Weekend of Trash

Starting the Trash Fest weekend off:
Cocktail Weenie Tree
Believe it or not, Trash Fest used to be a whole weekend thing. They'd have a few dozen bands that wanted in on it, and either it was at the same club the whole weekend (such as the Unicorn, because it had two stages and could cram in that much) or different clubs across town. The latter would require the organizers (always Paul "Fly" Lawson and usually Darrell "The Brains" Martin) to actually pick up the trash and move it to the next venue. Seriously, you needed that much trash -- old christmas decorations, the infamous Tree of Trash, that ubiquitous stop sign -- to trash it all up. The old saying goes that one man's trash is another man's treasure, and they ain't kidding. In the world of Trash Fest, it's the other way around. Beloved pieces of trash, like this thing that's survived many a Trash Fest were actually thrown away by somebody who surely thought they were being helpful. "The sled is gone?!" everybody asked, heartbroken. Indeed it is. And in recent years, Trash Fest is only one night, but what a night it is. It's only fitting, then, that this year Trash Fest paid tribute to its spiritual godfather, the late Chuck Barris, host and creator of The Gong Show.

If you don't eat this, the terrorists win. 
But first, to make it a weekend thing, it wasn't official, but many trash aficionados gathered at the home of Dummy Club frontwoman Stonie Rivera the night before for a "Pinterest Fail/Regrettable Foods" soirée. And the entries did not disappoint. As each "chef" brought in their creation, Stonie led a chorus of "Nailed it!" or "Ohhhhh Myyyyy Godddddd."

I'm proud to say that my Patriotic Pie earned a "Nailed it" and I admit that it was literally overshadowed by Sukey Pett's Cocktail Weenie  Tree (which brought forth a chorus of both Nailed It and OMG.) Annie Chase brought me back to my childhood with deviled eggs: the taste of 1967! Then, Paul and Kat Kneevers hipstered it up with Span Sushi. And dotting the table were those prefab cocktail snacks of our youth: swedish meatballs, braunschweiger, that lime jello cottage cheese thing (that didn't set but was still, believe it or not, pretty damn tasty), some literal COCKtail snacks in the form of uncircumcised pigs in blankets, and on top of it all, that cheese in a can ("excellent source of calcium," the packaging proudly informs us) with some Ritz crackers and a nice Chianti. 

So, having finished what amounted to a Trash Fest Seder (or for my fellow recovering Catholics, The Trash Fest Vigil), I went home to rest up for my duties as a Gong Show Judge. As Phyllis Dildo, I would be joining Lars Kvam as Jamie Fart and Marlavous as JP Marla. The Gong was ready. We had our scorecards ready to go as well. 

I have to guess that half the crowd remembered everything that was about to be parodied from their youth, and the other half simply enjoyed the ridiculousness of the festivities: the acts were a riot in and of themselves but those of us who grew up watching the Gong show understood on a deeper level when Mike Nelson came out as Gene Gene The Drinking Machine and boogied along to Count Basie's Jumping at the Woodside just like the real Gene Gene did. Or when Frank Chandek kept insisting he was gonna "play my [filling in the blank]" to the cries of "Whatcha Gonna Do!" And probably only people who read "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" really got it when Fly strapped on his guitar and played "Palisades Park", that joyous rock and roll ditty written by Barris himself.

Yes, when Dave Allswager started off the night dressed as Oscar The Grouch singing that signature tune "I Love Trash", he -- and the rest of us -- meant it. 

Oh, of course the evening was also filled with plenty of "regular" Trash Fest acts. "Peach Fuzz" -- a bunch of old fogies doing their comeback tour as a boy band (complete with pre-recorded autotuned vocals). Some asshole gonged them while Marla, Lars and I weren't looking. 

Earlier this month Brian Wensing was figuring out what he was going to do for Trash Fest, i'd mentioned something about Rancid Penis, and Brian was "Ist that actually somebody's name?" No, I told him, but when your name is Reince Priebus, who could resist? Thus Thee Rancid Penis was born, and Brian slapped together a song. 

Julie Brandenburg, the underpaid
house band
He got the eminently talented Julie Brandenburg and Dave Bolyard (who were also the Gong Show House Band) to join him and a quick KenoCore style set made it through without being gonged. Naturally, since I'm married to the guy, I gave him a 10. Actually, I was pretty much like Oprah: You get a 10! You get a 10! Everybody gets a 10! 

Blaine Schultz and Dave Thomas and their posse gave us yet another Velvet Underground set, this time as country musicians. Thomas ended one of his sets with the obvious T Rex cover, which finally got Lars to Bang the Gong. "Why did you gong them?" asked Fly, as Chuck BareAss to which Lars flatly answered "Because you told me to."  Brian Wurch showed up as some David Bowie knockoff and the whole night was a blur. 

Finally, the judging. It was obvious who would win: The Popsicle Triplets. You can't put three girls on stage eating popsicles (especially when they're paying tribute to an equally notorious act) and not expect them to win. 

The classic prize: A check for $516.32, not adjusted for inflation
The Cave People in Chains was the last act, and dammit, they were good. There's always one band at Trash Fest that leaves everybody shaking their heads and saying to themselves, wait, these guys aren't half bad. Trashy? Sure. Terrible? Not at all. And nobody seems to know who the hell they were, because I'd like to see them again.  that's the nature of trash in general. It doesn't last long and when it's tossed, it's gone forever. 


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