Gig Report: SolarFest

I put on my rock and roll shoes once again last night, loading my gear into the van for a run to Real City. We actually got an early start, as the media had warned us of heavy traffic for the weekend, what with the eclipse and all, but we were pleasantly surprised by the ease of the trip — and got to the venue (Real City’s New Brookland Tavern) 45 minutes before it opened, leaving Justin and me to hang out in the parking lot for a bit. While we waited, however, some of the guys from Pig Head Dog and the New York Disco Villains arrived, and we shot the breeze while we waited to load in.

We got our gear in, and after the sound guy got everything hooked up, we set up on the stage, where I realized I had left my ride cymbal back in Mondoville. Fortunately, Dr. Gina of Turbo Gatto (another percussing professor — she works at Flagship) was gracious enough to let me use hers.

Me at NBT 19 Aug 17

Photo: Jason Wooten

We ran through a quick sound check, and then cooled our heels for an hour or so, getting rolling at 8:30 for a half-hour set. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this was our final show with lead guitarist Lex Martin, who has been with the band for a couple of years, and honestly, I don’t know what lies ahead for the Berries, or even if we’re going to remain a going concern. But if this was the Berries swan song — or even if it wasn’t — we turned in a really good set. We closed with our cover of “Surfin’ Bird”, and cleared the stage for Pig Head Dog.

We received lots of post-set congratulations (including comparisons to Paul Revere and the Raiders — high praise indeed) as Pig Head Dog prepared for their ritual audience abuse. Frontman Bubbles noted that the stage was as hot as a stereo in a crack house, and the band performed its sleazy metalcore with a ferocity to match the temperature. Along with favorites like “Emaciated Kim” (about an ex-girlfriend imprisoned in a basement) and “Killers on Coke” (about, well, killers. On coke.), the lads delivered a new track, “Aryan Garbage”, based on recent events. Between the band and the audience, there was enough sweat to mount a revival production of Cool Hand Luke. Pig Head Dog becomes faster and more punishing every time I see them, and that’s a good thing.

Next up were were Turbo Gatto, everyone’s favorite cat-themed punk rock duo. Admittedly, that’s not a large segment of the rock and roll world, but even if it were, Kevin and Gina would be at the forefront. They’re developing a following as well, having received a nice blurb in the local alternapaper, and I saw the crowd singing along with songs like “Katnip” and “I Don’t Want to Go to the Vet.” If you can watch them without sporting a big, dopey grin, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am. When they were done, the crowd wanted more, but the band was plumb tuckered out — not surprising, since they had also coordinated the entire event, including garnering a sponsorship from Pabst Blue Ribbon for the show. And it was getting late, so they made way for the multimedia extravaganza that is the New York Disco Villains.

NYDV is gearing up for a coming appearance at DragonCon, and I have no doubt that their blend of twisted humor and high-level nerd-fu will go over like the second coming of Gary Gygax. They’ve earned a cult following around here, and deserve one in the rest of the world too. Although it’s easy to get distracted by the content of songs like “Quarantine” (a love story set in the Black Death) and “Zombies Drive Fast Cars”, and by the mix of public-domain film clips and madcap stage antics, make no mistake — these guys (and gal) can play. Their material is complicated, and synched to the background video — this is not an easy game. I love what they do, and other people should as well.

As usual, I was the Last Berry Standing at the end of the night, so I picked up our pay and made my way back to Mondoville, stopping for a late supper/early breakfast at Sonic at about a quarter til two, and falling into bed at 2:30. As I said, I’m not sure when I’ll be doing this again, but it was a really great way to move into a break, and to wrap up the summer.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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