As I've previously noted, I am the shittiest scene supporter ever: I only go out when I'm playing, so I try to book shows with bands I want to hear. I've been trying to put together one with Mike Haskins since the once-and-future Nervebreaker came out with his bride Miss Patti to see us at the Grotto two years ago. Similarly, I've been trying to book something with the Fungi Girls since I met their drummer Skyler Salinas when we played at Landers Machine Shop early last year. And I was pleased as punch when I finally got in touch with Lavern Marigold from Doom Ghost to ask if his band wanted to play a show with us, and he responded affirmatively.
The weather had just turned cold after two unseasonably warm months, so my sweetie 'n' I were thrilled to discover that the Where House had heat when we rolled up entahrly too early. Unlike my Stoogeband mates, I'd never played there or even been to a show, although we did attend a wedding there a couple of years ago, and HIO recorded there back when it was still a dump. We dug the art on the walls and noted that the PA system was fine for what we needed.
After timely pause, folks started drifting in. Sky from Fungi Girls informed me that the Hanna Barbarians were playing a house show in the neighborhood, and we knew that there were also shows up the street at 1919 Hemphill and at Lola's in the Curmudgeon Zone, so we hoped for a decent turnout. (At the end of the night, we estimated 50-60, which was a little shy of what our payout reflected, so we went home happy and flush with cash for more pizza 'n' beer.)
Normally, Stoogeaphilia is the band that fucks up our gear (we're like a destructive testing laboratory for equipment, yo) and has to rely on the kindness of other bands to get through, but on this particular night, we supplied a guitar for Lavern from Doom Ghost when the screw holding his straplock in place stripped out (later on, Ray showed him how to fix it with a toothpick) and a bass pedal for Sky when his was uncooperative. Karmically, however, we're still probably operating at a deficit.
It was a gas to see Doom Ghost after their demos on Bandcamp knocked me for a loop back in December. Since then, they've changed bass players, but the core of Dylan-capped guitarist-singer Lavern and drummer Jeremy Brown, who looks like a Noo Yawk cabbie, remains. They play with raw energy and loads of the correct spirit. It was a special pleasure to hear "Goddamn I Hate the Blues," "Wink Wink," and especially "The Antideluvian Misadventures of Doom Ghost and Wizard Cat" with a bunch of watts behind 'em.
I'm not gonna lie: Fungi Girls took the show. I'd heard 'em at Doc's on Record Store Day last year, but neither that performance nor their fine LP Some Easy Magic prepared me for the relentless, raging attack of their current live show and their new material. They sound less retro-surf, more aggressive and psychedelic than I remember 'em. Just listening to Skyler soundcheck, I could hear that he has a better command of rudiments than yer average punk drummer -- he gives you a lot more _wrist_ than most of those cats can muster -- and he can really slam them skins. When I commented to Jon Teague that Sky reminded me of Quincy Holloway, he responded, "He just plays the drums _right_." No argument here.
Fungi Girls' frontline is a study in contrasts, with hulking singer-guitarist Jacob Bruce laying down a barrage of stratospheric space-rock at stage left, while left-handed bassist Deryck Barrera at stage right is, well, _cute_ in a McCartneyesque way (he even plays a Hofner, for chrissakes). My sweetie said they reminded her of the Minutemen. Maybe it's because they spent so much time in the van (or is it a station wagon?) the last two summers. Whatevah, they're all stupendous. I didn't envy the Mike Haskins Experience having to follow them.
(My sweetie overheard Experience drummer Jerry Dirxx complimenting Jacob after their set, which is high praise indeed, coming from someone who knows from fronting a band, specifically the Telefones, my ex-wife's favorite-band-after-the-Stones back in the day, whom I once saw wipe the floor with John Cale.)
Haskins has been one of my favorite guitar players ever since the first year I spent in Texas, when I probably saw the Nervebreakers more times than any other band, both on their own gigs and opening for the likes of John Cale and the Clash. So it was big medicine for me when first, NBs bassist Bob Childress and then Mike his own self came out to hear the li'l Stoogeband a couple of years back. Bob was on hand for the Where House shindig, too, and sat in with the Haskins Experience on "Strange Movies," which I always thought was a Nervebreakers 'riginal before I realized that it was stolen from the Troggs.
Mike told me that Get Hip has _four_, count 'em, four Nervebreakers releases on their sked for this year: besides the 180-gram reish of the NBs' posthumous LP release We Want Everything, there's going to be a singles compilation, a 7-inch of "I Wanna Kill You" with a flipside TBD (I recommended "Positively Fourth Street," a highlight of the NBs reunion performances a couple of years back), and finally, the Face Up to Reality album the NBs cut in '09. Great news: All I ever need is something to look forward to.
Mr. Haskins also leads a surf-cum-Morricone instrumental outfit called the Big Guns, but the Experience plays Nuggets-style garage snot (Roky, Chocolate Watch Band, Leaves, originals) -- a style beloved of the Doom Ghost and Fungi Girls dudes, who probably got hip (no pun intended) via the Fort Worth Teen Scene comps. I liked the fact that he does so on a Godin (Why not? He sells 'em!) with a huge pedalboard as much as I dig the way that visually, the dudes in Doom Ghost and Fungi Girls are the antithesis of Identikit punk- or indie-rockers.
The Stoogeband was LOUDER THAN FUCK, as is our wont, and I can't really comment on our performance except to note that 1) we were able to hear ourselves better at the bowling alley; 2) it was warm enough for Hembree to shed his shirt, as is _his_ wont; 3) I screwed up the changes to the last verse of "Jet Boy," although I doubt that anyone besides Hembree noticed; and 4) we played an "encore" (e.g., a song that wasn't on the planned setlist), something we never do: "I Wanna Be Your Dog." So there.
It looks like we're going to be playing at the Chat Room for the first time in four years on March 12th or 13th with Restaurant, and then in April, we'll celebrate our sixth anniversary as a band by playing two sets at Lola's in the middle of the week for free. Stay tuned.