I’ve been contemplating what to do to keep warm now that my space heater is broken. Tonight, I found the answer: invite five bands over, do a little grassroots promotion, and have about 80 people show up and dance around for four hours. Then again, I’d have to clean up their beer. And I’d probably be a little bit pissed when somebody started crowd surfing in my living room.
I need to move.
The GRN STRP house is right by Mark and Morgan’s old apartment on 70th and the freeway, pretty much. They were playing Hot Water Music as we showed up, so I was pretty stoked right away. Then, they gave us Yoda stamps as we paid our $5 for the touring bands. Awesome. We made our way through the maze and into the living room, a 20 by 15 space that would soon be ridiculous. Apparently, a band had already played before Mark and I got there, I think their name was “How to Kill Clive Owen” or something. I don’t know. At any rate…
The Damage Done
These guys are a bit hard to pin down. They encompass pretty much all of the recent wave of variations of punk. The Broadways, all of the mid nineties bands like Face to Face, a little ska, some Hot Water Music, some good breakdown parts… basically, if it happens in 90s punk it happens in The Damage Done’s set. Usually bands that just do what everyone else has already done don’t do it well. The Damage Done do it very well. I liked seeing the old school tricks again. And from the first song, the kids were dancing and having a good time. They covered an Alkaline Trio song (As You Were) that brought back memories of me crossing the San Francisco Bay on the Dumbarton Bridge to Redwood City to test NASCAR 2000 for the Playstation. I loved singing along even though somebody “accidentally” turned off the one light in the room and somebody else was a really bad singer. And the band noted that it was funny that Mike Park was there, since his label put out that record, and they should probably be paying him royalties for covering it. In all, The Damage Done were good times and a great start to the show.
I saw The Queers for the first time in college in the basement of the Vets Hall in Santa Cruz. I saw them at the Pioneer Theater with the Hi-Fives. Dateless are pretty much The Queers but with less Ramones and more asian girl singers with Hello Kitty totes for their guitar stuff. Pop punk as pop punk is pretty much supposed to be: cute. Non-threatening, but sometimes almost edgy. They seemed like nice folks, but I don’t think that I allow myself to have enough fun to be able to listen to really cheesy pop-punk like this anymore.
Mike Park considers himself an activist before a musician. He hung up a banner that read “Plea for Peace.” (His activist organization). If anyone is the Korean/Californian version of Billy Bragg, it’s Mike Park. He confirmed this idea by playing a Billy Bragg cover just as I thought of it. Amazing. After playing that cover, he decided the PA was not effectively transmitting his sound to the room, so he played the rest of the set without it. It sounded way better. Then again, I was in the front about 3 inches from the pointy end of his guitar. I took a picture because it was so ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome. The living room was so full at this point that people had to stand on the “stage” after being invited by Mr. Park to do so. His set was awesome. He offered us some activism and some music. I’ve always claimed that music is the purest form of activism and Mr. Park is evidence to that theory. He is working very hard for real change through his music and his non-musical efforts. In short, he is a great person. I’m a good person, but he is a great person. He also played “I’m in Love with a Girl Named Spike” without any jackasses yelling for Skankin’ Pickle songs (Did I mention he was in Skankin’ Pickle? Did I have to?). And then!!!!!!!!! he started playing “The Crowd” by Operation Ivy and none other than Jesse Michaels started singing along. My second pseudo Op IV reunion moment (The first was Tim Armstrong + Green Day doing Knowledge at End Fest many years ago…) was magical and only a foot or two away from me in a sweaty living room stacked with way too many people. All of us singing along to every song we knew the words to and some of the ones we didn’t. You couldn’t help but be happy for the world in that room. Everything was right. Thank you, Mike Park, for being awesome. We are inspired.
Classics of Love
All of your punk rock heroes are forming new bands. Blake Schwarzenbach is in Thorns of Life and now Jesse Michaels is in Classics of Love. They are all playing house shows. The room was beyond capacity. People were stacked everywhere. Some dude beside me just jumped in front of the crowd and attempted to hold them back after they crashed into said hero. Classics of Love is good. More punk than Common Rider. They could almost fit in with the indie punks that are local bands like Police Teeth and Lake of Falcons and all that. I’m very glad that no one asked them to play Op IV or Common Rider songs. In fact, I loved the crowd. They were all good people. Some of the kids were drinking whiskey from the bottle, and some were drinking those little individual plastic wine bottles, and many were dancing around, and one was crowd surfing and hitting the ceiling a lot, and quite a few didn’t smell very good, but they were all good people. This is how punk is best. This is how music is best. Small gatherings in houses with amazing bands for a small price. Everyone heads downstairs afterwards to buy something from the bands (though the Classics of Love CD’s are sold out!!) and everyone is looking out for each other. When a drunk girl stumbles on stage to go to her friend, the band pauses their preparation for the next song to make sure she’s okay. This is community. This is what every show should be like. Drunk jock asshats stay home or learn how community works. Even Jesse Michaels commented that the old days were probably not even this good. Let’s make it better. Let’s have more house shows. Let’s have awesome bands come play them (Thorns of Life? Where are you at?). Let’s make awesome bands. Man, I wish I could like the songs I write. Or at least not care enough to get some of them done. I wish I could like the music that comes out from me as much as I love the music that comes from others. Punk shows inspire me to keep trying. These dudes are about 40 years old and still going. I have about 8 years left, then. I can do it. So can you. Let’s get out there and make music. Maybe. What was I talking about? Oh right, Classics of Love. If you liked Common Rider and you grew up on punk, you’ll like Classics of Love. Mr. Michaels sounds about the same, but has some solid punk backing this time around instead of the reggae/ska based songs of Common Rider. I’ll be buying their EP when it comes out on Asian Man in the next month or so. You should too.
What a great show. It’s only March and I’ve seen 12 shows so far. My goal is the arbitrary number 50 this year. I don’t know if I need to reach that goal if all of the shows are as inspiring and awesome as this one.
Well, I’m going to go practice piano now. Goodnight.