Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Wednesday 12/1/04 @ Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ

King Dust was supposed to headline this show but the night before their bass player Dan Cav was in a horrible accident. The band and Dan are still kicking ass despite this tragedy.

We played first, followed by Sans Alabaster Group and The Milwaukees headlined. Sans Alabaster are now better known as The Black Hollies. On this night they played as a 3 piece and sounded a lot like Grand Funk's "On Time" LP. This was also before their dress code was rigidly enforced. The Milwaukees were great guys and took pity on our shitty equipment and let us use a lot of their stuff.

Set list: Mighty High; The Ram; Pass It Around; Escape From Daytop; Buy The Pound; Hooked On Drugs; Breakin Shit; 1 Quick Thrust; T.S. Elliot.

Here's a review of the show from Jersey Beat by Jim Testa -

Wednesday Is The New Thursday

MILWAUKEES, Sans Alabaster Group, Mighty High - Maxwells, Wed. Dec. 1

This show was marred by tragedy. The headliner was supposed to be King Dust, the newest signing to Bill Dolan's Maggadee Records. Bill - forever remembered as the guy who got Fugazi to play Maxwell's back in the day - had set the night up as a King Dust showcase. But the day before, King Dust bassist Dan Cav was involved in a freak traffic accident that crushed the bottom part of his leg, which had to be amputated.

But the show must go on so the Milwaukees were recruited at the last minute to save the show. "You can tell nobody knows we're playing," joked Milwaukees guitarist Jeff Norstedt, "there are no teenagers here." No indeed. The sparse but respectable Wednesday night crowd was composed of old-time Hoboken scenesters from the Louise & Jerry's crowd (Ralph from Footstone, Brian from Friends Romans Countrymen, Mike Moebius and Rusty from Cecil)there for the Maggadee bands, and some Jersey City scenesters who came for Rye Coalition side-project Sans Alabaster.

Mighty High are four motley guys who don't look much like a rock band. You could easiliy imagine any of them pumping your gas or delivering a pizza though. They do funny, tongue-in-cheek, high-speed punk rock songs, mostly about drugs, that reminded me of something in between the Angry Samoans and the early Beastie Boys. They were fun.

The Sans Alabaster Group (a trio) might have a couple members of Rye Coalition, but the band is miles away from that group's AC/DC crunch. Instead, they play Mod 60's-inflected power-pop with a heavy dash of Motown soul. My take was MC5 meet the Dave Clark 5; Ralph said they reminded me of the Small Faces. Justin Morey and Herb Wiley are so talented, but they're usually overshadowed in Rye Coalition by the more flamboyant Jon Gonnelli on guitar and Ralph Cucchino on vocals. It's nice to see them take center stage here. Both have great pop voices and the musicianship in this band is amazing. The songwriting's lots of fun too.

The Milwaukees are one of those bands that always seem to fly under the hipster radar, but through both attrition and relentless self-improvement, they've clearly become one of the best indie-rock bands in the state. A few months ago, when Dylan and Jeff retooled the group and replaced the rhythm section with Chris Spanninga on bass and Pat Fusco on drums, everything seemed very different and just not quite right. Now, after lots of touring, local shows, and demo'ing songs for a new album, I can't even imagine the Milwaukees sounding any differently from what they're like right now. The rhythm section is far less quirky but immeasurably more solid than it used to be; Dylan and Jeff have used that as a springboard to amp up their own performances, bringing a renewed sense of dynamism and energy to every show. I was one of the Milwaukees' first supporters, back when Dylan was in college in Montclair, the group was still a trio, and the band couldn't get arrested in New Brunswick or Hoboken. Back then, I saw a lot of potential but I always thought they played too long and every set got a little boring. Now, Milwaukees' sets always seem too short. That's probably the biggest compliment you could pay any band.

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