Let me start this the way I start most of my relationships, with an apology. I’ve been slacking on making a first post for 9b, sorry. When RSV invited me to write a few pieces for the site I was beyond honored to do so. Like many of you’ve I’ve been following the site for years and years and it has been an important part of my musical dialogue. I’ve discovered bands that I ended up loving through this site and gotten to know a few of those friends-through-music that we all hold so dear as well. Halfway through the intro and I haven’t introduced myself, good start. I’m Patrick, I’m in the Dead Volts, we’ve opened for a bunch of bands you probably like a lot. I’m from San Luis Obispo, California and I’m going do my damnedest to let you folks know about music happening here on the Central Coast of California. We’ve been fortunate out here to be a regular stop for a lot of bands you likely know about like Drag the River, Two Cow Garage, Lucero, Michael Dean Damron, John Moreland and plenty of others. Odds are I will talk a little bit about some of those folks but mostly I want to tell you about bands from here.
My initial post was actually going to be about a San Luis Obispo band called Bearcats as they are one of my favorites and they deserve some love but last night (Wed 2/24/16) I had one of those awesome rock’n’roll experiences that I wanted to share with you.
I like seeing shows on off nights because there is something special about the bands and the audience that comes out that is different than your typical Friday or Saturday night show. At my most usual haunt, the Frog and Peach Pub (full disclosure I do book some shows in there and do some promo work for them), this is even more true as the weekends tend to be cover bands and reggae catering to a meat market style crowd. The bands are essentially background for the party. On the off nights though it’s all about the show. Last night was a 5 band bill, a showcase for Lost State Records, a local label that does mostly cassettes and vinyl for screamo/emo bands and a few outliers. I was working at another show a town over so I unfortunately missed the previously mentioned Bearcats but I was able to catch the last three bands on the bill. The band playing when I walked in the door was…not rad. Just didn’t do it for me. It’s not them, it’s me. I try to stay positive but honestly it was tough because I had missed the band I wanted to see, my other buddies (Blissed Out) were playing last and I was gearing up to not enjoy the other bands in-between. I hate doing stuff like that, I’d like to be more open to things, but that’s just where my head was at. I hung out at the bar as the bands switched over and bunched up with a few of my friends to check out the next act.
Immediately I thought these guys were going to be terrible. They committed one of the greatest band sins in my book, wearing shorts on stage. I don’t know why but it’s always bothered me. Shorts and flip-flops are just not supposed to be on stage. I blame a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert I saw in my teenage years for this bias against shorts. The name also came off as jokey, “Shoot the Mariner”. But the bassist was playing a Telecaster bass and one of the guitarists was playing a Jaguar (I think, might been a Jazzmaster) so that was at least a good sign. The crowd was clearly there to see these guys and a goofy in-joke vibe was present throughout. I figured I was in for some standard college rock jokey band nonsense. But I’m a stupid old man.
They started playing.
It’s rare for me to see a band and immediately like them. So I fought off the feeling that I was seeing something special and told one of my friends that they were okay after the first tune. But then they were also pretty okay with their second song. I think it was four songs in when I finally cracked. All my “seen it all” posturing had to take a backseat to the sheer joy I was getting out of watching these guys do their thing. I’m guilty of being pretty cynical sometimes but it felt fantastic to let go of that and get into the band.
They were high energy, matched only by the crowd’s enthusiasm for them. I couldn’t divine how well the crowd knew the songs but they obviously knew the band and knew the show they were in for. It’s pretty rare around here to have a bar packed with 75-125 people on a Wednesday night for a local showcase, it felt like the fantasy Saturday night I have in my head where loud, sweaty and close are virtues for a rock’n’roll band instead points against them.
I have a hard time categorizing music. I hear so many different things in people’s songs that it’s hard to pigeonhole something by giving it a style. I’m not sure who these guys cite as influences but I heard a little bit of Sunny Day Real Estate in there, some Weezer perhaps, the Sea and Cake and some straight up punk influences all swaddles in gobs of feedback as well as some left hand turns into almost prog territory. They were fantastic. The singing was largely in the dual vocalist emo neighborhood but I mean that in a good way. The vocals went from spoken word to primal screams and I believed every word. That’s the reason I liked these guys more than anything else. I absolutely believed that they believed in what they were doing and what their sound was. Throughout their set I was impressed by every song more than the last. They were just in the zone. By the time they wrapped I was slightly stunned and filled with pride to see a San Luis Obispo band playing that well and connecting with a crowd on such a visceral level.
I bought two CD’s from one of the dudes post show. I haven’t listened to them yet because I wanted to write this up before I muddied the waters of my mind by hearing them outside of the environment. I don’t really know anything about these guys yet. This part of liking a band is so frickin exciting I wish it could last forever. It’s the mystery, excitement and increased expectations of the “new”, I love this part! This is why music is so important to me. 30 mins of someone playing leaves me buzzing and thinking about rock’n’roll for days to come. The biggest compliment I can pay these guys right now is to say I’d really like to play a show with them sometime. Check ‘em out but more importantly go see a band you’ve never heard of on an off night in your town. Okay, I’ve got some music to listen to.