Written by GE 138.
"You are going to need wrist bands to get in and out of these doors." some guy was randomly yelling at Erika and I (plus Bob of course) as we were walking into the rear entrance of Backstage Bar & Billiards. As we made our way in he abruptly turned around and stopped us in our tracks and asked "Are you in a band?". Yeah, I replied. "A band that's playing tonight?". I looked at him with a WTF sneer and said Yeah. "Are you sure?" I laughed and said Yeah, I'm pretty sure, and he says "OK, but go right to the front and get your wristbands, OK?" OK, I assured him and make my way inside Triple B's. There already was a grip of people in the place, and the second hand smoke was thick in the air. Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! was on a loop on every monitor in the room. Nice. There was a queue of people waiting to get in, and Helen (Pulsar's Mom) looked stressed out as she was trying to do 3 things at once.Carlos S.F.T. and Crystal were walking right up the same time I was. Hi, I said to Helen, I need to get 3 wristbands please. She said "You're only allowed 5, one per band member total and you've already got 3 out." Now as far as I knew, I was the first one to go up front and ask for anything in that regard, so I asked her Who grabbed the first 3? "The drummer, his wife, and her friend." I literally LOL'd when she told me that, and I laughingly assured her that that was an impossibility, as I was the drummer of the band and my girlfriend was in the bathroom, and that we didn't have a friend with us - we had a Bob, who's a dysfunctional member of the Civilians family. She replied, "Oh, well I know him quite well, and I can assure YOU that it was him that took the passes." Uhhhhmmm, OK. I had lost the taste to suss it out diplomatically and logically and just told her Look, the guy in the back was giving me a hard time about getting wristbands to go in and out, and he sent me up here, which is the only reason why I am up here, and you can either give me the wristbands or not, but if you don't, I'm not loading my gear in to play the gig, and you can tell everybody that asks why I'm not. She kind of looked at me and I smiled as she handed over a grip of wristbands, which I then handed out to everyone I knew in the vicinity. So yeah, that's how the T.S.O.L. gig kicked off for me... LOL
Everybody and their Mom was in the place. The Goths, The Punks (Young and Old), The Punx (Oi!), The Bro-hams, The Nerds, and some old people who looked like they were up way past their bedtime. We were all their to pay homage to T.S.O.L., and the turnout was excellent for a Weds. night. I stood around chatting with Monica, Karl, Bethany, Jesse, Roxie, Carlos and Crystal (of course), Dave, and a whole plethora of various people and friends I can't recall at the moment. We all stood around smoking and drinking and waiting for something, anything, to begin. Finally, after a little prodding by Jeremy to the sound man to make sure the bands stayed to their scheduled time slots, opening band Sheiks From Neptune took to the stage to some prerecorded Sci-Fi noise and rolling waves of fog, and even before I recognized them as the band once known as Bloody Ale (at least the singer anyways), I wasn't feeling it. They played an up-tempo Sci-Fi Surf vibe type of Punk Rock, all while wearing fez hats and loud Hawaiian print shirts, looking like Shriners (Shriner-core!), and the crowd was lapping it up big time. I felt old and out of it because I didn't get the appeal. Fun circle pit action broke out sporadically as people were just rocking out to what they were playing, and the fog throughout their set was a cute touch, but it reeked of effort, man. It reeked of them trying waaaaaaay too hard to have people like them, but it worked, because people were digging the fuck out of the Sheiks From Neptune, so what do I know? I said my goodbyes to everyone I was hanging around with and headed off to help Bob with the drum kit backstage.
It's always great to play Triple B's. Big Daddy Carlos runs a good place there, and if it was anywhere else but Downtown, I would totally hang out there all the time, but it is Downtown, the only place that it could really exist, and for that I'm grateful. Better than playing outside in the back area of the Beauty Bar, that's for sure, and everything beats playing at LVCS. Enough said. The Civilians always get a great response when we play at Triple B's, but they usually cut us short, ha ha ha, so tonight, we planned a fast and furious 24 minute set that was all killer, no filler. Lots of circle pit action and just a great response from the crowd. You'd think we were good or something... heh heh We had just gotten our colored vinyl records a few days beforehand, so this gig was a celebration of sorts. Jeremy gave some records out, and people bought a whole bunch more. Red seems to be the popular color of choice so far. I never see anything that's going on while we play, being a drummer and far in the back, and apparently neither do the guys up front who always have lights in their eyes, but I could hear what was going on, and from where I was sitting, it sounded like a wild and raucous and rowdy time was going on. I could hear Karl Bakla being belligerent (You're the only Local band I like!!), and I could hear Scott (the guy who took the picture of the Civilians I stole from Facebook that I'm using for this write up) yelling out song titles, and after every song it sounded like KISS - Alive... hahaha It was a fun time and Thanks to everyone for hanging around and checking us out and supporting us by buying merch. It's sooooo freakin' cool!!
Right after the set I was just exhausted and sweaty and sitting on my ass in the magical hidden room inside the book case directly behind the stage. Lots of kind words and compliments being through my way, with the strangest compliment someone gave me was that "The Civilians have a unique sound'. Whatever. Left Alone started into their set and I just wasn't feeling it. I'm not a big fan of their music, and when I ventured a peek out front to see about maybe taking some pictures of them for the website, I could see it was packed tight as sardines up front, so I went back to the green room to hang out with the guys in T.S.O.L., where Jack was getting everyone drunk on Jack & Cokes and Ron Emery was talking guitars with Jesse Amoroso. I was also engrossed in conversation with Rob Ruckus and Monica and Erika about cannabis oil and edibles, among other strange, interesting things.
We were still chatting away backstage like hens in a hen house when T.S.O.L. took to the stage and started playing their standard set of greatest hits for the hungry crowd. They sounded exceptionally good, except for the drummer, who was THAT guy in the green room, beating on everything he could with a pair of drum sticks while twirling them with his fingers, just to let you know he was a drummer. Ghey. I don't know what happened to their other drummer Tiny, but this guy they had behind the kit was no Tiny, that's for sure. Missed accents, flubbed tom rolls, and non-existent cymbal hits. But besides those little annoyances that probably only I noticed, the band sounded good. Really good. Jack was his usually charming, witty, charismatic self, engaging the crowd and cracking wise to everything being said, and watching that man work a crowd to do his bidding, whether good or bad, is something I've enjoyed for well over 30 years now. It's still very entertaining to watch, and he sounds as good as ever. His voice was strong. He sounded great. Ron's guitar tone has always been impeccable; soulful yet angry, crunchy and melodic all at the same time, and when he plays the guitar lines to songs like Superficial Love or The Triangle, it still makes your blood pump and it gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing straight up. And he's been doing that for years. Fucking love it. Mike on bass does the same thing to me when he plays the opening riffs to Property Is Theft or Weathered Statues. His bass tone is like spooky surfy nightmare melodies made to get you moving, tapping your fingers, toes, something. When he gets to rocking, it's hard to stand still, but yet I was. The crowd was energetic, with a few lunatics running around looking for some circle pit action, but no one in the crowd was feeling it. We were all just a bunch of old people out on a weeknight up way past our bedtime and just wanting to hear some kick ass T.S.O.L. tunes and not slam and pogo around like we used to when we were younger. I was cool with that, because I was spent. T.S.O.L. played every great song of theirs that you can think of, and the crowd loved every minute of it, and after about an hour or so they called it a night by closing with Code Blue. It was a great set from the band, and once they were done the lights came up and everyone shuffled out the doors. Great gig. Fun times. What more could you ask for? T.S.O.L. - you know I love them!! :)