It was time for another run to Real City last night, as the Berries played our home-away-from-home, the Art Bar. Justin (our bassist) was coming from the opposite end of the state (a family celebration), but we were loaded in with plenty of time to spare, which allowed me to grab dinner from a mobile caterer that had set up shop at the club’s front door. Two bratwurst and some potato salad later (All of which were excellent — next time, currywurst!), it was time for the show to begin.
Openers Longshot Odds were playing their debut gig, but you wouldn’t have known it. Their set was ferociously tight punk with a SoCal vibe and a significant amount of instrumental heroics — think elements of Bad Religion and Iron Maiden (especially the bassist’s Steve Harris-esque gallop.) Tempos were blazing — I know I couldn’t have played them, but their guy did just fine. Standing in the audience, I was actually concerned that we had to match that level of energy. Longshot Odds raised the bar — good for them, but maybe a bit intimidating for a garage band from Mondoville to follow. As they cleared the stage, I said to the drummer, “Dude, you must do cardio or something.”
“It’s mainly the beer.”
So we were up next, and we did what we do. But I think we did the best version of it that we’ve done. We ratcheted up our own energy level, debuted a couple of songs, and maintained our intensity throughout. Lots of smiles and head-bobbing from the crowd, and our runs through “Gloria” and “Louie Louie” (which we dedicated to the late Jack Ely) seemed to hit the spot as well. The audience appeared to be having a great time, and I know we were, and at the end of the day, that’s what counts, right?
But it wasn’t the end of the day yet, not by a lot. Next up were Skull Baby, who brought what they variously call “sleaze rock” and “serial killer rock and roll” to the stage. Savvy listeners could pick up on elements of the New York Dolls, Misfits, and Cramps, and they played with shambolic joy. It was the most beautiful car crash with multiple fatalities I’ve ever seen, and I can think of no higher praise for what they do. Afterwards, Skull Baby guitarist/comic foil Bubbles Rubella and I played “Name the Rock Musician’s Cause of Death.” He got Les Harvey without any trouble at all, but I stumped him with Country Dick Montana. He was able to remember Richey Edwards‘s name when I forgot it as well. I’m already looking forward to the rematch.
But then it was time for the headliners — the New York Disco Villains. It was the first time I’ve seen NYDV, but it will not be the last. Their multimedia performance included elements of vaudeville, public domain film clips, the B-52s, and what the local alternapaper describes as a “carnival of sins” that would have made Edward Gorey nod in approval. The band’s series of “cautionary tales” galvanized a crowd of joyous fans and made fans of anyone who hadn’t experienced it before (Ahem.) In particular, their tale of a sinister ice cream man is one of my new favorite songs. If you’re lucky enough to have NYDV appear anywhere near you, go.
At last, it was time to head home, and I’m pretty sure I smiled all the way to my house. It was a wonderful rock and roll night, and I really hope we can play with these guys again soon.