I have never been to an all-ages King Cobra show. I was not expecting to attend one tonight, given that the headliner and the first supporting act were mid-90s punks in their retirement years. Nevertheless, the chain link fence was up separating the drunks from the kids and the artists weren’t allowed to have alcohol on stage, which they complained about several times. Life is tough for musicians these days.
It would make my mom ecstatic if she ever found out that I liked a country singer. Luckily, she never reads this so I can say things like Austin Lucas rules hard. His bluegrass style creates the perfect tone for songs of heartbreak and longing. The song “Go West” was particularly touching for me. Great set. I saw him on the Revival Tour, which was was awesome, and if I get a chance to see him again, I’ll go. I wish I knew more bluegrass and country artists like him so I could make comparisons, but I did what I could to distance myself from that genre because I only thought it was the country played on the radio. I didn’t know anything about the real passion that could exist in country songs. It is only later in life that I’m realizing I’ve missed a huge chunk of American music that we have good cause to be proud of. It’s almost like rediscovering music all over again. Mr. Lucas does real passion well, and that is why I got into music in the first place. Maybe I’ll invite my mom along to the next show.
Jon Snodgrass started the rest of my evening of unknowns. Mr. Lucas and him paired up for a couple songs, much to my delight, making for a seamless transition between sets, much like the artists on the Revival Tour. Their voices work well together in the country harmonies, which are awesome. Mr. Snodgrass sounds a bit like Frankie Stubbs doing Springsteen style americana. I’m guessing that folks in the midwest are super stoked on Jon Snodgrass. Live, he has a bit of Blake Schwarzenbach in his voice as well. He had the best quote of the night as well: “I feel like forty dollars today.” I laughed. I also liked how he took requests the whole evening. That’s always a good way for artists to make their sets. With veto power, of course. Near the end of his set, he invited up Joey Cape (and Chad Rex?) to make another nice transition to the next set.
Let us pause here to examine the phenomenon of the punk rock retirement plan. It seems that many punk singers are picking up acoustic guitars and singing country music. It’s gone well for some of them and not so well for others, as will soon be shown. It makes sense, because country songs are simple and somewhat fast, depending on heartfelt singing to make up for the lack of musical technicality (usually). I think it’s generally a good thing.
Mr. Cape was the lead singer for a mid 90’s pop-punk band called Lag Wagon (or Lagwagon). They were on Fat Wreck Chords with all those types of bands. Now, when I say that Joey Cape was the lead singer for Lagwagon, I mean he *was* Lagwagon. The only identifying feature of that band was the signature vocal style. Now, when I say that he *was* Lagwagon, I mean he *IS* Lagwagon. Tonight’s set was basically Lagwagon songs done acoustic. No country at all. However, this is exactly what everyone wanted. There were tons of people singing along. Now, I liked Lagwagon okay. I think their seven inch was the first one I ever bought (in 1993?). I know a couple songs, but I was never a fanatic. They got lost in the billion other bands that sounded basically the same. I’m a bit surprised that so many people in the crowd were going crazy. If there were drums, there would have been a mosh pit, most likely. I have no idea why tonight’s show was all-ages, though. Someone turning 21 this year would have been 6 when I bought that first seven inch… At any rate, Joey Cape made all kinds of mistakes like forgetting lyrics and flubbing guitar parts. But it’s punk rock (acoustic, but still…) so no one cares. The crowd begged him for an encore even. But he wasn’t headlining.
Mike Herrera of MxPx has a new band. I will admit that I liked MxPx (or Magnified Plaid, which is their original name) after Teenage Politics and through Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo. Let’s see, 1996 to 1998 or so. It’s okay to like MxPx before you turn 21. Tumbledown is the grown up’s version of MxPx. Mr. Herrera even called their music drinking songs. It’s weird to think that Mr. Herrera is only about four months older than me. It’s weird because I would not be making the same music I was making in high school today. Yet, Mr. Herrera basically is. Tumbledown is more MxPx than country. And that’s what makes it pretty bad. It’s like a caricature of country just like MxPx was a caricature of punk. Like Xtian music is a caricature of real music. And I think that’s where I hold my grudge against Mr. Herrera, the dang religousness. Call me a bigot, but if any band plays a song that goes “Jesus, yes I do!” they should immediately have their hands removed. Tumbledown look like a Xtian band. You know, how Xtians look like real people but there’s always something fundamentally flawed with them? Like they try too hard to look normal. At any rate, the kitsch factor of having a stand up bass was too much. The silly guitar solos were too ridiculous. The nasally 15 year old punk vocals singing about san antone were exactly the wrong match. Everything seemed so false. The “rock persona” and the “don’t worry we’ll play again later in a hotel, you can drink there” were just stupid. Man, I’m getting bitter in my old age. I shouldn’t talk trash about a band just because they believe that they’re going to spend eternity singing the praises of a dude with a beard. I should just not go to their shows. Okay, done.