Wednesday, October 6, 2010

M U D H O N E Y ! ! ! !

Recently we had the honour of supporting Mudhoney in Dublin's own Button Factory.

At the dawn of the 90’s when I hung up my skateboard and grabbed a couple of drum sticks, the Pacific Northwest was a hotbed of high energy, guitar driven punk rock. NoMeansNo, DOA, Poison Idea, The Melvins, The Supersuckers, Nirvana, Tad, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney, but to name the bigger names. They were just the tip of the iceberg and an indication of what else was going on in the area and the era. There were a few in those days that really floored me. That inspired me and all of my fellow budding musicians to push ourselves and each other and to kick as much ass as we possibly could on any stage available.

Mudhoney were one of the first to really strike a chord with me. Their shows were blistering. Chaotic and dissonant, yet melodic and tight. They played up and down the west coast and stopped in all of the little spots, college towns, hick towns, etc. that their contemporaries ignored. I saw them countless times, in countless venues and they never ever disappointed. They were the everyman band. We could all relate to them. They dressed like us, they acted like we dreamed of acting and they wrote songs we wished we had written. Their recorded output over the years has become less and less memorable and their place on my turntable has diminished, but I have very fond memories of that period when they were kings. I was still pretty excited to meet the lads and to share a stage with a band that had at times seemed larger than life, well mine anyway.

We were on first and it was an early gig. I think we were all worried that we would be on too early. The Button Factory is a lovely venue, but it’s big and if there is no one there, it feels like there is no one there. It’s also big enough that you need a critical mass to push people towards the front, otherwise you are playing to the people in the bar, which is on the wrong side of the empty black void in front of you. The other worry was Tommy. There is a recession on and if he stops working even for a minute, he’ll be standing outside the dole office begging for his cash. He’s one of the lucky few to still be on the clock somewhere, but his days are too long and as a result, his nights I would guess, are often not long enough. Tommy ended up literally walking out of work, in the door of the Button Factory, saying hello to the rest of the band, strapping his bass on and launching in to the first song. Fair play to him.

I really enjoyed the gig. The sound was good and we were all on form. None of us was locked or wrecked or pissed off. We could hear each other and we sounded good. The drum set was in the middle of the stage which forced Gaz onto one side and the lads on to the other. It was a weird dynamic to have Gaz physically separated from the other two. I really enjoyed the gig. We even had a decent crowd. By the time we finished the third or fourth song, there was a very healthy murmur in the venue and plenty of applause between songs. By the time we finished the gig, the place was full, the place had been rocked and it was time to have a few drinks.

There is a fine line between idolatry and admiration. I don’t go for idolatry or this grotesque cult of celebrity that seems to have invaded every corner of that little box that all of the furniture in our sitting rooms is pointed at. There are people that I would like to meet. People that are celebrities to me and probably to many of my friends. But I’d like to meet them because of the effects that they have had on me as a musician. The ones that inspire me to get off and stay off my hole. Some of those people just happened to be sitting back stage when we got down there.

I don’t meet Americans very often and I don’t talk to that many yanks on the internuts or the phone. It was nice to meet Mark Arm and Steve Turner for the reasons I have outlined above, but even more it was great to finally get to talk to some Americans. Actually not just any Americans, American musicians from the Pacific Northwest. It was great to be able to mention bands and venues and parts of towns that no one I know now would know. It was great to be able to talk about how crap a place to live Portland Oregon was in the 80’s and how uncool that whole corner of America was up until the 90’s for Seattle and the turn of the century for Portland. Mark reminded me of just how hostile local rednecks were of punk/punks and how outcast it felt to be into loud, noisy and obscure music at the time. We both had short stints in college radio, which at in the 80’s and 90’s was instrumental in supporting and shaping what was to become labelled ‘alternative music’ in those halcyon days before it stopped being alternative. It was good to touch base with the Northwest and it’s always good for me to remind myself that I am not Irish. I didn’t grow up here, I know of Bartley Dunnes and The Chinaman and the Top Hat, but I was never in any of those places. I was in the Satyricon, the X-Ray CafĂ© and John Henry’s. I was in America.

Mudhoney were great. They started off a bit slow, i.e. they played tunes off their latest and not greatest album. Dan Peters, the drummer looked a little bored and the argument could be made that it’s not really Mudhoney without Matt Lukin. His replacement isn’t half the showman that Lukin was, nor half the mentaller by the look of it. But once they started belting out the hits, the gig really took off. Mark Arm still has that unmistakeable howl, Steve Turner still has that unmistakeable fuzzbox and Dan Peters is still unmistakeably handy on the auld kit. They sounded great and they put so much into the gig, especially the stuff off the first two albums. It wasn’t the white hot heat of the gigs back in the day. There were a few times back then that I thought that the place might literally explode. I couldn’t figure out where the energy was going to go because the room and us in it couldn’t handle it all. This gig was great though. They played great and they played the songs I wanted to hear. They gave it a shedload of wellie and they put on a great show.

After the gig, it was a short natter with the lads again, down to the Czech Inn for a few quick scoops and home for a snooze on the couch. It had been a long day, a long week, and with two kids, a job, about 10 moutpiece sites, the general skit of being a dude about town and all of the other things I got going on, a long year.

Not much funny in this blog entry. If you want something funny- I once saw Gaz’s nuts reflected on the glasses of a lady in the front row of a Moutpiece gig. The lady was my mother.