It's taken me a little while to find the time/energy to get in front my computer to post this, but here's how the show went...
Bill and I went down to the old Rock and Roll Hotel on Sunday night to check out the John Stabb Benefit and of course catch Government Issue. I can't say I remember the last hardcore show I've been to, but it certainly did dredge up some memories for me (some good, some bad). But that was part of the point of going down there. The other part was to contribute to John Stabb's medical bills.
This is the first show for me at the RnR Hotel. Not a bad place... smaller than I expected, but fine. Guess I expected something closer to the size of the Black Cat. As an aside, boy, that neighborhood is still plenty rough. And not even rough around the edges, just rough all over. So, that's one thing that reminded me of going to the old shows back in the 80s when they were mostly held in the rougher neighborhoods. There was a good sized crowd there when I walked up, with a lot of people hangin' in front of the Hotel. I was expecting to see a mostly older crowd and was surprised by the mostly younger crowd. Both Bill and I were hoping to run into some old aquaintances, but that didn't happen. We didn't really see any familiar faces. I guess I was slightly disappointed, but fine.
There were several opening bands, all of which were hardcore and none of which I had heard of. Not surprising. One of the openers, from DC I believe, liked to introduce their songs by way of something like "this one's about the growing divide between the rich and poor and the reduction of the middle class" or "this one's about the plight of immigrants all over the world". For me that just sucks the wind right out... talk about dry. As a matter of fact when they used that first introduction, someone in the audience yelled out "Then why are you wearing a Brown t-shirt?" because the guitarist had a Brown University t-shirt on. And the singer's response: "what?" Not to get too down on these guys but that was pretty comical. I'm sure they believe in what they do, but I'm just not down with that. The irony is that you can't understand any of the lyrics. But I did enjoy seeing what hardcore was up to these days and slightly reliving some older days. The last opener was pretty decent. We also found out that 76% Uncertain had cancelled at the last minute. As we joked, guess they really were at least 76% uncertain to play.
Anyway, GI came on next. Brian Baker on bass, Tom Lyle on guitar, John Stabb on vocals, and William Knapp on drums, who I think is from 76% Uncertain. Guess the rest of the band couldn't make it down from Connecticut. So GI was a lot of fun, although it was clear that they hadn't practiced much (in fact they didn't really -- see below). I guess I was hoping for a full blown, blow the roof off show. They were definitely good, but not like I imagined/hoped for. Instead it was a loose and relaxed set that sometimes felt like a practice since they stopped songs a couple times and then restarted. To the best of my memory, here's what they played (this is not in order):
I'm James Dean
Fashionite (an a capella version)
Sheer Terror (introduced as the song that scared Glenn Danzig)
Boots are made for walking
Teenager in a box
Circles (the Faith song)
Mad at Myself
Where You Live
So everyone seemed to be having a great time. The crowd was into it, and danced that funny dance of theirs. Actually, I got blindsided in the back by some dudes who rushed through the crowd from the back of the room to the pit and knocked me on my ass. Hate that. I hated it when I was younger and I hate now. So that was the bad memory of the evening.
After the set, and while the crowd was trying to get an encore, Stabb came out and talked for a while telling everyone how really, really grateful he was for all the support he's had since his assault. Henry Rollins sent him a bunch of money, he said. He also explained how the reunion came together and that everyone in the band basically didn't practice as a unit until the sound check that day. They practiced their respective parts independently, but not together at the same time until the sound check. And they had only learned 15 songs and that was it. Brian Baker also came out to tell the audience that, yes, they had played all the songs they learned and that was it. But hey, if everyone wants to hear the set again, we'll do it! And so, they launched into the set again. At this point, the thing deteriorated into a bit of a sloppy affair, but nobody seemed to care. They didn't get all the way through the set again before they decided to end things. And that was it. Fun but fleeting.