Hot Water Music, The Bouncing Souls, Bitchin’ Summer – Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

This was the best idea I’ve had in a long time. This morning, for the first time in 10 months and 3 days, I didn’t wake up and instantly think about all the plans in my life that have gone wrong. This morning, I felt okay to be alive.

Ian, Dan, Mark and I left Seattle at about 4 and headed south. We arrived in Portland at about 7PM, located the Roseland Theater and some free parking. The quest was on for dinner. We attempted to stop by a Mediterranean restaurant, but their food was very pricey and meaty. We wandered around and found a little sandwich shop being run by one guy. An hour later, filled with veggie melts and veggie burgers, potato salad and potato chips, and plenty of fluids, we made our way to the show just after doors opened.

The Roseland Theater is pretty fancy. It’s probably the Portland equivalent of Neumo‘s. A few bars, a balcony where old people can sit, and enough room for a lot of people. It’s set up a little better than Neumo’s, it’s a little bigger, it has air conditioning, and it’s a little nicer, however. It’s a decent spot to see a show.

Bitchin’ Summer
These guys reminded me a lot of Face to Face or any of those mid-level, mid-nineties 2nd wave punk bands. They have four microphones, one for each of the part time singers. I suppose that mixes up the sound, but it was impossible to hear the girl bassist or the drummer, so the effect was probably not as great as intended. The sound in this room is very bass heavy and generally muddy, apparently. Bitchin’ Summer would have made a great opening band in 1996. They don’t really do anything new, but they are competent musicians and very enthusiastic. The locals were somewhat appreciative, but the venue was maybe 1/3rd full for their performance. They said, “This is the best show we’ve ever played.” Mark commented, “No, this is the best show you’ve ever been a part of.”

The Bouncing Souls
The first time I saw The Bouncing Souls was in Santa Cruz, California, my freshman year of college (1995-1996). I saw them in a venue that soon closed down called The Red Room. By then, they had already been a band for 7 or 8 years! Back in the day, Greg, the singer, used to sing nearly the entire set with his index finger pointed in the air. Though he’s dropped the finger pointing, he’s kept this great lackadaisical singing style. Like his cues come up and he happens to be thinking about his laundry or what to make for breakfast tomorrow or something. Like his stage performance is equal to sitting on the stoop and chatting with good friends. Like messing up a line to the song doesn’t even matter, because the only point is to have fun. “We’re not going to think about anything but having a good time,” was possibly the quote of the night from him as the bass was having difficulties. On the first song, the crowd burst into an instant moshing frenzy, singing along and flailing around. I joined in when they played “The Something Special” just like I asked them to. While I was flailing around and yelling “IIIIIIIIIIIIIII want to start again!”, a gentleman fell down. Like good show goers, everyone helped him back up by grabbing his arms and yanking. Unfortunately, they yanked his fist straight into the side of my nose. Ah well, there’s rocking out to be done! The Bouncing Souls set was a good mix of new and old songs. I stopped religiously listening to them after the “Summer Vacation” album, so the new stuff was pretty new to me. It was fun to dance around to the fast, sing along songs, but I had to conserve my energy for the self-slaughter that would occur during Hot Water Music. I do miss their song “These are the Quotes From Our Favorite 80’s Movies”, however. In the early days, they’d select someone from the crowd to shout out their favorite 80’s movie quote in the middle of the song. Usually it was “Hey you guys!” from Goonies. Even without the really old songs, our crew was having a decent time. Dan and Ian were forming the left corner of the pit wall and enforcing pit etiquette when required. Robbie and Megan (sorry I didn’t recognize you up in the balcony, Megan, I didn’t have my glasses on) came down from Seattle as well and were hanging out with me at the back of the pit pushing people counter-clockwise and having a fun time of it. Mark was wandering around the pit doing the “pit shark” (put your hand on your head like a shark fin and run around the pit) and singing along. In all, The Bouncing Souls provided us with an excuse to smile a bit and enjoy ourselves for once.

Hot Water Music
I can’t move my arms. I think I broke both hips. My throat is sore. Every muscle is burning with that familiar dull pain of over exertion. I’ve found bruises and scrapes I don’t remember getting. My whole body is destroyed. I haven’t felt this good in a long, long time. I can’t even describe how completely satisfied I am with existence at the moment. Hot Water Music may be the best band ever. This show is definitely on my top five of all time. So many good songs. So many poignant songs at a time where I need motivation to not give up on myself. Like “Rooftops”:

“Hey world are you listening?
Are you listening to me
I’m here and I’m hurting to begin again
Hey world I’m ready to listen
And learn something new
I’m here and I’m willing
To get myself through”

And “Turnstile”:

I must always remember;
there’s no point to surrender.

And “Trusty Chords”:

“Don’t think about your lover.
You’re already steady shaking.”
I might need a sedative,
But I hate the taste of medicine.
“You just need to let her go.”
These pills shaking in my hand
Just make me feel defeated,
Like I’m not able to just let her go away.

And “Remedy”:

So no regrets, and no looking back to sinking ships.
I’ll strip the gauze for a rational self-analysis.
“I’m down. Cut and bound.
Counting scars, and counting blessings loud.”
So loud.

I hate this place but I love these chords.

So awesome to yell these things out, to yell everything out of me. It was such an emotional set for me. I couldn’t stop moving and yelling and jumping and screaming or I might have started crying like one of those teenage girl fans of the Beatles in the 60’s. This was my catharsis, this outpouring. And every song was so perfect for severing me from my now painful past. From the things I don’t want to worry about anymore. From regret and mistakes and unavoidable disasters that I know I’m not responsible for but blame myself for anyways. I could have never woken up this morning and be happy forever in whatever comes after life. My goal now is to feed off this idea that everything has been shed from me, washed away in sweat and multicolored lights, and I’m a new person. A baptism by Hot Water Music, if you will. Born again into a life I’ve been working towards all this time. Perhaps it was fitting that it was in a foreign city, in a place I’d never been. Perhaps it was fitting that for the final song of a three-song encore, The Bouncing Souls came back out and joined our heroes from Gainesville in a stirring rendition of “True Believer”, a The Bouncing Souls song. Perhaps it’s time I start believing in myself instead of wishing for things that will never happen. Perhaps.

I’ve met some people along the way,
Some of them split some of them stay,
Some of them walk some walk on by,
I’ve got a few friends I’ll love till I die
From all of these people I try to learn,
Some of them shine some of them burn,
Some of them rise some of them fall,
For good or bad I’ve known them all

We live our life in our own way,
Never really listened to what they say,
The kind of faith that doesn’t fade away
We are the true believers
We are the true believers

Well you can fight or you can run,
Hide under a rock till the war is won,
Play it safe and don’t make a sound,
But not us we won’t back down
True believers all the way,
You and I…

We live our life in our own way,
Never really listened to what they say,
The kind of faith that doesn’t fade away
We are the true believers
We are the true believers
True believers

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