Vibrators / Ripsnorter / Plate-O-Shrimp - live in Minneapolis (Cover Artwork)

Vibrators / Ripsnorter / Plate-O-Shrimp

live in Minneapolis (2004)

live show

As we all age, we go through several specific rites of passage, some age determined, some not. Everyone remembers the time they took their driving test and passed. Everyone remembers the first time they kissed a girl and the time they lost their virginity. And we all remember our first 21 show.

These are not only remembered, but anticipated beforehand, and all for different reasons. Before I had lost my virginity, I couldn't wait for it to finally happen, though I had no genuine concerns about whether it would be any good or not. I pretty much just wanted to be able to say I wasn't a virgin any longer, you know? But it was different with my first 21 show. This had to be special. I guess one can attribute it to the fact that getting into a show isn't that tough. Just go to the club and give the fat bearded dude your money (unlike losing your virginity, where you have to wine and dine the fat bearded dude for a while before he'll let his guard down long enough for you to mount him). So you want to make sure that the show will be as cool as possible without waiting until you're over 21 to see a 21 show.

I was very fortunate that Built to Spill, a band I enjoy quite muchly, happened to play a 21 show on my 21st birthday. It was a tremendous experience. The bands were good and my friends kept putting drinks in my hands until the end of the night. I consider myself fortunate.

So I was definitely pleased to discover that, one year from my 21st birthday, another bands I enjoy quite a bit, the Vibrators, were playing a 21 show. That's two birthdays in a row spent rocking out at 21 shows. Hooray for me, right?

The experience was a much different atmosphere that the BtS show (which took place in the First Ave mainroom - a considerably larger venue). The Vibrators definitely have a limited following for one of the first punk rock bands ever, and my girlfriend and I were most certainly the youngest people in attendance by at least 15 years (she celebrated her 21st birthday eight days before the show), but I consider myself fortunate enough to have long since grown out of giving a shit about what other show attendees think about me (this was a bigger step that people who didn't grow up with punk rock ever realize), so I wasn't phased. The $2.50 Old Styles didn't hurt either.

First up was Plate-O-Shrimp, a local group whose name I had seen on flyers but who I had never bothered to check out. Honestly, what the hell kind of name for a band is that? I don't know what style of music one should typically anticipate from a band name like that, but I certainly wasn't expecting what was essentially an aging bar rock take on mid-90s Berkeley pop punk. Most of the songs were fairly unremarkable except for the fact that they were, like I said, a pop punk band in existence long after that trend died out. A few of the songs were definitely catchy, though, good compilation fodder.

I should mention that at no point in time was this show ever in heavy attendance. I would probably estimate about 50 people or less. So my spot standing on the floor close to the stage was definitely a desolate region of the venue. As I said, most of the people at the show were considerably older than me - as in "I'm too cool to give a shit about opening bands" old - so very few people bothered to stand as close to the stage as my girlfriend and I, and I'm sure even less people were even paying attention.

Now, I've been going to punk shows since I was 13 years old, and was performing in bands at a number of them as well. At some point you develop this sort of sixth sense about what is going on around you. This punk rock spidey sense of mine started tingling about halfway through Plate-O-Shrimp's set, and I jokingly started thinking to myself that all the other people as close to the stage as my compatriot and I were all friends and girlfriends of the band on stage. Just as I was about to whisper something about this to said compatriot, the bassist injects some between song banter:

"It's my girlfriend's birthday today," He says. "This song is dedicated to her." Everyone up front turns to the same woman at the same time and they all start laughing. My spidey sense never fails, I guess.

Up next was Ripsnorter, another local band with a familiar name who I had never actually listened to before. I have considerably less positive things to say about this group. In all honesty, they pretty much completely sucked. The Misfits influence was very apparent by the fact that every single song had the second guitarist and drummer singing 'Whooooooooah-whoooooaaah" during pretty much every second they were on stage. Even when they weren't playing music they'd sing "Whoooooooooah-whooooooah" to liven up the stage banter. "Whoas", when overused, are only slightly less annoying than when bands shout "oi".

There were a lot of different influences beyond the Misfits, though all were just as superficially manipulated. A Social Distortion vocal melody here, a rockabilly guitar solo there. A Pantera bassline here, another relative hour of obnoxious "Whoooooooah-whooooah" there. Pretty much the only talent coming off of the stage was coming from the bass player. Unfortunately, he is clearly schooled in heavy metal bass guitar, and thus managed to both completely outplay the rest of the band AND not fit in stylistically at all.

You know it's a bad sign when the lead singer announces, "we have four songs left" and you sigh audibly and look at your watch.

Eventually, as you may have guessed, the Vibrators took the stage. There is little detail I can offer as to what transpired musically, suffice to say that it kicked total ass and I enjoyed every second of it. I feel I shared a silent bond with the band as well. While I was feeling somewhat awkward being the youngest person there by 15 years, they must have felt even weirder being OLDER than everyone in attendance by at least 15 years.

My eyes weren't quite as sore from looking at 50 year old British punks early in the set, as some of the more intoxicated women in attendance decided to dance about as lewdly as I've ever seen at a show. My girlfriend is to be thanked for alerting me to the fact that one of the ladies, clad in a short skirt, was dipping far enough to the ground as to expose basically her entire ass (and I really mean that, as she was sporting a freshly purchased Vibrators thong underneath). Unfortunately, her performance was cut short when her dancing partner had become drunk to the point where "dancing" consisted mainly of stumbling wildly about the floor and literally falling to the ground at least four times. That was when her drunken spidey senses went off (see, there are all kinds) and she needed her stripteasing friend to escort her to the ladies room and hold her hair back.

So let's recap: One okay opening act, one terrible opening act, one phenomenal headliner, two drunken dancing women, one sans pants, $2.50 Old Styles, fifty jaded old punks, two of which were under thirty, one of which was me. Yeah, all in all I think it was just another good night at the Triple Rock.