#15    SUMMER BREEZE 2003






WHEN: MAY 2-3, 2003



Reported by C. M. Bligablum for your bewildered pleasure. All names changed into occasionally realistic pseudonyms, because what we do behind closed doors... Photos by Sir Reggie Queequeg (Quintron, Demolition Dollrods, the bloody lip of "Marlon Magas") and Chris Pottinger (Nautical Almanac x 2, Mindflayer, Wolf Eyes).

Principal Players: C. M. Bligablum, Mel Collins, Rudiger Smelts, Estragon Arafat, Gundam Bondai, Link Hildreth, Tartan Bowsing, Mindolene Warszawa, Singha Traynor, Sandro Beaulataine, Belle Plaine Datsun, Chanti Oaks, Gabardine Rufella, Locane Billingsley, Hamana Rotine.

I met Estragon at the Reckless Records on Milwaukee, before driving down to the station to hook up with the rest of our travelling party. Ess asks me about a Foghat and an Eddie & The Hotrods album he found
...are they any good? I didn't know, so we moved along. Hamana was sick, so we had to stop by the Jewel first to get her some supplies, and pick up some sustenance for our own trip. I bought some donuts and some beef jerky, and in both cases, this was not the last time I bought these things. The highlight of the Jewel for me, without question, was a woman checking out behind us. In her shopping cart, she had 1) a six pack of Diet Pepsi; 2) a 12-pack of some sort of Nutra-Sweeted up lemon carbonated water health drink; 3) a 12-pack of Milwaukee's Best Light. KLA$$Y!

We stop by Estragon and Hamana's to give her some get better supplies. I look around at Ess's extensive Foucault collection, trying to avoid Hamana's room (knowing how easily I pick up germs, 'specially when I'm low on sleep as I've been this week), and avoid cat hair (IMPOSSIBLE). I see Ess's stacks of things to sell in many formats...
stacks of LPs, CDs, tapes, videotapes, and comic books.

At the station: the WHPK office is packed full of people, a solid 1/2 of which I've never seen before, and 1/4 of people that I only know by name/face and that's it. Gonna be a good weekend to meet new folks! Everybody hemming and hawing, trying to get as few people as possible in their car. Mel is our driver, and his car is VERY small, so we make sure we've only got four people in it. Our caravan consists of Mel Collins (lead driving, lead CD selection), me (rhythm driving and map-reading, lead and rhythm CD selection), Estragon (rhythm studying, rhythm CD selection), and Chanti (lead cell-phone recon [as in "are you guys near the exit yet? What? You got a speeding ticket???"]).

The trip was largely without problem or incident. I was put in charge of driving for a while when Mel started getting tired (he hadn't slept well the night before). I'm glad he was smart enough to hand the wheel over if he thought he couldn't make it safely, but I found out the next night that my own driving made certain people nervous as well! Mel called me "Leadfoot," (sadly, I was never called Blackfoot or Leadbelly, though) and and I felt appropriately chagrined. I'm a good driver, right guys? Guys? Gays?

Since Mel was primary driver, he was given a lot of leeway on CD selection, although when it was our turn, we'd generally grab something from our stack and say "Okay, which of these three do you wanna hear?" Mel tended to chant his selections when he saw the one he wanted: "Fun-HOUSE! Fun-HOUSE!" or "Blue-Oyster-CULT! Blue-Oyster-CULT!" This and many other things always made me laugh.
The CD selections on the trip down are as follows:

- One of Mel's radio shows...lots of '60s psych like the Zombies and early T-Rex. On Saturday, Mel also played us his WHPK Marc Bolan focus show, a real treat
- The Stooges, "Fun House"
- Blue Oyster Cult, "Secret Treaties"
- Kool Keith, "Sex Style"
- Delta 5, discography CD, which is scrapped five songs in due to some weird white noise that we couldn't make stop
- Carmen, "Fandangos In Space," which I'm happy to report blew some minds, just as I'd hoped!
- Beat Beat Beat! compilation 2CD of knockoff/one-hit-wonder bands in the undertow of the '63/'64 Liverpool scene
- Darkthrone, "Preparing For War" (soundtrack after we arrived in Detroit for the rest of the evening's driving)

Points of discussion along the way:
- all the billboards are either 1) for Bronners' Christmas Wonderland, signs saying some variant of "Remember 9/11" or ads for strip clubs/adult bookstores off the highway. Oh, and fireworks places in IN. Mel gets his first experience with the Deja Vu tagline, "hundreds of beautiful girls and 3 ugly ones."
- Gays In The Military, playing live in Frankenmuth, a town where EVERYBODY dresses eccentrically.
- A billboard for an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ess comes up with the brilliant one-liner, "Hundreds of beautiful scrolls, and 3 apocalyptic ones."

We stop in Albion for gas. I use this as an opportunity to get some water (if past roadtrips have taught me anything [they haven't], you can get freaked out real fast if you only drink soda and eat crap and don't keep hydrated) and more jerky, turkey this time. Sampling the exotic jerkies of SW-ern Michigan.

It's agreed that if Eminem goes to Bulb Fest, Chanti will make out with him. Considering how many men in our party are already fully obsessed with her, this would merely make things more entertaining.
We arrive on Woodward, with the news that one of the other cars was pulled over for speeding. The first of a few bad omens for the weekend. Another had taken a wrong exit, but had made up the time later. Anyway, the Woodward seen off the exit is, to put it mildly, NOT the sort of area one would want the hotel in question to be located, but for some reason, the Mapquest map shows it to be right around...HERE. Uh oh. We call another car, and it turns out the numbers were punched in VERY wrong. We're still several miles away from our place!

Crossing 8 Mile (and a few others), we arrive at the Dunes Motel, where Chanti's boyfriend and some other guys already have a room. Immediately, this place doesn't set well with us. They have all kinds of dicked-up rules, like nobody under 21 is allowed to stay here, and we all have to show our IDs to get into our rooms, etc. Too much security going on! It'd be very hard to follow our game plan and smuggle 7 people into each room, as we were planning to do. A few phone calls later, and we find that there is a Travelodge up the way that not only has rooms available and no age limits on guests (what the fuck is THAT?), but they have a AAA discount, which two of our drivers have. Much better!

The next bad omen of the weekend is when Singha's car breaks down in the hotel parking lot! Her ignition, or some part leading to it, is shot! No starting power! Fellow caravaner Mindolene is from this area, and her parents' house is only 20 minutes away. She says we can use her parents’ car to get people to and from the show, though she was hoping not to have to go that far, since she had had a row with them not two days before! That is kinda rough...yelling "Leave me alone, I don't wanna talk about it! [SLAM!]" and then two days later, "Look, I need to borrow the car. Yes, yes, I'll see you for lunch tomorrow..."
Mel, ever the ringleader/quartermaster/headmaster/beastmaster here makes sure that the people staying in our room (aka the the combination Old Horny Curmudgeon/Young Weirdo room, I guess) has paid their $20 for both night in advance (how's that for a deal! What's a little sleeping on the floor between friends for accomodation that cheap, eh?). Everyone tries to evade by saying things like "I don't know which room I'm supposed to be in," but the money soon arrives, and we're ready to begin the night's adventure.

The show is just about to start, and damn, we still haven't eaten dinner! We pile in, and find out that we need to go back down Woodward, past the jacked-up area, and out the other side, where the street begins to resemble something more like you'd expect from the downtown of a suburb of Detroit, or like a small and slightly decrepit main drag of a small to midsized college town, say (to use a telling example, since I was just there) Bloomington, IN.

The Magic Stick is part of a block long conglomeration of venues/
restaurants/entertainment apparati. It contains such things as The Majestic Theatre, a bowling alley that no doubt has some sort of clever name ("Ballbusters" would be a good name for a bowling alley, don't you think?), and a pizza joint called Col. Pepperoni's. Plus a cafe with some hoity name perhaps. A bunch of us get little pizzas, ordered from a woman who looks and sounds like a cross between Nikola Lutz of Sudden Infant and something out of a Joel Peter Witkin photo. Gundam describes this weird entertainment complex as "as if Bennigans and The Empty Bottle mated and had children." I think it was meant derogatively, but it was true, and I really kind of liked the place! Bigger than the Bottle, but still smaller than the Aragon, Chicago could use a place like this for when bands like Lightning Bolt or Caroliner come through (better sound system than the freaking Fireside too) The Magic Stick was an upstairs club, roughly twice (or maybe more) the size of the Empty Bottle, with some pool tables and a big square bar. Very dark apart from where they give you your tickets. My first impression is that Pete Larson looks DISTRESSINGLY like Chris Cutler with his hair all grown out and frizzy. My second is that I'm hungry and my head is killing me from the lack of nutrition all day (Damn you, Dr. Atkins!). As they're only showing the Quintron Drum Buddy video right now, we hurry down for that aforementioned pizza. We all balk at first at the price of the beer, but after some more probing questions of the bartender, we find that Milwaukee's Best is available in cans for $1.50. Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the calibration line. Let the games begin.

Don't worry, this is going somewhere.


When we last left our heroes, we had made it to the Majestic Theatre, underfed and underdrunk (i.e. hungry and sober), ready to chow down and party down with the best of the beast. It's really true, y'know...I do learn something new every day. That day, I learned that it is ILLEGAL to sell aspirin in bars. Illegal. I realize that aspirin and alcohol are indeed a bad combination for Mr. Liver, but I'd like you all to take my word for it when I tell you I've put FAR worse into my body that a beer, some Bayer Advanced, and a personal pepperoni and green pepper pizza! Still, this rager of headache kinda colored my perceptions of the evening, at least the first half. I'm reminded of the Air Show, where Homer tells Marge, "I couldn't get any aspirin for your headache, so I bought you a pack of cigarettes," in that I chose to DRINK my headache away, rather than endure it in stoic silence. Beer to stave off a headache. Milwaukee's Best, no less. Good plan, eh? Well, believe it or not, it worked, dear friends. Well, close enough, anyway.

Whilst noshing and putting a primer coat on our sober asses, most of us missed Danse Asshole, digging the jukebox at the bar below, which had played Os Mutantes' "Bat Macumba" AND ESG's "UFO." I guess it was technically a very "hipster inclined" selection, but damn, slap a patch with somebody else’s name on my mechanic shirt if you must, cuz the groove was JUST RIGHT. We scooted back upstairs just in time for MC Tracheotomy to hit the stage.

As I may have mentioned before, the Magic Stick is a strange place in layout. It's very spacious, with small things placed in far corners of this warehouse like field. You've got two video games and an abandoned corner couch near the stairwell, a bar and a few booths/tables in another corner, a few pool tables off to one side, and LOTS of open space elsewhere. Although the place was jumpin', it was by no means full, though I can't imagine "full" would have been much fun. Kinda like being in the pavillion of Pine Knob with all the inhabitants of BOTH the lawn and the pavillion all standing around together. Anyway...

MC Tracheotomy is an older looking man, bald, gold chains, tacky sportscaster-y suit with shirt unbuttoned to navel, big rings. Whole nine. No "Flattuladies" (his female entourage) today, no real spectacle per se, just Trach, struttin' back and forth on stage, beats and songs coming from one of those mysterious offstage DAT machines or something, just kind of fruggin' for himself, head down, jivin' into his mic. Those of you who found the MC Tracheotomy album too weird, but not unlistenable would have possibly loved this. Trach's Wolfman Jack flow was here, but none of the weirdo soundbites or tapes of stock car racing pit crews. Just a dance groove and some headfelt lyrics, which were easier to comprehend than on record, naturally. I felt like dancing, but my God, my head felt like burying itself in a concrete bunker. Thinking maybe my head would feel better if I just bobbed through the pain. Yark. Yark. Yark. YAAAAARGH! Nope. Trying to curb my dance instinct during what was a quite funky little set by Trach was really difficult, like giving a person booze and then telling them not to tell long boring stories that go nowhere. Impossible!

Ah, maybe that's the answer! More booze! I lay back a few more oat sodas while waiting for the Demolition Doll Rods. They're actually on in almost no time flat...I barely have time to gulp down a second Beast before running up to near the front of the stage. In front of me (among a few others) were a trio straight outta the bar jokes archetype book: a tattooed stripper, a fat chick, and a cross-dressing nancy boy walk into a bar...and stand right in front of me. Said nancy boy was about 6'4" after the giant white wig, making him look like a xerox copy of a Cockettes fan. He looked like he probably attended every Rocky Horror Saturday midnight show, and then changed his costume ever so slightly to go out to a late showing of "Female Trouble." Chanti later overheard the busty stripper talking in the bathroom about how she was "Growing her bush back out," as that was the new trend in strip joints (about thyme, sez I). They had a good time at the Doll Rods set, I assume, but it seemed like they were there to be seen above all. Most other folks around me were there to rock. Amazingly so. Even though everybody stood in clusters of their friends, faced the stage, and mostly kinda just swayed back and forth and waved their arms around sometimes, there really was a different vibe from Chicago. You looked around, and saw all kinds of incongruities. Smiles! Laughter! Fights! Come-hither glances! Sexuality! Enthusiasm! My God, I had forgotten how much I missed it. During the Doll Rods' set, you could bump into people while bobbing around, and would either get jovially jostled back, or shoved brusquely, but you wouldn't get the passive agressive contemptuous stare! I felt myself blooming like a flower, kids.

The Doll Rods, a trio, started out with a trad blues number. Danny, the guy member of the group played a lapsteel guitar and Margaret Doll Rod (guitar/singer/leader-mostly) hit a tambourine and danced seductively. Christine, the drummer just hung out. All three were dressed to thrill -- homeboy in some spangly underwear and a cape, Margaret in a real trashy/sexy two piece (including some classic hotpants!) emerald green affair, and the drummer in a one-piece leather getup not far removed from Edith Massey's Aunt Ida outfit in "Female Trouble." Only she looked DAMN good in it!

Once the group got into full swing, Margaret unleashed her guitar (though sadly not more skin...all this talk of "85% naked" did not add up with what I was seeing that night. Perhaps their 85% days are beind them. Of course, Danny seemed to be pushing a swift 90% by night's out, which goes to show that if it's not one thing, it's another), Danny his, and Christine pounded away on possibly the best drum set-up ever, one floor tom and a snare. She really made it sing too...no "intentional atavism" dirt shake here. Shit got downright funky when the time was right, and one of the syncopations almost reminded me (not altogether unpleasantly) of '80s Wax Trax! industrial music. The two-guitar attack was bone-rattling, and Margaret's voice will scorch the CK Denims off any other Detroit-based duos, romantically engaged or not (ahem ahem). The tunes were consistently great, and generally about sexy stuff without overtly being Crampsian or too kitschy. This struck me as a band that would rather HAVE sex than talk about it, a sadly disappearing trend in rock and roll (ask Lemmy about his take on bands that answer email on the road). At one point, the 6'+ queenie got up and shook his ass on stage to Margaret's great approval ("That was some of the finest dancing I've seen, and I've seen a lot," she said). Later, Margaret announced that they'd be doing "African Lipstick," a track off their one-and-only Bulb release, a 7" with the same name. She said the song had been about a friend of hers who had died recently, and as she told us about the friend, she started welling up, just a bit. Just a quick quaver in the voice, neither a melodramatic waterworks nor an actor's trick to get us to care more...just a moment's loss of control. The audience was rapt. She was laughing again by the time she counted off the song, and the band put some extra oomph into this dedication to their departed friend. Crowd's going nuts by the point. The closing song was an extended (by which I mean I think they interpolated some of the original and maybe added some of their own lyrics) version of the bluegrass standard "Big Rock Candy Mountain." I later found out this is their new single. The crowd, knowing this song, even if only from the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" soundtrack, tries gamely to sing along during the a capella breakdowns, sways unselconsciously, and as well as I can tell, everybody seems really lost in the moment. LOST IN THE MOMENT. Really, especially for you Chicago denizens, think of the last time you saw a whole roomful of people removed from ironic detachment at a show. It was quite affecting. Everybody screamin' themselves hoarse for a few more. I can't remember if they did an encore or not, but if they did, I bet it rocked too.

Despite the lengthy rant above, the Doll Rods set feels like it couldn't have lasted more than a quarter of an hour. Mel Collins remarks, "SOMEBODY better play for more than 10 minutes." Hmm, another good sign of a great show -- when you want sets to be LONGER. Dunno about you, but to me, most bands overstay their welcome by a good 10-45 minutes. 'Leave 'em wanting more' is a concept that's long since gone out the window. I blame CDs. Anyway, onward...

Quintron and Miss Pussycat are next, and I have to admit, I'd never heard or seen them before this, so I had NO idea what to expect. The closest I'd come was an album I have by John Von Ryan, a RI denizen who did a solo organ record that I heard was "Similar to Quintron." This didn't give me a lot of hope for the next act, as the Von Ryan disc, while kinda cool, isn't quite the "freakout dance masterpiece" I was lead to believe. I had little optimism for a man with an organ, a hand-made piece of salon electronics, and a woman with a candystripe nurses uniform, a scowl, and a pair of maracas (the kind NOT found in her blouse, you dirty, dirty minded little reader). Happily, I was proven wrong.

HOLY DAMN! Q and MP rocked the hizzouse with more gusto than possibly anybody that evening! I almost said "of anyone playing at the fest," but that would have meant going up against some heavy competition on night two. Anyway, if you haven't seen Mr. Quintron and Miss Pussycat, you must. The power of a hard-groovin' organ should be no surprise to those of you that still feel, as I do, that "Wooly Bully" may well be the primary accomplishment of 20th century western culture. Well, this organ grooved ferociously, nonstop, with some kickin drum patterns and random noises from this here Drum Buddy thing (which looks like some sort of light-controlled oscillator mounted on a turntable. The principle is similar to the "Dream Machines" of Byron Gysin, but the effect is similar to the freaked out blippery of Gerty Farish [the band, not the literary figure]). Miss Pussycat just kinda hung off to one side, playing the stodgy voice of reason most of the time, while Quintron got increasingly naked (man, everybody but Margaret and Christine Doll Rod were shedding clothing like mad, but the two who are known for nude kept it on...what kind of topsy-turvy mixed-up world is this that we're living in?). As the shouting and jostling and dancing and interacting (and come hither glances) got more intense, some friction developed in the front rows. A couple of young ladies got jostled by a young man. Perhaps not knowing that when you stand in the first three rows of a show like this, people are probably going to spazz out a little, these little overprivileged street urchins started berating the guy, yelling and giving the finger, getting everybody's panties around them into a bunch. Quintron LEAPT into the audience, by which I mean he went end over end, feet flying through the air, and proceeded to cut a minor swath of terror through the confused crowd. For such a skinny, Chris Carter-lookin' dude, he knew what to do in a party emergency! Taking this opportunity, the gals pulled themselves on stage, and, in the manner of jilted wives, danced on stage while flicking off the guy who offended them, who seemed largely not to care, or notice.

I wasn't noticing much either, because in between frugging my hairy ass off, I noticed a couple of different gals giving me the eye. No, really! Cute girls, too! One in particular caught my eye. Mid-20s, black hair in almost a femme-pompadour (but not oiled up, just kinda shaped that way naturally, a less extreme version of the James Brown Hair Helmet), decked out in a Delta Airlines T-shirt and a Gulf Oil shoulder bag (there was something kind of rugged about her kitsch that didn't make me want to puke). For some reason, I actually managed to shoot that eye right back at her, winking and grinning like something slightly more evolved than homo erectus. As the show came to an end, I even did the unexpected (for me) and said hi, asked her how she liked the show. She sounded a smidge more than a smidge drunk, but still in control. "That wassa first time I got to see Quintron, now that I know who the fuck he is!" We talked about how fucking GREAT his set was (what, more set report? Blah blah, more songs, Miss Pussycat sang one, it was really good, probably had an encore. Can I get back to my digression now?), kinda rubbin up against each other and oafishly pawing one another a bit (in the manner of people who have had about four beers each, as opposed to the Olympic-style grope that comes about four beers after that). I still say if there had been even ONE more decent, high-grooving band that evening, I might have had a chance. Alas, the night was nearly over, and as I turned to face the last and, dare I say, BIGGEST surprise of the night (it actually wasn't a surprise, as I was let in on it a bit earlier, but it's more fun that way, yes?), she slipped away into the night before I could even say, "You gonna be here tomorrow?"

Fulfilling my expectations for the "surprise guests" section of the invite, Bulbfest gamely provided us with a real treat...a COUCH reunion! Well, sorta. Marlon Magas was nowhere in sight (I still can't tell for sure whether he and Pete still aren't getting along or if he really had other committments), so Mike Connelly of the Hair Police played him, donning the big specs and all. "Hi, I'm Marlon Magas, you may have seen me opening for Adult..." and so on. Very funny. Dilloway behind the traps and Pete on the axe, it was close enough for jazz. Quintron led everyone in the audience in a long a capella rendition of "Old Man," which started the Couch set. Mike (er, Magas) asks for requests, and I start howling "Chinese Mechanic" from across the room. Perhaps someone else was yelling that nearby, or maybe he actually heard me, but praise be, they ripped into my all-time favorite Couch song, "Chinese Mechanic," complete with the "mumblemumblemumble
mumbleCHA CHEE HA!!!" intro. They blast on a few verses, when some guy jumps on stage (someone on some messageboard said who it was, but I didn't know him) and busts Connelly right in the lip, knocking him back into Dilloway's drum kit. The lights come on anyway since it's 2:00 a.m., and it's all over. As successful a night one as I could imagine.

Except for one thing...poor planning means piss poor performance, and in this case, we didn't pre-plan for the after-party. NO DAMN BOOZE! We hunkered back into our motel rooms with not a drop of beer in sight, and not a place that would sell any to us. A few of us hiked over to the nearby White Castle, and when we got back, we found out that 20 year old college students are indeed industrious when it comes to doling out the buzzes. We saw Tartan and others snorting lines off the hotel room table. Wondering if this was going to turn into some sort of crazed loudmouth talkfest, I was later saddened to find out that the truth was actually even worse...they were snorting fucking XANAX! Dude! I dunno, I guess that's the time in your life to go after the all-consuming buzz, but jeezus, this just seemed silly, one step up from smoking peanut skins (doesn't work, trust me...banana peels either.). At this point, a sentient among us says that magic word, "Tussin." Oh no. The cheapest of all highs has been invoked. This can go nowhere but down. One can only be thankful there were no grocery stores nearby, lest someone come back with a crate of Reddi-Whip. Quote of the night goes to Rudiger, to nobody in particular in the room: "So, you TUSSIN IT tonight?" About six people decide that they are "TUSSIN IT tonight." Tartan, Gundam, Rudiger, Gabardine, Link and maybe one other person. I predict this will drastically shorten the night, which is probably fine if we wanna be at our best the next day. It's already 4 a.m. by this point. Everybody downs a bottle, and stagger around all arrogant, like they just beat the system. For about 10 minutes. Then the lights start going off. Mel and Estragon retreat to the other, less partyin' room, to get some sleep. Fortunately, I was given a spot on the bed, so when it's time for lights out, I just roll over for great victory. Gabardine lays down IN THE CLOSET, a tactic I don't condone, but he swears he does it all the time. Sandro, Mindolene, Singha and I all get our last laughs in at the expense of our falling heroes, and the lights are extinguished for night one.

When we awaken, I look over to see that the closet door, which was closed, is now open, and that the closet does not, as I feared, contain a gray, cold body. He has risen! He is not here! See the place where he lay? Uh, anyway, I later found out that Gabardine and Tartan went out early in the morning for a "Spirit Walk." It seems that some people who drink the fermented spirit of the Tussa Tree in large quaffs actually feel speeded up about four hours later, and have to walk it off. We later hear they walked miles in all directions, stumbling upon an estate sale and a nearby record store.

I awaken a bit earlier (though not as early as Tartan and Gabardine), and as I write these notes out on the stairwell leading to the second floor, I see the cleaning lady coming. Thinking quickly, I put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door, imagining that most hotel employees would be less than thrilled to see how much advantage we are taking of them. I ask her if we can have a few more pillows, and just to leave the towels outside...I'll take them in. She agrees, but as I go to take it all inside, she manages to follow me in. Everyone's just getting up and stumbling around, but we all stiffen at the sound of her voice, which is kind of motherly, but surprised. "Oh my God, how many people you got in here?" We're sure our goose is cooked, but luckily, she confesses that she doesn't mind. "As long as you're comfortable, it don't matter to me. Just make sure my manager doesn't see all of you, or you're gonna have to get some more rooms. Just remember what I'm doing for you, and be sure to leave a little sumpin' sumpin' for your cleaning lady when you leave." She even lets Tartan borrow her vacuum cleaner, so he doesn't have to sleep in potato chip fragments a second night. Tartan sounds like a little kid at this point. "I'm really sorry (mommy), but I kinda spilled my potato chips all over, and then I slept in them. Can I use your vacuum???" She leaves, obviously amused, and we all hang back and watch cartoons for a while. A truly muddled (even for those of us who woke up relatively unscathed) cartoon about a bunch of animals, mostly hippos, is playing on what seems to be a PBS station. Lotta broad humor, very obvious character parodies (jaques cousteau, rodney dangerfield, etc.) and utterly nonsensical or maddening humor. One episode is about a "temper jar," basically an extension of the classic "swear jar," with a very attentive flamingo in charge of separating a hyperactive couple from their pennies. I can't remember how it ends, but I'm pretty we sure we all learned a lesson about losing your temper, and about butting in where you don't belong.

It was Saturday morning, and we had a good 10 hours before night two of the festivities proper. It was time to do some exploring. First up was lunch. Mel, Estragon and I went out to look for some place to eat, and we found this excellent sandwich shop about 15 blocks from our hotel. There was really nothing Ess could eat there, but Mel and I each got a sandwich; mine was a BBQ beef with a side of onion rings. What could be better? Ess got a veggie sub at a nearby Subway. By the time we got back to the room, it had all but cleared out. While we ate, the Discovery Channel told us all about the phenomenon of Gigantism, what it actually does to the body, and why these people die so early in life. Suffice it to say, growing up a true giant does not sound as good as you might think! Sandro, Tartan, Gundam, and Link return from what we later find out was a pretty successful record store run. A place we had passed by a few times that didn’t look like much turned out to have a pretty stellar vinyl cheapie bin. Somebody in the group got a copy of the Buzzcocks’ "Singles Going Steady" for a dollar, surely one of the greatest finds of the day (or so I thought...). After the Gigantism doc and some other thing, some of us (including a few people who went to the first record store) decided some high-powered record shopping was in order. We quizzed Mindolene, the native of the area, for good record shops. She gave us a name of this place not that nearby (a good half hour away), so Ess, Mel, Gundam, Sandro and I piled into Mel’s not-fit-for-five-large-people-mobile and tried to find what we could find. Soundtrack for the afternoon was ESG's "A South Bronx Story," windows down, gorgeous hot spring day.

The place in question was, to put it mildly, a disappointment. It was basically a small CD store that was laid out like a Sam Goody or some such, but owned locally. Not exactly the kind of place you’d go to hunt down a dusty vinyl bargain! The CD bargain bin turned out to be a revelation, though. I managed to snag no less than FIFTEEN CDs, each priced at 50 cents, even though I was somehow beaten to the punch (by both Gundam and Estragon) in grabbing not one, but TWO copies of the same Crawling With Tarts CD! Gundam also found a quite righteous Brother JT disc for this price, bringing his total transaction to a cool buck. I found a variety of treats, from can’t miss (Double U, Richard Franecki), to take-a-chancers (new Styrenes, Bushwick Bill), to likely-failures-but-why-not-shit-it’s-only-fifty-cents (Bourbonese Qualk, Brian Ladd, an On-U Sound comp). Sadly, I did not find any 50 Cent for 50 cents. Not even a CD single!

Meanwhile, as I looked hard and long for a third copy of the Crawling With Tarts CD, Gundam was grilling the guy up front for "any good record stores...you know, as in RECORDS. OLD. CHEAP." It was the most assertive I’ve ever seen him! The guy recommended we travel out to not-so-nearby Hamtramck to a place called Record Graveyard. Promising name! We squeezed our big asses into the small vehicle like five clowns in a Volkswagen and took off toward our next destination.

Friends, let me tell you, the store was well named! This is the place where all vinyl, seemingly all the vinyl in the world, comes to take a final dirt(y) nap. A giant room just stuffed with every kind of record available, this was like the record store of your dreams! Huge sections of rock, soul, psych/garage, country, you name it. Most of the stuff wasn’t priced, so you had to walk up to the guy with a big stack of possible purchases, and he’d grab the stack, look at each record individually, and rattle 'em off: "Hmm...three dollars, two fifty, ten, eight dollars, and, oh, let’s say six fifty." Then you’d decide which of those was really worth it to you. The choices seemed arbitrary (I paid $10 for a Blowfly record, but a very rare and limited pressing Dick Gregory album only put me back $3), but more often than not, you felt like you were coming out a winner. Just about everybody spent much more than their planned budget here, much to the delight of the owner, I’m sure. Make no mistake, though...this wasn’t some dumpy, seldom-visited mom n’ pop. There were other shoppers around, and they KNEW what they were looking for. I imagine Record Graveyard wouldn’t need to take their wares to record shows. If appearances were any indication, it seems that vinyl fanatics would find THEM.

Unlike my fellow travelers, I started browsing in my favorite spot of any record store – the dollar bin. You know how these usually go...most dollar bins are exactly the same. Everything’s in reasonably good shape, but there’s little there you'd either want or don’t already have ("Whipped Cream" anyone?). Well, the dollar bin here was dead opposite. Just about everything in here was in ATROCIOUS shape – covers half torn off, water damage, vinyl that looked like someone had been using it for a seat cushion or BB gun target – but what FINDS! If you’re like me, a bit of record grit ain’t no big thing, and you can’t hear a record cover anyway, so what the fuck? Dig this haul. Among others, I found dollar copies of:

- Jimi Hendrix - "Band of Gypsies" (bonus: many bad nicks in the vinyl = excellent lock grooves, particularly during "Machine Gun"!)
- Jimi Hendrix - "in the West"
- first ELP (s/t with angel on cover)
- Steppenwolf - "At Your Birthday Party"
- "Boogie With Canned Heat"
- AC/DC - "Highway To Hell"
- Phil Ochs - "Rehearsals for Retirement"

...and some other stuff I’d just as soon not go into here (let's just say one of them had the initials NROTPS and leave it at that). Solid! Along with the aforementioned Blowfly and Dick Gregory, I also found a still-sealed Coyle & Sharpe LP, and the music of Erik Satie played on two acoustic guitars. Oh, and Tom T. Hall’s Greatest Hits (all the killer old shit, before he did "I Love..." I can't STAND that song! Worse than all the post-heroin Aerosmith ballads combined. Oh yeah, Aerosmith's "Get Your Wings" was in the dollar bin too! Sweet! Remember when they ruled? No? Well they did, take my word for it).

I didn’t take notes as to what else everyone bought, and it’s been so long now, but suffice it to say, everybody left happy. Garage psych seemed to be the order of the day, with Ess and Mel walking away with albums by the Raspberries and the Rationals. I was also thrilled that the store had a turntable to listen to potential purchases, because I almost bought an album featuring former Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz playing with, get this, a PAN FLAUTIST! I imagined a disaster of Plan 9 proportions, as this legendarily fidgety and self-absorbed ivorymaster went toe to toe with baby Zamfir in an empty room. Well, praise be that I got to try'd before I buy'd, because what I didn’t expect was the presence of a ludicrously dull and flatulent "fusion" band playing in the background. From so-bad-its-the-soundtrack-to-the-third-circle-of-Hell to merely a dull ache, I put it back with just a bit of mist in the eyes. Maybe next time.

Unsurprisingly, we took a LOT longer here than we were expecting (and most of us had blown our food/booze budgets for the rest of the weekend -- thank Allah for Le Plastiqe de MasteurCharge, no?), and were now officially running a bit late for tonight’s festivities. Eager to show off our goods to the young’ns back at the hotel, we found our room hot, smelly, and reeking of whiskey, a half-gallon of which was being passed around. There was also a nasty feeling in the room. It didn’t smell like a room full of happy, God-fearing horndogs, more like a roomful of people who were trying to drink sexual tension AWAY, rather than will it into being. The idea of the room erupting, after the foreplay of five more Bulb bands, into a beer-soaked orgy seemed out of the question now. The gang were making troubles that weren’t there, getting their panties into a bunch, just like mom n’ dad on vacation. If you’d stop bickering for just five minutes, you might notice that we just drove by the goddamn GRAND CANYON. C’mon, Carpe Scrotum, ya jagoffs! Let’s not spend tonight’s afterparty in separate corners, licking wounds. Okay? There are better things to lick.

We later found out that another faction traveled all the way out to nearby Ann Arbor, only to end up driving around and seeing HS graduation party after HS graduation party, punctuated only by frat boys and hacky sacks. I have one word for you, just one word: Hamtramck.

After buying a few cases of beer for the room, Ess and Mel and I decide to walk down to a nearby Thai restaurant for dinner. Our punctuality for night two is already looking grim, and the slow service isn’t helping! We finally manage to get everybody into the remaining cars, and make our way to the Magic Stick for the main events.
Sure enough, we soon find out that we missed all of Nautical Almanac and most of Mind Flayer. Please, gentle reader, do not judge us too strong...Record Graveyard REALLY was amazing, and who knows when we’ll be breezing through Hamtramck again! 'sides, when was the last time you went to a show that started ON TIME!?!? We figured we'd be slightly late, rather than amazingly late. Anyway, we got to see the end of Mind Flayer, which means the drum kit was being moved around a lot. Even in the last five minutes, it seems like Chippendale pulled up stakes no less than four times! Sounded great, of course...Brinkman and Chippendale are both built for live performance above all. Just wish I had more details to give!

Next, it's time to assemble the 2000 or so cables and boxes that comprise Wolf Eyes' rig, so I went off to the merch tables to see what was shaking. Liz, the Wolf Eyes merch lady, was once again in attendence, which is always nice. I'd seen Wolf Eyes three different times in four or five weeks, so she recognized me and greeted me with an enthusiastic high-five. If you're at a Wolf Eyes show, definitely go say hi to Liz, she's a blast. She's like your cool female friend from high school, the one that was a refuge from all the lowest common denominators on the homecoming committee, except here, she's also all like, "...and this is the new recording. It's the first one with a live version of 'Black Vomit' on it. It's really brutal, it's so good, you should check it out!" I was already mostly caught up with the new output (having been to those other shows and already emptying my wallet a few times), so I just got a T-shirt with the "Mugger" album cover on it. I swear, I think my Mugger T-shirt is cursed! I've had bad bad luck the last two times I've worn it. But that's a story for another report. (UPDATE: I wore it last night to a concert and had a real nice time. Never mind.)

Carly was kickin' it at the HereSee table, and I was excited to see lots of new stuff around, including the mega-rad pic disc (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!), and a tape featuring one of my favoritest people (in general, even apart from musically), Humectant Interruption (aka Joel St. Germain). Carly's wit and enthusiasm made me regret missing their set more than ever (though there have been other non-missed opportunities since then).

It wasn't really time yet, but I wanted to get a spot up near the stage for Wolf Eyes, and besides, the longer I loitered near the merchandise, the more I tried rationalizing the purchase of just a FEW more CDRs. Along the way, I was pushed along through a crowd of people, and who do you think I saw, being pushed in the opposite direction via another crowd, but the little lady I had enjoyed a friendly little game of "drunken paw" with the night before! However much I tried to search when coming back, I never did see her again. I did, however, bump into the perpetually congenial Mike Shiflet of Gameboy Records. We eagerly chattered about the upcoming set. Mike was especially excited, as he'd missed the bulk of their set opening for Sonic Youth in Chicago, and wanted to see what "this was all about."

The crowd was shot through with people obviously there ONLY to see Andrew WK, and who looked less than thrilled by the show thus far. I had a feeling Wolf Eyes would be the make or break band for them. Mel and I pushed as far up as we could, getting as far into the most violent point of the crowd as we could stand. Once again, the sound system seemed inadequate to really capturing the Wolf Eyes sound in the perfect brutal clarity that is required. I saw them at the Empty Bottle a month before, with their huge and sharp sound system, and it literally brought me to my knees, weeping. The Magic Stick's PA setup was somewhere between the Bottle and the mud-sound of the Fireside Bowl. Since it seems like Wolf Eyes were constantly changing their sound for a few years there, I always thought, whenever I saw them at the Fireside, that they were taking a more "noise" direction than usual. Turns out they were just frying the shitty speaker system!

There was still plenty of pound here, and while I would have preferred the volume to be beefed by a decibel or 20, the point was decently made. They played most of the "Hits," including "Rotten Tropics," "Half Animal, Half Insane," "Dead Hills 2," "Wretched Hog/Desert of Glue" (I think), and lots of others I didn't know by name, only by beat. It's weird...there's SO LITTLE to hold onto in a Wolf Eyes song. It's really just a beat and maybe a bassline or keyboard squiggle. But within seconds of any of these things starting, parts of the crowd start braying insanely! Make no mistake, the crowd plugged into this set almost immediately, and the effect was violent, but...strangely slow. There is no doubt in my mind that I was getting slammed on in the pit, but it was all in slow motion. At a hardcore show, it's all a flurry of arms & legs, which frequently turns into a fist in your face. The push & shove in the pit at this Wolf Eyes show was most exaggerated. No short sharp shocks. People would put both hands on you and push you away with their entire bodies. It was like being in an ocean of slowly roiling crude oil, as opposed to the crowd of a Hair Police show, where you're thrashing around in boiling hot water. There was a big dude in front of me who started really going nuts during the fast part in "Half Animal, Half Insane," and it took like four other big guys to kind of calm him back down. Then, just when we thought we'd been pummeled enough, Olson hurtled himself into the crowd, cutting a TRUE swath of terror. This guy knows what to do in a pit! More so than Quintron even! Looks of aggression or enthusiasm turned to pure fear as Olson started waving his fists around wildly, smashing anyone within armspan. It took about seven or eight people (or so it seemed) to finally push his ass back on stage. While it was cool to see so many people who obviously had never heard or seen Wolf Eyes before (the effect is similar to seeing people watch "Duck Soup" for the first time, a sort of total incredulous amazement), the low-volume (the crowd was all but begging the sound guys to turn it up) plus the slightly mushy sound mix kept it from being the best show I've ever seen by these guys. Neverthless, we were all spent, and Mike summed up the whole experience with one perfectly worded "uhhhhhhhhhhh" of obvious ecstacy.


Although the people bedecked in every kind of AWK regalia didn't seem to think so, the next set was looking like the actual peak of the evening. Pete and Fumi, aka our gracious hosts, aka the unassailable 25 Suaves. If they sounded anything live like they did on their album, we were about to get our nuts and/or tits in a real wringer! I wandered nervously around the merch area, waiting for Bulbfest, Year Zero. Again, the AWK legions looked pissed and figety. C'mon guys, isn't it TIME TO PARTY? Shouldn't we all WANT FUN? Aren't you having fun? No? Well, hold your horses. You'll get your chance to annoy the fuck out of me in about 45 minutes.

Suaves hit the stage about 20 minutes after the wolf guys, and didn't so much as mumble "howdy" before tearing into "Party Disease." I was amazed to hear that Larson's guitar sounds exactly like it does on the album, despite the lack of overdubs! HUGE sound for just two people. Most of the crowd goes wild, pumping fists, throwing each other around, shouting, arms waving. Pete played with a bug-eyed intensity that put everybody on both night's bills to shame. He looked like Stretch Armstrong a half centimeter from break point, arms and legs at maximum extension, muscles tensed, brain on fire. Fumi bashed the traps powerfully, but with more grace and less spasticity. Pete kept hitting his head with his hand between songs (and sometimes during songs). I wasn't quite sure what it meant. Was he telling us to "THINK!," or was it just a sort of rock n' roll tic? More like "Aaaah! My brain's on fire!" Whatever, the set reached a howlingly intense frenzy about five minutes in, and didn't settle down once. 25 Suaves do not play ballads, and as of now, they don't play any of their older, no wave styled stuff either. This was straight 1938 material (if you haven’t heard it, imagine Motorhead with more bulgy-eyed intensity and less slow swagger), including "Michigan," which now has lyrics about how it rules to live in Michigan, "1938," "Get It Right," "Saturday." Hmm, though I can't remember if they played "Juan Rules," my favorite. I don't think they did...I woulda remembered it! Pete threw himself into the crowd (which happily carried him around) a few times, and as I was holding onto him right in front of his face, I could see that he was at complete peace. Any tension or worry that had been involved in setting up this humongous endeavor was gone the second he turned on his amp. Wolf Eyes may have been more intense, Quintron more funky, and the Couch reunion more unexpected, but the 25 Suaves were just MORE. They turned all of our internal dials, which were burning hot at 9, right up to boiling point, the catalyst that sealed the entire weekend up. Hugs and cheers filled the room.

...and now for the part that will get me pulled from the Blastitude Summer Tubing Weekend Club invite list. I didn't stick around for Andrew WK. I couldn't see any reason to, and neither did my traveling companions. With all due respects to the Bulb gang and the readers out there, while I think Mr. WK himself sounds like a pretty amazing human being (provided his interview persona isn't totally fabricated, which I don't think it is), the music does less than nothing for me! A few of us hung out in the back by the bar for about three songs, and then hit the street running. Although our tardiness has caused to only see two full-length sets this evening, we had seen all we needed to.

Bustling back to the Travelodge, we decided to get a jumpstart on the beer and jabber excitedly about Wolf Eyes and the Suaves until the rest of the traveling party returned. More White Castle, and I think someone turned on the clock radio to a local R & B/Hip Hop station. We had been joking the night before about how ridiculous it was that fourteen radio DJs had come to a show in another town, and not ONE of us had thought to bring a portable stereo! It was suggested that we might tear the front wall off the room and back the car in so we could hear some Darkthrone, but there wasn't enough beer in the room for that. As we bobbled around to 50 Cent and yesterday's Ja Rule hits, the remaining folks came in. We argued briefly about the merits of Mr. WK, but soon settled into mildly drunken chitchat. Mindolene, Mel and I took turns trying to outdo each other by busting various Eminem verses (still one of the biggest guilty pleasures among the weirdo crowd I've ever seen! It's like there's a popular majority of people that love Eminem, a large but smaller minority that hate him, and then within that, there's a VERY tiny minority of people who pretend who have little to do with the top 40 but endlessly praise him, super defensively, to the large minority. I am one of these people, hence the pseudonym) while others kept Rudiger and Gundam away from the Tussin (the previous night, near the end of the Tussin binge, Gundam started saying, “Okay, now for tomorrow night, we’ll start out with some Tussin, and then move on to…” which caused me to snap, “Well, why don’t we actually BUY SOME DAMN BOOZE TOMORROW NIGHT!?!?” Maybe I was mistaken in thinking that the cough syrup bender was simply an attempt to make the best of a bad situation).

Mel soon began to get fidgety, talking endlessly about "the way we do things in Raleigh." He informed us all that if we were going to spend a night in Detroit, we had better take advantage of the best thing Detroit has to offer at 3:30 a.m. -- peep shows! Mel grilled many to see who wanted to go, and the masses responded with a "hell yes!," but when the chips were down, most of these men-children backed down and retreated into another beer, weakly implying that "all the ladies are already here...you don't know what you'll be missing!" Well, we came back not too long later, and I didn't see any sign of torn bodices or smell any funk in the walls, so I call bullshit on all those who would not walk the stiff-legged boner-pants walk with us.

Mel and I managed to rope Rudiger into coming along. It was his first time doing something this seedy, and he seemed as excited by the opportunity as we were to show him the ropes. We also brought along "The Marshall Mathers LP," which Rudiger also hadn't heard, giving us the opportunity to at least try for a perfect Detroit experience.
Well friends, as I said before, we returned not TOO long after we set out. For you see, all the great looking peep shows that we saw driving into town either closed early, or may have not been open for many years. It was hard to tell if we had been mistaking burned out former buildings for active businesses or if they really shut their doors after 4 a.m., but what our trip actually amounted to was listening to the CD and driving up and down Woodward a few times, distressingly close to the sort of thing high schoolers do on a Saturday night. There was a Deja Vu on the strip that was still open, but that was another matter entirely. It's easy to blow WAY too much money in a strip club, and after the Record Graveyard, we were all a little wary of any future binges. Plus, 4 a.m. at a strip club is a little too much like being at last call at a 4 a.m. bar. At least being at a peep show in the wee hours of the night has the decency to seem solidly repellant! We passed an adult bookstore with lights on, hoping they might have an arcade in the back, but we saw only the cleaning guy. And no, contrary to what you see on those videos, he wasn't screwing Jenna Jameson or Kylie Ireland...he was just vacuuming. I think he was imagining such a scenario as he ran the Hoover, so all was not lost.

As we drove back, we tried to come up with some imaginative stories about what had happened at the peep shows (we left with such bluster, it seemed a shame to come back with nada). We agreed that if anyone asked, we got one of the ladies to stick a $20 bill up her ass. That seemed plausible enough. As we re-entered the room (which, as I said before, had not turned into a sex den, but pretty much looked exactly as it did before, plus a few more empty beer bottles lying around), we started with this story, but we all broke down at once. "Goddammit, they were all closed!!!" Nobody was very sympathetic. By now, it was going on 4:30 or 5, and lights started going out (in people's heads and in the room alike). Tartan had passed out sprawled across the bed, and was proving impossible to wake (earlier in the evening, during the show, Tartan had managed to talk some lady in the crowd into joining him, on stage, just about beneath Pete's feet during the Suaves set, for a heavy makeout session in front of the monitors). People started collapsing on the floor, and as I took my own spot in the corner, I felt much as Pete had looked during his set, that everything that we had come to do had been done.

Sunday morning was a mess. Everybody was hungover and out of it, and most drivers had every intention of getting the fuck out of there. Pronto, Tonto! Those that had driven up with Singha had to find alternate methods of transportation while her car was being repaired. Several people without classes on Monday stayed an additional day in town, and a few took late Amtraks back. I was so glad to be Mel's car now! We hit the road (after doing a rudimentary cleanup of the room and passing that hat for our cleaning lady who didn't turn us in) around 9 a.m., silent and moody. "Marshall Mathers" was still on the stereo, and wasn't quite as big of a hit now. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts for Mel's caffeine IV and some fritters. After the initial fatigue/tension/
hangovers wore off, the drive back was actually pretty pleasant (if mostly silent). Estragon studied, Chanti napped, and Locane (our new riding companion) looked out the window and/or slept. Mel and I continued to jabber about music or Detroit and its lame peep shows or whatever. Although I don't remember the whole list, here are some of the discs I remember being played on the way home:

- Neil Young, "Time Fades Away"
- The Byrds, "Sweetheart Of The Rodeo"
- The Beach Boys, "Smile Sessions"
- Bulb Singles comp #2

Maybe one or two others, I don't know. We got back to the U of C campus as the Wolf Eyes tracks from the Bulb comp were finishing. The sun was hot, it was a bit sticky, and there seemed to be nowhere to go but for a shower and a nap. Thanks Pete, we all had a real good time.

And thank YOU all for reading this!