That’s what time I showed up at the Firehouse for the 9pm start time on Wednesday March 22nd. Grand Rapids has a pretty healthy house show/DIY scene, and the Firehouse is probably the longest running of the DIY venues. It’s a great space and I always enjoy going there. I noticed there was no one working the door, but didn’t think too much about it.
That was supposed to be the cover. I went inside to check things out and cracked my first beer.
That’s the amount of tallboys I brought with me to the show. I’m trying to be more responsible, and that’s all I should drink when I need to drive home.
I ran into the guy running the show, and he informed me that Violent Affair had been in a pretty serious accident on their way from Detroit and that they weren’t going to make it. No one was seriously injured, but their van was damaged and merch was spread out all over the highway. He had posted it in the FB event page, but I was already on my way by then. It was going to be locals only and there was no cover. Shit happens. I figured it would be an early night.
It was announced that Violent Affair was on their way again and would be there in two hours. I sensed that my night had just gotten a whole lot longer.
That’s what time the first band went on. This was only Paper Thin’s second show, and their first had been three days earlier. I was at that show too, and the headliner never showed up. I was starting to wonder if this band was cursed. Anyway, the GR based female fronted quintet tore through a short but spirited set. This is another band with Kole and Taylor from The Lippes, but the sound is straight up classic punk. These guys (and girl) are quickly becoming one of my local favorites.
That’s how many minutes Paper Thin has played both times I’ve seen them. Not 14, not 16, but 15 minutes on the nose. Next up was a trio of very young guys called Alien Dogs. They were not scheduled to play, but since all three of them were at the show anyway, they got drafted. Alien Dogs played a 20 minute set of sometimes blazingly fast punk rock. I was fairly impressed by these kids who might not even be out of high school yet.
The number of additional tallboys I bought to make it through the night. The Firehouse is right next to a liquor store, so I grabbed one more beer to nurse before the next band. The Scants came on next and played for a half hour or so. This is another trio of relatively young guys who play classic style punk. I’ve seen them a few times now and I like it.
Violent Affair arrived at the venue. The Scants were just wrapping up their set with a Bad Brains cover. The local bands had been sharing equipment, but Violent Affair brought in all their own stuff. Heavy road cases were signs of a band well traveled. Half stacks and bigger drums replaced the smaller amps and kit.
Violent Affair finally took the stage. Actually they were spilling from it. The drum kit took up the entire center of the stage. Guitar amps were set up next to it almost blocking the walkways. The singer, rhythm guitar player and bassist were thrashing around on the floor in front of the stage. Only the lead guitarist was standing on it. He was almost stoic as he plucked out his solos and leads. The Oklahoma City five piece plays a thrashy but melodic type of street punk. They also look the part complete with mohawks, bondage pants, combat boots and studded belts. The hardwood floor was now starting to get slippery from spilled beer, and bodies were flying all over the place.
I considered going home at this point, but what difference would it make? It was already past my bedtime and I was really enjoying the band. Violent Affair has a commanding presence that compels you to listen. It also felt like it was the least I could do after all the difficulties they had getting there. Last week I wrote about a band that didn’t bother showing up for a gig. This week I’m acknowledging a band that went to extraordinary measures to get to a gig. I wish they had some merch that I could have bought to help them on their way.
Violent Affair wrapped up their excellent 45 minute set. I said a few quick goodbyes and hit the road. I took note that the back of VA’s van was smashed when I passed by.
I arrived safely at Trauma Manor.
The last digits I saw on my bedside clock before I passed out.
The time my alarm went off the next morning.