ssion @ Pistol Social Club, 10-5-07

I needed some rock and roll so bad.

Ever since the Phil Lesh show on October 3rd, I’ve needed lots and lots of spastic, agressive, high energy to balance the aimless jamming and boring cover songs. That night I’d gotten a little relief, catching half the Pixel Panda show at the Record Bar (it’d been over a year since I’d seen them last, and this time they had a better lineup than recently), and then the end of a Billybats show at Jilly’s. But I was unsatiated.

Welcome First Friday.

I stopped by the Billybats’ show outside a gallery across from Grinder’s. Then some friends and I had dinner at Grinder’s, and I wandered alone to the outdoor “Beer-A-Rama” behind the building. This event had been advertised as a nonstop beer sampling festival, with all-day music from a bunch of bands I didn’t know. There weren’t many people there, and in the darkness, the field of mulch looked like everyone was lined up and paying for beer just as if it were any normal night. At one end of the field was a huge stage occupied by a decent rockabilly band. But I came for the free beer–so I walked into the opposite corner of the venue, into some densly-packed area roped off by the same metal fencing used on pig farms. The pig fencing was covered in Pitch banners, and as I walked through the tiny opening and past a man who looked like a bouncer, I had the feeling like I had to pretend I belonged there. So that’s what I did. I walked up to a row of tables lined with sample-pushing representatives from area restaurants. It was hard not to put my gum into the T.G.I.Friday’s coupon for a free appetizer as I picked up their chocolate-mint mouse sample. And with the barbecue sauce-sized thimble of dessert in my hand, I made my way to what I thought was a free sample of Bud Lite. Turns out it was a whole plastic cup of free beer. As I tipped the amused bartender, the woman beside me said, “they have these about twice a year.” I asked, “What, the Beer-A-Rama?” She replied, “no, the Pitch parties.”

I called my friends to join me, and I stood by the entrance, waiting for them while taking in the rockabilly. I lead my 3 free-beer-seeking joiners to the gates of the Pitch party, and walked in just as before. This time, I found out that guy really was a bouncer, when he aggressively approached me and asked if I was on this list. I said no and, “how do I get on the list?” He angrily near-shouted that, “YOU HAVE TO WORK FOR THE PITCH. YOU KNOW, BE AN EMPLOYEE FOR THE PITCH NEWSPAPER?” Okay, I got it. We left empty-handed, so I shared my beer with my companions.

Then we headed to the West Bottoms.

We made our way past the abnormally crowded 12th Street entrance to the West Bottoms, crawling through the crowds migrating to the legitimately scary “haunted houses”. I usually get a little lost in this part of town, which is a fun pasttime. Seriously. But we quickly found the ancient industrial building-turned-loft/art gallery/all ages club; the magnificent turn-of-the-centry gun marking the entrance was impossible to miss. I thought the event started at 9:00, but it was obvious that we were too early, as everyone else there was either working or reading a book. After paying the very reasonable $5 cover, we turned around and pretty much risked our lives to fight our way to the gas station for beer and bottled water.

By the time we got back, the artsy audience started to trickle into the hot second floor party arena. We sank into the old couches, which were apolstered with some sort of fabric that pumped more heat into our bodies. As our skin withered into wetness, one of my friends became ever-more annoyed–at the heat, at the waiting, at the bizarre crowd (I’m assuming), and at the fact that she was, “at a bar that doesn’t serve alcohol.” Oops, guess I forgot to mention that ahead of time. But I had let her know several times that I was bringing Coke and a flask of Jack, and didn’t we just go to the gas station for beer? But the rest of us enjoyed the underground scene and felt privileged to be there.

Cody Critcheloe, author one of my favorite videos , is the frontman/genius behind post post post punk/dance/experimental group the ssion (pronounced “shun”), was in top form holding court in the underground danceteria. Singing, dancing, playing guitar, and shouting at the audience alongside crazy-sick drummer J. Ashley Miller, the screen of animation one foot behind him, the choreographed boys fighting for space from the advancing dancing mob…

The purity of artistry and punk-dance fun was almost overwhelming.

It was the best all-ages show I’ve ever attended, to say the least. It was so great that I never remembered I was at an all-ages show…which is usually a factor so overwhelming that I can barely force myself to stay around to see whomever it was I came to see.


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