Let me tell you a little story about a smelly hippie who went to a punk rock show. It was at the Middle East Upstairs, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to Harvard and MIT and other institutions of higher learning, as well as a large number of bars and clubs. The Middle East is three clubs and a restaurant, all under more or less one roof - there's Upstairs, Downstairs and Zazu - plus a cramped little restaurant that serves high quality food of a (surprise) Middle Eastern variety.
On the night in question, September 10th, 2005, the main event at the ME Up (as the locals call it) was a CD release party for a band call Meat Depressed. MD (as the locals call 'em) are known for two things: 1) they've changed line-ups more times than most bands change guitar strings; and, 2) they drink A LOT of beer... like, a legendary amount of beer... sink the Titanic amounts of beer. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just what they do. The line-up tonight is a reunion of sorts, bringing together the personnel who recorded the "new" CD, almost 2 years ago, for one of just two shows before they kick off a brand new line-up. At the center of this swirling drunken madness is Pete Depressed, singer, songwriter, promoter, label impresario (Good Cop/Bad Cop Records), former Pilgrim at world-famous Plimoth Plantation, and about to become the father of my soon-to-be-born niece. Oh, and he's also the front man for the acoustic-celticore madhouse known as the Gobshites. Tonight's event is his brainchild: ten bands in five hours, all sharing the same amps and PA, all for only ten bucks. Do the math, that's a dollar a band! How can you go wrong?
Here's the full list of bands, in reverse order of appearance: Meat Depressed, Jonee Earthquake Band (from Rhode Island), Three Sheets, Musclecah, Natural Disaster, the Necrowafers, Nobody's Heroes, Suzuki Smith, the Rydells (from New Hampshire), and the Pity Whores.
It's a veritable smorgasbord of New England punk rock, which is why I was so surprised to see the smelly hippies. Now, I don't really have anything against hippies. I do have a hard time with noxious body odor, however. I also don't have a problem with aggressive dancing - after all, it's a punk rock show. But this guy seems to be going out of his way to try to get a pit started, and nobody wants any part of it 'cause he reeks so bad. He's got white-guy dreadlocks, and he's wearing this light brown sweater that looks like he might not have taken it off any time this century. His partner is a skinny little girl with her head shaved, except for right in the front, which she's got her hair slightly spiked - not a typical hippie look, but she's got very much the same sort of odor and dance style as the hippie guy, and they're definitely together.
Both of them seem intent on running around in circles flailing arms in all directions, and kicking their stinky feet as close to anyone and everyone else that happens to be in the place as they can. Naturally, all this flailing and kicking does a remarkably good job of distributing their scent throughout the club. I almost fell over a couple times - once from trying to jump out of the way of the guy's boot and once from being slapped upside the sinus cavity by his b.o. molecules. Damn!
Anyway, the music was rocking, mostly, and I had a good time despite the smelly hippies. The only two bands I didn't really dig were the Necrowafers - who have more of a grunge sound than punk, at least to my ears - and the Jonee Earthquake Band, who were the only band of the night to insist on using their own amps and P.A., resulting in the only significant delay of the night. Perhaps coincidentally, or perhaps not, it also turned out that Jonee Earthquake was the band the hippies really came to see. In fact, it seemed like they were actually part of the Jonee Earthquake Band traveling troupe, even to the extent that they were standing at the ready to catch Jonee when he executed his obviously less-than-impromptu backwards-fall-off-the-stage stunt.
Oh, I almost forgot: the guys in Meat Depressed were very, very drunk by the time they got on stage, at almost one in the morning. The drummer was so wasted he couldn't even sit upright on his stool long enough to play one full song. And the lead guitarist kept interrupting things to tell us nonsensical stories. It was all quite amusing, and really somewhat poetically beautiful. They did manage to get through most of their set, with some help from Musclecah's drummer and the Pity Whores' guitarist. And considering the fact that all three members of Musclecah have been in Meat Depressed at one time or another, and the fact that the Pity Whores' guitarist used to date Pete Depressed's step-daughter (my niece, and soon-to-be older sister to the about-to-be-born niece I mentioned earlier), it really still seemed like Meat Depressed. Y'know? I only wish one of them could have been drunk enough to throw up on the hippie.