Professor Bunkum’s Gig of the Year

Unlike some people who chose to attend multiple gigs a week, Professor Bunkum’s intake of live music is dictated by the anomalies of child rearing and all the uncertainty entailed by being a father of two young kids and the sole breadwinner for the people living in my house.  And we’re not even getting into the Edward Colver situation.  So, ya, I go out when the tickets are free and the schedule allows it, and when I’ve gotten enough sleep to have a greater than 50% chance of making it home.  I’m serious about the last part.

Therefore, I cannot tell you about why the Marduk show was better than the Mayhem show or why Nebula in Santa Barbara beats the Nebula show in Pomona.  But I can tell you about the night that I didn’t get to write about earlier, the magical May MEATMEN show at the Relax Bar.

The night in question was just one of those nights when a lot of stuff goes right or wrong in a way that is memorable.  First off, b/c of an allergy, I can’t drink beer, so I have to drink wine.  The wine at the Relax Bar tastes like it has been sitting next to the nam pla fish sauce too long, which is likely given that the place is in the middle of Thai Town.  Next time I’m going to Trader Joe’s first.  And I wasn’t on the guest list -- two problems that got the night off to a bad start.  Not to mention that the first band sounded like they wanted to be Rage Against the Machine without the college education -- exhorting the bored “masses” to get up and revolt against…what… bad wine or nowhere to sit?

But then my old metal buddy Kelly showed up with his friend.  Kelly was already gregariously lubricated upon arrival, and spent several minutes handing out cigarettes out front to the willing Thai Town locals and soaking in their life stories.  Kelly’s friend was really interesting.  He was obviously a major burn victim.  Turns out he was one of the first plaintiffs in the Ford Pinto cases from the 1970’s.  And this dude was paranoid being around all these punk rock freaks.  He was sure a fight would break out. Kelly said to me “this guy needs punk rock.”

He was right.  But the middle of the set by next-to-headliner CHAPSTIK, Kelly & Co. were a sweaty mess.  CHAPSTIK were like some sort of indie rock metal mess from Detroit.  They had THREE guitarists and one was a girl wearing an Iron Maiden shirt.  What could possibly be wrong with that?  NOTHING I tell you!  And they covered “Homicide” by 999.

Next up were the mighty MEATMEN.  Tesco Vee is getting old, but during some of the tunes like “Meatmen Stomp” or “One Down Three To Go” (about the the Beatles; now appropriately changed to “Two Down, Two To Go”), Tesco’s eyes rolled back in his head with a venom that made me wanna hate like it was 1989. Major Props for Tesco.  This is the genius who wrote “Orgy of One”, “Gang Rape Lullaby,” “French People Suck,” “Vegetarian on a Stick,” “Pope on a Rope,” “I Sin for a Living,” “Men Meat and Fire,” “War of the Superbikes,” “Tooling for Anus” and the list goes on and on.

Now during the MEATMEN set, I started talking with Eddie Solis.  Somehow it came up that Happy Tom from TURBONEGRO was in the crowd with NICK OLIVERI.  WHAT??  You see Professor Bunkum is a major TURBONEGRO fan and general fan of many things Norwegian.  So I approached Mr. Tom with all the fear and trepidation of one who is about to meet an idol.  I couldn’t believe it was him, till we spoke a little Norwegian, and he explained his presence in LA, and I told him that he is a great bassist songwriter in the tradition of Andy Shernoff from the Dictators, and he was humbled, so I knew I was talking to the real guy.  Of course I gave him my business card and of course he never called but hope springs eternal.  Anyway, after that, I still got to meet Tesco Vee, who signed my copies of We Are the Meatmen and You Suck and The Dutch Hercules EP.

Then I drove home with a sense of wonder at the world and the joy of the Relax Bar where I guess this kind of thing happens a lot.  But not to me.