Saturday, February 29, 2020

Church of Misery, Doug and the Slugs, and TSOL: whatta weekend

Like, basically all three major food groups in my musical diet are represented by shows this weekend. Metal was yesterday, pop is today, punk is tomorrow. Hasn't been this much music in a single weekend of my life in... weeks!

The major one is tonight: Doug and the Slugs. I have tried to do justice to their story in a current Straight article, interviewing Simon Kendall, but I didn't even begin to get into how brilliant Doug Bennett's early lyrics are, since it seemed Kendall is as confused by some of them as I am! (There were a couple of "what does this mean" moments in the conversation where the answer was, "I have no idea"). People reading the Kendall piece should also check out my obit about Doug Bennett, written very early on in the history of this blog. I think you literally have to be about my age to really understand the whole Doug Bennett thing - it was really there in spades on the first two albums, but the band was already opting for something simpler and more radio-friendly by Music for the Hard of Thinking. I like some of that, still - and Kendall stuck up for Popaganda, too, which I've bought for the first time as a result. It was interesting to learn that Doug wrote "Day by Day," a song far too radio-friendly for me, about the death of his father, and that people still tell Kendall that the song helped them through rough times, but it's really all about the first two albums for me. I mean, if you don't like "Not On the Corner," if you can't appreciate the wit and style and potency of that song... I prolly can't help you. And a line like "it doesn't matter who's got the light/ when you're not on the corner..." It's like Dashiell Hammett writing doo wop, or a Zen Koan as translated by Raymond Chandler. I have no idea what it means, but it has resonated in my psyche for forty years. I'm sorry as heck Doug isn't here to be singing it, but I am very keen to see what the band does tonight.

And I really want a t-shirt of that slug on a motorcycle.

Enthusiasts for local music planning on going to a show should also note: Mecca Normal has an early concert at Moberly Park this afternoon. You could do Mecca Normal for an appetizer and then head to the Commodore for the Slugs. See my Jean Smith post a few posts down. The show is FREE and you can buy some of Jean's paintings there (tho' the best ones seem to sell in five minutes on Facebook these days!).

On a radically different note, Church of Misery was great yesterday (is anyone in Seattle reading this? They play there tonight!). I don't really know them well - only found out about them a few days ago, but it took about two minutes of the "Brother Bishop" video on Youtube to convince me I needed to see them, since I'm partial to stoner doom, haven't heard any current Japanese examples of that, and they immediately put me in mind of Electric Wizard (though Church of Misery is more into murder and serial killing than occultism as a topic). (Incidentally, if you're reading this you might also enjoy my Electric Wizard review from a few years ago at the Rickshaw; it's one of my favourite recent articles). I hope I can interview these guys at some point. I have always wondered how Japanese audiences reacted to the Blue Oyster Cult's "Cities on Flame with Rock'n'Roll," which seems to have a bit of a Hiroshima/ Nagasaki vibe to its lyrics, so it's pretty interesting that they cover it. And I want to find out if they've written a song about Robert Pickton (or if they're aware of him). I got some great pics, and shot one video yesterday. Very cool band - "sugoi omoi," as I said to them at the merch table, to their delight...

Note: these are NOT the best of the pics, but they're fun.

Finally, there's TSOL, tomorrow at the Astoria, with Dead Cells and Bootlicker and storc, all of whom I am excited to see. In truth, TSOL were one of those bands I didn't ever explore that deeply. I think I first saw them in Penelope Spheeris' Suburbia, which I love (read my interview with Spheeris here), but I never had their first EP, which you just couldn't find, so songs like "Property is Theft" were simply not on my radar. Back as a suburban teenaged punk in the 1980's, I owned and loved Dance with Me, and one of their non-Grisham albums, Change Today? But the album that came between those two, Beneath the Shadows, just confused me at the time,with its artful Gothiness; I gather it is being claimed as a classic today, but I never really dug it at the time. Then AFTER Change Today?, they started to move in what seemed a more radio-friendly direction. I bought their next album, 1986's Revenge, and while I like some songs off it (like "Nothin' for You") I wasn't entirely comfortable about punk's movement towards the mainstream and just didn't dig the overall sound. Their next album apparently took them even more towards hair metal - I mean, look at the fucking album cover art, they look like Motley Crue wannabes or something. It might be good, I dunno - never heard it! - but I did NOT care at the time, and tuned the band out. By the time the band (apparently) returned to punk (and brought Jack Grisham back), with 1991's disappear, I was onto other things, like, say, TAD; then I'd go into a noise rock/ free jazz tailspin for much of the 1990's. I gather some songs off that still pop up in their setlists, but I do not know it well at all.

But you know what, they'll be playing "Sounds of Laughter," and maybe they'll do "Funeral March," and I want to see the opening acts, so whatever! I am there.

Oh, hey, Church of Misery fans in Seattle: if any of you read this, you should know that Calgary basically cleaned up all the cool merch, and all they had in Vancouver was small t-shirts (no CDs, no LPs, just small t-shirts). I dunno if they plan to re-supply, but just a word to the wise, if you want to get them to sign a record or something, you probably should buy one at a store and bring it to the gig!


Unknown said...

Church of Misery is derivative crapola. You are suppose to suss this out. How long have you been a music journalist?

Allan MacInnis said...

Hi, Eric.