Did something last night that I haven’t done in about 35 years, but we’ll get to that. First…
The Berries were the openers at last night’s benefit show for Aurora. We were supposed to go on at about 8:45, and we were originally scheduled to load in at 7. However, day jobs got in the way, and it was actually about 7:45 when Justin and I rolled into the Art Bar parking lot and got the rhythm section’s gear into the venue. (Note to self — it takes just over one playing of The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators to get from campus to Art Bar.) We had known about the delay for a couple of days, and had passed the info along, but unfortunately, the word didn’t get to the soundman, who wound up cooling his heels for a while. Sorry, Alan.
But we’ve gotten pretty quick at setting up, and we got started on time for a 30-minute set. We actually ran out of time before we ran out of set, but while we played, we played well, and folks seemed to have a good time. We debuted a new song — one of Joseph’s — and it got a solid reception, so I suspect it’ll become a regular in our rotation. The only casualty was the cuticle on my right thumb, which got torn during the set-up (pinched in a stand once again. There’s a little bruising there, but I think I’ll live.)
Another unusual feature of last night’s show was Larry’s stage dress. For reasons beyond the comprehension of mere Berries, our eldest member went the Angus Young route — jacket, tie, and matching knee-length shorts. I’ll chalk it up to the approach of Halloween, and folks seemed to get a kick out of it.
We cleared the stage — or nearly did — for the guys from Longshot Odds. Just before they got rolling, their singer brought my ride cymbal stand to the front of the stage, and said “I think this belongs to the Berries.” Oops. But once I had hustled that out to the van I got to hear the guys tear into their set. It was the first time I had seen the punk trio since what I think was their debut gig some months back. They’re still mixing warp-speed tempos with vocals reminiscent of Mike Ness and frantic-but-melodic fretwork, but they’ve (understandably) gotten even tighter. Justin said to me after their set, “If I had a label, I’d sign them.” I saw no reason to argue.
Next up was Wolfs Blood — a Misfits cover/tribute band led by Bubbs Rubella (also of Berries mainstays Pig Head Dog), who organized the entire show. Indeed, 3/4 of Pig Head Dog are in Wolfs Blood, so it was a chance to see a different side of our buddies. It would appear the guys (plus Moe Clark, who brought her guitar skills to the party as a fill-in for WB’s regular guitarist, who was away on a business trip. Day jobs again.) have really tapped into something. A sizable contingent of Misfits fans appeared, some in full corpse paint and devil-locks, bringing plastic skulls and cauldrons of Halloween decorations to the front of the stage. Before they started, Bubbs told me “We’ve got followers! Pig Head Dog doesn’t have followers, and it deserves them! But this — this has them.”
“It’s what happens when you tap into a pre-existing subculture,” I said. But the band also demonstrated that they’ve earned their following, because they tore the roof off the joint with their set from the legendary horror-punks from Jersey. They opened with “Astro Zombies” and the place went nuts. Plastic skeletons and day-glo rubber spiders were flung into the crowd, and a pit formed in front of the stage, which is where Bubbs was doing a dead-on Danzig-style bellow.
While Wolfs Blood had been setting up, a young woman behind me told her date, “If that guy [meaning me] goes into the pit, no way am I going to.” I laughed and told her I hadn’t done that since I was in high school (the summer after my junior year, to be exact, which I spent at Western KY U), back when it was called slam dancing. She said, “That’s good — you could do someone some serious damage.” I told her that wasn’t my style.
And it isn’t. Justin and I were at the edge of the chaos — I felt like a corner post at a wrestling match, as folks would occasionally jostle into me and I’d shove them back into the melee. It was physical, but pit etiquette held; elbows stayed in and if someone hit the floor, two or three folks would pick them up and sling them back in. I caught someone’s boot heel in my shin at one point, but it wasn’t too bad — I have a small scrape there, but that’s it.
And then the band started on “Skulls“, and I just figured whatthehell and dove in to sing along, shouldering my way up to Bubbs and singing along. Bubbles is about my size — maybe half an inch shorter — and the two of us anchored the knot of thrashing bodies. Afterwards, Bubbles and I were laughing about it. “I was not expecting you to be up there, Warren.”
“Neither was I, to tell you the truth, but hey… ‘Skulls’.”
“But then I looked up, and it was like —
“‘Well, hello, Professor Moore!'” Good thing I’m tenured.
It was getting late by then, and while there were still two bands to go, I have grading to do today, and some bolt-tightening for this week’s Philly trip, so I decided to call it a night. I got to bed a little after one, and was delighted to see that so many members of the Real City music scene had come out to support a sweet little girl. I heard that folks were just coming up to the merch table and laying down cash without taking anything, just because they wanted to help. And by the way, if you want to help out, you still can, through the Go Fund Me page.
It’s like the pit. You can get knocked down, but there are a bunch of hands waiting to pick you back up and shove you back into the dance.
The last two days have been Mondoville’s Fall Break, and when I wasn’t doing the rock and roll thing, I spent my time revisiting some of the works of a favorite author of mine. But I also had a little free time on Thursday, so I decided to fix spaghetti for the family. Spaghetti was one of the staples of my first trip through grad school, because I could make enough to last me a few days for a relatively low price, but I hadn’t made it in quite some time, as Mrs. M took over most of the cooking chores years ago.
I’m pleased to report that we all appear to have survived the experience, and it was a nice surprise for Mrs. M after a long day at work. And just as before there were leftovers, so I know what I’m having for dinner tonight.
It appears that Mondoville may be losing a key landmark. The Tomahawk Grill (better known as “Dopey’s”) has been a favorite Mondoville College eatery for generations. It’s across the street from campus, and has been serving loose-meat burgers since at least the 1960s; our associate dean is an alum, and has told me that in her undergrad days, the restaurant was off-limits to the young ladies, so her fiancee would go pick up orders and bring them back to the dorms.
However, when I came to campus a few days ago, I saw a real estate sign in front of the little brick house that contains Dopey’s. The proprietors are ready to retire, and justifiably so — they’ve been at it a long time. Rumors are that the college may buy the land for additional parking, but while I know we could use that, there’s a part of me that hopes it isn’t true. It would be a shame to lose that tangible (and tasty — I’ve eaten there a few times over the years) link to the generations of Mondovillians who have passed through.
The last week was unseasonably warm, with temperatures in the mid- to upper 80s. However, a significant cold front passed through yesterday afternoon, and it’s starting to feel like fall again. Since that’s my favorite season, I’m glad of it, and it occurs to me that it’s better walking weather as well. One advantage to my recent adventure in alternating feet is that I now know that there’s a measured 5K course just a couple of minutes from my door, and I hope to take advantage of that.
I’d better be careful, though. My sort-of-niece Marina (the astrophysics student I’ve mentioned previously in these entries) was cycling across her campus at the U of Arizona a few days ago when she was struck by a drunken driver. Blessedly, her damage was relatively minor — a few staples to her scalp — but it was another reminder of how tenuous things can be sometimes. Heal quickly, kid, and watch that head — there’s important stuff up there.
Well, grading awaits, so I’d best close this entry, but what would it be without some music? So here’s a classic blues number by one of my favorites, and this morning it reminds me that in the pit, mass can be your friend.
See you soon!