Sloppy Seconds/The Cheats - Live at Savage Mountain Punk Fest (Cover Artwork)
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Sloppy Seconds / The Cheats

Live at Savage Mountain Punk Fest (2021)

live show

Saturday morning didn’t start with nearly the hangover we deserved. The Friday night of Savage Mountain Punk Fest was a roaring success musically, but an epic fail in drinking in moderation. Since we had never been to Cumberland, MD before, we decided to skip the Saturday matinee and explore the area a bit. It’s a city set in picturesque mountains and steeped in history. George Washington spent a significant amount of time there, and it’s full of wonderful, majestic old buildings. It’s also clearly struggling to maintain its infrastructure and to retain its young people. There were lots of empty storefronts downtown near Mezzos.

As we were leaving the hotel we ran into the guys from Sloppy Seconds, who were headlining that night and staying right down the hall. (As were a lot of other bands and fans alike.) We had lunch at a great local BBQ joint, and walked across the bridge to West Virginia for a couple of beers at a real dive bar. (My vow to never drink again was broken by 3 PM.) After hitting a couple more local bars, we eventually made our way back to Mezzos.

Savage Mountain Punk Fest is put on by a non-profit called Savage Mountain Punk Arts. After skipping 2020 due to Covid concerns, they came roaring back in 2021. Previous years features headliners like The Queers, The Undead, Independents and Pagan Babies. The 2021 edition was definitely the biggest one yet, and drew fans and bands from across the country. Cumberland is only a couple of hours from Baltimore, DC and Pttsburgh, and heavily drew bands from those areas.

T.B.D. opened the action on Saturday evening with a mix of originals and crowd pleasing covers like Supersuckers’ “Pretty Fucked Up”, Rose Tattoo’s “Nice Boys” and Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some”. The three quarters female band also featured a bass player who looked a bit like G.G. Allin. Middle Age Brigade played a set that would be best described as dad hardcore. Idleminds played a solid set of Pennywise inspired melodic skate punk.

We had picked up some records, so we decided to run them back to the hotel. Upon arrival, we learned that the elevators and the air conditioners in about half the rooms weren't working. When we got back to the club, word was starting to get around. The fat, aging punks were already starting to sweat!

Things really started to heat up (pun intended) with Pittsburgh’s Mud City Manglers. The quartet has been around since the ‘90s, and plays a wild brand of shitkicker punk. Their riff heavy tunes start in the red and rarely let up. Most of their set came from their 2020 LP Give Me the Hammer. MCM are a band that doesn’t tour much anymore, so it was cool to get a chance to see them.

Ditto The Cheats. While the Steel City quintet plays quite a bit on the East Coast, they don’t generally make it to my neck of the woods. The Cheats were one of the few bands at SMPF who actually dressed to impress. They were easy to pick out of the crowd with their ‘80s sunset strip meets biker gang look. One guitar player looked a bit like a young Tommy Lee, while the other had more of a Flock of Seagulls thing going on.

The interaction between the two guitars was reminiscent of Dead Boys, New York Dolls or the Rolling Stones. Singer Todd Cheat went right down into the audience to work the crowd. They played songs from across their 20 year career, with a solid emphasis on their excellent 2020 record Cussin, Crying N Carrying On. What can I say? The Cheats were a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, Sloppy Seconds closed the night in spectacular fashion. After a couple of false starts to their tour, it was great to finally catch up with Indianapolis’ finest. From the first notes of “Black Roses”, the crowd went off. What a cathartic release for everyone lucky enough to be there. It’s strange to see soccer moms and Mohicans both screaming along to “So Fucked Up” and “I Want ‘Em Dead”. (I still haven’t completely got my voice back.)

The set relied heavily on songs from Destroyed (1989), which was fine with everybody. The band did seem to be having some sound issues on stage, and at times appeared frustrated. The sound was fine out in the crowd, but the band occasionally seemed to be on different pages. Speaking of frustration, at some point singer BA’s shorts started bothering him. The solution? Take them off and finish the show in his boxer briefs. I’ve seen Sloppy at least 15 times, and that was a first! By the time they finished “Time Bomb”, we were all spent.

Sloppy Seconds setlist: Black Roses, You’ve Got A Great Body But Your Record Collection Sucks, Why Don’t Lesbians Love Me?, I Don’t Wanna Be A Homosexual, Mighty Heroes, Come Back Traci, You Can’t Kill Joey Ramone, 15 Minutes Or It’s Free, Runnin’ From The CIA, Can’t Slow Down, Blackmail, Shut Up And Pour Me A Drink, Kegs Are For Kids, Steal Your Beer, Veronica. Encore: I Want ‘Em Dead, So Fucked Up, Time Bomb.

The venue clearly did not anticipate the volume of beer and piss that would flow over the course of the weekend. First we drank all the tall boys in the house. PBR, Yuengling, whatever. It was all gone. Then we drank all the Bud, Busch, Miller, you name it. By the end there were literally a few cans of Coors Light left! And the bathrooms were trashed! We’re talking standing water and buckets catching more. Reminded me of the punk scene of my youth.

Please allow me to editorialize for a minute. These are the types of events we should be supporting. Forget about drinking $10 craft beers while listening to NOFX or Pennywise play half assed, mailed in versions of their hits. If the Covid era has taught us anything, it’s the importance of supporting independent, underground punk. To quote Sloppy Seconds, “DIY til we die!”

Confessions of a merch whore: I grabbed an extremely rare orange copy of Mud City Manglers’ Give Me the Hammer, the new Cheats single Rock N Roll Love Letter, and a glow in the dark D-Tour press of Sloppy Seconds’ Endless Bummer. I previously only had the Kid Tested CD version of that album.