Thursday, October 26, 2017

Got a One Track Mind

I can now add motorcycle shop to the list of unlikely places I've seen shows.

The invitation promised a rock and roll extravaganza - not a bad offer for a Wednesday evening - and if there's one thing I've been in need of (although, actually, there are several), it's a good rock and roll show.

So after showering off the dust of a trip to the Northern Neck, I suited up for just that.

The shop's proprietor, also a music fanatic, welcomed me to the showroom (its motorcycles ringing the room to accommodate bands and audience) and I quickly found a half dozen friends to talk to before the Green Hearts took the stage.

Actually it was a floor, if you want to get technical.

Back when I first saw the Green Hearts in January 2011 at Sprout (R.I.P.), they did nothing but covers but give a group of self-proclaimed "old guys" 6 or 7 years, and now they've got a host of original songs to play.

As for the rest, the band is tighter, they're just as great to dance to and singer Paul still plays a mean cowbell. How better to kick off a show than with proven winners?

Between sets, I ran into a friend who goes to an unusually high number of shows, yet I hadn't seen her in a while. Ready to place the blame on me because I've been so busy with non-music stuff the past few months, she absolved me by saying it was her fault.

"I've been acting my age," she said, explaining that the real problem is that so many shows start on time these days and many of them start as early as 8:00. "It's 9 before I've got everything done I need to do and am ready to go out!" she lamented.

And while I feel her pain - and I definitely remember years of tardy starts and shows scheduled for 10:30 or 11 start times that barely ended by 2 a.m. - I kind of like that shows start on time for the most part these days. That was a hard-won victory.

It's only been a little over a year since I last saw Denver's Dressy Bessy, but my memories of their pop punk served me well. Singer Tammy remains a charismatic front woman with expressive eyes and non-stop energy and the band is there for her every step of the way.

She began by entreating us to come closer and fill up the empty space in front of the band. "It's a rock and roll show!" Everyone took two steps forward, sort of like playing "Mother, May I?" Now there's a game I bet the children of today don't play.

Halfway through the band's set, the crowd was finally loose enough to throw inhibitions to the wind and dance/thrash wildly, causing Tammy to say, "You guys must be wasted! All the alcoholics are out tonight!"

Or all of Richmond just dances oddly, take your pick.

I don't want to point fingers, but as I'd already commented to several friends, tonight's crowd amounted to a sausage fest, with my gender squarely in the minority. Since when don't women like rock and roll anyway?

After several "punk shorts" - songs that measured less than 1:57 in length like a good punk song should - Tammy asked the room if anyone would get her a beer and she'd repay them after their set. When someone handed her a PBR, she grimaced and said, "How this beer makes you feel the next day is not cool!" and then took a swig. "But it's so refreshing!"

No one bothered to tell her that PBR stands for People's Beer of Richmond. As it was, she'd seen a t-shirt today with a picture of an RV on it and the letter "A." She was thinking of going back to Carytown tomorrow to buy it. "Unless someone here has it and then I'll trade you something for it."

Presumably, she meant band merchandise, but I'm not here to judge.

During the break, I met a woman who complimented my spiky hair as "punk" and told me that she'd asked her stylist to give her a rock and roll haircut. Next thing I knew, she was running her hand through my hair, remarking on what thick hair we both have.

It takes so little for women to bond.

When I asked about the location of the loo, the owner directed me to the "executive bathroom," which saved me waiting in line but required sliding a massive door aside, but I managed, feeling like I was sneaking around in the back room unattended.

Some of us never lose the attraction to going where we're not usually allowed.

Last up was NYC's the Split Squad, notable for the band members' other projects: the drummer is in Blondie (and, appropriately, wearing a CBGB t-shirt), one of the guitarists is in the Plimsoles and the other, Keith Streng, is in the Fleshtones.

The latter, a tiny man with massive showboating skills, used a chair as a launching pad from which to posture, dance or spring off, when he wasn't laying his guitar on it and sitting atop it or turning his back on it, as if it had done him wrong.

They did a song they said was about a girl from Shockoe Bottom, called "Touch and Go," as in, "She likes to touch, then go." They did a Small Faces cover, a slow soulful one they dedicated to the women, an angry song and a barn-burner called "Palpitation Blues" that got guitarist Keith in frenzy mode, at one point wiggling his butt as he stood dancing in a chair while playing his guitar behind his head.

Some would call that multi-tasking.

Definitely a favorite was their cover of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers' "One Track Mind," which had some guys fist bumping they were so excited to hear it live. They closed with a new song,  "Now Hear This," off the album they were selling tonight, and about brought the house down with it.

With all three bands, there were moments while they were playing when the historic wooden floors beneath our feet were rumbling and moving from the crowd's gyrations. But it was a sturdy 19th century floor and we couldn't have hurt it if we wanted to.

You know, just another real rock and roll show, where nobody acts their age. It's so refreshing.

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