Thursday, April 1, 2010

What A Weekend! (Part 3 - Always Room for More Jello!)

(This is the third of a three-part post. Read parts one and two here & here.)

The weekend finished up in Baltimore, MD, at The Ottobar, a venue that has become a regular stop among my show-going friends, to once again catch Jello Biafra &
The Guantanamo School of Medicine
. This was a Sunday night all-ages show, so we had no idea what sort of crowd to expect. About 200 showed up, mostly skewing older, to see Jello and three opening bands.

The first two bands up were local Baltimorians. 4 Footer was about halfway through their set when we got there, so I didn't get to see or hear enough of them to form an opinion, but what I did see was interesting. Their sound was kind of punky southern hard rock, not entirely unlike Nine Pound Hammer to my ears (and that would be a good thing!) But, by the time we had our first round of beers and staked out our space in the club, their set was over.

4 Footer

We had no idea what to expect when The Fishnet Stalkers took the stage, dressed like it was 1979 (the striped shirt/skinny tie look). What a pleasant surprise they turned out to be! Like a slightly harder-edged Chesterfield Kings, or Jagger and Richards filtered through The Dead Boys, they played tough without sacrificing melody. Playing for the hometown crowd helped, but this band is definitely one to watch - they have the chops to be big time if they choose.

The Fishnet Stalkers

Witch Hunt traveled along with Jello Biafra throughout this tour, and seeing them a second time only reinforced for me how good they are. I daresay they sounded better Sunday night than Friday. Their drummer is simply astounding, playing at hyper-thrash speeds and propelling the band through song after song without missing a beat - literally. They seemed to spend a little more time giving their between-song protest speeches on this night as well, but that is forgiven when the music is this good.

Witch Hunt

During Witch Hunt's set, we spotted Jello Biafra walking through the crowd. It was strange - very few people seemed to recognize him. Then again, I have to remember that the Dead Kennedys actually split up before many of the kids in the crowd were even born. Maybe they had never seen him live before? I decided to go over to Jello and shake his hand and thank him for thirty years of great music. In typical Jello fashion, he corrected me: "It's been thirty-two years!" he smiled, "I was 19 when we started Dead Kennedys." We talked a bit about the Philly show, and he mentioned how he is usually completely spent after a performance - which is very believable. I asked if he'd be willing to sign Dead Kennedys records, knowing that the band's split was less than harmonious. He said sure, as long as they were originals on Alternative Tentacles and not the represses through East Bay Ray's label. He directed me over to his roadie to be sure to catch him after the show.

Jello and the band ran through the same set in Baltimore as in Philly, with only minor changes in patter and pacing, and they were every bit as fantastic the second time around. As opposed to The Trocadero, where stage diving was commonplace, The Ottobar was plastered with signs saying "Absolutely No Stage Diving Whatsoever!" As a result, the crowd's energy was different, but no less positive than Philadelphia's. In fact, The Ottobar's set up, with a much lower stage and a loft off to the left, allowed Jello much more freedom to interact directly with the crowd.

Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School of Medicine

About half an hour after the show, Jello came out to greet the dozen or so fans like us who had stuck around. He couldn't spend a lot of time with us - he desperately wanted to get something to eat and had to get on the road to Washington DC, but he spent about 10 - 15 minutes talking with everyone and signing records, always checking to make sure they were originals. I heard him tell one person who handed him a record, "I can't sign this one, this is a completely illegitimate pressing. East Bay Ray didn't even make any money off of this one!" Wonder what record that was? He wasn't nasty about it, though, and his stance on only signing original material is completely understandable.

As we filed out of the club, we met up with GSM bassist Andrew Weiss, who talked with us for about twenty minutes about his days in Rollins Band. We asked him about the band Scornflakes, which was the New Jersey-based improvisational punk band he had been in before joining Rollins. He seemed surprised that we knew of Scornflakes, since "about 10 of the 12 shows we played live were at City Gardens," a venue in Trenton, NJ, where we had seen many a show in the '80s. He was happy to talk about the old City Garden days, and mentioned that there was a Scornflakes record out there that they had recorded live. By now it was getting to be almost 1:00 AM and there was long drive home ahead of us, so after thanking Andrew for the show, we hit the road.

Amazing postscript: we had all taken Monday off from work, and we wandered into a used record shop Monday afternoon and found - of all things - the Scornflakes record! A buddy of mine took it; maybe he'll eventually get Andrew to sign it!

It was a fantastic weekend all around, filled with great bands, great music, great people and great memories. I was exhausted when it was over, but happily so. So when does the next weekend full of cool bands come around?

(Visit That's What I Was Going To Say's Facebook page for more pics from Sunday night's show.)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

4 of Baseball's Famous Flakes

Babe HermanImage via Wikipedia

The countdown continues...4 days until Opening Day of the 2010 Baseball season! Since today is also April Fool's Day, I thought it appropriate that today's list look at 4 of baseballs daffiest players:

4. Jay Johnstone
Over a 20-year big league career, Johnstone was well known as both a solid utility player and one of baseball's great clowns. Whether it was dressing up as part of the groundskeeping crew and dusting off the infield between innings of a game, or climbing over the top of the dugout and marching through the stands in full dress uniform to go get a hot dog, Johnstone always something mischievous up his sleeve.

3. Babe Herman
Often called "The Daffiest Dodger," Herman was a good player who just seemed to get into odd situations. Decades before it happened to Jose Canseco, reporters insisted a fly ball had bounced off of Herman's head into the stands - not true, Herman insisted! It bounced off his shoulder... Herman is also the only man in history to double into a double play. Trying to stretch a double into a triple, he failed to see that the runner ahead of him was already standing there - or that the runner heading home had turned around and headed back to third, leaving 3 men on one base. Of course, his reputation was made when he was summoned to the phone while chomping on a cigar. Herman put the cigar in his coat pocket and took the call. Afterwards, he pulled the still-lit cigar from his pocket and resumed puffing away as though nothing were amiss...

2. Rube Waddell
In the early part of the 20th century, few pitchers were as accomplished as Waddell. He had pinpoint accuracy and an array pitches that flabbergasted hitters. He also had a bad habit of disappearing from the club, sometimes in the middle of an inning. He was entranced by fires, and if he heard a firetruck pass he drop whatever he was doing and run to chase it. Opposing teams' fans discovered they could easily distract Waddell by holding up small puppies. Waddell was one of a kind.

1. Bill Lee
Any player whose nickname is "The Spaceman" has got to lead this list! Lee earned his nickname basically through his outspoken, offbeat opinions and philosophies about the game and the world, most famously, The Cosmic Snowball Theory: "A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I get this guy out."

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]