Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Favorite Dirtbombs Shows of All-Time...

1. 11/28/01 @ The Social, Nottingham, ENG
This was the day after we did our live-to-air Peel session. We ate at a Wimpy Burger at some rest stop and everyone in the band got the worst case of the shits they’d ever had. The scene of us in the upstairs bathroom at the Social was hilarious…at least three of us were in there with our asses making comically unimaginable noises. And we were all laughing our heads off. The place was sold out (had to be because of the Peel session as none of the other shows on the tour were full) and slightly uncomfortable. The kind of gig where it takes you 5 minutes to walk through the crowd because it’s so tight.

And we were just on. There’s no other way to describe it. Mick mentioned something about it being the first crowd that hadn’t expected to see Gories Mach II. Towards the end of the set (or maybe even during an encore) I was completely overcome. I climbed on top of whatever speaker or amplifier was next to me, it being about 6-feet-tall, and just jumped onto my drums. I started tossing pieces of the kit left and right. I had been released. This was what I was meant to do. The happenings this night would dictate how I wanted to perform in the Dirtbombs. I wanted to go off. The tour manager, Jean-Luc, would fix everything I broke or maimed that night with no repercussions. I left with a girl I would never see or hear from again to go dancing at a disco. She hadn’t even seen the show. Spent 4 pounds of band money to buy myself a doner kebab. It rained.

2. 5/12/02 @ Bogen 13, Zurich, SWT

This day was actually one of the worst days in Dirtbombs history. The lead-up to the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland was pure living hell. As the second-longest tunnel in the world, there was a terrible accident in October 2001 that left eleven dead. The decision to let a few vehicles in at a time has proven to prevent future travesties, but has created interminable delays. I guess it was the end of a holiday weekend too and everyone was driving the direction we were going. Anydung, the whole thing had us move 7km in 4 hours. Not cool.
So once we were finally through the tunnel, we thought all was well. If only. Our brilliant driver Seetz (the biggest Dwarves fan in the world, if that shouldn’t have tipped us off) managed to not just get us lost. That would’ve been fine, as he did it every day and we’d become accustomed to it. No, Seetz would drive approximately 60km PAST Zurich, convinced that he was going the right way. There was a stop, I shit you not, at the top of a steep-as-shit mountain. He walked out to ask for directions and all the band could do was revel in his incompetence.
We eventually get to the club, load in through the rain and play almost immediately. While there weren’t a ton of people there, EVERYONE there was into it full-tilt. I busted my stool from doing a heavy hit-both-cymbals-and-slam-your-ass-back-down-on-the-stool move that some wise soul before me invented. I had to lean back with pressure to keep the thing together the rest of the night. After the set, Mick ran offstage and was nowhere to be found. Tom Potter started kicking a door because the crowd was going NUTZ for an encore. The white guys in the band decided “fuck it” and went onstage without Mick. We started with a half-azzed version of Bantam Rooster’s “Tom Skinner” and then shamelessly went into “Louie, Louie”. Them Swizz acted like they’d never heard rock and roll before that as “Louie” made them all lose their shit. It was like shooting water in a barrel. Ended with my first-ever bassdrum headstand, falling and landing on my back. I had wanted to do a headstand for the longest time but before this night, I never had a reason. My back was covered in welts for the rest of the tour. I loved it.

3. 5/28/05 @ Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, SPA
Our only show in Spain that year, we drove straight there from Colechester, England so we could see the Stooges play the night before us. Our hotel was a lavishly absurd beachfront deal. Walking distance from the festival grounds. We actually got a soundcheck (super-rare for a huge festival like this). We went onstage immediately after Dogs Die in Hot Cars. They were shit. The Dirtbombs were so precisely in-sync on this night that it felt unfair. Zero time between songs…just an assault of one jam after another. Tossed the floor tom to the house kit super high into the air and caught it before we ended. Quite possibly the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of…easily 2000 people, maybe more. Walked off the stage that night confident that we could not have played any better. Mick actually came up to each band member individually and thanked us for how great we played. The Futureheads played after us and just looked like asshats. I don’t think we have or will ever play better than that night. Later I met Thurston Moore, stood next to Lydia Lunch and watched Gang of Four cremate a mass of slackjawed Spaniards.

4. 10/30/03 @ 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, MN

The Go proved mighty contenders as first band of three. But the Sights were messing it up for everybody, really ready to steal the show. Eddie had been gig-bagged before the show (fed drinks by the Go, hoping to sabotage his performance) and it backfired as he was as electrifying as he’d ever be. Soledad Brothers were opening for Spiritualized upstairs at 1st Ave and it was cool checking out both those bands too. So after the Sights lay waste to the crowd, we’re expected to follow. As I walk upstairs to get behind the drums I see Jason Spaceman just perched in a corner. All I could say was “You did the best Stooges cover ever with ‘Little Doll.’” He replied something like “We just got rid of the complicated part.” I don’t know if I was using lighter drum sticks or what, but I remember a feeling of “Holyshitweareplayingsogodamnedfast” during “Start the Party”. I think Diamond puked right before we went onstage. Or maybe it was Pantano? We matched the Sights and maybe even topped them, definitely feeling the pressure they’d put on us. Slammed my snare drum on my hi-hat stand to a loud “THWAMP” and somehow busted the head on my rack tom too. I jumped up and swung from some rigging and had a good time. I carefully locked my legs around a post so I wouldn’t fall, but when time came to get down, I couldn’t move my foot. I pulled and tugged as hard as I could, but no budge. Understand that I’m holding myself up with my arms right now, the man who has not done a pull up since he was wearing gym shorts freshman year. I could feel my arms really begin to ache and was kinda scared I was either going to have to rip my boot off and run around on the rest of the tour without shoes or that my arms would give way, I’d let go and break my ankle. The rest of the band finished their demolition and I was still hanging there…with one last burst of all my energy I swung towards my snared foot and managed to unzip my boot and free my foot. The boot plopped to the floor and hopped across the broken glass minefield unscathed. Next morning I awoke with the worst back pain I have ever had in my life. I had earned it.

5. 7/30/06 Rocks Off Boat Cruise on the Temptress, New York, NY
It’s not everyday you get to play close to 40 songs on a boat as it trolls around the Hudson. The boat is not sold-out, but comfortably full. We’re the only band playing. First set was all originals, played as the sun goes down. Take a blow as we circle around Liberty Island with delightfully unobstructed view up the lady’s nostrils. Second set all covers…ends with me with a drum on my head screaming the words to Sonic Youth’s “Flower”. Here’s video...www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdT3vII_Jfo

6. 7/18/04 @ Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa, CAN

For two reasons. #1, this photo:

Excerpt from tour diary for this show reads simply…
“the end was quite destructive, me using the hi-hat stand like a pitching wedge and just golfing the fuck out of things. excitingly”
#2, after I got off stage, I laid down on a table and Patrick Keeler jumped on top of me and said “That was fucking awesome!”

7. 8/31/04 @ Maroquinerie, Paris, FRA

The club really felt like it was oversold in a scary way. First notes to “Start the Party” and it’s just a wave of bodies lunging towards the stage. I sang the Stooges “Dirt” for the encore and I will never be able to create Iggy’s determined conquistidor finger-point a la Cincinnati Pop Festival like I did that night. Took cover photos for “If You Don’t Already Have a Look…” before the show. Matching track jackets stolen the next night.

8. 8/20/04 @ Pukkelpop Festival, BEL

The biggest stage we ever played on and I took advantage of it. Finished 10 minutes early so came back for an encore which is totally frowned upon at these big festivals. Completely obliterated my drumset. Excerpt from tour diary tellingly says “I did a headstand on my bass drum, stood on it, then started tossing shit like it was salad.” I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Took my bass drum and while facing stage left, threw it blindly behind me towards stage right. Distance traveled…I’d say twenty feet. I do the same with my rack tom, but that flies a bit further and might even roll a bit. The snare drum shifted its shape from circular to egg-like after I launched it. Afterwards a guy came up to me and said “Great show, I grabbed one of your sticks.” I politely reclaimed said stick as I knew I wouldn’t have enough to make it the entire trip. A few minutes later I’m introduced to the stick stealer. He’s none other than Mark Lanegan.

9. 4/28/01 Rust Belt Revolt @ Mohwak Place, Buffalo, NY

What a sloppy, drunken, fun mess this was. The Mistreaters and Clone Defects played that same night and Buffalo was definitely ground-zero for garage rock all-stars that weekend. Only time we’ve ever played “High Octane Salvation” live and it sounded terrible. A pair of bunny ears got passed and worn by just about everyone in the club that night. Of all the “garage festivals” we’ve played (Cavestomp, Horizontal Action Blackout, Athens Ohio Blackoutfest, Gutterfest, Las Vegas Shakedown) and all the non-garage ones too, this one simply felt the most communal and the most exciting. Like everyone was striving for some common goal of obscene mass drunkenness. Everyone except me, as I was still 18-years-old at this point. First and only time I ever slept in a Dirtbombs van that wasn’t moving. Potter and Diamond were sleeping in it too. Good times.

10. 12/3/04 @ Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

We were borrowing the Sights van and opening for the Hives. Had no delusions that the crowd would like us, but just thought it be fun to play with those guys. If we didn’t steal the show we came as damn close as possible without doing so. The excitement for me stemmed from the fact that we had completely won over this crowd who was clearly not there to see us. I think I did an inspired floor tom toss-and-catch before I left the stage. As I turned my back, the sound of the crowd became overwhelming. They were going apeshit. And we were the fucking openers!

After I break down my gear Mick comes up and tells me that someone told him they’d just seen a green van getting towed. Damn. Columbus has some overachieving parking enforcement and they don’t give a fuck. I stood outside totally clueless as how to get this van back, surely hampered by the fact that none of us owned it. And as if out of nowhere, a girl appeared and asked if our van had been towed. She said she worked for an apartment company and had a tow code. She called the tow company and recited the code without even being asked. I know I still have her business card somewhere and I still owe her. Managed to pull a minor coup by getting the van back even though the car was not even registered in my name, a technicality that tow yard operators are not to ignore lightly. We had the van back within a half-hour and before Pantano had even noticed that it was gone.
Somedays, everything’s just on your side.

1. All sweaty and lucid after the fateful Nottingham show.
2. The Sights on fire.
3. The best photo of myself I've ever seen.
4. Oh sweet track jackets, why has thou forsaken me?
5. This is actually the day after our gig at Pukkelpop, but it's us at Pukkelpop nonetheless.
6. Christreater feeds Tom Potter while Matt Williams does his best Pat Pantano wearing bunny ears imitation.
7. A poster.

1 comment:

Traffic and Weather said...

Hmmmm. It seems all your favorite shows end with you either destroying your drum kit, or walking with some sort of injury. Sadist? or Masochist?