The Pietasters / Avoid One Thing - live in Washington, DC (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Pietasters / Avoid One Thing

live in Washington, DC (2004)

live show

A few weeks ago, this show was announced as the show to be filmed for an upcoming live CD and DVD for DC ska legends the Pietasters. Upon hearing this, the plans for the 6 hour road trip started to form, and lo and behold, they actually came through. An added bonus to this was finding out that Avoid One Thing was opening, and would probably be playing new songs. Awesome possum.

We arrived on V street after the doors had opened, and heard the Springfields playing inside. However, we had two extra tickets to get rid of, and after selling them off on the cheap we arrived to see the last song of their set, nothing else. They seemed like a fairly energetic young pop-punk act.

Up next was The Ready Steady Go! from DC. I hadn't heard them before, but had heard some praise of them. Fronted by a rather large gentleman with an even larger stage presence, they ripped through a set of danceable, high energy ska tunes that had the whole place moving. The singer's approach to singing reminded me a lot of Dicky Barrett and Steve Jackson and his voice was smooth and pleasing. They could have used a bit of a variety in the rhythm section, but aside from that, I expect good things from this young band in the future.

Avoid One Thing took the stage to questions rumbling through the crowd. Most of them centered around "who the hell are these guys?" After a small (and distasteful) chant of "Mighty Mighty...Bosstones!", former (current, who the hell knows?) bass fiddleman of the legendary boston ska band opened up the set with a smile on his face. They hit on nearly all my favorites from their debut album, including "Next Stop Batteries", "Bomb-Building Songs", "Yakisoba", and closed with "Lean on Sheena". In the middle, they showcased a few songs from their upcoming opus, The Chopstick Bridge, including some songs sung by guitarist Amy (formerly of the rockabilly act The Raging Teens). Amy is an incredible front-woman, and her vocals dualing with Joe's sounded so good I couldn't stop smiling. A small sad footnote is that this is my first time seeing them as a three-piece band, after the departure of founding guitar member Paul Delano (ex-Mung and Darkbuster). However, my fears were allayed when they ripped apart all their old and new material, proving that this band gets better with every single show they play.

As the Pietasters took the stage in their hometown, the entire place was buzzing with anticipation. We all knew we were in for a treat, seeing as how they were recording the entire show. They began the set in soulful style, playing a couple old covers, notably the Rolling Stones' "Your Love". Everyone in the band was dead-on with their parts, nailing every single note. The only occasional exception was Mr. Jackson with the vox, I think he just plain forget a couple lines a few times. No harm, no foul, most probably didn't even notice. They mixed it up nicely, with some old songs from Piestomp and Oolooloo, as well as new stuff from Turbo and everything in between. In fact, one of the highlights of this set was the selections from their Hellcat debut album Willis. Last time I saw them, they omitted this entire album, much to my chagrin. Present were "Out all Night", "Higher", and a couple other tracks. They pretty much played every single song you would expect to hear on a comprehensive career retrospective CD.

It was neat to see DJ Selah there, toasting along with the 'tasters on the songs from Awesome Mix Tape, as well as a few others. They played one song of his own, the possibly in poor taste track "DC Sniper". I wasn't too hot on this part of the show, mostly because the song itself just didn't sound that great, but also because of the possible (I don't have the exact lyrics) poor choice in subject matter.

The boys left the stage, and came back out for their 20 minute encore, ending the show with an extended spastic jam version of "Factory Concerto" and an insane version of "Somebody". The entire production was so slick, it was incredible. My only complaint was the insane light show. It was seriously just a couple steps below a Dillinger Escape Plan light extravaganza. I prefer my shows to not give me epileptic seizures, but no one else seemed to mind, so it doesn't really matter.

The DVD/CD recorded there is going to be an amazing testament to the quality of the Pietasters after all these years, and not simply be a "Strapped part 2". And more importantly, the show as a whole was incredible. With the three bands that I saw, I feel like I ripped them off for only paying 12 dollars to see it. They are all highly recommended catches if you can, and make sure to pick up their albums if you can.