Tag Archives: Punk Rock

Reunion Show

The Knights of Columbus parking lot was smaller than he remembered. It fit the same amount of cars — two rows of twenty on the side, and four rows of twelve in the back — but it looked more like an outgrown toy than something real. He remembers the way it used to look on the night of a show, like the busiest joint in town, the countercultural hub of the universe, with kids shuffling in from all across the state to catch the next new punk rock band that would blow up on the scene like a roman candle before their chords would dissipate into the air as the reverb faded away into hushed suburban legends of what could have been.

Kevin found a parking spot one block away on the street behind the venue. He immediately flashed back like a war veteran to that irrational panic of getting his car towed by the fascist neighbors hellbent on shutting down the show, but his fears subsided when he noticed that his was the only car on the block that wasn’t covered in stickers of some obscure bands, as well as the only one that looked like it could actually run. He double-checked to make sure that he locked the doors. When he did he become such a grownup, scared of what the freakshow ruffians might do behind his back? When did he become The Man, and so afraid of what he used to be?

As he shuffled between the cars and made his way towards the door, Kevin took note of all the fresh familiar faces that filled the parking lot. He didn’t know any of them specifically, but he knew their types — the smokers, and the older kids pounding PBRs in the back, the unhappy but supportive girlfriends who can’t stand the crowds, the kid who’s pacing around in hopes that he won’t have to pay the five buck cover, and what he could only assume was the Scene Queen and her flock passing judgement on their subjects. He wondered if he looked as alien as he felt, returning to the place he once called home.

Then he noticed the sign on the door: “Epidural Colonic Brigade Reunion Show – One Night Only!” and he wondered why he came, why he told the rest of the band he wouldn’t play, and why he still decided to show up tonight, return to the world he thought he’d left behind. Kevin heard the back door to the club swung up open with a sudden bang, startling the collected drunks, and he watched as a pair of sweaty, sloppy teens struggled to carry a Marshall half-stack across the threshold. The boys both glowed with that post-coital radiance of young love. But it wasn’t for sex; it was rock and roll. And then he remembered the feeling, that adrenaline thrill of shitty sound levels, playing on the floor on the same plane with the audience, and for that brief flash of time, ruling the world.

Set List For A Washed Up Rock N Roll Band

1. Open up with a deep cut from the first (successful) album. Let the crowd know that you know that your first album was totally fuckin’ awesome, even though you wrote all those songs when you were like 20 and now they’re kind of embarrassing.

2. Poorly received single that is still loved by diehard fans.

3. The 3rd best song on your 3rd album, which was a return to form for the band but an absolute critical failure that got you dropped from your major label deal.

4. Lead track off the 4th album. Not that anyone gives two shits about your creative output past the first album, but now that you’re in your 40s and married you might as well play that song you wrote that one time when you were actually sober about the woman who would later be your wife, right? Which totally won’t alienate your crowd at all, I swear.

5. Third track from the 2nd album which was a miserable failure as you tried too hard to capitalize on the success of your first album by releasing some contrived over-produced pop bullshit, but the third track still stands out as being a half-way decent effort despite how terribly Disney-fied it sounds on the record.

6. Bring it old school with an updated version of a song from your debut EP, or other slightly obscure work that pre-dates your mainstream success. Make sure you mention that “We’re gonna bring it old school right now” in the introduction to the song.

7. Drop in a live favorite, something that’s enhanced by the crowd, preferably with a sing-along or clap-along section. You know your fans love the clap.

8. Lead single from the 3rd album. Dammit, that really was a good record, looking back on it. Too bad it didn’t take off the way you wanted it to.

9. Now is a good time to play that new song you guys just wrote that no one in the audience has heard yet. They’re in a good mood, so they’re more willing to forgive the miserable ennui they’re about to experience for the next 4 minutes.

10. Ease the crowd out of their nap with either a re-worked version of an acoustic song that builds in dynamics, or a quiet version of one of your more rockin’ hits that doesn’t actually get rockin’ again until the very end. They’ll be that much more excited once the good part finally happens.

11. First track off the first successful album. This is an abusive relationship between you and your fans, and it’s time to remind them why they love you.

12. That Other Good Song From The 4th Album

13. A cover song, but not one that you’ve previously performed. Try an ironic cover of a presently popular song, or a real old school throwback to your influences’ influences that you used to lie about being influenced by but now that you’re older you actually listen to them.

14. A fan-favorite B-Side, or maybe a song that was only released on a soundtrack or something.

15. That Other Good Song From The 2nd Album

16. One more gem from the 3rd album

17. Just play the god damn single already, that’s all they wanted to hear in the first place and by now they’ve put up with enough of your narcissistic bullshit that you may as well give in.

Scotty, or, That Time I Wasn’t 21

My favorite memory of Scotty was in 2005, the summer after my freshman year of college. I was 19 years old then, and there was a band I wanted to see that was playing at Rudy’s that night (I think it was the Plus Ones, but I’m not entirely sure). I was walking around downtown New Haven with a friend, and we decided to see if we could get into the bar to watch the show, even though neither one of us was of legal drinking age. We over-rationalized a complicated scheme, as you tend to do when you’re not yet 21 and trying to get into a bar: “I heard Rudy’s doesn’t really card anyway” “Plus it’s a week day, they definitely won’t be carding” “I bet they card at the bar, so let’s not buy any drinks and just watch the band instead” etc.

As we approach the patio in front of the bar, who else but Scotty Lucca bursts through the door, drunk as drunk can be and fumbling with a cigarette and lighter in his hand. Of course he sees me immediately. “Thom Dunn! Holy shit!” he shouts as he runs over to give me one of those great big Scotty bearhugs. I introduce him to my friend, whom he embraces with just as much enthusiasm. In turn, he introduces us to the doorman at the bar — because it’s New Haven, and Scotty may as well be the mayor of this town with all the people that he knows. The doorman lets us follow us follow Scotty back onto the patio, no questions asked.

We stand there chatting for a bit, catching up while Scotty has a smoke. He finishes the cigarette, stomps it out, then turns to me and says (at a delightfully drunken volume), “So what are you up to tonight, man? You’re not 21!”
…at which point my friend and I look at one another and try mumble an excuse about, oh, well, we’re just hangin’ out, just kinda walking around…
And almost immediately, Scotty realizes what he’d done. “Oh. Fuck. I just totally blew your cover didn’t I?” My other friend and I (I don’t even remember who I was with) look back to the bouncer, with that awkward-nervous smile and wave that never covers anything up, and abruptly leave the bar.

Thanks for that, man.

A year and a half later, it’s my first night home in New Haven since turning 21, and I end up hanging out at Rudy’s with some friends. I start to tell them this very same story, when sure enough, Scotty shows up. He brings me a beer and apologizes profusely for that night, but we just laugh it off and catch up on each others’ lives. I think pretty much every time I saw him after that, he’d apologize for that night as well. We never saw each other all the often, but it become our kind of running joke whenever we did.

Rest In Peace, Scott Lucca
11/10/78 – 10/18/12

The Other Guy In Green Day

They call me The Fourth Guy in Green Day.
I play all the same songs that they play
every night of the tour,
just strumming 3 chords;
there’s no fame, but at least I get paid.

Where Eagles Dare

The punk rock scene in this town’s just like anywhere else, I guess — all the misfits, stoners, and street punks are welcome. Hell, even the metal kids and Goths get a by, just so long as they keep to themselves at the shows. Everyone belongs, by mere virtue of the fact that they don’t. But at Johnny Two-Bad’s side, you were the elite. We were Dukes in a kingdom of thieves.

At least it felt that way to me. I hadn’t been here so long, but they’d all been pretty welcoming. Back home — back in what used to be home — there was a real connection between us all. Everyone in the scene had grown up together, knew each other since we were kids; hell, even our parents knew each other. Everyone had that bond, that personal connection. That shared history. We were like a family; born into it, bonded by blood, whether we liked it or not. But no matter what, we couldn’t shake that connection.

Here, it was different. Like some feudal caste system. A bunch of peasants with nothing in common but an urge to hear it raw, hear it louder, get it faster. These people came together because there’s strength in numbers. All those working class punk rock union hymns made a lot more sense here. You look out for each other, not because you care, not because you want to, but because together, you form a bigger monster, one with a mohawk and pins and Chucks on its feet, one that looks out for and protects its own. Without the ones who made it up, who built it in the first place, the monster couldn’t live. It wouldn’t exist. I guess it’s more a cyclical relationship of necessity in this town — we need the monster ’cause the monster needs us.

And Johnny Two-Bad, he formed the head of that monster. Or at least a part of it. So when he kept you as part of his crew, you knew it meant something. And it’s much better than being a part of that monster’s foot, like when you first roll into town, its dense mass bearing down on you, forcing you into the dirt. But you still gotta support it, no matter how hard or heavy it gets. Then the rest of the kids in that monster’s foot will help you carry it. It’s either that, or you get crushed beneath the weight.

London Calling – The Clash

The bike ride back from the record store in the summer of 1998 was quite possibly one of the most invigorating and influential of my life. Middle school was full of musical discovery in the form of the “Compilation” section of Music Box, your typical privately owned record store with the bare minimum of obscure selections. On this fateful day in July, I would slip a CD into my well used and slightly damaged Discman, throw on my backpack and jump on my bike. The CD spooled up and my headphones filled with a strummed bass line followed by the booming reverb of the drums. The song skipped, stuttered and exploded into a fast paced ballad about an aging Punk-Rock band longing for the days of basement shows, friends, cheap meals and beds disguised as hard-wood floors. I was 14 and knew I could experience what they longed to re-live, and with that knowledge I rode my bike home, sat down at my father’s drum set and began my suburban punk-rock adventure.

This music was new and fresh to me, a surefire way to rebel against my parents by using a weapon they couldn’t understand. This music was fast, equally serious and satirical while toeing the line between harmony and hollering. I had spent years previously listening to music my father had played with his band, listened to in his car and in the house on his stereo. This new music was obscure, something I would have to painstakingly explain to my father, something he might never understand…so I thought.

Summer passed and 8th grade started. I came home after a long after school bike ride spent loitering downtown searching for benches to grind and friends who might have a better idea on how to occupy idle time. I walked in to the familiar sight of my father sitting on the couch in his postal uniform after a long day at work. In a bag next to his foot rested two records against the leg of the coffee table. Through the thin plastic I could see the familiar image of Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar in front of a stack of amplifiers. My father proceeded to pull out both records. One was London Calling by The Clash and the other was Elvis Presley’s first LP. Both layouts were exactly the same, pink and green letters lining the left and bottom of the frame with an image of the artist in the center. My father used this to explain the term “influence” Basically, music is just a fast paced evolution which is influenced heavily, if not entirely on ideas which have already been previously conceived. I still spent my high school years heavily into Punk and Hardcore, but my father made sure I knew there were only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.

Alternately, here is a little fun fact. One of my father’s favorite musicians was the drummer for The Clash. He also thought “Topper Headon” was a badass name.