consisted of songs from their new album including “Jack to Beam,” “Cruising for Strange,, “Couch Potato” and the crowd favorite “I Love Pussy” (a Whores For War cover). With a beer in hand throughout the entire set, they pounded through a bunch of songs very quickly, sounding pretty tight for the brand of music, but in general just providing an atmosphere for a good time.
The highlight of the set came at the very end, when members of the Tossers joined onstage for a rendition of the Pogues classic, “Streams of Whiskey.” In true Shane McGowan form, Bartley produced a fifth of Jack Daniels, and proceeded to chug the entire thing. One of the most amazing/disgusting acts I have ever witnessed.
The Pietasters finally took the stage, and it was like a fucking dance club. Not in a bad way, either. And not in the same “dance party” way as those dorks in ironic clothes bopping to songs that were shitty in the `80s and are still shitty. No, my friends, if you are familiar with the Pietasters' exclusive hybrid of ska/funk/soul, you know what I mean. Everyone in the crowd, just out to have fun, and girls and guys dancing (and some girls with girls) just to shake their ass, and maybe grind their gear.
The set consisted of a bunch of classics from Oolooloo including “Maggie Mae,” “Girl Take It Easy,” “Biblical Sense,” and “Movin' on Up.” From the underrated Willis album, the short-lived MTV favorite “Out All Night.” A few choice cuts made it in from Awesome Mix Tape and Turbo, but for me, it's all about the Oolooloo years. Hell, even the prior set-staple, but recent set-exclusion, “Drinking and Driving” Business cover made an appearance.
So, my long-winded point? I expected to hate this crowd and environment. But I’m a judgmental dick that knows when to call himself out. I had a great time. I even danced a little.