Murphy's Law - Live in Lansing (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Murphy's Law

Live in Lansing (2017)

live show

A few years ago, I made a vow to go see any classic punk bands that came to town. There had been a recent spat of old guy punk deaths, and I realized that none of us were getting any younger. Murphy’s Law at The Avenue in Lansing, MI on Sunday May 7th really tested the limits of that vow. Lansing is not really local to me. It’s actually over an hour drive. Combine that with the fact that it was on a Sunday night, and this show had the potential to torpedo my whole week. Against my better judgement, (I’m so glad I never listen to that killjoy), I found myself on the highway headed east.

My understanding is that the date was originally supposed to be a country show. Milwaukee’s SS Web was booked first, then Murphy’s Law became available. Then Grand Rapids hardcore band Westside Rebellion was added. It ended up being a mish mash, but it worked. We showed up on time to see the openers, only to find out that there was another unbilled opener. That turned out to be country solo artist Jimmy Swope. It was just him and his acoustic guitar, and I didn’t mind his music all. I wasn’t thrilled about the fact that he started late and then played 15 minutes over his allotted half hour.

Westside Rebellion is a newer GR based hardcore punk band that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is quickly becoming one of my local favorites. They have once again expanded to a five piece, and their shows are sloppy and chaotic in the best kind of way. Their 20 minute set included all five songs from their excellent, recently released EP, including the crowd pleasing GG Allin cover “Don’t Talk To Me”. There were a couple of other songs that I didn’t know, including one that sounded like a raunchy version of “Stray Cat Strut”. If you’re at all into hardcore punk, do yourself a favor and check out Westside Rebellion.

SS Web (steering ships with empty bottles) stood in stark contrast to WSR, but was every bit as compelling in its own way. The two piece band features a guitarist/vocalist and a percussionist that I was absolutely fascinated by. His ‘drum set’ was made up of a washboard with two small cymbals and a tin can attached, a box drum on one foot pedal, and a tambourine on another. He wore metal guitar picks on each finger, and was able to coax an amazing variety of percussion sounds from this setup. The singer had a deep, dark voice, and told stories that came from a deep, dark place. If you’re at all into alt country, do yourself a favor and check out SS Web.

Murphy’s Law finally came on at 11:23 pm. They started things off with an instrumental intro while Jimmy Gestapo sat sipping Jagermeister on the side of the stage. Once Jimmy G took the stage, the party really kicked into gear. I hadn’t seen Murphy’s Law since the late 1990’s/early 2000’s, and I’d kind of forgotten how funny Jimmy is. He joked about how you couldn’t drink the water in Michigan, but the air smelled great. (A few people seemed to be smoking what I’m sure was medicinal marijuana.) The band played quite a few party classics from their first two albums including “Beer”, “Skinhead Rebel”, “Crucial Bar-B-Q”, “Attack of the Killer Beers”, “Cavity Creeps” and “Quest for Herb”.

They didn’t use a setlist, and were generally open to requests. Jimmy was handing out cans of Hamm’s and passing around the bottle of Jager. When a guy in front wearing a straight edge T-shirt rebuffed his generosity, Jimmy went down on the floor to meet him. Then he and the rest of the band serenaded him with a spot on version of Minor Threat’s “Straight Edge” while the rest of us screamed along. They also threw in the old Fleetwood Mac song (any self respecting punk should know The Rezillos or Youth Brigade version) “Somebody’s Gonna get Their Head Kicked In Tonight”. Another highlight was when Jimmy led sax player Raven down on the floor for an extended solo. When Murphy’s Law finally wrapped things up, it was 12:23 am on the nose.

It was a Sunday night, so the crowd was not huge. Those of us lucky enough to be there were rowdy and into it. It had the great vibe you get with a gathering of like-minded degenerates. It’s hard for me to be objective about how good it was, because I had so much fun. Murphy’s Law still puts on a heck of a show. Jimmy G and the boys hung out at the bar after their set, and they were super cool. Jimmy had me put on his glasses for a photo, and we looked like evil twins. I had a hard time getting out of there to get home to go to sleep. I finally made it to bed at 2:30 am, and was back up at 6:10 am. Not too bad for an old guy. I’m glad I kept that vow.