Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Whoa Hey.........uh oh (Part Two-Not Just Boy's Fun)

So the second coming of Naked Raygun was at Riot Fest. I had really wanted to go to this fest in past years, but had no takers. This year there was no denying the attractiveness of the event with Naked Raygun headlining. Riot Mike who runs this fest always manages to come up with a great bill of bands, local, national and international . And I loves me some hardcore!

The show was already running late when we got there at 3, so we actually got to see a couple songs from Secret Agent Bill, who are a really quirky, funky and fun local band. Saw a few ska bands, all good fun. We were with Sweetness (my 12 year old daughter) who was not quite ready to explore the mayhem from any further than her seat. I had a really hard time staying seated for many of the acts. Had she not been with us, I would have run into the middle of the pack and bounced along with them for most of the show. But, I was there and happy just to see the spectacle and to know that the scene was very much still alive and in many ways, still as positive as it used to be. I was called an "old fucker" about three or four times over the course of the weekend, but meant in a very positive way. I kind of liked it.

The sets that I absolutely adored were 7 Seconds, The Blue Meanies, and Flatfoot 56. 7 Seconds were as tight as when I saw them years ago in a much smaller hall in South Carolina. Kevin Seconds is a very polarizing person in the hardcore scene. While many like him, there are some who find his brand of straight-edge hardcore irritating. I'm not one of those. The scene in Columbia, SC was also straight-edge in large part because of Bedlam Hour, the local heroes that were on the 7 Seconds label. Kevin made one of the best comments of the night. He gave a shout out to all the girls that support the scene, noting that while we were the minority, we were important and appreciated. They then ripped into "Not Just Boy's Fun." Lulu mistakenly thought this was about something else, as she had stepped out for a moment. It was good for a laugh.

Flatfoot 56 won the prize of the night for most unusual instrument, as they are permanently accompanied by a bagpipe player. That guy seriously rocked a kilt and a tam! This band also won the prize for best encouragement of crowd participation. Up until that point, everyone was bobbing around in an unorganized manner. Flatfoot 56 managed to part the crowd and have everyone run head on into the opposite side creating what looked like a scene from Braveheart. I also enjoyed the snarling blue collar punk of The Business. They were the real deal.

Right before Naked Raygun came on, also reunionized Blue Meanies took the stage. I lived in California for the entire decade of the 90's, so I had never seen them live. I know they had quite a rabid local following and I found out why. A little ska, a little jazz, a little Chicago-style punk and a whole lot of drama. They were handily the most polished act of the night, choreographed and tight. I loved the freak show spectacle that they were and Sweetness loved them the best of all the bands. If there was such a thing as roccoco punk, this would be it.

Finally, it was time for the swan song of Naked Raygun. I was on the edge of my seat. I was worried for Jeff. Would he have any voice at all? Would the crowd care? And then the mixed bag of joy and sadness started welling up in my heart again. Shows gone by played fast forward in my mind's eye as the stage was readied. Finally, the moment I had waited for all day was there. They began with "Home of the Brave." Something sounded wrong and about six bars into the song, Jeff stopped the band. Roadies swarmed the stage and mucked around with Bill's guitar and Jeff began ranting about his stupid cordless mic and the crappy stand it came with. If you've ever seen them live, Jeff uses the cord and stand as props while he sings, wrapping the cord around his wrist and pulling it taut across the back of his neck. He uses the stand like a staff and often lowers the whole contraption out over the crowd so everyone can sing along. To me, this is what a Naked Raygun show is about, the sing along. Hundreds of devoted happy fans singing ALL of the words to every song so loudly that half the time you can't hear Jeff.

When they finally got it all together again, the ripped right back into "Home of the Brave." This is when I realized that his voice was just as thin as it was the night before. He made it through the first four or five songs in decent voice and then it really started to fail. Jeff apologized, but then said, "Hey this is punk rock. It's good enough." The crowd cheered them on and gratefully, the sound at The Congress was much better than at The Subterranean the night before. Where his voice lacked, the band and the crowd made up for it. Jeff took several long breaks along the way to give his voice a chance to recover a bit before the next tune. He is a chatty ridiculously dead pan funny guy. The ultimate wise ass. On one of the breaks, Jeff called out the "spawn of Raygun" and all the band members' kids came out to toss out the free shit that they always give away. They finished up their set with the crowd singing a majority of the songs with feet flying through the air as crowd surfing was in full swing.

As for why Jeff's voice was blown out? The weekend before he had toured with his current band, The Bomb. While Naked Raygun may have rode off into the sunset, we still have time to have our socks rocked off by a Chicago legend. "I said, I got new dreams. I got new dreams and I'm gonna make them real."

THE BOMB-Rat Patrol (Live at The Madhatter in Covington, KY)
Gotta love it! Whoa Hey Ho!


lulu said...

Whoa Hey Ho.

Thinking "Not Just Boy's Fun" was about wacking off was an honest mistake. Sorry.

Great fun dude, I love you.

Tenacious S said...

Old fucker! I'm wearing it like a badge of honor!

Echo said...

I can't believe I missed this...

Tenacious S said...

I'm so sorry Echo. We wished you were there. Come see The Bomb with us the next time they play. Nothing scheduled yet, but I'll let you know.

Tenacious S said...

How could I forget to include this? Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers sang with them on Suspect Device. Holy crap! That was awesome!

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Dale said...

Another love letter to your favourite scene and bands, very nice. I already called Lulu one but I'm calling you an old fucker but only in the nicest way. Don't kick my ass.

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