Bong Mountain/The Eradicator - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bong Mountain / The Eradicator

Live in Grand Rapids (2017)

live show

The Grand Rapids, MI punk scene is in pretty good shape at the moment. There’s lots of bands playing lots of different styles. The shows feature diverse bills and are generally well attended. There seems to be more cooperation than competition. Most people in the scene are genuinely friends. A good mix of bars and DIY venues often means multiple shows on any given weekend.

On Friday May 12th, we got to send off one of our local favorites as they embarked on what seems to be becoming an annual Spring tour. Bong Mountain was joined by Stonewalled labelmate The Eradicator for the start of Tourza Pouzza, a week and a half tour based around both bands’ appearance at Pouzza Fest in Montreal. There were a couple of things about this show that I found intriguing. First, it was going to be at a relatively untested venue. Second, The Eradicator was going to be backed by a full band.

The show was at the Corner Record Shop in sleepy Grandville, a Grand Rapids suburb. I used to work in Grandville, so I had been to the store many times. It’s a vinyl lover’s paradise. You could easily spend an entire day going through their enormous inventory. I’d seen bands play there for Record Store Day, but never for an actual show. Behind the storefront is a huge warehouse. Along with a bunch more records, they have made up a nice, cozy area with a low but roomy stage for the bands to play.

The show was advertised as starting at 8 pm sharp. Supposedly there was not going to be any punk time, as there were four bands and it had to be over by 10:30. I showed up just about the time the first band was going on. I noticed there was no one collecting what was supposed to be the $6 cover as I walked back where the bands were playing. Later, they announced that there was a bucket up front by the stage for you to throw your money in. While most of us did, I’m sure many did not. They might have to tighten up that business model and get a door man.

First up was Flushed, a local all female trio. They played a pleasant blend of jangly garage punk, indie rock and dreamy pop. They might remind you of The Vaselines, The Breeders, or maybe the early Go-Go’s. This was my first time seeing Flushed, and they made a good first impression. I enjoyed their short set.

Next up was The Eradicator, who always knows how to make a grand entrance. He walked through the crowd to take the stage in his signature white shorts, pink polo shirt, high white socks and sparkling white tennis (er squash?) shoes. Of course, he also had his trusty squash racket and black ski mask. For those who don’t know, The Eradicator is a character/musician based on a Kids in the Hall sketch. (Check it out for yourself.) I had previously seen The Eradicator a couple of times as a solo act. For those shows, he played guitar and sang along to a prerecorded track, and sounded very similar to his 2015 debut 10 inch. You might call it hardcore punk with digital overtones.

For this show he recruited local degenerates The Bloody Lips to serve as his backing band. (The Bloody Lips are a killer band in their own right. They feature two former Lippies and put out their excellent debut album B-Side Noise earlier this year.) This freed him up from playing guitar and allowed him to swing his racket around menacingly. This also made for a much more organic punk sound. After a shaky first song, they really hit their stride. We were treated to a handful of new songs from the upcoming The Eradicator full length, as well as some old favorites. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. We were all thoroughly entertained right up until he ran off and jumped into the cab he had waiting.

Coffin Problem was definitely the oddest fit on the bill. They played doomy, atmospheric, shoegaze inspired metal. The songs were long with plenty of dynamic shifts, and I had a hard time getting into them at first. Gradually they drew me in. Their cover of Chris Isaak's “Wicked Game” was real showstopper.

Bong Mountain must have realized the significance of this show, because they brought their old bong prop out of retirement. It’s gold and majestic and carried on pole handles like the ark of the covenant. It must bring the band good luck as it randomly spews smoke. The crowd was in good spirits (second hand smoke?) as Bong Mountain played a bunch songs from their wonderful 2016 debut full length You’re Doin’ Great! (for the record). We also got a first taste of some fresh material as they played a promising sounding, but as of yet unnamed new song. (They asked the audience to help them name it, but I don’t think I heard any great suggestions.)

The buzz around Bong Mountain has been building slowly, but surely. These four friends seem to be aiming for the type of career that can be sustained for the long haul. (Hopefully the same thing can be said about the venue. It’s a great space, and if people are respectful it could easily become a local favorite.) Their loose, joyful performances are always a bongload of fun. As they continue to take their act on the road, I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country is as high on Bong Mountain as Grand Rapids is.