"Remember when it meant something?"
That's what I was asking myself the entire time I was watching O Pioneers!!! put on a show for about 30+ kids in a basement in Lubbock, TX on a Saturday night. Not only did the band book the show a little less than 2 days before coming through town, they also miscalculated the amount of driving time it was going to take them to get to their next stop. 12-14 hours till Lawrence, KS. In most cases like these, we have usually come to expect a show that you will forget about the next day; the band would leave immediately after playing, they not only wouldn't watch the opening band, but not take the time to remember their names and "thank everyone who played tonight." Apparently someone forgot to tell O Pioneers!!! how to be rock stars once they decided to begin touring and writing music, because instead we had two guys who were bouncing off the walls in excitement about playing that night.
If you haven't heard any of the white noise that is surrounding this band due to show dates with the likes of Teenage Bottlerocket, Latterman and the Lawrence Arms to name some names, and their good friend Mitch Clem from webcomic fame Nothing Nice to Say giving them a far share of promotion, who by the way is on tour with them, then you haven't heard about two honest musicians who care more about what they do each night than the money that may or may not get put in their pockets. They cared more about sitting down and listening to the acoustic solo set by one of Lubbock's locals who played in a band that opened for them the last time they came through than setting up merch to sell. They cared more about practicing a song beforehand in front of anyone who cared to watch since they hadn't been able to practice for about 2 weeks. They cared about everyone having fun and dancing along and clapping and singing, even though no one knew the words. It's nights like these that make you realize what music can be like when artists aren't caught up with egos that probably shouldn't exist coinciding with stellar musicians who have the right to be egotistical, but choose not to.
As for the music portion of the show goes, since this was the first time listening to them other than the two songs they have on myspace, I couldn't tell you the set list. What I can tell you is that it didn't matter. They blazed through each song and between each break would interact with the crowd, joking with us and talking about how great it is that there is a place in the city for kids to go and just watch a basement show and hang out. They played hard and sweat harder through about 45 minutes of folk/electric fuse punk that really moves above being placed in "genre labels." They brought topics such as negative drinking, the DIY "ethics" system and playing with friends all over the country that still maintain that playing a stale and sweaty venue and bringing it all every night is more important than values of selling out, money, time and other frivolous problems that most touring bands get caught up in these days. Eric and Jeff both didn't even realize that they were taking a cover at the door and they didn't know that getting paid was even a possibility. Instead they were more concerned with telling the crowd that the band Staind and Drowning Pool were playing in town, and in order to make their presence known, they pulled the van over just so Jeff could run out and throw a drum stick at their bus. This is what music misses; in the one song that I know a name to, the closer of "I Could Buy a Prostitute for the Price of These Tickets," Eric and Jeff both scream "remember when it meant something!" in the crowd-chanting chorus that everyone sang 'till everyone within earshot heard what O Pioneers!!! had to shove into your eardrums.
While everyone maintains a steady diet of complaining about DIY being more important than record labels, how these guys are ripping off or bad substitutes for other bands that "used to be cool," or how unpunk it is to buy Benadryl at Wal-Mart because someone has horrible animal allergies, O Pioneers!!! are still going to be playing every city they can. They will play to whoever they can, whenever they can, and as hard as they can. So instead of getting caught up with appearance and face value, listen to a couple of guys sing about how talking shit is pretty lame; who knows, you may learn something.