Holy Shit…this was a good time. My camera was fuckin with me so unfortunately I did not get as many pics as I would have liked.
Friday was a blast. I didn’t make it on time to see Shipping News. No big deal, because that kinda stuff ain’t my cup of tea. The first band I saw was Supersystem. I had been wanting to see them for a while but they don’t ever come to St Louis. They were great. The bassist in particular was an animated guy….the best song they did was “White Light, White Light”.
Next up was Ted Leo. Now when it comes to Ted, I just don’t get it. He seems to exist in this grey area between mod-punk and emo. Certainly not as bad as pure, unfiltered emo but his earnestness just rubs me the wrong way. Still, he put on an energetic show and most of the people in the crowd knew all the words….
I left Ted Leo early because I wanted to get up close for !!!. I was really glad I did that…they put on the best performance I have seen in fuckin years! What an amazing band. They combine the groove of classic disco-funk (Chic comes to mind) with the intensity of punk. I believe the singer was in the Yah-Mos. I left afterwards in a state of awe. A new favourite band for me…no doubt.
So day two came and my camera was charged up and ready to go. I showed up as Pegboy started. Didn’t really watch much Pegboy but the singer was a pretty funny guy. The first act I caught up close and personal was Tim and Andy from Silkworm. I found their performance to be very pretentious and annoying. The bassist played with his back to the audience I guess because he was such an artiste….YAWN.
Next up was The Ex. I fuckin LOVE The Ex. They delivered the goods. The guitar players hands were covered in blood. It was a noisy, insane, brilliant racket and it ended too soon.
After that was Killdozer. This was definitely a band from my misspent youth and they were great. I had concerns about some of these old bands reforming, but as I will get to in more depth later, I was glad that *some* of these bands did re-form. Killdozer was one of them. They were as sludgy and heavy as I remembered. They played “King of Sex” which is an all-time classic.
After Killdozer was a brief performance from Jon Langford (Mekons) and Kat (The Ex). It was good albeit fairly non-descript. Actually, the George Jones cover was pretty brilliant.
After that was The Didjits who were absolutely amazing. They came with their own posse. Touch and Go (much like Dischord) can sometimes get a little too highbrow for me and this festival sometimes went too far in that direction (see Tim and Andy). The Didjits were a welcome break from all the high-mindedness. Rick Didjit was just completely abusive to the audience as they went through their incredible set of classic Midwestern punk tunes. Best Didjits moment was when he walked out on stage and yelled “how ya doin St Louis?….er, I mean Chicago!”
After that was PW Long who was awful and boring. ….
Then came Negative Approach. Now as I alluded to earlier, some bands I was glad to see re-form. Others, no. Some bloggers seem to feel that going to watch these reformed bands in our old age is akin to our parents going to see Styx. I disagree. Because these bands never were financial successes and never will be, they are not trying to cash-in by playing reunions. It may be naive of me but performances by Killdozer and Scratch Acid and The Didjits seemed to be for artistic reasons not cynical reasons.
So if it is for artistic reasons, the question then is “is it any good?” Personally, I think NA was from a certain time and place. That time and place is gone and it just seems silly to see Brannon at 40+ still breaking out tunes like “Friend or Foe”. Plus, half the band wasn’t original which just didn’t seem right to me.
After a few songs, I drifted over to the other stage for Scratch Acid. Of course before that I had to endure a few songs by Sally Timms. She seemed completely intimidated by the audience which is understandable considering they were there to see Scratch Acid. Again, too highbrow for me. Jon Langford joined her on the last song and she seemed to loosen up a bit.
OK….then came Scratch Acid. Holy mother of fucking pearl, jesus mother-effin keerist! They were on FIRE. FUCKING AMAZING! I am jaded bc they were one of my fave adolescent bands but so what. It was at that moment that I realized any issues with these bands reforming needs to be dealt with on a band-by-band basis. Scratch Acid is still the meanest, nastiest, greasiest, ugliest punch in the face to ever be delivered musically.
After that I split. Me and the better half had a date to make. I had already seen Man or Astroman at the turn of the millennium in Boston. I knew they couldn’t top that show so I didn’t waste my time.
It’s worth noting that I did not stick around for Big Black/Shellac. I find Albini‘s music boring. Sorry…I know that makes me unhip. As if I give a shit.
I really wanted to see Arcwelder and Monorchid. Truly. But I got drunk the night before and it took me a while to get going. I’m old. I got there for Enon. I was hoping to see them and they were good. Not great. Good. They did an awesome Big Boys cover. Long Live Biscuit! Oh and the guys yelling out for Brainiac….you’re morons.
Skipped out on Three Mile Pilot, Tara Jane O’Neil, and Seam. Not my bag. At this point my camera shit the bed. I hate that fuckin thing…gonna have to buy a new one.
Brick Layer Cake was next. Todd Trainer is a freak, man. Gotta love him. He completely vibed out the audience waiting for Black Heart Procession. Ridiculously funny. I wish I got a picture of him. Words cannot describe the level of discomfort he created. Shit, I never knew he was in Rifle Sport!
The Black Heart Procession was next. I was looking forward to them and they were very good. Their performance of “Tropics of Love” was one of the many high points of the festival for me. Their Tom Petty cover was not. It made me realize how close they could be to a bar band if they want to.
By this point it had gotten freeeezing cold. Coco Rosie were on next and I hate that shit. Pretentious, pretentious, pretentious….
I was gonna stick around for Calexico but I bailed. I am seeing them in a week and a half in St Louis and it just didn’t seem worth the additional 2 hour wait in the rain. All in all, I had an amazing time. High points for me were !!!, Scratch Acid, Supersystem, The Ex and The Didjits.
Touch and Go really is/was an amazing label and I was happy to be a part of their 25th Anniversary.