Boys in the Back, the Fast Life, Seventh Ray, Symbol Six
The Central, Santa Monica, CA
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Time: 8:30 PM
I was hanging out with record label owner a while back, and said label owner was telling me about this quirk that Tim Armstrong, of Rancid, is said to have about going to shows. He (rumor has it) doesn’t like to be out in public. He’ll be invited to shows, he’ll decline, but if he’s harassed into going, he’ll show up, say “Hi” to everyone, excuse himself to go to the bathroom, or get a drink, and no one will see him for the rest of the night. When the label owner was done with the story I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I’m pretty much the same way. I’m not agoraphobic; I don’t like being thrown into crowds of people I don’t know. All through my 20’s I’d show up at a party, then say “Hi.” And I’d be gone before someone could finish ½ a beer.
After the early ‘80’s punk scene dried up, I stopped going to gigs. I would attend a concert here, or there with whomever I was dating at the time, but never more than one every year, or two. So, after years of writing this column, and recounting shows I attended years before, a friend of mine, Jay, kept telling me I needed to get out, and see some shows, I kept saying I would, I would, but never did. For one reason, besides not liking crowds, I hate going places alone. Even in my younger days, I didn’t like running up the street to the corner store alone, it would bum me out. Why? I have no idea. So, the thought of hitting the clubs to see shows, was just a bit too much for me. This past June, my Daughter came out from Florida for the summer. A couple of weeks after she had arrived, she raided most of my music collection, and was seriously digging on the Cobra Skulls.
One afternoon, while flipping through L.A. Weekly I saw that The Briggs, Cobra Skulls, Longway, and Your Arsenal were playing a KROQ sponsored show at The world famous Troubadour. So, with her here I had a cushion, so to speak, and a reason to go. All stress aside, we had a great time.
From June 2010, to November 2010, I’ve seen fifteen bands; I’ve been on a roll.
So, Eric Leach, of Symbol Six, invites me out to see them in beautiful, downtown Dogtown, at the opening of the Crest. Of course I accept.
That afternoon, I hear back from my Brother that he can’t go with me. So, I hit up a few other people – and no one can go. So, rather than flake, I buck up, and go alone. This is the first show that I have attended alone since 1982, when I spent the night hanging out with the guys from The Flesheaters, and Weasel Music.
So, my Wife sets up the GPS on my phone, hold it in my lap, and I’m there in no time flat. I arrive, and pay six bucks to park, and get to the door, and find out that the club doesn’t hold guest lists ahead of time. Each band has to bring it with them as they arrive. With Symbol Six not scheduled to play until 10:00 or 10:30 it might be a long wait.
Eric Leach being the mastermind that he is called Sean King from Seventh Ray, and had me added to their list, and Symbol Six would add one of their people, etc.
Now, some of the best memories I have of shows always tended to be the stuff that happens outside of the clubs. The small talk, the drama, and friends you make, this night was no different.
I hang out in front of the club, which shares a parking lot with a dance club that had a predominantly African-American clientele. I haven’t been to a dance club, in close to 15 to 20 years, and these people were dressed better than me on a church day.
Anyhow, I stood around chatting with the bouncer for an hour or so, and he was cracking me up. Why? Because he spoke out of the side of his mouth, like Popeye, in a Norwegian accent that I couldn’t understand. After every sentence he laughed. He laughed, I laughed. After talking for 45 minutes, he stretches, and yawns. Some woman who showed up early to see Seventh Ray and Symbol Six yells to him “No yawning.” He looks at me funny, and says, “That’s my name.” I almost shit, I say, “What?” “My name is Yawn. It’s very common in Norway.”
Anyway, that was the tone of the evening. Shortly before going into the club a car pulls up to park. The driver lets out a youngish lady, and then helps another woman out of the car. The second woman is using a walker, and is carrying a cane. She shuffles up to me, she appears to be 70ish, and says, “What’s cooking good looking?” I freeze. I’m not usually speechless, but I was then.
I walk in to see Boys in the Back start. Remember as kids we were told if you don’t have nice to say, don’t say anything? Well, I didn’t listen. Boys in the Back blew donkey. Into their second or third song, their guitarist seemed confused, or something, so he left the stage. An audience member who was more familiar with the song came up, and finished the set. Weird.
The second band of the night was The Fast Life. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything good or bad to say here. I don’t remember disliking them, but I don’t remember them either.
The third band of the night was a band whose name I had seen around for a long time, Seventh Ray. I overheard one of the band members saying in the parking lot before the show that their singer had just quit, either that day, or the day before. But being troopers they were set on honoring their booking.
Now, I had never seen this band, nor had I ever met them. So, I walked in not knowing what to expect. I don’t know their style, plus they are singer-less. They were great! I’m kind of at a loss as to how to describe their music. There were pieces of U2, with pieces of Rush, with this, sort of, dream like mysticism in their music. I’m not sure how they sounded with a singer, but they were great without one. Here’s the best way to describe them: you are going through some trying times in your life, and you want a perfect soundtrack for your life. . . turn on Seventh Ray
Symbol Six pulled into the parking lot at this time, like a band of gypsies, one caravan after another. Everybody moving in fast motion, set lists being written by hand, guest list written, and taken to the door, every waiting fan greeted, a hundred pounds of gear, tuned and set up, and placed on staged. It looked like a week’s worth of work done in 15 to 20 minutes.
Once the dust seemed to settle I go up, and say “Hi” to everybody. Some remember me, others I re-introduce myself to at every gig, that’s a story for another time.
I follow Eric leach, and the band’s tech, inside, they scope the height of the room, debating whether or not the shorten their onstage banners, I listen, and hold up my hand and say the banners will fit if placed at an angle, otherwise they need to be shortened. As I have my hand held up the previously mentioned walker lady comes up to me, and says, “I like that, are you telling me you’re erect?” If I was speechless before, I’m frozen now.
I hit the bar for another free diet coke the lovely bartender has been feeding me all night.
As soon as Symbol Six hit the stage the place came alive. The guys from Seventh Ray are dancing, a handful of the usuals are there dancing. The walker lady moves to the front of the stage, and starts doing some kind of burlesque type of dance with her cane.
They ran through 2 songs from their classic EP, Taxation, and Symbol Six. Then about midway through their set they say “Mike E. is in the audience.” Shit, I’m famous! And then launch into Dog Days, and say “That was for Mike E.”
Then going off of the set list they launch into London’s Burning by the Clash. Great version, and even better they don’t perform it with shitty cockney accents.
If you have a chance to see them, go. You won’t have a chance to sit down, nor will you want to.
Of the tracks played . . . my favorites were: Taxation, Symbol Six, Dog Days, and London’s Burning.
All in all, a great show. The PA was good, clear view of the band, and we had fun.
Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb