Comrades/Thrash Can/The Antidon’ts/Scumbag Billionaires
Saturday, May 19th 2018
A House, Clearwater, FL
Some people have the impression that to be a political radical means to be unreasonable. But this is not the case. For instance, today all I can think about is forcibly shutting down that $45 million boondoggle in London built on 12 centuries of stealing and killing, and making all the would-be participants spend the rest of their days cleaning public parks and toilets, thankful that they didn’t get stoned to death. Can’t gouge ten thousand eyes from a single head, after all. I can’t believe we’re still content reshuffling these same old decks of kings and queens and faux-democracies. Etc.
There’s another example of this at work with Scumbag Billionaires, the super-most-local punks (we’re at the house of two of the members) playing their first ever live set. The accusation in the name is so modest -- they could have called themselves Scumbag Millionaires, or Scummy Multi-Millionaires, but several brackets of people with far more money than they’ll ever need to live well are being let off the reasonable as fuck hook. The 5-piece Scum Billies do a melodic alt-rock-punk, with host and singer Tara Lenoir having a raucous throatin’ Brody Dalle thing going. You can hear what I mean on the “perfect description of bankrolling a Royal family” track High Maintenance (performed here in the same garage as the show). Uh wait, stop everything. Drummer and co-host John Dritsas is making a marriage proposal to Tara during their set, in the most punk-love undermining of ruling class distraction tactics that I’ve ever seen. The bastards don’t even get mentioned. The wedding (it’s being put on vinyl, music fans!) will forever be associated in my mind with this far less insidious event. Thank you, Tara and John, for orchestrating such a selfless special moment.
I wipe away the tears, and in an effort to replenish my juices, assist in the job of emptying the mysterious keg in the garden. The Antidon’ts couldn’t really ask for a more primed crowd than a drink-what-you-like, mid-evening, outdoor, post-proposal one, and they intend to keep the happy mood going, starting with separate surf and ska-tinged instrumentals. Their vibal pursuit is helped along by guitarist Zactidon’ts choice of tie-dye shirt and voice subduing microphone. Accidon’tal as it might be the music still sounds great, with one kid in the back of the audience howling and smashing his skateboard to pieces in appreciation of the skatecore. Everyone is periodically looking backwards with expressions of “What’s that noise?/Are you OK?/Keep it down please we’re trying to listen to the loud music/Are you going to smash me in the spine with that deck?” Antidon’ts bassist Mikey apparently has a compulsive tic to play the opening seconds of Bro Hymn at every gig, multiple times even. Just play it, for god’s sake! Stop teasing and let me enjoy a superficial unity. A white wax repressing of the split that the band did with MDC (that’s right) will be available from June 4th on Swamp Cabbage Records.
“We got a tip that there were musicians here associated with the group “Millions of Dead Cops,” and we are here to investigate.” Clearwater fuzz wade in, and a sheepish quiet falls over the attendees, nervous about a noise control shutdown. Apparently they were looking for some longhair who was present earlier in the evening, and who no doubt we would have given up in a second. I also suspect they heard about the poster for this event, reminiscent of current Municipal Waste artwork, featuring a cop getting a taste of pistol brutality. And speaking of thrash and bands named after the inevitable externalities of a consumerism-based economy, Thrash Can! The furious and amazingly named St. Pete act, adorned by RASH and AFA banners, rip masterfully through the blurred vision of the crowd with intensity, banging out numbers such as Unite to Fight and (hopefully, I can’t be sure) Dogs in a Pig Pen, dedicated to weed-loving police in Illinois. They’re supposed to be filming a video, and somebody is in front of me with a weird mini screen on a pole thing that looks far too high tech for me to understand, so it must be legitly professional. A possibly unrelated tour diary mini doc (7 minutes) about this whole show can be seen here. Two kids drunk on youth are acting mad, adding further energy to the maelstrom. I am feeling their enthusiasm.
The fact that the gig was merely intimidated rather than anything else by the boys in blue is made slightly more noteworthy when you realise that the top billed band are not only called Comrades, but have shirts presently plastered over at least half a dozen patrons with the slogan “cats not cops” prominently displayed across them. It’s just an internet meme, honest guv. Comrades are from New York and began their working class (two week) East Coast tour just a tad further south last night at Fubar. They’re a perfect headliner for a crowd high on community spirit and the death of a sizeable keg of beer, doing high energy, physical, dirty ska inflected punk. “Let the kids get high,” as lead singer Snikt declares (it’s not clear to me whether this was in reference to their It’s A Plant Not A Crime tune or a separate number). Operation Ivy meets the female-male vocal dynamic of F-Minus, with many a lyric about living off the social dregs regardless of whether that makes you yourself a social dreg. A quick inserted dub interlude provides a much need cooldown, even if it's mostly just a mental one on my part, having spent increasing portions of the evening happily yammering with people. I made the long journey to Clearwater knowing only a few acquaintances might be present, and by the time of leaving feel I’ve made a handful of comrades.
Scumbag Billionaires then make a return to the guitar garage to round the night out, and why not? They put this hootenanny together, and celebrated a major life event here, for Christ’s sake. Plus, the billionaires never seem to be satisfied with what they’ve got: we should all expect to have more.