Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Catching up with a different kind of dragon

smartass Drugs Dragons guitarist by V'ron
smartass Drugs Dragons guitarist, a photo by V'ron on Flickr.

The week before last Saturday night was another "Well, I don't know what to go see so I'll pop into the Circle A and see what Warwick's brought in" kind of night, and it did not disappoint. Paul Setser at the door extracted a couple of bucks from my wallet (it was already 9:30 and we both knew I'd only see the last half hour of the set) and it was a packed room for Drugs Dragons, a band I hadn't seen since I caught then three years ago at a garage festival headlined by the Mistreaters, which should give you an idea of what they were about. What I learned later was that they broke up for awhile and last Saturday was one of the first times they played out probably since that Mistreaters gig. Good pick. Snotty little guitarist with a constant ironic smirk on his face, a Mistreater on the other guitar,intense rhythm section all fronted by a guy who seemed to have failed a Die Monster Die audition and said, "Well, then I'll start my OWN band, dammit." Great vocal range -- from gravelly to outright pissed off hollering. As the Circle A was packed, they had no room to move around, (neither did anybody) so I pointed my 50mm lens at his face that was less than 2 feet away from me and got plenty of grainy, dark, gravelly shots that fit him despite the fact they are photographically worthless.

That turned out to be 30 minutes of tight, intense, garage rock that had elements of the aforementioned Die Monster Die, some heavy sludgy grindcore, but high energy and catchy tunesmithing enough to land on any good locally-produced tribute to the spirit of garage rock. No one influence overpowered. I sidled over to where I spotted Keith and Janet Brammer afterwards who agreed with me: "That was the best $2 I've spent in a long time!" (Brammer answered, "I've paid $20 to see much worse!") They were great. One of the band member's girlfriend overheard me and was pleased that I liked the band -- obviously I was somebody that band didn't know and it was good to hear positive feedback from a stranger, and not just one of the obvious friends of the band that squeezed into the room. And I was glad to see a band girlfriend who was actually into the music of the band. Ahhhh, young ones carrying the torch.

That's a torch that's being relit by Brammer and Tom Tiedjens, who were telling me that they they were just discussing " this pretty much high school reunion we're getting ready for," in the form of the Lest We Forget show that's coming up. Both their bands will be there (Brammer of course with Die Kreuzen, Tiedjens with the remains of Those X-Cleavers.) The lineup is packed and each band will be 20 minutes ("Gee, is this Trash Fest?"). I was just arriving in Milwaukee when most of this lineup was in its heyday, so I'll be meeting people I've only heard tell of, and listening to stories and I'll document it the best I can. It's what I do.

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