Friday, May 8, 2015

Nomeansno w/Corbeta Corbata, and Steerjockey -- Creepy Crawl, April 21, 2005

There is a lot to be said about a band that stands the tests of adolescence, college, and early adulthood. It’s during these years that your tastes, attitudes, and entire life outlook go through the greatest changes. A record that beat the drum to which you marched at 18 isn’t likely to have the same resonance at 30. As great an album it is, Minor Threat’s Complete Discography just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I still listen to it once in a while, but if I focus on the lyrics, I can’t help but roll my eyes. Sorry, but I haven’t been straightedge since I was 19.

In contrast, the reason that Nomeansno has stayed with me through the years has been the strength of their lyrics. In the hands of most punk bands, love songs tend to be filled with “everything is going to work out” lyrics. Love in the hands of NMN, however, is a painful and empty feeling. It’s moments of overflowing regret over mistakes that can never be undone. It’s love that, deep down, you know will never be reciprocated. It’s the nights of loneliness. Before I get too misty, their music is just as good as their lyrics. NMN have discovered many ways, styles, and tempos to remain relevant musically. Biased I am, but judged through their entire career, NMN is amazing.

However, there was a small problem: they didn’t come around very often, if at all. It wasn’t until 1998 that I finally got a chance to see them. For ten years I had waited, and like a neurotic dork, I arrived two hours early for that show, worried it would sell out. (This was absolutely hilarious to anyone who had ever been inside the warehouse/coffee shop in Olathe, Kan., then known as Gee Coffee.) Suffice to say, I got to see Nomeansno for the first time. Unfortunately, as the gig went on, I had to worry about the lateness of the hour, so I could make it to my $14,000-a-year, six-days-a-week job running the board at an AM radio station. I left the gig early and got word later that they played for at least an hour longer, eventually just taking audience requests. Shit.

Nomeansno returned to the Midwest a few years back with a show at the Creepy Crawl. This time around there were no jobs to worry about, no worries about how shit-faced I got; I was free to immerse myself in the show. It was an epiphany. It was not only beyond amazing, but also the loudest show I have ever gone to. My ears did not stop ringing for at least three days. Now, with that exciting backstory out of the way, let us get to the show at hand.

Hailing from the river city of Cape Girardeau, Mo., openers Steerjockey were clearly an inspired bunch. Playing fast, fast, and fast, Steerjockey were mighty impressive. They reminded me of late ’90s Zeke and early REO Speeddealer, who later had to drop the REO because Champaign’s favorite rock band couldn’t just roll with the changes and leave them well enough alone. Near the end of their set, a moment of great humor came when the drum intro to NMN’s “Real Love” was played three times; all the while, NMN bassist/vocalist Rob Wright was concentrating intently on a game of Arkanoid. Wright was oblivious to it the first time around, but after the second time, a bemused grin came across his face as he shook his head with a smile.

Corbeta Corbata is a punk band like no other in the STL. With the wild-eyed playing and facial gymnastics of bassist Ben Smith, the imposing presence of guitarist D.I. Beasley, and drummer Von Damage’s top-shelf time keeping, Corbeta play with the swagger and confidence of band that knows they’re good. This evening they fired off, among others, “Sink,” “Here’s to the Good Life,” “Be Ignored,” “The Last Thing,” “It’s Better Not to Know, and “I Will Decide.” The latter three comprise the entirety of their new seven-inch, Investing With Corbeta Corbata. What stands out to me is that Smith’s bass is just as important to the melody of their songs as Beasley’s guitars. Stylistically, the NMN influence is there, but I also detect elements of Shellac and the Jesus Lizard. However, when you get down to it, Corbeta Corbata is Corbeta Corbata. If you think punk has gotten mighty boring, do yourself a favor and check these fellas out.

And then it was time for the headliners. Early in the set, technical difficulties with monitor feedback and a faulty microphone stand stood out more than the music. It came to a head four songs in when, in the middle if “The River,” singer Wright brought the song to stop and blew his stack, furiously grabbing a roll of duct tape to fix the slowly descending mike stand. The show started back up fairly quickly, but it was obvious for a couple songs that Wright was playing angry.

With the tech problems out of the way, the remainder of the set played out like karaoke night as they touched upon nearly every one of their LPs. Unlike their previous show at Creepy Crawl, their set list left off quite a few fan favorites, thus making room for lesser heard songs like “Mr. In-Between,” “Victory,” “I Need You,” and covers of The Clash’s “I’m So Bored With the USA,” NMN alter egos Hanson Brothers’ “Joey Had to Go,” and AC/DC’s “Shot Down in Flames.” The highlight of the evening came with the first song of the first encore. Wright, now in a far chipper mood, stated, “Let’s try this one again.” To my great relief, they played “The River” again, this time with no interruptions. Frankly, if they hadn’t played it again, it would have left something of a sour note on the evening.

To be frank, I have been anticipating Nomeansno’s breakup for quite awhile, so this show was a bonus: one last round with Victoria, BC’s finest. It’s a possibility that Nomeansno might hit St. Louis again, but this time I really feel that the STL has seen its last NMN show. If my gut feeling turns out to be true, I can’t complain: I got to have Nomeansno songs ringing in my ears for another three days. 

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