Stickshift Lover / The Agency / Salem - live in Ft. Lauderdale (Cover Artwork)

Stickshift Lover / The Agency / Salem

live in Ft. Lauderdale (2003)

live show

Well, the last show I attended in 2003 turned out to be my very favorite, even after a pretty stellar year of live performances (although seeing Bjork and Radiohead at Red Rocks here in Colorado in the same week transcends any live shows ever).

For those of you who don't know, The Agency is a band from Miami, Florida that was around in the late `90's/early 2000s. They were the band you rocked out to in high school, and grew up with you in college. Their first record "Rock to the Apocalypse" was a mix of prog-rock, ska, straight punk, and instrumental craziness. Mike Marsh, Chris Dreuke, and Klaus Ketelhohn are three of the most talented and insane musicians to ever walk this earth. However, like many great bands, they lived and died in Florida, and not many people on the outside picked up on them. Ironically, after their breakup their stellar second album "Engines" became a much loved record on the underground. Even Thursday gave props to The Agency on their first two records. And yes, Mike Marsh is currently the drummer for Dashboard Confessional, and yes, Chris Carrabba played second guitar on "Engines".

SO-now that we've set the stage, onto the show.

Openers Salem rocked the hizzouse. Being an As Friends Rust fan, I was pretty stoked to see what the dudes had in store for us, and they did not let down. Having never heard them before, save one song on the Fiddler site, they still managed to keep most people's attention. I was super-impressed and we'll all probably be hearing a lot more from these guys. Plus they're on Fiddler Records, and usually you can't go wrong with those guys.

Then came the mighty AGENCY. Seriously, this is the greatest band ever. They delivered a searing live set and the crowd mood was a feeling of elation. Everyone was singing along and people were jumping off was great. Standing with four of my dearest friends singing along and remembering times we had listening to these was great. They played a few old favorites, but mostly songs from "Engines", including "Single File Line", "Sinking", and "Closing Time". They still won't play their very best song, "Take Another Day". It might seem dated now, but every time I hear this I can remember sitting on my high school campus, listening to my friend Jackie's taped version of this song. Good times. They ended too early but all three looked tired and happy.

Then came unquestionably the funniest 45 or so minutes of my life. STICKSHIFT LOVER. This is retarded. It's like Tenacious D, Spinal Tap, and Shat fused into one. Smoke machines, a 300-pound man in tights, and huge wigs. And also, two guys looking surprisingly like Chris and Klaus from the Agency. The centerpiece of course was the METAL WOLF. After a thumping chant of his name, the Wolf graced us with his presence and rocked us hard. Goofy metal, lots of sexual innuendo, it was great. At one point the Wolf fired everyone on stage except the bass player, Duke Rumble, and proceeded to sing a slow jam "Always Cry Wolf" which included the all-time greatest line EVER in a song "She did the black man handshake on my cock". Amazing. Brilliant. Maybe these guys will someday go somewhere. I hope so. They have been around long before Andrew WK and his "the Wolf", before people start getting upset. 1999 maybe? Who knows. Good luck trying to find anything online, but if you want a taste of the Metal Wolf I suggest picking up the documentary "RELEASE", available a lot of different places, including Best Buy, which is wierd. The Metal Wolf in pre-Wolf days is featured in a bonus segment called "Moshing 101", which will make you piss in your pants for real. Like for real. This is also a great documentary that covers the punk scene in the late 90s/early 2000s and features a very young Amy Fiddler, as well as the legendary Miami club CHEERS, where so many great bands had their start (like the Agency).

If you've read this far, you rule. This was a great night. It reminded me of a time before scenesters and hipsters and buttons everywhere and major labels and all the bullshit that muddles the scene these days. Florida rules, that is why so many great bands make it out, even if the greatest ones don't.