Sunday, August 03, 2008

(but that wasn't the worst part)
w/ H2O & The Flatliners

Well, at least I can be pretty sure it won't get worse than this.

What could have been a terrific night out watching a seminal post-punk band run through their old and new, turned out to be a surrender. I used to think I could tolerate pretty well anything at a concert, not tolerate it well, but hang in there for the music. Last night I found my limit...though it did take a convergence of events to finally make me throw in the towel.

A towel, wish I had one of those.

Ironically, the determining factor, in the final, wet, moment, was coming across this link where Rancid sells lossless copies of their shows. This is a great service. Soundboard recordings of the shows you attended. Well worth the cost and as soon as this show is on the list, I'm buying a copy.

Unfortunately I was also keen on capturing the openers, local band The Flatliners, so there I was, stressing over how to get my rig inside. The KOOL HAUS has moderate security, but they do look. I opted not to wear my mics in but to stash them and string them in the bathroom. Sometimes this works. Sometimes when you pull out the mics, they look like a plate of spaghetti. In 10 minutes time I could not get the chords untangled and ended up with a new taping configuation...a jumble of wires tied in a knot and the two mics clipped onto my chest. With the 'busy' crowd this led to a few bumps, some phasing and, oh, ya, don't forget the wetness part.

But that wasn't the worst part.

It probably all started to go awry when Friday turned into Saturday. Not just any Saturday either, a long-weekend Saturday. Not just any long-weekend either, the Caribana Festival is in full swing with events near the lake all day long. My guess is more than a few of tonights fans were well into party mode hours before the show began. Raucous fans do not a disaster make, not on that account anyway. This was a recipe for a terrific show. Rancid brings the party to you in short 3 minute machine-gun bursts. All of this energy coming from tattooed, mohawked, skin-tight t'd (and that's only the girls)youth was infectious. Thing is, there's a fine line between raucous and rowdy, between infectious and infected with an anti-communal bug. Some people couldn't see that line, or if they did, chose not to tow it.

But being tangled up in the loo with my mics didn't help either.

The Flatliners came out and took a wicked kick at the can. A great opening slot for these guys in front of a couple of their primary influences. These guys probably got the idea they could play by watching Rancid bang their gong on the KOOL HAUS stage back in the 90's. Kudos to whoever was running the sound too. This band did not get cheated on volume. It was set to 11 from the opening chords. If I hadn't turned into a 'taping-tard' the past couple months I might have been able to adjust a little better. The recording gets 'hot' at a few spots...but it's still clearer than the slightly muddy mix we received at the show. The boys showcased their 2007 release, The Great Awake, including the obligatory single This Respirator. They did take us waaaay back into their catalogue with 2003's Bad News , so they covered a lot of ground...or as much as they could.

The fans took to them as well. An impressive 'circle-pit' formed and kept up a steady momentum throughout their set. I made the error of assuming this circle wouldn't get much bigger as I set up on the periphery for H2O's set.

But that wasn't the worst part.

I got faked out by the activity on the stage and started my recording early, capturing 20 minutes of people fucking onstage with mics and whatnot. So I decided to shut down. Problem is when I went to start again I missed pressing the REC button. Noticed this about 4 songs in when I went to check my levels. Oh well. No loss. Didn't hear anything that made me want to push 'replay' as they ran through their offering du jour, Nothing To Prove. Mission Accomplished.

OK, that's harsh, I don't really know this band and what I heard was more screamo-based than Clash-based (except for the nice 2minute 30second songs, which is all you need to tell a story). I also blame them for the disproportionate number of frat-boys at this show. Frat-boys show up with no date...this makes them high-risk from the get-go. Without the distaff member by their side most of their decision making process moves from the frontal lobe to the medula. This led to the stage-rush being something akin to a rugby scrum. It wasn't too bad for H2O, the place still being only about 70% filled there was ample room to create space. This wouldn't be the case in another half hour.

While The Flatliners were grateful for the early crowd and the attention paid their set, H2O revelled in the adulation, an outpouring they seemed to feel a tad entitled too, and at times, solicited. "Who's seen us before?" "Who's seeing us for the first time?" "Who knows this one?"...the only question they missed, the one I had an answer for, was "Who's here for the other two bands?" They were gracious for their turnout, which illustrated the level of interest in their set.

The songs did have punch. No let up in this show. Role Model didn't suck. Faster Than the World, with the appropriate reference to making "it through the Canadian border." That's not an easy task for some American groups, as alluded to in the introduction by the band...see, I wasn't enamoured and my rig wasn't working but I was still paying attention to the show. One Life, One Chance had an Offspring-kind of positive message buried in the sonic storm. This is somewhat negated by the more brutally honest 5 Year Plan.

No one can accuse them of mailing in the set though. Well paced and energetic are adjectives that apply. Immediately accessible is one that doesn't.

But that wasn't the worst part.

The circle-pit has gotten much larger and I'm already looking for alternate locations but decide to see how the set starts before I bail for the FOB position. Bad move. Rancid is onstage and they launch into Ruby Soho to open the set. Wham! Bam! and Thank You Ma'am, as the frat-boys stumble and barge towards the stage. I don't even mind the guys that let their chicks lead (no one minds a little frottage from the nubile nymphs) and follow in their wake. It's the slam-dancing attack from the back, and the push-back from the front that results in the jarring obstructions. None of this is made any better by the fact there are now 2,000 kidiots singing along, on an unknown destination.

I decide to surrender some ground and move about 10 feet back, where it looks a little more civil, giving up position for peace.

But that wasn't the worst part.

Rancid follows the opener with a dedication to Jordan...whoever he is, as they roll out Radio before playing the theme song for tonight's crowd, Bloodclot.

Dead and Gone, from the "B & C Sides" comp, evokes a bit of Social Distortion... which is a complement of the highest order. A 'don't look back' kind of song, no time for nostaligia here...well, except for me.

Tim Armstrong's rendition of his solo offering, Into Action, was a highlight of the evening with backing, secondary lead vocals provided by the funky-lookin' Skye Sweetnam. We're quickly into another terrific tune, surf-guitar intro to Journey to the End of the East Bay, a song about the price that's paid for the spotlight.
This is followed by a bitter break up song, You Don't Care Nothin'...appropriately, this is where it all started to get to be too much.

I'd noticed the amber rainbows earlier in the night, something I'd only seen at the Academy in Glasgow. Thought I was far enough back to avoid a drenching, as the throwers were usually near the bar and the targets were usually in the pit. Not so as a waterfall of Canada's best lager wash over my head, soaking my glasses, and down my back. Kind of refreshing actually. Until it soaks in and all that's left is the scent. If I smell like this when I climb on the wife at 2 am it's not wonder she wakes up and gets pissed.

But that wasn't the worst part.

Now I'm moving back towards the soundboard where the singing it louder and the beer is flowing even more freely (some of it towards the front of the venue). I find myself walking past the bar, behind the soundboard, totally f*cking the recording, until I find what looks like a decent spot, a bit farther back than I'd like but in front of the left speaker banks. The 11th Hour sounds good and it looks like things might settle.

Tim and Lars trade leads on Otherside, Rancid's version of Springsteen's No Surrender, I guess. Before they launch into Old Friend, another great riff, ruined only by the second drenching of the night on the next song.

This one came from the front, a two-fisted drinker who couldn't stay clear of the circle. Apparently Maxwell Murder is a crowd favourite and the energy level picked up way too quick for this slumbering drunk. A quick bump and beer #1 is on my chest. He looks bemused at his loss. I'm beaten. Great song though, more superb SouthernCal guitar and an audience about ready to explode.

The intensity level doesn't let up, nor the increasing screaming and bumping in the crowd as I try, yet again, to find a less vulnerable spot. I settle in time for a great version of Operation Ivy's Knowledge...that's a blast of a tune.

By this point, though, I'm finding myself almost behind the left speaker banks as The Way I Feel About You is coming to a close. I've run out of places to hide.

Lock Step and Gone is talking to me. "the ending isn't here, but it's coming real soon...i'm lock step and gone".

Olympia WA is playing as I decide to quit. A shame really but something's been afoot all night and I'm done mucking with it. I could have just made my way back to the bar and put a few away, but I'm driving.

It's only a little ironic I pack it in with The Wars End, with almost another 30 minutes to go. Sorry I missed Time Bomb.

And THAT was the worst part.

My luck changed when I left the venue. The street was jammed with cars as late-night clubbers were coming into the Guvernment. Cars were being double and triple parked. Got mine out just in time.

So it may be a sign that it's time to stop chasing the bands I missed when my kids were growing up. Maybe. I'll take another kick at the can, test out my 'Saturday-summer-long-weekend' theory and catch The Flatliners with Dillinger and NOFX on a Thursday night in the fall.

Same bat-venue.

Same bat-crowd.

I'm betting it'll be less chaotic, but I could be wrong.

Here are some song samples for your troubles, followed by the (in)complete set list:

The Flatliners

This Respirator


One Life, One Chance


Ruby Soho

Into Action


The War's End

The Flatliners

Track 01 There's A Problem
Track 02 Meanwhile in Hell...
Track 03 Mother Theresa Choke Slams The World
Track 04 Public Service Announcement
Track 05 This Respirator
Track 06 Eulogy
Track 07 The World Files For Chapter 11
Track 08 Fred's Got Slacks
Track 09 July! August! Reno!

(incomplete, missing first 2-3 songs)

Track 01 Nothing To Prove (incomplete)
Track 02 Thicker Than Water
Track 03 Empty Pockets
Track 04 Role Model
Track 05 Fairweather Friend
Track 06 Faster Than The World
Track 07 One Life, One Chance
Track 08 Still Here
Track 09 What Happened?

(incomplete, missing last 30-40 minutes)

Track 01 Ruby Soho
Track 02 Radio
Track 03 Bloodclot
Track 04 Dead and Gone
Track 05 Into Action (w/ Skye Sweetnam)
Track 06 Journey to the End of the East Bay
Track 07 You Don't Care Nothin'
Track 08 The 11th Hour
Track 09 Otherside
Track 10 Old Friend
Track 11 Maxwell's Murder
Track 12 Gunshot
Track 13 Knowledge (Operation Ivy)
Track 14 The Way I Feel About You
Track 15 Lock Step and Gone
Track 16 Olympia WA
Track 17 The War's End (incomplete)

1 comment:

Zenslinger said...

Hilarious description. Better luck with the bosh (beer + mosh?) next time.