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“SHINING STUPIDITY: A PUNK ODYSSEY” HULLABALOO DIARY by Kev James

Part 3: 1990: North American Tour:”It’s not how I pictured it…hb

38. 9/21 Rat, Boston
Last show before tour (it starts tomorrow!) The “Hard to Believe” Kiss compilation came out on C/Z including our rendition of “Dr. Love.” Looks good. Anyway, the news: Chris, Ziad, and their girlfriends had all been living in the same loft and had been fighting big time. Finally, Chris gave the band an ultimatum as to whether Ziad was to go on tour with us as our roadie: it was Z or Chris. So we took Z. It took some time to move out of Chris’ loft and kick him out of the band too (he was pretty surprised!), and then we had to rent a space for two weeks to rehearse as a four-piece for the tour. John is back on drums and Slug on bass now. Here we were at the Rat for a sendoff show. I missed pretty much the whole night except our set. Had a very decent crowd, including John and Sue who videotaped the proceedings. First show with the new and improved line-up, and we got through the set with relatively few screw-ups. None of my effects worked at the beginning because a surge presumably fried them, so Jerry wasted time for us megaphoning the audience. We sounded okay but it was hard to concentrate with all the flailing bodies flying around everywhere. Tons of airborne beer as well, much of it from Mark and Chris. B Mac & Co. were completely out of control and kept smashing their heads on the ground and getting thrown out. With a few songs to go first Slug’s and then TQ’s pants came down, and then on “Curse” Z  came out pantless to play harp, much to the dismay of the crowd (only kidding, Z). Steve, Tom’s roommate, told Mitch the manager to fuck off (!) and got strangled for his trouble. Mitch, the infamous manager of the Rat for an age, was a massive guy the size of Lurch, with a greasy-looking dog of a toupee and, oh yes, he was also a larengectomy. Frightening dude, believe me. So as he was holding this guy Steve (Tom’s roommate) up by the neck with his feet off the floor, he was holding his voice box with the other hand and saying monotonically,”NOBODYTELLSMETOFUCKYOU NOBODYTELLSMETOFUCKYOU!” “Curse” turned out to be the last song (naturally). Felt awful the next morning, but we gave them a show to remember. Next stop is Burlington, punk mecca of Vermont. 300 + 1 case beer + 200 in merchandise.

39. 9/23 242 Main, Burlington, VT
Started off with brunch at Z & Erica’s, which was nice. Got up to Vermont in a quick 3 and a half hours, far short of my estimate. The place turned out to be a teen club run by a bunch of adolescent skinheads. Didn’t bother with a soundcheck. I already forgot the name of the other band, but earlier one of them came up to us and introduced himself as “Trash.” Hey, “Trash,” how the fuck are you, man? Anyway, we ate dinner and just hung out in the van. Played at around 9:30 to about 25 people. It wasn’t a total washout, but certainly not great either. TQ was good, and they liked the trumpet. A few folks from Boston showed up after we had already finished. I got up way too early this morning and so was dead by that time. 45 + 50 merchandise.

9/24 Near Stowe, VT
Handing out at Slug’s brother Stu’s house today. Slept for like 12 hours last night. Found a gum machine selling “Eyes of Terror” which were gumballs with veins painted on and little skulls for pupils. Later we hung out with a bunch of cows and felt the tongue of one of them.

9/25 Montreal, Canada
Felt queasy after too much of Stu’s bacon. The supplies he got for our visit were lots of beer and a huge side of bacon that he, I think, traded some labor for, or something…Spent most of the afternoon at the border waiting for our work permits to be faxed there. But, they didn’t even check the van, after all the precautions we took (vacuuming, etc.). It started to look grim but we finally got through after paying $150.00 for whatever the french word for “nothing” is. Then it took forever to get to Montreal and we got lost for hours trying to find the stupid radio station where we were supposed to be interviewed. There were ‘Arrêt’ signs everywhere, stuck in places where you couldn’t really see them until the last second. After many phone calls and circling the city multiple times we got to the place. It was an interview with CBC, which is Canada’s national public radio. They have a huge building with dozens of different fancy studios all in one building. Slug signed in as ‘Elliott Gould’ and wrote ‘hell’ in the time-in column and thought it was really funny. The Outlaws did the interview and the DJ also played ‘Gotta Go’ and ‘Die Laughing.’ We got a free cup of coffee but still had no place to stay. We decided to go on to Ottawa, but only after eating since we were famished. We ended up going to some Italian place which was underneath a Karate studio. The ceiling felt like it might cave in on us as we had our ‘spaghetti avec viande’ (Z.: “lasagne with meat”). Had a pretty cool drive to Ottawa; flat and dark the whole way. Z drove for a while but he went 80 by a cop. The guy turned his lights on and pulled out after us, and I got ready to switch places with Z  (because he doesn’t have a license or U.S. citizenship. I don’t know why I got chosen to switch and take the heat, though…oh yeah, ’cause I wasn’t drinking). At the last minute we totally lucked out though, because we drove by some guy who was broken down on the side of the road, then we pulled over. But, in my rearview mirror I saw that the cop pulled behind the broken down guy and not us, so I floored it and we got away! In Ottawa we tried a couple motels, but everything here is really expensive, and we’re close to being broke already. Finally all we could do was pull into some parking lot and sleep in the van, which kind of blew. Plus, our collective breath condensed on the ceiling and dripped back down on us while we slept.

39. 9/26 Barrymore’s, Ottawa, Canada
Everyone felt crappy but we woke up around 9:00 a.m., due more to discomfort than anything else (especially Sluggo, who had to sleep sitting up in the front seat). Found a place with a $2.75 breakfast after changing some more money and scaring the bank employees. John still hasn’t spent the $1.25 he came on tour with. John, Tom and Z  went to a ’30-50 Live Dancing Girls Luncheon,’ while me and Slug hung out. One of the girls they had seen gracing the pages of Hustler, and afterwards John got his picture taken with her outside of the place. We parked the van across from Barrymore’s which was where the gig was, and had 7 hours to kill before load in. ‘Keeping Canada Cumfy-Wumfy,’ a stupid billboard in the parking lot said. Later, I went for a long walk on Bank St., a shopping district. We got the promoter to buy us dinner, which was the first decent thing we’d had all day. I caught a cold which wasn’t helped by our worsening situation. We got a lot of beer out of the guy too, and I decided to drink up for a change (pretty good for the cold too I bet). We were in serious danger of outnumbering the crowd, which looked even smaller because it was a big theatre-type place. I think we played to 6 people, including Z. We were begging for a place to stay during the set, and finally this guy ‘Ratboy’ (the one-man-heavy metal opening band) said we could stay if we left really early so we wouldn’t worry his roommates. Things have got to start getting better. At least the guy still gave us the guarantee, which was smart because we would have killed him otherwise. 100 Canadian.

9/27 Lot A-40, Campground near Kingston, Ontario.
Didn’t have to leave Ratboy’s until 9:30 a.m., so as Slug said, it was like sleeping in. Got some more money changed and ate the same $2.75 breakfast again, so I guess that makes us regulars at the place. After a $39.00 fillup (!) we got out of Ottawa and headed west. Today was another day off and we only have $35 left (Canadian). Cigs are $5 a pack so we’re having to ration. About halfway to Toronto we found this campground which is only $14 a night so we stayed there the rest of the day and camped overnight. It was a pretty cool place on a lake, and we were the only campers since it was out of season by now. There were some permanent residents in trailers who looked on suspiciously. Slug and Z went in search of some free food somewhere. Z shoplifted some hot dogs and rolls from a little general store. He forgot his shoes at the campsite so he had only his white socks, and Tom’s giant army coat. This is how you remain inconspicuous if you are shoplifting from a Canadian general store. They also got a case of beer, which was $20 for the cheapest, shittiest kind. Z built a fire to cook the dogs and for us to stay warm, and John decided to move the van to shield the fire from the wind, but to everyone’s horror he accidentally backed the van over the case of beer! Most of it was still okay, though. We stayed up sitting around the fire, just like real campers. I demoed my knee on a rock in the grass that I knelt on really hard, and it hurt for days afterward. Slug burned the poster we had framed to bring to Bill cause we were pissed about what a crummy tour he put together. Slept pretty good under the stars and mist, and took two showers which were great.

40. 9/28 Apocalypse, Toronto, Canada
Considered playing “Blow Me Fucking Canada” tonight. We came up with the idea the other day. Felt a bit better when I woke up this morning, but my knee was totally stiff. We each saved one dog to eat for breakfast, but no rolls left. On the highway we stopped because there was a totally cool looking semi flipped over, so Z took our picture in front of it. Someone thought it was a cigarette truck at first which would have been awesome, since the trucks load was scattered all over the side of the road, but it turned out to be some sort of medicine; nothing good. It was probably wishful thinking. Found the club in Toronto, and this one at least seemed like an official place. Everyone was in a bad mood when we got there, and TQ ripped up all the magazine stands at the entrance to the club, while Slug spraypainted something bad about Canada in the hallway. We had all day to kill so Slug went in search of beer. They have these places called ‘Beer Stores’ in Canada, and they are the only places where you can buy beer. So convenient. I got some Dr. Pepper, and Slug kept lying to Z  that it was prune soda. Z, again, believed him. A cop made us move because it was rush hour, so we parked next to some school and later Slug took a shit on the playground in retaliation. We sold our last remaining T-shirts for $15 and $20 Canadian respectively. Went to a grocery store and stole a bunch of sandwich stuff for dinner. Being a ‘Texas band’ according to the poster outside the club, we went around claiming to be from ‘Cowpenis.’
A couple of stupid hardcore bands played in front of us. Then we did our set in front of about 60 people and nobody liked us, I guess cause we have long hair, or maybe just because Canada sucks? Slug and TQ did really scare them anyway, by using the Louisville Slugger and the 40-pound sledge- hammer on Sluggo’s fried tuner (and they were unable to break it!), suggesting the possibility of attack on the crowd. Forgot to play “Blow Me Fucking Canada,” which was just as well since we still haven’t tried it out, just talked about it. John got totally drunk, and after the show he somehow wound up getting the money, and he ran around with it and finally threw it at Sluggo. John was trying to find a piece of his drums, which turned up the next day anyway. Slug was getting really impatient with him. This band/household, called ‘Bunch of Fucking Goofs’ said we could stay at their loft, and this guy named ‘Thor’ was waiting to lead us there on his bike while we waited for John. Slug was getting real mad cause we couldn’t find John, and when he did get in the van they got into an argument. It went pretty much like this:
S.: Fuck you!
J.: That’s good. Let it out.
(REPEAT)
Anyway, a little later we went into the loft and checked it out. These guys (as written about in Spin) are supposed to be some kind of politically lefty communal group in the style of Crass, but actually they were just budding little capitalists. They make their money primarily by selling beer at double price to underage kids (Slug had to pay the guy $24 for a 12-pack).
Slug and I hung out for a while but gave up soon (due on my part to boredom). We stayed up in the van for a while trying to figure out what we should do about this fiasco of a tour. Resolved to play the Muskegon show and then go to Tom and John’s grandmother’s house in Iowa for a week, blow off the stupid Madison show (8 hours driving for $50) and pick up all the merchandise we can in Indy and Dayton. We have no intention of paying Bill back for it at this point. He’ll be lucky if we dont drive out to Arizona and murder him. It was tough sleeping cause some asshole kept throwing rocks or something at the side of the van. 215 Canadian + 35 merchandise.

41. 9/29 Icepick, Muskegon, Michigan
We felt awful again waking up due to lack of sleep. Had to get up early because it’s an all-day drive to Muskegon from here. We stopped at some crappy Canadian donut shop for some watery glazed donuts. I ended up being the only one awake all morning ’cause I was driving. Went west through London, Ont., on the way to Port Huron, MI. Pretty desolate the whole way. Smoked the last of the Canadian cigarettes going over the bridge into Michigan. Naturally the customs guy tagged us for inspection, so we filled out of bunch of forms while the guy went through the van, which was real smelly and dirty by this time. While I was waiting for the other guys to come in the office, the official behind the desk says to his pal, “Man, take a look at these guys.” I immediately had visions of the dreaded rubber gloves being snapped on for bum inspection. But they didn’t find anything except a bunch of smelly clothing, so they let us go. Went immediately to get money, a carton of Marlboros, beer, gas, and food (in that order), dancing with glee all the while to be out of Canada. Of course, that didn’t last long. After getting pretty lost trying to find Muskegon and waiting by a deserted Port-O-Let while Z used it (we thought of tipping it over while he was in it, but John reminded us that we would have to be in the van with him the rest of the day, so we decided against it), we checked out a totally ugly beach butting up to Lake Michigan, which was full of huge oil tankers. When we finally did find the place we couldn’t believe it. It was just some old abandoned, boarded-up building. When we got out to check it out some drunk up on the second floor whipped a full 48-ouncer out of his window at us, which just missed us and smashed all over the ground. We loaded in and went out to Burger King for dinner, totally depressed. Then, back to the club. It was a really small, totally spray-painted place with a fake little stage. After a while we noticed that most of the stuff on the walls were Nazi epithets and white power messages. Some bad farm-boy band opened. Head count of club revealed a big 30 kids, all under 18, most under 16 from the look of them. But we played our whole set anyway and the kids dug it. It was weird that this was the first crowd that’s really liked us so far. Maybe something’s wrong with us. I would have thought we were demographically the total opposite of aryan youth. Afterwards we drove around trying to find a motel so we could take showers (we were all pretty dirty at this point), which we did, and we even got to watch Saturday Night Live! 60 (but at least they’re U.S. dollars!).

9/30 On the way to Ottumwa, Iowa
Slept through until 10 when Slug came in from the van and woke us up. Took a shower and enjoyed it as much as possible. We went to a Big Boy for breakfast, and tried to demo an All-U-Can-Eat Buffet, but failed. Unfortunately no one was at the counter to take our money so we were forced to leave, but we did leave a tip. I have to admit, 40¢ a person for a buffet is a pretty good deal. We drove and drove after that, through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and then finally Iowa. Pretty much over my cold, but now Slug has it bad. This swarm of flies had been living with us in the van for days, and today they had apparently reproduced: there were swarms of baby flies everywhere. Got to Ottumwa around dinner time. Grandma Moses fed us and we watched “Westworld.” At least it was free.

10/1 Ottumwa, Iowa
Had a band meeting today. We’re pretty much fucked, it looked like. Added up the gas and food costs for the upcoming shows. Sluggo called ahead to the clubs to see what the money was supposed to be like. John wants to bag it and go home. Tom wants to keep going–he’s got nowhere to go back to. Slug has been increasingly pessimistic. I wouldn’t mind going on if we could at least get enough money to live on. Otherwise it means me and Slug are going to spend what’s left of our savings and if we do we’ll be equally screwed. As Z says, “it’s not how I pictured it.” We changed the Canadian money so we’ve got about $120 in the band fund.

10/2 Ottumwa
Rented “2000 Maniacs” and “Probe Lover” (John and Tom picked that one) last night. Today changed strings and mailed some postcards. Bored. Rented “Near Dark” and “Life of Brian.” Rained late at night.

10/3 Ottumwa
Rain. The beer tent for Oktoberfest opened downtown today. Had a bratwurst, saw a train go by. Saw a bad cover band. John and Tom knew the keyboard player from high school. Still bored. Slug “ready to kill himself.”

10/4 Dayton, Ohio
Left around noon, but Z forgot his flower-power suitcase so we had to go back. Left again at 1. TQ’s estimate of 4 hours to Indianapolis (to pick up the “Dead Serious” tapes) turned out to be figured at a speed of 150 mph. We only went 70, so it took about 9 hours. Got the tapes after a long-ass drive, then ate at Pizza Hut. Slug tried to withhold $2 from me; had to threaten to get it back. We found the loft that we’re playing at tomorrow. Me and Slug and Z decided to sleep up there but the problem was that there was no one in there. We heard people but no one answered the door. So we snuck into this big loft that consisted solely of huge skateboard ramps. We slept on those, and Z and Slug couldn’t sleep because it was really noisy and smelly around the neighborhood, but I was so tired it didn’t really keep me awake. We were awakened as the sun came up by a huge, harsh-sounding bottle-crushing machine right outside the loft window. Plus, whoever lived next door stayed up until about 5 a.m. watching really loud porno flicks.

42. 10/5 Loft, Dayton, Ohio
Up real early. Ate at some diner that was pretty good. Then we had a short 12 hours to kill before showtime. Slug wants to go home after this show. We continue to lose money. I agree that the financial situation is bad, but I’m also hesitant to throw in the towel yet. Plus, we’re already out here, so why not do the next week of shows and see how it goes? We’ll still end up about the same distance from home. Looks like Z wants to go home, John doesn’t care anymore, and Tom definitely wants to keep going. Everyone except Slug took a walk “downtown” to kill some time. Not much to see here in Dayton. Some little punk rockers stopped us and asked us if we were the band from Boston. One of them, a girl with a crewcut dyed green with purple polka-dots, had been to Boston once and complained to us that there were only “postcard punks” there. I was glad to hear that as I had not realized it.
We had dinner at some burger place, across from one of those drive-thru beer stands they have in Ohio. We called Bill at Toxic again at a pay phone in front of the beer stand, and didn’t resolve anything. Called Mark, warned him that I might be home soon. At the show, an energetic young local band, the Oxymorons, opened. We didn’t play especially great, but then we haven’t played for days, either. Slug was in a bad mood the whole set. Had about 60-70 folks there who liked us, and even danced (never seen anyone dance to Hullabaloo before–they usually just fight!). Probably the best show so far on the whole tour, which of course ain’t sayin’ much. 120 + 50 merchandise.

10/6 Back to Boston
Slug hurried load-out along after the Dayton show, and before we knew it we were headed home by about midnight. I slept most of the way–totally beat. Woke up around 9 a.m., already in New York State. Got back home around 6 p.m. Seems weird to be home. (Total amount made on tour: $1,175; total amount during the writing of this diary: $5,099.)

P.S.: We recorded all the songs we hadn’t put on tape yet, and a few extras, for a new album on C/Z. Slug moved to San Fran with Karey. Everyone else stayed in Boston.

Next time: Back in Boston

“SHINING STUPIDITY: A PUNK ODYSSEY” HULLABALOO DIARY by Kevin “Scott” James

Part 2 1990: Ham, and Eggs Too

16. 1/5/90 Bunratty’s, Allston (as “Vulcan Death Grip”)
An unannounced gig with Sleep Chamber (sample lyric: “Submit to…De-si-ah!”). A low pressure affair to say the least. S.C. seemed to be “townie goth”. The singer, rather than saying “check” or “1-2-3” into the mic at soundcheck, kept repeating “flesh to flesh…sweat to sweat”. Ate over at Deli King after soundcheck and went back to my pad with Chris, JJ and a friend of hers, Karey. The show was okay, without too great of a response. True blues John and Sue turned up, as did Charlie. We decided to get out of there before Sleep Charmers or whatever played. Probably wasn’t a gig worth doing, but its done now…100.

17. 1/11 Middle East, Cambridge
Sluggo and I decided to go acoustic for this show at the last minute, so I brought along the Aroma Aromatic Bad Drugs model guitar (well that’s what I wrote on it with my Sharpie). But the other guys thought it would make us look stupid (like we’re really ever in danger of looking smart!) so they wussed out (spelling courtesy of John), even after Sluggo and I threatened to quit and/or at least play really bad. As Sluggo later said, at least we know that were the only two non-weenie members of Hullabaloo. We decided to be bitter about the whole thing as long as possible. Anyway, the set was about usual for the Middle East: sloppy, loud and drunk. Sluggo was in a bad mood and I was subdued, but we played well. Those who remained to hear it (there were four opening bands) enjoyed vocally. A very long night…kind of hope this is the last time we play here for a while. 125.

18. 1/18 Pyramid, NYC
W/Cycle Sluts from Hell. First show after the video aired on MTV, but that didn’t seem to make any difference. Another long night, since I had to come back home to Boston after the show to work the next morning. Ugh. We got there at about 4 in the afternoon and had soundcheck at 5. This homeless guy named [G]nat was hanging around and started talking to us. He vaguely made some claims about working for the Pyramid on maintenance or something. He spent the entire night, until 3:30 in the morning, “guarding” our van and wiping the windows with dirty T-shirts, etc., all the while singing, “Avenue A, Avenue A, have a nice day, on Avenue A;” and telling his woman, “Keep walking baby, keep walking. Show some thigh.” I did give him about 28¢ when he pointed her out and said to me, “She’s six months pregnant, man. I need a beer.” He went from being harmless amusement early on to being a tiring hindrance later when we were trying to leave. After soundcheck, ate Indian food with the Quinns, Sluggo and Heather on 5th or 6th, and shot pool for a while. The Sluts underwhelmed, but they packed the place. Good to see Freddie who showed up just as we were ready to play. The set went better than last time, but it was horrendously hot on the stage. Everyone played fine, which was a surprise because the Quinns drank heavily from 4 o’clock on, when they discovered the bartender would give them free beer. Afterwards we loaded up and John and Sluggo drove me home. I crashed for most of the ride and got home about 8 in the morning, and then had to go to work. And then my boss, who had made me promise to show up Friday, didn’t even fucking show up! Anyway, not a bad night. It was better than sitting around the house. 100.

19. 1/22 Bunratty’s, Allston
w/Killdozer. Lamentably, a snow storm occurred the night before, making a mess of the streets. Sluggo and I loaded up since nobody else showed at the space. I stayed behind to wait for John but it turned out he had just gone straight to the club without telling anyone. After soundcheck Donna cooked dinner for us and Killdozer, which was good. Kind of a tough set at first, but then we won them over to real enthusiasm by about halfway through. At one point Sluggo accidentally kicked John in the face while he was taking a drink off a beer and chipped his tooth. I guess since there wasn’t any violence happening in the crowd he thought he would have to instigate it onstage. Anyway it was a somewhat loose but energized set, real hot on stage. It just never gets out of control enough at Bunratty’s for some reason. I wasn’t really happening on leads, but we were rocking pretty decently. It wiped me out for afterwards, so I went home after a couple Killdozer songs. Time for some new stuff. 75.

20. 1/31 Channel, Boston
WFNX Night, and my 20th show in Hullabaloo. The Channel filed for bankruptcy the day after. Somehow we were stuck first on the bill, but it actually worked to our benefit. We had a hundred people in there at 9:00, and according to sources, they mostly left after we played. Juanita from FNX thought we were great, as did pretty much everyone! Ended with “Back in Black” which fell apart at the end, but which went over quite well, especially Tom’s vocal rendition. Afterwards we left and had a party at Brian’s loft on A Street, which was kind of nice and mellow…80.

21. 2/16 House of Borax, Boston
The infamous nude gig. Chris had on a G-string w/a bouquet of flowers attached and a long hair blond wig; Sluggo and Tom were nude (but Sluggo had on cowboy boots); I was just in long underwear and barefoot (wimpy); and John was just tripping. I didn’t find that out till later; I was wondering why he just seemed to stare blankly at me every time I said something to him. We also had some sparsely clad girls dancing on stage with us the whole time, including one who came up of her own accord halfway through the set and stripped, which was pretty cool, although quite distracting. Actually at first they were on their own little side stage, and so no one really looked at us until the girls came over to our stage. We played every song we know, I think, so everyone had a good chance to see all they wanted. By the end there was so much beer on stage that I felt like I was swimming in it. Another benefit for the theatre troop for which they raised a ton of dough this time. Too bad it wasn’t a paying show for us. We should have our own benefit for expenses…$0.00, free beer, and glory.

22. 3/7 Bunratty’s, Boston
Late show opening for Rollins Band. We didn’t have to get there until 9, which was kind of nice. Hordes of Mungo opened, and they were okay. The place was packed by the time we played (with no soundcheck) and we rocked pretty hard. Most of the guys were fueled on the cases of beer the club gave us. It was a hot, sweaty, energetic set; especially tiring since we went from song to song with minimal breaks. John, careening toward me after taking a tackle from Tom, almost took my head off with his bass headstock. The crowd was up front, but didn’t go crazy, though they liked it. A bit of a tuning problem was going on, but it didn’t do any harm. Mark says we didn’t play together, but I didn’t notice anything too bad. Anyway, I hung out in the basement during Hank’s set, who told me we “played like we had our dicks in it,” this after Kristin overheard him telling someone, “Yeah, they’re loud. Anyone can do that.” Chatted with Trish and John for an hour before loadout. Brian played dead for Iago the dog in the alley afterwards. 125.

23. 3/24 Rat, Boston
Saturday night at the Rat, and Glenn, Steve and Meg were here from CT visiting. Sluggo tipped Granny (the Rat’s famously grumpy soundman) early to insure decent sound this time, which seemed to work. I was a little worried about how many we might draw, but needn’t have been, as we had our best Rat crowd ever as a headliner, and definitely our most animated crowd there as well. We played a long, 13-song set. Had the crowd going on the first song and it never stopped. The “Outlaws” were in pretty fine shape tonight but Chris was having [“some really fuckin’ bad”] problems on drums. Didn’t seem to be any clear favorites among songs for the crowd, but they missed one or two in the middle because a big fight broke out in front of the stage. We actually stopped playing when we saw someone getting really bashed in the face, and waited until things cooled out. It went on for a while, and a few people got arrested. Jeff got a rib broken by the cops. Three bouncers were arrested as well, which was at least some compensation. The brothers got off the stage to get involved at first, but soon they got back up and we continued uninterrupted for the last half of the set, which went fine. But, I think some of the crowd were scared off by the violence. We ended with fine renditions of “Dr. Love” (with a line of spontaneous singers backing up Tom) and then a rocking “Back in Black,” which was a lot of fun. We’re on a roll, show-wise…300.

24. 4/6 WERS, Waltham, MA
Well, we were on a roll, anyway. That was then; this was dumb. Showed up there at 9:00 and didn’t go on until 1:00 in the morning (guess they wanted to have the biggest listening audience possible). We just hung out in the van most of the time. John told us the “wappa wappa” story, which was pretty comical (you’ll have to use your own imagination; I’m unable to divulge its mysteries). We just played our own stuff this time, no covers. We were a little ragged, but some things sounded good. Debuted “Bone of Contention,” but not “Washington’s Cock.” We fucked up “Loadstar.” Tom was wiped out and didn’t help himself by draining Mountain Dew bottles full of his special margueritas, but managed to perform admirably. Ziad (harpist extraordinaire) and Dennis came along, and I caught those naughty boys checking out the mic girl as she bent over to do up the drumkit (after, of course, I myself inspected the situation thoroughly). John was pissed cause the engineer kid left him out of the mix completely and vowed never to do “one of these fucking radio things again.” $0.00

25. 4/20 Bunratty’s, Boston (25th Show)
Looked pretty grim as Green Magnet School went on as far as attendance. Donna was very unhappy about it because of our high guarantee. There wasn’t much we could do about it, though. At least some more people came when we went on, but there still weren’t more than 100 people. Oh well. John tackled his first ever string-changing directly before the set, but one of them broke while being tuned. So we tried to put on an old one but that broke too. At least we were totally energized, as was the crowd. It was pretty out of hand the whole set, with tons of beer being thrown around and bottles all over the stage in varying degrees of brokenness. Tom was being harassed by Brian & Co. in front and so in the middle of “Kill” he dove out into them, taking about three guys out on his way to the floor. He made it back up to the mic to start the next verse, after breaking his elbow in the pit, but missed his trumpet solo. His whole arm swelled up almost immediately. Ended up with “Back in Black,” and as I did the solo Jeff completely soaked me with what felt like a pitcher of beer. I couldn’t see anything so I had to wipe my eyes off on Toms shirt while playing. I forgot about his broken arm. Kris Fell came up to say hello and that she’d enjoyed the show. Later Jeff was really out of control, and was stealing cases of beer from the club. Tom was wrestling in the parking lot alley, which probably wasn’t doing his arm much good. Well, we got our rent, anyway. 350.

26. 4/26 WBRS, Brandeis, Waltham
This was another live radio deal, only the twist here was that since they didn’t have a studio, the band plays inside the student union. Tom, arm in sling, evaded any responsibility for moving equipment for the evening, and rightly so, but proved able to play his horns later. On the way there, after Ziad homed in on the obligatory beer buying place, we stopped at Kev’s Kwik Mart to buy some batteries for the megaphone. After a few tries we found the radio station on campus. The sign outside said, “Hullabaloo. Metal! With a Trumpet!” This apparently didn’t pique the interest of the student population greatly, since we peaked at about 15 for audience size (including Ziad, Jerry and Mungo), but as Sluggo said, it was better than playing in some hot studio behind glass. Since we weren’t supposed to play any covers on the air, we played every one we knew, including “Whole Lotta Rosie,” which I didn’t know at all. It was okay, though; I just got out my slide and made noise. Since we had no set list, Tom kept having to yell out the next few songs, and at one point we were jamming on some weird dissonant thing while Tom was yelling “Die…Kill…Retardo…Die…Kill…Retardo!” It sounded pretty sick on the tape later. We kept playing and playing until we couldn’t think of any more songs. The kid made a pretty good tape of the set, which made it worth it I guess. The guy from the station furnished us with fake Coke-can stickers to hide the Budweisers, so they wouldn’t get busted. How funny is that! Afterwards, Jerry (originally from Waltham!) manned the megaphone and directed the load-out, amusingly providing drunken commentary in a piercing, tinny, shrill, distorted voice. Anyway, a paying gig coming up next week…$0.00.

27. 5/2 Ground Zero, Cambridge
But maybe it shouldn’t have been. This was just atrocious. I didn’t get there until about 10:30 (since I had taken my last final ever at school earlier). Just as well, since no one else was there either. Chatted with Donna for a while, and then Hoards of Mungo played a good opening set. Our show just totally blew chunks; theres no point in dwelling on it. The house was so empty that no one really got into it that much. Gave Mungo $50 extra out of our guarantee, since we shouldn’t have made more than them. 200, but we didn’t really deserve it.

28. 5/12 Green St., Jamaica Plain
We redeemed ourselves here at Green St. this time. Had to wait forever when we got there, as the soundman didn’t show up until about 8:00. Everyone hung out while Tom slept in a booth. Some stupid band who had been off the bill for months showed up anyway, and played from 9:00 to 9:20. But we missed all that because we went out to get some subs. Chloe were good; ridiculously loud. Pretty decent crowd by the time we played. We did a special fast & loud set. Tom revived and got his shirt torn apart by the crowd when he wandered off the stage. It was a furnace, but we played pretty well and energetically. A better show than we’ve done for a few…next week we finish the record! 150.

29. 5/27 CBGBs, NYC
The record is in the can, and we headed down to finally play at CB’s: big deal! This is the 4th time we’d had a show scheduled here in about 5 months, and its the first one we actually played. Then they listed the order wrong in the ad. After we got there, we alternately were and were not doing a sound check at various times (we didn’t). Reid and I went out for tacos in St. Marks, where I was also in search of the “Crime Suspenstories #22” ax decapitation cover at St. Marks Comics, but I didn’t find it. Then we hung out in the CBGB pizza boutique while the first band was playing next door. Our set was next, at around 11:00. The second slot is a good one: we had a very good crowd, and we went over probably the best of the evening. Jerry and Brian got a little beer flowing down front, just to make everything familiar. Freddie and his girlfriend, Mark and his brother Mike, and some other people showed up too, along with the aforementioned Reid and his roommate Mark. Did a short, fast set, without incident. Watched Rat at Rat R after that, and the other bands, “Dike Sisters and Hordes of Bunghole,” as Reid called them. Went back to Reid’s loft in Brooklyn later, which is right across the street from the Manhattan Special factory!!! A real thrill! If you have never had a Manhattan Special, they’re these weird coffee sodas that are pretty hard to find outside of NYC, but sometimes you do see it in old Mom & Pop stores. Anyway, John read a few books while the rest of us listened to Reid’s amusing proselytizing. Next morning we had breakfast at the Kellogg Diner a few blocks away (you know, the place with the amphibious vehicle parked outside). On the walk down there, Reid made sure we took note of a life-size evil clown mannequin that was waving a paint roller outside a paint store . After everyone met up we headed back to Boston at around 2:00, and grooved out on Trane and Zep on the way home. 80.

30. 6/30 Middle East, Cambridge
(Big 30th show!): This was an early Saturday evening show, to be followed by belly-dancing. Reverb Motherfuckers opened for us, and they were pretty darned entertaining. The singer’s mic stand broke, and the only way he could keep playing guitar and sing was to eat the mic! He held the whole mic inside his mouth as he sang. It was hilarious. They also trashed a couple tables worth of middle-eastern food down in front. The singer wound up wearing the majority of the hummos platter all over his ass. After all that, we felt we had to be energetic too. We only played eight songs because everything was running late, but we did debut “Lubritorium” which went pretty well. Everyone was running around during the show, especially Slug, who bashed up his knees pretty good (he had his barbecue shorts on). John’s bass was especially fruity sounding. I took an extended feedback break during Curse cause I was getting such an awful (i.e., great) sound out of the guitar. Comical big time rock endings on all the songs. Lots of fun tonight, and we even got a free dinner. 100.

31. 7/13 Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ
The Toxic Shock Showcase for the New Music Seminar 1990. We were late getting there after kind of a long ride. Mark came along with us, and so did Karey (welcome) and Kristin (unwelcome), so it was crowded and hot in the van. Maxwell’s is really not what I expected. It’s like a yuppie restaurant in front and a really small room in back. We did a soundcheck that was kind of bad since the guy made us turn way down. Then we hung out and I ate dinner w/Slug and Karey, and later Heather joined us. Chatted w/Linda and Kathleen, who were there because of GMS.

Green Magnet were first and I thought they sounded real good. The next band was called Detura Seeds and they sucked. They actually had a song about the pony express. Anyway, I went outside after a couple songs. A little later Mark turned up again, Dan and Kim showed up, and Reid and Mark and his girlfriend all arrived too. Also Guy came in a bit after that. We went on fourth after House of Large Sizes, who were pretty okay. We were rambunctious and had a lot of fun, with beer flying all over the place (instigated by Mark down in front). Slug and I got off the stage for some sections, and while I was sweeping bottles off the PA with my guitar neck, he was trying to kick his side over (didn’t quite make it). At one point my guitar was so covered with beer it made the whole neck and strings ultra slippery. But a couple of songs later it started drying up and the whole neck felt covered with rubber cement. I finally had to dump some Coke on it and wipe it off on my shirt (not recommended by the manufacturer). Freddie and Julia showed up near the end of the set (which went over well, but didn’t cause total anarchy). The guys in God’s Acre were kind of bummed out that they had to follow us (possibly more because of the mess than anything else). The soundman was all prissy-pissed, and we didn’t even break anything. He said that if we had been getting paid, we wouldn’t get paid. Actually, we did get paid. After the set, I hung out w/folks variously in the restaurant, outside, and back in the club. Saw a bit of God’s Ache who were atrocious, and on the last song the guitar guy was so mad at someone else in the band that he smashed his guitar and broke it. This didn’t even get a reaction, and there was an awkward moment or so while everyone just looked at him. Chris said he heard him quitting the band afterwards. Guess they won’t be opening for us on tour?

A bit later a guy from Flipside took some pictures of us outside, and Slug pulled his pants down while we squeezed his [as always] erect nipples. Apparently Tom exposed some weenie too. I drove back to Reid’s since everyone else had been drinking, but we got stopped by some cops who said I had turned left on red, even though I hadn’t. They gave us some shit about too many people in the van, and asked me “what kind of heavy drugs I was on,” etc., but I talked them down, so they finally had to let us go, without even a ticket! Yeah! (Good thing no one else was driving…) Stayed at the always hospitable Reid’s, and we had breakfast at the ol’ Kellogg Diner next noon with them. Had a long ride back due to a detour taken because of bad traffic in southern CT, but hey, we proved that Hullabaloo rules the Toxic Shock nest, fer sher (probably not saying much). 104.

32. 8/3 Bunratty’s, Allston
This was the start of the last bunch of shows before tour, and it was a good way to start off. We accidentally left without Tom from the loft so he had to take a cab to the club, and he was unhappy…oh well. Had dinner with Chris at Grecian after check: some heavy duty Mac & Cheese. Ended up going home after killing only a couple hours, due to boredom. By the time I got back the club was really crowded, even though Toecutter (who some idiot billed right before us) by rights should have cleared the place. Marc was here visiting from Florida, Harvey was down from Maine, and everyone else I knew turned up as well. We played the same set as the Maxwell’s show, but it worked a lot better this time. There was a good size mob down front, and lots of beer flying (not as much broken glass as last time we played here, though). I was having a good night. Tom played a really nice horn solo on “Curse,” (which I didn’t screw up this time). We played the whole set and then came back for “Dr. Love,” (during which Jodi sang some backups after Mark burned her on the tit with her own cigarette–accidentally, he sez), “Back in Black,” and “Kill Your Parents.” So, everyone got their money’s worth. Leah’s sister Sarah told me, “You really know what to do with that guitar!” But, tongue-tied as usual, I couldn’t think of any of the obvious one-liners being begged by her question. Also, Slug said that other girl I was talking to was “bad news” (whatever that means! Maybe that’s good!) Anyway, it was a very good show. Hopefully the rest of the month will go as well… 250.

33. 8/7 WMBR, Cambridge
I’m getting sick of doing these radio things. They just don’t seem worth it. But, here we were at WMBR, about a year after our first show here. This wildly enthusiastic guy was doing the sound for this broadcast, and he got a little too gung-ho, as soundcheck lasted for like an hour and a half. This diminished our pub time to literally ten minutes. Had four bags of Planters from the bar and a Coke for dinner. The set was somewhat short, which was fine because it was so hot in the room. Ended with an incredibly noisy version of “Curse.” John, as always, did the interview, but I missed out on what he said. He didn’t remember. Slug, Karey and I rode the van back afterwards, and while stopped at a light saw this huge black surreal looking semi totally destroy a traffic lightpost while making a right hand turn. We cheered the guy on! Zippo for pay.

34. 8/17 Paradise, Boston
As Trish says, you can always tell beforehand how these shows are going to be. Well, this one wasn’t going to be that great. The obviously way too early load-in time of 4:00 turned out to be, unsurprisingly, way too early. After a quick soundcheck a couple hours later most of us went over to T’s Pub for dinner. Meg & Co. gave us a little Suzuki violin intro to our set that was cute. John brought about half of the free case of beer they gave us on stage with him. He was awfully protective of them. Played kind of a short set to a smallish crowd who were merely polite. The saving grace tonight was Tom’s best-ever trumpet work. He generates an incredible amount of air pressure and just forces it through that horn until it sings. Anyway, hung out in the secret band room upstairs afterwards with everyone else, and later I drove home a very drunk Tom, who told me all about his time in the army(!?) in an amusing fashion. 150.

35. 8/25 Green Street, J.P.
Played after three Twin Tone bands, which ranged from bad to pretty good. There were a total of 12 paid attendees, so the show was just pitiful. Hung out with Linda who turned up early. Played a short, sort of pointless set, but as Tom says, even if just one person came out to see you you have to try. It was a depressing show though. Sluggo gave the small amount of money to the three touring bands to split. $0.00.

36. 8/26 WBCN, Boston
The sun came out today, so we were all in a little better mood. Slug and I met everyone at Newbury Sound on Boylston (across from WBCN). Its kind of a techno-weenie studio, though spacious and seemingly well-equipped. Sluggo brought his Morley noisemaker and I brought the ol’ Big Muff. Donna showed up around ten. Did a pretty decent short set. The engineer told us before the last song to thank the station (!) so we yelled drunkenly into the mics. On the count to “Back in Black” Chris’ headphones flew off on “four,” so we had to let him pick them up and start again. It looked funny. Ziad played some harp on “Curse.” Nothing else too notable except we found out that Toxic’s catalog will apparently be released in Europe, so maybe we really can go! $0.00 (really saving up that money for tour!)

37. 8/30 Channel, Boston
Slaughter Shack was headlining. After check the whole band along with the evil Kristen drove up Route 1 to Pizza Hut and got full on Meat Lovers specials. Three similar speed-metal type bands opened the show, and then we played a dour set to a small group of people cowering around the walls. Anne and Joe came (of course they came to a bad show). It was really depressing afterwards. Anyway, it’s Labor Day Weekend. Big fucking deal! Good song name: “Finger Helmet.” Good band name: “Miners of Muzo.” 50.

Next Time: North American Tour!

SHINING STUPIDITY: A PUNK ODYSSEY (HULLABALOO TOUR DIARY)

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by Kevin “Scott” James

(A.K.A. Mel “Mann,” D.J. Kevvy Kev, Speed, Eed Drij, Remo McGuillicutty, and others)

On a dripping summer night in 1989 I was playing at the Channel, Boston in the group Loving Six, an instrumental trio. It was the band’s final show. After the set, this guy Sluggo that I knew slightly came up and said, “How about joining my band, Hullabaloo?” I had seen them once before. Loud, primal, fronted by an apparently disturbed singer/multi-instrumentalist. So, I figured “ok, that was a brief two minutes of unemployment” and showed up at the next rehearsal. Nobody really ever told me “you’re in” or anything. I just kept showing up until they told me otherwise. What I liked was that we immediately set to writing new stuff, and they accepted my contributions without comment.

Sluggo was the guitar playing leader of the band. He was a master of hard work (not likely in a punk rock band, you might think) and created his own jagged graphic identity for the band. He was a blond haired “dregs guy” before there even were white dregs guys, who always put out on stage. Then there were the two brothers from Ottumwa, Iowa. John hunched over the bass, plodding ferociously, and Tom the mysterious, reluctant and crazed-looking front man. His voice was a cross between Bon Scott and a garbage disposal. Lyrics were totally obliterated by his guttural  slur. He additionally blew on various horns at times. Despite all this he was actually quite a shy person. It was months before he and I even talked.

John had formerly been the drummer of the band but decided he wanted to play bass and be up front with Tom. So, there was another brand new guy, Chris, playing drums. The result was nothing short of loud. And loud has always been my musical cache. So after a couple of rehearsals we started gigging, and five blurry years later Hullabaloo finally shut down, after doing a few CDs and some memorably insane tours.

For fun I would jot down something about every show we did. I’ve resisted the temptation to rewrite everything; what you’ll read is just what I wrote at the time.

I don’t know why I was diligent enough to keep track of the money; I’m among the world’s worst accountants. I leave it in to give you an idea of just how lucrative punk rock really was.

1989: Poached.

1. 8/31/89 Radio Broadcast, WMBR Pipeline show, Cambridge, MA
Our first show of the new lineup of Hullabaloo. They had been around for a little while when I joined them after the demise of the Loving Six. The other new guy, Chris, and I were still kinda precarious on some of the tunes, cause we had only been playing in the band for a week or two, but we got through everything pretty adequately. I could hardly remember a couple of the tunes as I had only played some of them once. Had one new song that we all wrote together, so we really did know that one, anyway. The broadcast mix in the headphones you had to wear was weird (as they usually are); I usually end up tearing them off pretty fast. During “The Lickyerbutt Song” assorted hangers-on mooned the glass studio partition behind Chris’s head–fortunately for the performance of the song he didn’t turn around. I guess he thought we were laughing at him. John did a commanding job on the post-performance interview, dealing with the dj mostly in monosyllabic utterings. Haven’t exchanged two words with Tom yet.

2. 9/14 Middle East, Cambridge, MA
The first club gig of the newly reformed Hullabaloo; a benefit for some bicycle courier service. Other bands included Maelstrom in front of us (boring) and Joe following. Its a tiny place with minimal sound so you couldn’t really hear anything, but it went about as well as it could have. Sluggo went slam dancing while still sort of playing on a couple songs. He busted a string and went for his spare guit. only to find he had tuned it up with a pick stuck in the strings, so he had to put a new string on his first guitar. A long pause ensued during which we were shy; no one really said anything. Crowd liked it pretty well, anyway, and it was probably a good show to start out with. I thought it was okay. I continue to see how it goes playing with these guys. Hung out with Mark later, and Reid came with me to the space afterwards. On the way a large vehicle splashed a giant lake of water into our open windows while we were sitting at a red light, so I didn’t need to take a shower when I got home. Pay: zip. (It was a benefit!)

3. 9/22 Killtime, Philadelphia, PA
With Scab Cadillac. We broke down on the way to Philly, losing a belt in some podunk town called Kent, NY. John scouted out some gas stations for help and one guy agreed to fix it. So, we drove a mile or two to the place ( a Cenco) and when the guy saw us he refused not only to fix the belt but also to even sell us one. Luckily, this other guy who worked there, Dirk, (a guitar player) took pity on us and stayed late to help us. We promised to thank him on the record. Oh yeah.
Anyway, this kid with a camcorder and his little skinhead friend Pugsley had come along with John, and everybody else was getting pretty sick of them by the end of the day. I don’t know who the fuck they were, but I think one worked with John at the Coop or something. They filmed the guy fixing the van, and the highway, and the car, and the toll booths, the restaurant, etc. etc., ad infinitum. I wanted to ditch them somewhere along the way, and make it look like an accident. Speaking of the way, we lost it down near Philly, and ended up wasting even more time. We finally got to the place at 10:30 and so we just waited until the first band was finished and then loaded directly onto the stage. The place was like a long bowling alley, as Sluggo put it, and some parts of the building had no roof. The show went fine, even though Chris couldn’t really hear anyone else because of the peculiar shape of the stage. Ended up with “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest which caused minor pandemonium. We spent the rest of the night hanging at the party, except for a break I took out in the van so I could grab a coke out of the cooler, during which this midget walked over and took a leak on the van. Source of amusement at the party: some drunk guy pushing Pugsley around yelling, “I know football!” Slept in someone’s living room. 180.

4. 9/23 Pyramid, NYC
Got up the next day and Sluggo and I split a sausage pizza and chocolate milk for breakfast. He’s the only person I’ve ever known that you could do that with. Then we headed out for NYC. At least the drive today was easy, except when we got there the “lugnuts” (more later) got us lost. I don’t know why we were listening to them anyway. So, we got to the club in the middle of the afternoon; we hung out after loading the gear in. After soundcheck Freddie turned up (an old friend), and later so did Rich, a guy from my high school band; getting to be a few years ago now. Ok, more than a few in the opinion of some, perhaps. We went out for dinner and went to a couple bars. Freddie and Rich were too weird of a mix to hit it off, so I tried to talk to both of them at once. Freddie was an immensely tall walk off from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Rich, on the other hand, was a diminuitive, brainy kind of guy. They were unable to exchange sentences and so I hovered between the two while trying to eat vindalu.
We went on at about 11:30. During the first song I was thinking to myself how good it sounded, and then when we ended the song and looked out expectantly to the crowd there was…dead silence! Things improved only slightly for the rest of the set. Yow, they are a hard sell here in New York! Man! Anyway, we played well and still almost made our guarantee, plus got to watch the TVs dancing on the bar. More Fiends played after us and they were like a bad B-52s played loud, as Chris pointed out. After loadout Sluggo went to sleep in the van while Chris and Freddie and I went to some bars and met some of Freddie’s acquaintances, including Moss, whose frizzy hair accidentally ripped out some girls newly implanted nose ring when he raised his head up after trying to say something to her. Now, THAT made an impression on her. Finally got to Freddies place at about 5:00 and got some sleep on the floor of his room. Next day we got up at 10:00 and went to breakfast where we had more giant sausages, and then we headed home. 150.

5. 9/26 Rat, Boston
For their anniversary, along with Slaughter Shack and someone else, and then after us Ultraman and U.K. Subs. We played at 9:30 to nobody. No one was very euphoric so we loaded out after playing. The only real fun of the night occurred in the parking lot: there was a baseball game, so it was packed, and we couldn’t back the van out of the space because of the car wedged in next to it. So, about six to eight of us started bouncing the car up and down and pushing it over between bounces. This really works! Maybe we can start a ritual…75.

6. 10/9 Bunratty’s, Boston
With Scab Cadillac. Did an interview with a kid from B.U. after soundcheck. Grabbed some dinner with Sluggo and Chris at Deli King. Missed Nobody Home, who opened. Scab were pretty good, but the guitar sound was thin and transistory. By the time we got on, there weren’t many people left–maybe 50. We debuted “For Richard Stands” and it was pretty darn cool. It was the Monday night of a three-day weekend and it was cold outside Afterwards, we went down to the space to load the stuff out, and the idiot night guard had left and locked us out. Oh well, maybe Saturday will be more fun…200.

7. 10/14 Green Street Station, Jamaica Plain, MA
Well, not really…it turned out to be a deplorably rainy night which didn’t help. Pretty good soundcheck, then Chris and Steffie, Sluggo and I went to a cheap pizza joint (Doyle’s was an hour wait). I went home for a couple hours. Got back and saw some of Cheater Slicks, who weren’t bad, while Bob Hamilton did calisthenics. Chris was playing with his other band at the Rat and had to be ferried over by Sluggo in time for our set, a potential calamity that ended up working out smoothly. Everything was going okay during the set, except there just weren’t many people there. The set energized me, but of course, it was then time to go home. Reid decided the Quinns looked like “Wookies that had been trained to play musical instruments…”150.

8. 10/15 Middle East, Cambridge, MA
With Lubricated Goat. Things were much better tonight. We hung out at a table and filled it with glasses after soundcheck, which was very agreeable. The Quinns held a “band meeting” (out in the van) at some point. A couple bands played in front of us, one from Athens, GA, but they weren’t that good. By the time we got on the club was crowded. Sluggo and Tom were wearing Union Jacks with the backs open. Got off to a good start but busted a string(shit I NEVER bust strings usually!) so had to snag Sluggo’s spare, but quickly broke one on that too. Very unlike me; I’m usually so professional. Sluggo split his brow open on his guitar, and the resultant flow of blood looked pretty cool. Some guy afterwards was telling me how the blood capsules he used were pretty good but the blood ran the wrong way, so it didn’t look very realistic! Later large numbers of people came with us to the space so load-out was easy, always a welcome condition…100.

9. 10/21 House of Borax, Boston
This was kind of a weird set-up…we were playing at the cast/benefit party for a play being performed at this loft space. It didn’t look promising but it turned out there was a good crowd who thought we were great. It was a fun set with plenty of beer being thrown around and arty-types slam dancing, etc. Trish, supposedly “aiming for John,” nailed me with an entire beer in the face. Sluggo went out dancing in the crowd again while playing, and Tom played some cool trumpet and sax to the great amusement of the crowd. They were goofing on us. Pay: zippo (another one of those damn benefits).

10. 11/3 Rat, Boston
Along with the Bastards (pretty good!) and Jerry’s Kids, who headlined. Decent enough crowd, over 100 paid, but Curtis took the money for Jerry’s Kids and ran, leaving less than $200 for the other three bands, even though under 25 people remained to see them after we played. The set kind of slowed down in the middle and didn’t regain much steam, but we were competent, anyway. We really need some new stuff. I think everyone is feeling a little stagnated, with the lack of management, etc. We need money to record, too. And winter’s coming…just great. Perhaps an end-it-all suicide gig is in order… 80.

11. 12/1 Rat, Boston
Opening for the Zulus (haven’t seen them in a while!) The start of an extraordinarily cold weekend. Sound check was just appalling. Then Z and Chris and I (the “wingnuts”) went to Charlies (The Double Cheeseburger King) for double cheeseburgers. The others joined us later. Hung out at the club afterwards. The set was decent, in fact it was good, even. Lots of violence in front of the stage tonight, especially this B.U. girl beating the crap out of what I thought was a skinhead, but turned out to be a drunken Jerry! I don’t know what he must have said to her. The best song was the debut of “Curse of Civilization,” one which I had been worried about the reaction to…since its slow and sparse. Did a pretty long set, with some new material. Later hung out in the club and in the dressing room, where heavy pettin’, drinkin’, and stuff was goin’ on, but which, sadly, didn’t involve myself…100.

12. 12/2 House of Borax, Boston
Another benefit, but this time I dragged Mark and Chris along. Chatted with J.J. for a while, and she and Chris hit it off..! The Eels played and they were okay. Tom was smashed by the time we played, those half-moon eyes propped open by toothpicks. Played just about every song we know, and some we didn’t, including on the spot inventions “Fruit and Fudge” and “Homo Truck Driver.” Not as many people as last time we played here, but they were pretty ebullient (cool word). Again, “Curse” was the best tune as far as response. I guess it stands out. Didn’t get out too late, which was good because there had been an ice storm in the meantime and things were bad outside. Mark crashed at my place (he had one or two or nineteen beers). Pay: nothing (another one of those benefits!)

13. 12/9 Green Street, Jamaica Plain
Opening bands were Harlequin (just unbelievably dumb) and Bebe’s Seeds (sic, probably) who played a bunch of things that all just sounded like the middle part of “Whole Lotta Love.” Kind of a downer. We were pretty much at our worst during the set, and just about everything went wrong. At one point my pickup broke so I was off, Sluggo stopped playing while running around off the stage, and John pulled his cord out of the D.I. box, so there was nothing but drums. I had to switch to Sluggo’s Tele, which wouldn’t stay in tune at all, and then Sluggo’s SG died a traumatic death when he smashed it into about eight pieces. The whole thing was almost comical. Beginning to think this place has a curse on us or something. Maybe we just suck…150.

14. 12/18 Bunratty’s, Boston
Tonight was much better. Missed soundcheck because we were a bit late. Called Vee who met me at Deli King for giant helpings of regular American food. Hung out with him and J.J. over at Reid’s later, then we all went to the club together. A Monday night, with about 80 people, so at least not too empty. Crowd wasn’t totally blown away, but they came up front later into the set. We finally have a pretty good set order. Started with “Make It” since we had no soundcheck, and it sort of ended halfway thru, but most of the rest sounded good. Really tired out afterwards (still kind of sick) so I split. Got yelled at by Donna for ending too soon. Tough. 200. ($100 of which later turned out to be counterfeit money. Screwed again.)

15. 12/31 Club III, Somerville
With Bim Skala Bim (ska/reggae band!) on New Year’s Eve… oh boy. I’m all for variety on a bill, but we were a bit much to take for these happy go lucky ska fans. Well, I stayed at the club after soundcheck, and took crap from just about everyone that works there. They had already decided they didn’t like us. This place was some townie “too bad they don’t ever book any COOL band”s type of “bah.” A bad band played first, and by the time we came on there were a lot of people. Played a good set and had a great response from about half of the crowd, while the other half went to the back of the club and booed. When we came back for an encore the door-lady Maria, attired in a beautiful gold shiny dressy outfit, came up and shut us off. She said if we didn’t stop, NO ONE was getting paid. Didn’t bum me out though, since I was surprised how well it was going anyway. Hung out down in their basement band room afterward for an hour of mayhem, during which bottle smashing and urination took place, as well as Brian destroying light bulbs by hand, and running headlong into walls for fun. Later an employee appeared from behind a closed door, and we realized he had been hiding in an adjacent office the whole time! He was apparently scared to come out. Don’t blame him, actually! Things were getting pretty out of hand. We loaded out in a hurry and Sluggo got paid from Bim so we could get out without pissing the club off any further. I drove the now unregistered van (as of midnight), and there was some weird high speed cloud stuff going on up in the sky while Tom was getting sick (rare!) as we were loading out. A fun, riotous show. We forgot to play “Lickyerbutt” which would really have had a high annoyance factor for the club owners. Maybe the next time we play there (?!)…200.
More next time!