Tag Archives: post punk

Tomorrow: Buffalo Tom @ Black Cat

It’s strange when you grow up punk. Your musical tastes have to evolve eventually. At least a little bit. Three chords alone can’t sustain anyone forever. Over time, even the kid with the spikiest hair or the dirtiest pants will start looking to explore decidedly non-punk records, and those explorations can take people in some very different directions. HR, Daniel Higgs, and Tim Barry were all playing straight-up punk songs when they got their start, yet they’ve ended up scattered widely across the musical spectrum.

For us what came after punk hasn’t been such a long journey, we just went back to the exact same records we liked before we discovered punk rock.

Buffalo Tom *may* look significantly different from this photo when they play the Black Cat tomorrow. 9 pm Doors.

There were a few happy accidents that all occurred right around 1993 which led to our developing really, really good taste in music at a very early age. They were these:

  • CD’s were becoming wildly popular. They’d been around a couple years, but ’93 was when a critical mass of people finally owned CD players and everyone was collecting music voraciously. Programs like Columbia House were very popular nationwide.
  • Because of that, the music industry was actually putting out great records. It’s hard to imagine, but at one point major labels would seek out and sign indie bands and just let them continue to be great bands. It didn’t always work out for the best, but it was a damn sight better for everyone than the way the majors operate today.
  • Tapes were still in too. CD to tape dubbing was sort of revolutionary. People passed mixtapes hand to hand. They were serious business to make too, since they literally took hours to finish. No drag and drop. The quality was a reflection of that.
  • We owned the No Alternative Compilation and the Singles Soundtrack. Imagine being 13 years old and being able to know about all those bands without the benefit of the internet.
  • WHFS Was a thing. Anyone who is old enough to remember listening to HFS still misses it terribly. To this day we have trouble believing that there was a commercial radio station that was just that cool. They played Morrissey. They played Fugazi. They played the Replacements. Not late at night… at noon.
  • MTV Didn’t totally suck yet either. When you’re 12 you can’t really do anything cool. You ride your bike until dark, then watch 120 Minutes with your face about 6 inches from the screen. We never had cable at home, but at friends’ houses that’s exactly what we’d do.
  • We went to a very small school. When the school is that small, you get to hang out with kids who are a year or two older. Without the benefit of an older sibling, this is crucial for the development of musical taste.

Because of all these reasons, the first bands we were ever introduced to were actually some of the most incredible, creative, and influential bands in our lifetime. And as soon as we discovered the Misfits, all of that went out the window and we listened to nothing but punk for the next 10 years. Oi! Oi! Oi!

So once we reached a point in our own musical development where it became kind of absurd to keep listening to Jello Biafra make Ronald Reagan references, it was only natural to look back to some of these bands who, at 13, we knew about, but were ultimately way too young to appreciate fully. The Catherine Wheel, Dinosaur Jr, The Afghan Whigs, Pavement, Love Spit Love, Mazzy Star, American Music Club, The Breeders, The Lemonheads, and of course, Buffalo Tom.

Buffalo Tom is still a band. They’re not just ‘that band from My So-Called Life.‘ They’ve been a working rock band for a quarter century and what’s more, they’re as good as they’ve ever been. Some things never change.

Indeed, some things never change. They play the Black Cat tomorrow, and just like in 1993, we can’t go.

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Black Cat is at 1811 14th Street NW in DC. Mean Creek also plays.

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Obits, Sal Bando @ Sonar’s Talking Head Stage Tonight

Sometimes we’re too cool for things. Sometimes we like to pretend we’re too cool for things, when we’re really just too old and jaded for them. This is not one of those times.

We’ve talked before about the right and wrong ways to continue a musical career after some initial success. It’s become increasingly easy to sit at home, especially during the dead of winter, and wait to hear the meh reviews of live sets from bands who were only marginally exciting 15 years ago. That won’t be the case at Sonar’s Talking Head Stage tonight.

Obits plays Talking Head tonight. 8:30 doors.

Rick Froberg is an archetypal model for how to conduct a career. We said as much in the link above about his former bandmate John Reis (Drive Like Jehu, Hot Snakes), and Froberg’s newest band Obits is putting out exactly the type of music we want to listen to at this point. Late Night Wallflower once described them as Surf Like Jehu, and that’s a good thing. We don’t think we can sum it up any better.

Playing in support tonight is DC’s Shortstack, who are another band currently putting out just what we want to hear. It can be tough to describe their particular brand of rocky-tonk, but if you think the Old 97’s are a little too polished, Ryan Adams is a little too precious, and Uncle Tupelo was just about right, then Shortstack is right up your alley.

The natural choice for a local slot on the bill is Baltimore’s own Sal Bando, who’ve all got their own laudable musical resumés, and their own surf garage band that kind of sounds like the Hold Steady would sound if Craig Finn actually knew how to sing and didn’t just talk over the music in the same annoying manner record after record. Not sure why Sal Bando is waiting around so long to put out an album, but if they’d go ahead and release one we’d definitely buy it.

It’s not all old man music tonight though. Local favorites Double Dagger are also on the bill, and are guaranteed to bring it fast and manic enough to ensure that none of the old codgers coming out of the woodwork (and there will be plenty of them (us) there tonight) don’t fall asleep at the bar. We missed their final show of 2010, which was a crowded round-robin affair with Orphan and Dope Body, so we’re happy to see their first date in 2011 before we split town.

Just informed that Double Dagger is not on the bill. What do we look like, some kind of music journalist or something?

So yeah. We’re excited. You should be too, since we’d bet dollars to Dogfish that even though it’s early yet, this show makes our top ten list for 2011.

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Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga St. downtown.

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