Agent Orange, a SoCal surf punk band I’ve liked since my youth, just played a show in Somerville. I got my tix the day they went on sale, and made Slava meet me there.
I arrived alone, pocket full of earplugs, and only knew one person in the audience. The first band (of 4!) was fine, and Slava arrived during the second band. The Queers (NH) are another band I’ve liked for a long time but had never seen. I was worried I might find their songs too alike to take a bunch in a row, but it turned out to be fine. Like the Ramones, their songs all have the same sort of peppy theme that can become a little monotonous after an entire album, but live they mixed it up enough, plus they had a lot of good energy and so did the crowd.
The venue, Once, used to be an Italian function hall, and while the crowd and the bands are very different now, the decor is the same. It’s a good spot for a punk show – feels like a space from the 80s/90s. The sound and the space are good, and there’s a little room upstairs where you can go to get away from it all if your ex turns up or something.
I saw The Proletariat, an ancient Boston punk band, there a while back, which was an excellent show, full of aged punk rockers, several of whom walked with canes. I only spotted one cane at this show, and the audience was overall more split on age. There were some excellent outfits, and while I stood around waiting for Slava, I got a chance to check a lot of people out and tell myself little stories about them.
There was the tall guy who looked like a cross between MCA and Vin Diesel. He was sporting a classic look: hightop Vans, camo pants, hoodie under flight, later shed to reveal long white tank. Short/skin haircut, overall a good NYC early 90s style. We were friends in college. He was there with a girl with long hair and two-tone slip-on Vans, the usual black jeans, etc.. I never took seriously this type of girl – I always felt like if you could change your clothes and suddenly fit in at a sorority than you were not legit. I had a lot of rules back then, but could care less now, obviously. There was a third member of their club, the girl’s squeeze. They looked like they all went to school together, and maybe the squeeze was just along for the ride. He seemed a bit more on the square side, but game for a good time.
There was the gross overly PDA couple, both pretty homely, and so intent on making the rest of us stop pitying them because they have each other and are clearly getting laid a lot, OK? SO GROSS. I kept trying to get away from them, kept failing and felt like puking. There was another gross PDA couple, a classic rock show sight – he stood behind her close with his arms around her, almost like he was standing there secretly fucking her but not really. Once the pit got too extreme, they switched positions so he could “protect her.” Give me a fucking break.
There were two excellent couples who gave me hope. Two Asian girls, maybe friends, maybe more, one with a unisex haircut and a long purse, the other with longer hair. They were totally cool. The other good couple were young punks, a girl and a boy, both with lots of spunk, good energy, and non-gross affection for each other. They were clearly having a fun night!
There was a 20something guy, there with two friends, who kept giving the bands the finger. That was his thing; there’s one in every punk show crowd. He got called out for it by Guttermouth, but kept at it anyway. They always do. Weirdos.
There was a punk girl, maybe on her own, in an excellent outfit of animal print and bright red hair who was me or my best pal or my worst enemy at age 22. Whoever she was, she was cool & stood out among the black-clad crowd.
Guttermouth, another SoCal band went on next. I didn’t know them, although they’ve been a going concern since the late 80s, but they ended up totally stealing the show for me. The singer had so much charisma, he just charmed the shit out of me & Slava, left me wondering how I’d never heard them before! Banter, energy, crazy songs, anarchy – everything you want in a punk band. New favorite.
Agent Orange went on after no sound check and rather rudely demanded that the sound guy turn off the between-bands music. This immediately put me and Slava off – even old punks should know enough to be nice to the sound guy, jeeze! They opened with a classic, one of the songs I’d come to hear, and they were good enough, but they were nothing compared to Guttermouth. Their energy wasn’t as high, their banter was no good, and after a handful of songs, I suggested to Slava that we hit the road & he agreed.
Outside was a beautiful and slippery March snowstorm. We enjoyed it and pitied the bands from Southern California.
the middle finger