1/10/09 @ The Blue Rock Tavern, Cincinnati OH
Team Stray (FAREWELL SHOW)
The Blue Rock Tavern is made to be a punk club. Some under 21-ers feeling like grown punx with their beer bottles. Grimy bathrooms. Pool table. A general sense of, “Whose runnin this shit?” fills the bar like the cigarette smoke, despite the smoking ban. For the most part though, it is well kept for a tavern and I guess they had just got a new PA. I give it 2 years; then it is Cincinnati’s version of Bernies.
Team Stray brought all sorts of Ohio pop punk nerds together. It was a multi-city celebration. Friends catching up and happy to see each other made for a glowing atmosphere. Timmy (former Merkur) chauffeured a cow town crew down to the big nasti.
The first band was two street punk high schoolers; combat boot clad and stomping my ear drums with crap that reminded me of all the horrible bands I saw in my formative punk years. Their set featured a cover of Op Ivy’s Knowledge, sans guitar solo. Next was a band named after a Clash song. They should legally have to change their band name because they were absolute garbage. Lame, weak sauce, rockstar ego, forty-five minute set. Turd slingers. They prefaced their set with “Hey Cincinnati, are you ready to have your fucking faces rocked?” We weren’t.
The Dopamines saved my life with their catchy, sing along, poppy punk songs about being professional drunk morons. Cincy dance punk band, The Read, plus a few of their friends were there. We were a very effective dance troop. We did epic, butt lead pogos all over everyone and each other. I accidentally crowd surfed twice and I never play that game. I was made to surf, forced I should say. John Weiner dedicated a Pinhead Gunpowder song to me, Cabot Gal. Those boys get sweatier than most in just 20 minutes of playing.
John Walsh played some Good Clean Fun style posi hardcore. Anytime a hardcore band challenges the macho lameness that hardcore can sometimes exude, consider me a happy man. It was fun stuff. Lots of hi fives. I’ve seen them play tighter though.
My friends tried to get me drunk but got so drunk themselves that buying me beers became a function beyond their inebriated abilities. By the time Team Stray took the stage, one friend was passed out in Tim’s car outside, another dozing on the couch by the merch table, another standing like a tree with its trunk mostly sawed through… timber. Team Stray was shimmering. They were having a good time and so were all their heckling friends. Their set was filled with long pauses for thank yous, jokes, and last show banter; or just a bunch of people shouting at the same time. Some sloppy old songs were played to the delight of the crowd. They played my favorite songs with a tight energy, almost as if they were prepared especially for me. Iron Maiden, Edgewise, Forget You, Beckers. The new stuff they played was in the same minimalist pop punk vein as all of their stuff, but the hooks were bigger and snagged me indefinitely on the spot, first listen. The lyrics are sharp too. Maybe because Tom is that English Major/English teacher type. He suggested a good book to me and I’ll take him up on the suggestion so that maybe my lyrics shoot off some wit.
Tim gathered up our haggard troops as Team Stray trudged through a few more songs. Monkee needed to leave some extra love for Cincinnati and as we drove home he was hurling out of the window, jacked up on whiskey. He hit the books too hard as he would later say. At a gas station stop we all realized the side of the car looked it had been hit with a barf comet. Ken noted that the cashier must have thought we were all crazy.
Ken: “We must have looked so fucked up. Uhhh… Hey, yeah… we all just need some Gatorade and potato skin chips… oh and cookies.. its 3 in the morning.” It was a fun night. At times sloppy, but memorable and a good last show for an awesome Ohio band. Their latest 7″, Four Songs About Girls and One About Trevor, and full length, Gender Studies, are more than worth checking out. It is their best stuff yet.