Friday, May 8, 2015

Shellac w/The Conformists -- Collinsville VFW Hall, June 17, 2004

A dead human being once said, “All good things come in threes”—or maybe it was “bad luck comes in threes.” I’d like to choose the sunny side of life and say good things come in threes, not because I’m an optimist, but because I need it to transition into the next paragraph.

Nomeansno and Rocket from the Crypt had been taken care of yet, before tonight, Shellac was the band that remained. As you may have heard, The Conformists set up a gig with Shellac at the Fairview Heights VFW Hall in 2002. Wednesday, October 23, 2002, to be exact and I was stoked. The fire was soon pissed on as Shellac drummer Todd Trainer injured his back. One guy told me that it was skinny-dipping. Funny, but I highly doubt it. Whatever the cause, the months went by, and then a year went by, and finally I gave up on the idea of Shellac playing a “make-up” show as they had promised. I picked the easiest target. “Fucking Albini, what an asshole.” However, I later checked The Conformist’s Web site to find that, hot diggity dog, the show was on.

After The Conformists’ wonderfully loud opening set, Shellac quickly set up their gear and then Trainer and Albini disappeared for at least 20 minutes. Weston remained, lounging on the security railing at the side of the stage ’til his mates finally returned. Albini went through a series of athletic stretching, limbering up his back and hammies. I know that musicians do this all the time, but still, it was mildly humorous.

Opening with 1000’s Hurts’ “Ghosts,” Albini herked and jerked his guitar in robotic motions as they followed with a crowd favorite, At Action Park’s “My Black Ass.” However, it wouldn’t just be an oldies night as they played a tune during which Albini’s sarcastically yelled “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!” on numerous occasions. Much laughter and giggling was provided next when the band introduced Terraform’s “Canada” with the cardinal call of Bob and Doug McKenzie. The sound in the hall was excellent and Shellac was spot on musically in all corners. Not that I was keeping track or anything, but in its entirety, Shellac played 13 songs and they hit most of the best, including “A Minute,” “Squirrel Song,” Dog and Pony Show,” “Wingwalker, “Copper,” and two more newbies.

However, the night was not just music, as bassist Bob Weston broke up the set with three Q & A sessions. Examples: When asked about the Big Black song “L Dopa,” Albini snapped back, “Wow. That heckle is like 15 years too late.” Guy #1: “When is the new album coming out?” Weston: “2007.” Guy #2: “What’s up with Rapeman [Albini’s old band]? Albini: “Your mom gave me genital warts.” Can you believe that some people hate the guy?

The evening closed as Shellac’s set was cut one song short when the house lights were turned up during “Copper.” Before he left the stage, Weston pleaded with the crowd for the second time to head over to Music for America table and register to vote. “Please vote in November. Please vote in November. Please vote in November.”

Anticipation can provide great disappointment when matched with the real deal. After 20 months of waiting, Shellac did not fall short and they did not disappoint. They may never return to the bi-state area, but after seeing them in top form, I can now die in peace. Smoke me a kipper. 

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