I'm gonna do this backwards and start with the last band, the Daryls. I became a Daryls fan kind of by default. They'd put out a short run CD on Mutant Pop. My girlfriend picked up the CD and listened to it again and again until I had no choice but to either like or hate it. I came to like it. The songs remind me of being in elementary school and sucking on a piece of hard candy because I know that, if I bite into it, the teacher will hear and make me spit it out, so it lingers in my head, giving me two-minute jolts of a sugar high and a little guilty pleasure. So, yeah, I knew it was going to be poppy and derivative as hell, but I was looking forward to seeing the Daryls. A free show at the Garage just made it that much sweeter. Apparently, though, I was the only one. Literally.
By the time the Daryls took the stage, there were exactly nine people in the Garage-five of them were from bands that had already played, one was the lead singer of one of the band's mom, two worked there, and one was me, the lone fan. I didn't care and apparently the Daryls didn't, either. They launched into their set with more energy then the previous bands (who had actually gotten to play in front of people). They started with some new stuff off the seven inch soon to be released, which was a little louder and faster than the songs of theirs that I knew. A little more mutant and a little less pop. I dug it. Three of the guys from the previous band packed up the last of their equipment and headed out. The crowd dwindled down to six. The Daryls kept playing as if the room were packed. They tore through a few songs off their only full length CD, "Punks." The previous band's singer's mom danced. She'd told me earlier that she was only sticking around because she felt sorry for the Daryls, but apparently, the Daryls were winning her over.
They paused between songs for a little banter with the crowd, who didn't respond because, well, I didn't feel like talking, the bartender was packing up, and the guys from the other band were on their way out the door (and taking their mom with them). In honor of their now deceased leader, the Daryls played their ultimate hard candy anthem, "I Wanna Be a Ramone." As they got to the chorus, lead singer Brian said, "Everybody, sing along." When he didn't hear anyone singing, he looked over at the bass player as if to say, "This crowd is lame." Meanwhile, I was thinking, Dude, I'm the only one here and I was already singing along. Then it occurred to me that maybe these guys weren't completely rocking out because they didn't care that the room was empty. Maybe they were pouring all their energy into this set because they didn't know that the room was empty. The lights glaring onto the stage were pretty bright, and most of the crowd all night had been hanging out towards the back of the room. Maybe the Daryls didn't know that they were playing for only me, the bartender, and the sound guy. When they launched into their next song, which was about their fourteenth song in twenty-five minutes, I guess the same thing occurred to the sound man. He turned on the house lights to give them a good look. The Daryls saw an empty room. They finished the song anyway, continuing to rock out. All right, I thought. They did know that this was basically a rehearsal. They gave it their all, anyway. Rock'n'roll.
At the end of their set, the bartender bought them a round. The sound man apologized for shutting them down, promised to give them a better spot in the line-up next time, and told them that they were better than "Ninety-five percent of the bands that play here." I hung around an chatted with them. Good guys. I'm looking forward to their upcoming seven inch.
So know to answer the question that I'm sure is on your mind. If the Daryls were so good, why didn't anyone stick around? Well, the first band (I do remember their name. I just don't want to give them any publicity) sucked really, really bad. Really bad. Blink 182 wannabes. They actually drew a crowd of about thirty people, but probably their entire crowd left as soon as the really, really bad set was over. Then, SideKick played. They weren't bad. Pop-punk of the Screeching Weasel variety. They haven't really nailed their own sound down, but I guess they're doing all right. They opened for the Angry Samoans two nights later, anyway. SideKick's fans pretty much replaced the fans of the first band and kept the room from looking too empty. Then, SideKick took about five minutes trying to decide what their last song would be, and the crowd thinned. The crowd thinned even more during the Guitar Gangsters' set. Not because they were bad. They were okay. Business/Cocksparrer inspired oi that was very different from SideKick and didn't hold their fans. And since the Guitar Gangsters are from England, they didn't really draw any fans. So there were the Daryls, five years into this punk rock game and playing for me and the tumbleweeds. Oh well. I had fun anyway.