the seduction @ the garage
Nothing is more punk than being self-determined
and respecting the self-determination of others.
I got my rock n roll fix at the Garage in Winston-Salem Sunday night. The place was a powerhouse of energy from 9 til 2. My friend Daniel Biggins' band, The Seduction, played in a show with three other bands, The Swamp, Bask and Viajando. All played hardcore punk in their own particular take on it. All the bands were good and all the musicians stellar. They were unafraid to make some noise. The band, Viajando, turned their guitars up to screaming, then started. A three-piece band, the guitar was all over the place. The bass gave the guitar a surface to dance on that, itself, was a dance. The bass player's fingers hopped all over the strings and I could hear what he was doing. The sound system was just right. The lead guitar, Nick, played kind-of melodic, abstracted sounds beyond description. Viajando had an almighty drummer, too. He was the vocalist. Talking with him after the show, while the bands were packing instruments and electronic equipment into their vans, I asked him the source of their name, Viajando. He said it's Spanish for a journey, they felt like they were on a journey as a band, and they liked the word. I made it a point to express my appreciation to one person in each band, and everybody in the Seduction, through the course of the night between bands. On the road to the show in the van, Daniel played a cd with some music by Bask and Viajando. Taking I-40 into the city, I told Daniel, if this is what we'll be hearing, I am ready. I was anyway. He said they are bands difficult to follow onstage, and he loves it. They make him play all the harder.
The van parked in front of the band entrance door, everybody in the band did their part unloading a major sound system in several parts from the trailer and transporting them to the stage area, placing them out of the way, allowing the first band to put their equipment on the stage. Between bands, the band just finished removes their sound equipment, the next band sets up theirs and wires it all together. The beginnings of each of the band's sets, they played sounds they use to check out the system of wires and tunings. I loved it. It brought to mind an orchestra checking out their tunings before a concert, conditioned intro to some good music. The sounds are quite different, the only likeness being they're the same thing. Each band had their own such intro. By chance, I made video of the Seduction checking out their connections. I thought they were starting the first song and pushed the record button. Catching on that they were checking the sound, I thought, what a waste, then thought, it's digital, no waste, no problem, and thought, wow, this is cool, glad I got this. I stayed near the "merch" table throughout the show, allowing Nolan, who was taking care of the table, a chance to go outside for a smoke from time to time. There was no way I could leave one of the bands once they got going. For my own personal taste in rock, I'm awfully particular about what I listen to, these four bands delivered full satisfaction. I wanted cds by all of them, but only two had cds for sale. Before the show, I spoke with the guy setting up Bask's merch table, who turned out to play guitar and do vocals, and bought their cd. He didn't have many and I didn't want to chance waiting til after the show. Haven't played it yet, but am itching to. To play it now, I would not be able to carry on here until it finished. While they were playing, I felt like a treasure was in my pocket.
The merch table between Bask and the Seduction was the Swamp's section. The guy setting it up and working it turned out to be the vocalist with the Swamp. Like everybody in all the bands, he looked like just another guy who might be in there. His tshirt said, channel your inner catfish. I told him my car's name is Catfish. He told me how he found the shirt. Adam, if I remember correctly. It's his story for him to tell, not me. It's personal, neither vulgar nor intimate. It's his own story, a good one. I enjoyed our brief conversation. As with the guy from Bask, Zeb, it felt like conversation with artists. I already know why, because they are artists. It's the artist in them I appreciate. It's why I was there. They are songwriters. They are musicians, who really are musicians. They compose and arrange songs. It is the art in punk that has drawn me to punk since it's beginnings in the New York Dolls, Patti Smith Group, Nina Hagen Band, the Clash, Richard Hell, a short list. Like punk in London in the Seventies, every band had its own expression. The musicians, the bands make music the way they want to hear music made. Punk is not so much a sound as an attitude. The attitude creates the sound. The attitude is raw American individualism. The code in punk circles, I just want to be myself. The bands playing at the Garage Sunday night were what we call hardcore punk, what I think of as post-Black Flag punk. Punk has evolved infinitely since its beginnings forty years ago. American punk came out of the New York Sixties bands, Velvet Underground, Mothers of Invention and the Fugs. Before them was Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly in the Fifties. Punk has been a line running through rock n roll since the beginning. By now, every city in the country has multiple punk clubs and bands to keep them going every night of the week.
Talking with someone before the show started, I was asked what band I was here for. It came to me from out of the blue. I said, All of them. I want to hear them all. I'm here with the Seduction, to hear them is the reason I'm here, I want to hear all the bands. The Garage is a comfortable place with great sound. I'd seen the Seduction back in September in awe of what I heard then, a giant step beyond their previous cd. What I heard Sunday night was a giant step beyond last September. I don't know where I could put my finger on what has improved about them. Their delivery, their approach to the songs, their extensive stage experience since then. I can't say more or better of anything than before. It felt like it was a fuller sound, a flow from familiarity with what they're doing, their flow with each other evident in their music making. It's what they do on weekends while they work full-time all week. Jacob's bass I did not hear in September like I heard this time. He was cranked up loud, his noting fingers jumping all over the strings. I felt like the playing of all four of them has freed-up somewhat. Not that it didn't have freedom before, they flowed together. The sound was so good I could hear each of them, individually, and the whole band at the same time. It was loud, too. Just right. The drums, I felt were stronger than before. Everybody in the band has more power than before, they're stronger, like Jonathan Owens, the drummer. Perhaps this is what I hear that makes me feel they've taken a step I can't put my finger on. It takes time to build up the physical strength, the stamina, for what they do. The drummer is an athlete. He is stronger and more practiced than he was eight months ago, like everybody else in the band. I like this band, like what they're doing, like the band members, four very different individuals together making a dynamic entity called rock n roll. I like their hope.
jacob shelton and daniel biggins
drummer with the swamp