Punk Retrospective
22May/120

Lasher Keen Northwest Summer Tour 2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Bluebird handed me an advance copy of 'Berserker' on March 11, 2012 and allowed me to photograph the original Markus Wolff artwork. I will not post any of that data until the new album, ‘Berserker’ actually comes out in May (postponed), but it really is quite beautiful.

I've spent a pretty good amount of time with the band over the last couple of months and will be writing up a piece on 'Berserker', my experience helping out on the Lara Miranda directed video for 'Rainmaker' (song at the bottom of this page) and what it's like to live within (the outer shell of) the bubble of one of the most creative groupings of musicians I have ever witnessed.

I have been collecting my own video and stills of the band. I've attempted several interviews and have recorded portions of several practices on video. As always, the best conversations seem to happen when no recording device is rolling and the deeply human aspects of all parties rise to the surface...but the depth of this band is always there, even in the physical spaces they create for themselves to live.

Then there is the live performance aspect of Lasher Keen. This is where the band really shines and where you (Portland, Seattle, Eugene, Nevada City and Sacramento) get to witness the current incarnation of this band playing their most intense songs with an incredible variety of instrumentation. Below the ShakyCam® video you can find the tour schedule for roughly the next month. It starts Thursday, so look now and enjoy!!

Thursday May 24th Portland Oregon
Alberta ST. Pub. 1036 NE Alberta St. Portland OR
With Waldteufel & TBA. 8:00 show starts

Friday May 25th Seattle Washington
Northwest Folklife Festival on the Vera Stage
playing from 9:15 ~10:00 pm
As part of the Underground Cascadian Folk Showcase. Visit http://www.nwfolklifefestival.org for more info.

Saturday May 26th Eugene Oregon -Private Event-

Friday June 15th Nevada City California
Stonehouse 107 Sacramento St.
scheduled to perform 9:00
As part of an all day festival featuring many great local Nevada City acts!!

Saturday June 16th in Sacramento California
Luigi’s Fun Garden 1050 20th Street
Show starts at 8:00
With In The Silence

OK...I will post this snippet of the album cover Bluebird posted on the Lasher Keen Facebook page.

13Apr/120

Shames / Spitting Image / Acid Baby Jesus @ Hideout Lounge 4/6/2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

ArtifactSo, it’s Good Friday…what should we do? There was talk about heading down to Sacramento to see Boats!, but no one could get too excited about doing the South 80 drive another time this week. Our local show seemed expensive and not too punk, leaving 'stay home' and/or 'go out for burritos' as our best option(s). Then something of a divine intervention took place when another member of the Punk Retrospective Collective noticed the fact that Acid Baby Jesus had lost their show in San Francisco and were now playing in Reno. Should we go? Acid Baby Jesus over Easter weekend in Little Sin City…perfect!

While they’d posted the fact of the Reno gig to their Facebook page, they’d omitted certain details…like time and club. We’d have a decent drive in front of us if we were going to make this work…Facebook messages to the band and Olaf (The Vinyl Avenger), phone calls to Slovenly and an e-mail to April finally paid off, 10pm Hideout Lounge, and, after dropping $70 into the gas tank, we were off!

Yeah, I’ve lived up here about 8 years now, but this is my first show in Reno. We saw Youth Brigade and Adolescents in Sparks…and, well, like that time, I get lost because of Obama and his infrastructure project on the North 80. Seven miles of labyrinthine detour and we finally found the Hideout Lounge. We park, cross the street and I immediately try to enter through the wrong door…yeah, I really am a dork.

Once inside we’re approached by a seemingly random female bar patron who asks us for $5 for the band, to cover their gas, etc, we comply. We ask if the band is in town, she tells us they are, but that they are currently being tattooed. Interesting.

This is a dive bar. The brown paint on the floor has mostly peeled off to bare concrete and the 70’s wood paneling is, surprisingly, almost in mint condition, though covered in beer lights and punk flyers. Two flags drape meaninglessly from the ceiling, one representing Miller High Life, the other is an American Flag with ‘PIGZ’ being the only decipherable word remaining of all the blue marker ink in its white stripes. There’s a really cool bicycle hanging from the ceiling and an awful light enclosure built-in over the bar. Two pool tables are pushed into a corner and are covered with OSB…I wonder aloud if that’s the stage, knowing in the back of my mind that the band will be playing at ground level WITH us! The bathrooms have no signage and, again, this is Nevada, so smoking is still encouraged in the bar. Even though I am suffering from intense nicotine cravings, I love this place!

The ShamesI also love it when the assumptions I make as I go through my life are shattered. For some reason I assumed Acid Baby Jesus would be the only band, since the show wasn’t planned, but rather, just happened. I began to realize I was wrong when I saw a kick drum, with ‘The Shames’ spray paint stenciled across the front, being set up by a guy who didn’t look at all Greek. Around this time I noticed the band walk in…the chick who collected the money appeared to be giving them some of it…I don’t know, it was smoky, the jukebox was playing Turbonegro and Iggy Pop, mohawks were rising and the rest of the Collective was having vodka tonics.

The young men from Acid Baby Jesus were smoking cigarettes and enjoying their first PBR’s of the night by this time. One of them started toward us because there was a huge row of ashtrays on the countertop behind us. I asked about the canceled show and joked around a bit about our long drives from California, eventually finding out his name was Otto. We talked for a bit and were eventually joined by Marko. Fifteen minutes later I realized I should have turned on my recording device, but I sent myself a lame-ass Facebook message to remind myself of the conversation:

“Talked to Marko about the US tour and their Israeli tour. The little guy told me a story about getting electrocuted in a beer filled basemwnt” (sic)

All that is true, but I guess I lied in the prior paragraph…I didn’t find out the little guys name was Otto (guitarist) ‘til later, though Marko (percussion) did introduce himself right away. Either way, I would end up spending about an hour and a half talking with Otto about everything in the world and a few more minutes with Marco after the show. They were all very proud of their Greek “acid” tattoos, including April, their Slovenly Records tour manager.

I was struck by a feeling of familiarity and friendship with this pair very early in the night…something akin to the fast-friends I’d made on film jobs in Los Angeles over the years. The ease of speaking with them made for a fun evening of joking around and I even got to share a little history of the rumored cannibalism at Donner Pass, which they’d passed through earlier in the day. Maybe they were just humoring an old man, but there was a genuine kindness and rapport I hadn’t expected.

What had I expected? Well, truth is I really loved the name of this band from the first time I read it on Spineflower’s Tumblr page last summer, but figured they were going to be another Brian Jonestown Massacre rip-off/tribute band. I'd also mentally lumped them in with a bunch of lame bands some idiots listen to on Blip.fm…so, because of these things I assumed they were going to sound shitty. I also figured that a band from Greece wouldn’t be speaking great English. Yeah, I’m wrong a lot.

PIGZOnce in a while I’d start feeling like I should let Otto get back to his friends and fans…or to play, but he assured me they were not going to play until after the other two bands. At some point in our conversation, he told me he’s 25 years old. They formed Acid Baby Jesus for fun about three years ago and have been touring pretty heavily for the past two years. There is a certain kind of wisdom in this young man. He knows this road life is for the young and is taking full advantage of the opportunity, but he is a young man and misses his girlfriend and family. The economic crisis faced by Greece came up a couple of times, so I know he carries concern for his country…but, at the same time he’s full of energy, quick to laugh, ready to share stories, opinions on food or even offer to buy drinks.

The Shames took the stage sometime around 11:30pm. They were an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. The two young ladies out front brought the crowd into the pit and that guy hitting the skins gave them a tight beat to slam to. It’s melodic punk rock with a bit of attitude. Totally impressed. I will tell you this…they are so much better live than anything on the internet shows, their recordings and YouTube videos do them no justice.

Spitting ImageAfter the Shames came Spitting Image. As if the Shames were all love and light, Spitting Image dredged through some pretty dark territory. Their material was a little more on the hardcore end of the spectrum, but it was more experimental than that. They have a new EP out on their Bandcamp site…you should check it out.

After Spitting Image finished, I started looking at the merch table and made Otto promise he’d get the band to sign an LP if I bought one. April gave him a silver paint pen and he went to work. He gave the album to me with signatures over all the members. I’d watched everyone else sign, but I knew Marko hadn’t touched it. Over his image Otto had written “MIZ”, which I assume means “Ms.” or something along those lines, because when I gave the LP to Marko he drew some breasts and something of a Barbara Feldon hairdo onto his image. A bit more laughing and the band started setting up. I figured it would be a good time to take the LP out to the car so I wouldn’t have to keep track of it during the show.

Spotting them outside the club, I congratulated the Shames on a great show and made a vague promise to help them get a show in California. It would be great if we could open for them, but there’s a lot more practice needing to happen before we play out. There was a lot of smoke outside, too, so I headed back in ‘cuz I didn’t want to miss a minute of Acid Baby Jesus.

The ViewI turned on my little camera and started videotaping about 3 seconds before they actually started playing. It was pure luck. I was about a foot away from Otto, nearly stepping on his effects pedals, and I could feel the crowd growing and surging behind me. When I think back on it now, I’m amazed the band showed absolutely no fear of the crowd or the electrical situation. There was beer a quarter of an inch deep on the floor and all of their effects pedals and amps were plugged into power strips that kept tripping from either pulling too many amps or wetness.

I remembered something I’d read in the Distortioni interview. They were asked a question about their sound being as mixture of garage and psychedelic and which thought more defined their sound. They answered that it was both and none…that it was hard to classify. Space punk, they call it on their Facebook page.

MIZI must admit that I was a bit worried for them when the first two bands played straight-up punk/ hardcore. The defiance I saw in the crowd as they challenged the other two bands, probably their friends, but nonetheless. I thought these poor, nice foreign kids are gonna be eaten alive. But the space punks had captured the audience during the first song and had built momentum. Midway through their set the speed peaked and the crowd came down on all of us. The entire mosh pit lurched into the bands’ area, toppled the singer and his mic and unplugged their guitars, and none of them flinched. For a few moments only Marko could play and sing. The rest of the band began sorting through the snake of wires until suddenly there was bass, then some guitar and then it all came back together and started to gel into something a bit weird.

I don’t drink or use drugs, but I spent the last ten minutes of the Acid Baby Jesus set in a near out-of-body trance. The beat, the volume, the reverb, flange, sweat and vocals all built into a great transcendent noise that swept me into a meditative state of awareness. I began moving back away from the band to see how the rest of the audience was doing and found a bar full of punk people completely tuned in to a deep psychedelic, garage punk experience. It was quite possibly the most intensely mystical, musical experience I’ve ever had.

Their sound is not defined by psychedelic, garage or punk…those words hint at what they do, but when you are with them live you’ll understand that they reach into another level, something other-worldly. The band was really wiped out afterward. We talked about the possibility of meeting up at Austin Psych Fest, then said our goodbyes at around 2:30am. The full moon lit the snow covered mountain pass as I drove through listening to the ringing in my ears.

...and now, my next installment of super dark video from the show (please buy me a decent camera:

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