Trash Fest: Demonically Stripped Bare

The Lineup
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Every Trash Fest has a distinct flavour and I'm still digesting the Twenty-Filth Anniversary show of Trash Fest. There haven't been 25 Trash Fests, (a few years there nobody had the energy) but it's been around for 25 years, and organizers Paul "The Fly" Lawson and Darrell "Da Brains" Martin still have some of the old trash.

Brian and I began the evening with some hellishly hot chicken wings (for which Points East is justifiably famous), and that seemed to set the standard for the demonic evening. I marveled as they brought in the Totem -- the crap hung on it has changed over the years, but the totem itself -- while a bit bare -- is still intact.

not so nervous
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So are, as their name would imply, The Nervous Virgins, who have become the defacto show openers of Trash Fest. Just recovering from yet another glorious Burning Man Festival, Eric Griswold and his crew put out a set that started out jamming, and then became some early trashy Xmas (I really don't think it's appropriate to associate "Christ" with any of this) carols that they dig out every year. It was during this set that I noticed that there were a lot of "normal" people in the audience. Time for our bartender to fix me one of several diet pepsis I sucked down during the evening.

My role this year was as co-hostess, along with the other Prom Queens who managed to make it. I could make a comment about how one might suspect that there was some sort of conspiracy involved, as one of the Queens had knee surgery just a week ago, and another "suddenly had a terrible accident" involving her lower leg ligaments, and yet another had "suddenly" taken ill, and yet another had "suddenly" left town, but honestly, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die,these were all just coincedinces resulting in myself becoming your honorary hostess. However, Miss Spent Youth delivered a fine debut with questions designed to test poise and confidence ("Tell us about your first period, and what's it like to kiss a boy?") and was the only Prom Queen to successfully re-use her Prom Dress from last summer. Miss Laid, despite the aforementioned torn ligament, created a trashy ensemble of "Breast Cancer Awareness" Pick and Save Bags and matching duct tape that I daresay should be included in the "Duct Tape Prom Dress" hall of fame, didn't once flinch during the embarassing questions, but that's what being Miss Laid is all about, eh? As for myself, I passed out maps of various US American States, and wore a skirt made of maps of US Americans, The Iraq, South Africa, and the Asian Countries. Clearly the Trash Fest crowd is not one for Internet Memes, because only one person besides my husband got it. Oh well, won't be the first time I flopped with satire.

Whore Model Singer
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Up next, Whore Model, and I introduced them as "Floor Model" and was beaten to death with staggering inuendos. Miss Spent Youth did a better job getting the name right, and away they went. Almost couldn't tell them apart from Floor Model, they were that punk, but still sludgy. They tried really hard to suck, which is a compliment at Trash Fest, but don't tell that to the "normal" people I noticed earlier in the audience. They were milling about, beginning to realize that all that crap on the floor was for their use -- to hurl at the band, to augment any insults you should hurl at the band, and to hurl into if you so chose.

What Are They Good For?
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So bring on the Assholes! The Electric Assholes, that is. Mr. Shiny Pants on guitar was back (I think he brings out those shiny pants every year.) I didn't even take a picture of the shiny, wrinkle-proof pants because I had a perfectly good shot from last year, and lighting on stage this year was making it difficult for the available light specialist I claim to be. Dan "Miles" Mullen on bass to the rescue, who preened and posed himself into the only rock and roll light on the stage. Mark Shurilla's assholic glow comes through in any media, and they were wonderfully tasteless all night. Bob Jorin, the only guy to get my map reference, stayed safely anonymous behind the Great State of Missouri.

she has queenly bearing
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Mullen and Jorin helped bail me out, since Pillowfight had some technical difficulties, and Devil wasn't ready to go on quite yet. We did some schtick, and then I told Miles to give me a I-IV-V in E, and when he finally did ("no, Miles, a summerfest-type boogie blues, not a tear in your beer wail here"), I put forth "The Incomprehensible Blues" so that I wouldn’t have to come up with any lyrics. I was simply bare with the schtick -- I drew total blanks as to how to emcee this fest this year. Fly came to the rescue with 2 (count 'em) pairs of pants that he'd worn at Trash Fest and has since outgrown (we're all getting old, here, people) to give away as prizes. Prizes for what? I had to come up with criteria for winning, and a gentleman named Eric won through sheer luck -- it was his birthday and that's as good an occasion as any to get some new (old) pants. A sloppy, Marilyn-wanna-be styled "Happy Birthday" was enough of a time killer to get the next band up.

crack that whip
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
That next band up, Devil (pronounced "Dee-vil") took the previous evening's Beatallica one step further: picture the Mothersbaugh contingent cranking out a sludgy "Whip-It" complete with death metal cookie monster vocals. Perfect. Every Trash fest needs a flat out parody band and this was 07s. Brian "This Guy I'm Married To" Wensing looked like a combination of Elvis and Mark Mothersbaugh on guitar (and his omnipresent cigarette hanging out of his mouth), Ron Turner took the upside down flowerpot era to the max on the bass. Both Wensing and Turner were wearing jumpsuits from the last time Brian parodied Devo 17 years ago at Trash Fest #7. "If I'm putting this suit again in 17 years, shoot me," he told me later. Mirmamar proprietor Bill Stace grew little devil horns and sat behind the drums -- a place I'd like to see him more often these days, what an overlooked terrific drummer. And Frank Chandek could make a living growling out death metal tunes, he was so convincing. The "normal" people started warming up to the concept. This is what I love about Trash Fest: it's a place where death metal bands playing Devo get normal people to start tapping their feet.

Dreaming of a pillowfight
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Finally, the girls of Pillowfight were ready -- ready to remind us what was so great about X-Ray Spex. Dissonant, early-80s style grrlpunk, sounding like it came straight from the bowels of London, 1981. Every now and then Fly will book a band that plays other venues besides Trash Fest, and Pillowfight were this year's entry. Took 'em a song or two to get comfortable amongst the crap all over the stage and being hurled at them, but you could tell they got it by the time they pulled off a cover of the Cramps' "Human Fly" in honor of out host. Guitarist Karen Ernsting is fiddling around with chord changes and melody licks that remind me of early Gang of Four, but with a Gina Birch attitude. The rest of the band have attitudes that remind me of L7. It’s the kind of music that needs a touch more tightness (but not too much more polish) and they'll be formidable. I need to see them in a regular club on a regular night before I judge their apparent timidity -- if you're not used to Trash Fest it can overwhelm you with the strangeness, and you have to make a snap decision to either play your regular style or try to joke it up.

Mixing Demon Alcohol
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Closing the night were the Eat the Mystery crowd's offering: "The Book of Antennae" and they deliverd oldschool (as in 1928) style trash befitting the closing of the fest. I missed some of their set because I'd gone to the downstairs green room to get my purse and ohmygod there's a rat scurrying across the floor. Now, I shouldn't be surprised by this, this is an old downtown building and a basement that doesn’t get used much for anything but a green room for bands like this, and anything of value (or that the health inspector cares about) is upstairs, but still. EEEEEEEKKKKKK! I came back upstairs and people were obvilous to this peril, so I only decided to tell a few friends (like my husband, "Make it go awaaaaaayyyyyy!") but caught the end of Angie Livermore mixing up a drink and wailing out on "old demon alcohol" before I finally succumbed to the demon itself. Bob Jorin saw to it that Frank Chandek, myself, Brian, et al got one of his famous free throws of his own invention: jagermeister and irish whiskey mixed like a martini. This concoction had some generic name like "Foul mixture of death" but I'm thinking "The Allies vs. The Axis in some Dive North of Sicily" might be appropriate. It went down like trash, like I expected, like this entire night, like all trash fests. We were all too trashed out to even do the traditional onstage jam that has closed out Trash Fest in recent years. Maybe like the totem, we were just a little too bare this year, and just bringing ourselves and it out -- stripped down to the basics -- was enough to keep it alive.


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