tom smith | make green bay weird | aug. 2018
Make Green Bay Weird is not just the name of this column or a bumper sticker — ok, there isn't a bumper sticker, yet — but something I'm seriously committed to. This means that sometimes I have to do research in other cities. Over the years I've tended to sour on the concept of music festivals. We all know the pitfalls of music festivals, namely the sun and other human beings, so it would take something very intriguing and weird for me to consider attending. Incredibly a music festival in Oakland, California, called the Burger Boogaloo seemed to fit this description like a glove. There was only one way to know for sure, and that would entail flying from Green Bay to Minneapolis to Los Angeles and then to Oakland. Oakland, of course, is a city I've always wanted to visit because of its musical history and its place in American history. I was very fortunate to have two awesome friends, Erin and Teddy, who put myself and some other fine Green Bay and Milwaukee folk up. Erin and Teddy took us to Rooz Café a couple of times for breakfast and I declare I love the jalapeño option for a grilled bagel.
The band on the lineup of the Burger Boogaloo that intrigued me enough to pull the trigger on purchasing a ticket and airfare was the Rip Offs. This was the first Rip Offs show in the Bay Area since 1995, which was the same year they played their “last show ever" at the Concert Café. That show at the Café in 1995 was one of the greatest punk rock shows in the history of Green Bay. The place was packed and the whole show featured great bands including Green Bay's Boris the Sprinkler. That was my first time seeing the Rip Offs and I was a major fan of their album and singles. The bar was set high for them back then and they exceeded it with ease. Twenty-three years have gone by since then, will they be just as good? Will they be worse? Am I making a mistake by flying across the country to sully a legend built up in my mind? Would a human be better going through their life thinking Santa was real? Should I go to the grave thinking the Rip Offs are an untouchable punk rock band live? Lucky for me, this risky gamble paid off because the Rip Offs performance on day two of the Boogaloo was better than their performance at the Concert Café in 1995. I kid you not. So for me, the trip is a total win already before you factor in all the other great bands I saw these two days. The other musical highlights for me were Pookie & the Poodlez (loved the Donnas' cover), the Flytraps (whose drummer I felt was the best drummer at the Boogaloo), Hunx & His Punx who had the funniest frontman of the festival, the Spits, who for me were the band of the weekend that caught me off guard with a live performance that utterly floored me. I had never seen them before and am inspired to make sure they play Green Bay. Mudhoney, a band I've been seeing live for close to 30 years, still have never disappointed me live. I can't wait to see them again in Portland with Australia's the Scientists September 28, the day Mudhoney releases their new album “Digital Garbage."The Mummies turned in my second favorite performance of the Boogaloo and had the greatest introduction I have ever seen in music history. The performance of Michael Lucas as Dr. Zaius was so outstanding and incredible that he should win an Oscar, a Tony and a Daytime Emmy for it. Don't take my word for this, this performance is easily found on YouTube. Devo, their first show in four years, possibly their last show ever, Fred Armisen on drums and a rousing introduction from John Waters definitely was Weird. Yes, I said the John Waters. John was introducing a portion of the bands all weekend. Each time he would saunter out to the stage dressed to the nines with grace and a potty mouth that would make a sailor blush. Yes folks, John Waters is the greatest MC of all time. I would love to quote some of my favorite things John told us at the Boogaloo, but I suspect they wouldn't get past the watchful eye of my editor. Once again, don't take my word for this, it's easily found on YouTube. If this is indeed Devo's last show, they went out all guns a blazing, every member of Devo worked his ass off onstage, and yes, Fred did a great job filling in on drums. Fred also requested or inspired their last song, “Beautiful World" off their “New Traditionalists" album. This was the only song they played that wasn't from their first three records. “Beautiful World" is also the song I asked Mark Mothersbaugh to play when I ran into him in a hallway at the Oneida Casino 12 years ago before their show in the tent. I remember Mark replying, “Only if someone gets me in a Boojie Boy mask." I responded, “I hope someone does!" Unfortunately, no one did and that song was not played at the Oneida Casino. This reminds me that I regret not pulling my pants down to show Mark my Margo Tenenbaum tattoo (Mark composed music for “The Royal Tenenbaums" movie). So needless to say, when it was announced Mark left the stage to find Boojie Boy, I would at last hear “Beautiful World" live. The Dwarves had some “scheduling conflict" and, luckily for all of us, Nobunny that morning stepped in to save the day. I was honored and humbled when Nobunny spotted me in the crowd and announced not once but twice that it was my birthday. He was only 22 days early, but thank you to everyone at the Boogaloo who later wished me a happy birthday. Nobunny, of course, put on a fantastic set. I overheard someone in the crowd say, “Best Dwarves set I've ever seen." Firestarter from Japan was another band it was my first time seeing, and their performance was great enough to tear me up a little. They even went back into their musical history and ended with some Teengenerate. Teengenerate, New Bomb Turks, and coincidentally, Boris the Sprinkler at the Concert Café also in '95 is another show hailed as one of the greatest punk rock shows in the history of Green Bay. I wasn't familiar with the band Le Shok, but I dug their set big time. Last but not least and the band that closed the Boogaloo, all the way from London, England, punk rock legends the Damned. First time seeing the Damned for me, and it was a long time coming to scratch them off the list of bands I need to see. When I see older bands for the first time I must admit I approach their performance with a cynical lens. Would I be cracking jokes about them playing state fairs after seeing them? Well, they passed the test with flying colors, they rocked hard and songs from their new album, “Evil Spirits," fit well into a set heavy on “the hits." The funniest moment of the Boogaloo was when Captain Sensible told Jello Biafra — who with others, joined the band on stage during their encore — to not quit his day job. I thought it was cool that Jello said onstage some heartfelt things about Steve Soto of the Adolescents who had recently passed. I booked Steve and Kevin Seconds at the Luna Café and Steve was one of the kindest guys I've ever worked with over the years. My condolences to his family and his many fans.
I enjoyed the Burger Boogaloo so much that I plan on going next year, but just pretend I was on the fence and the powers that be at the Boogaloo were looking to book bands that might convince me to attend again, these would be my suggestions: Rezillos, Sugar Shack, Sweet Baby, Adam and the Ants, Radio Birdman, New Bomb Turks, The Humpers, The Neckbones, Quadrajets, The Monkeywrench, The Spaceshits, The Hanson Brothers, The Loudmouths, Crime, Choke Chains, The Reds, Catholic Boys, The Mystery Girls and a band that's guaranteed to get me to travel, The Smugglers.
Holly and the Nice Lions
Memorized Dictionary Records
Timebomb rating: 13/13
The new album by Holly and the Nice Lions, “Black Moon," to say the least, is their latest and their greatest. All of their albums have always been better than the last but there's something different about this one. The gas pedal has been pushed to the floor. Lately, when I have been seeing their live shows, the current lineup usually catches a molten rock fire that hadn't been properly recorded on previous releases. This album is like, “Oh, yes, this is what I've been seeing live, this is great." So great that classifying them as rock 'n' roll musicians may be doing a disservice to the public at large because this album makes me realize that they should be classified as rock 'n' roll assassins. They may slay you live; they may now slay you in the comfort of your own living room. Holly and the Nice Lions have lined up a superb CD release show for “Black Moon" on Friday, August 10. This show is all-ages at ZoZo's Kitchen with the Proud Parents from Madison and Green Bay's very own Sons of Kong. The show starts at 8 p.m. and I would advise bringing an appetite because the barbeque at ZoZo's is mouthwatering. Also, bring enough money to buy the CD from Holly and the Nice Lions.
Live long and boogaloo.