Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pygmy Lush live.

Since Page Ninety Nine broke up, these gentlemen from Sterling, Virginia have gone through a number of bands: Mannequin, Malady, Hissing Choir, Haram, etc. By far, this is the best band of the lot. The quieter side of Pygmy Lush is on par with if not surpassing Page Ninety Nine, and the loud stuff is the closest these guys have ever got to rekindling that young, punk energy.

To back track a little, in July 2000, Josh Sisk--who would later start McCarthyism Records and then sell out punk rock to become a modern day raver / hipster documentarian--asked me to set up a show in New Orleans for Page Ninety Nine. He lived in Baton Rouge at the time, and spaces were hard to come by up there. I had bought Document #5 at Krazyfest earlier that summer and then caught them up in DC on an Earth Crisis show, so I was already a big fan.

I threw the show at Movie Pitchers with the Chopsley of that era. Decent turnout, OK flyer, great music: not too many complaints on this one. This is probably where my love of the two band bill comes from. This was the Page Ninety Nine tour when Brandon from Kilara first joined the band. Back then, their thing was to dress all in black, so Brandon dressed all in white. At that show, he was already covered in dirt and blood. There was some crowd surfing of the couches in the show space. The set ended with "By the Fireplace in White." Brandon ended up completely underneath that old, foot-high stage at Movie Pitchers, throwing trash out and screaming like a maniac. Chris just stared at the audience through the ten minute drone jam, slowly rocking back and forth until the vocals kicked back in and then he started violently freaking out. It was pretty intense.

The next couple of Page Ninety Nine shows were both at the Dixie Taverne, one with Waifle and one with Majority Rule. The second time they played Dixie is still one of my all time favorite shows. A bunch of the guys from Crestfallen were at this show going nuts with the Majority Rule guys. There wasn't a mosh pit as much as a heaving pile of punks, like a writhing mass of maggots. I should also mention that it was the posters that my half brother Dan Fox made for these two shows that led to me ripping off his cut-and-paste, black and white xerox, typewriter flyer style--the one that made me famous.

There were two more Page Ninety Nine shows in New Orleans before the break-up, both at the Ark. The first one was George Krumm's birthday, so all the guys got polluted out of their minds before they were supposed to play. They got back to the space late. Johnny could barely set up, let alone play, his drums. They got through about 10 or 15 minutes (not far off from their usual set time) before they had to just call it quits. Chris made up for the short set with a good 30 minutes of drunken ranting on the microphone, culminating in him being complete naked and just screaming at people as they left. I think they all felt pretty bad about their shennanigans, especially Mike, so the next show they played completely sober and maybe a little longer than usual.

I also caught them in Tampa and Birmingham; on tour with Eat a Bag of Dicks in Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee; and then the last three shows up in DC. Fun times. Here's a video from a show they did in Savannah shot by Pat from Hyperrealist. Page Ninety Nine remains one of my favorite hardcore bands.

The next band from these folks started was Mannequin. They never really did it for me, but were always the beloved revivalists of grunge enthusiasts the world over. The first time they came through New Orleans, I did two shows in a row for them--Dixie Taverne with Murder by Death then Mama's Blues with Exit 86. The Dixie show went great, but the turnout for the Mama's Blues show was pretty weak. Dear Diary played with them a few times on our final tour, and they played over at the 829 House in Baton Rouge while we were gone. I think that show was the one that finally got the house shut down. Ironically, their last show in New Orleans was supposed to be at my old house on Banks Street, and that ended up getting shut down by the cops (and then moved to the Dixie).

Before that last Mannequin show, the Taylor brothers made it through with their side band Hissing Choir, playing one of their few out of town shows--one of their few shows period! It was a pretty good show at the Banks Street Warehouse with them, NOLA-Memphis legends Masters of the Obvious (MOTO), The Ghost Mice, and The Faeiries. Despite there being a trash can within arm's reach, one of the old men who came out for Moto tried putting his empty beer can in a hole in our ceiling. So I yelled at him in front of a room full of people and made him feel like an asshole. One of those rare times that my wrath was justified, I think.

The next manifestation to hit New Orleans was Malady about nine months later. I really liked these guys live. They reminded me of the older City of Caterpillar songs--more straightforward, less of the Godspeed! You Black Emperor jam out parts. It's too bad they were so short lived. Before the show started, one of our roomates Theresa was moving out of the warehouse. Since she felt like she was leaving on bad terms, she decided she wanted to destroy the walls she had built for her room. Paul begged her not to do this, but she did it anyway, taking a hammer to the sheet rock. I don't think I've ever seen Paul so mad in my life--not even when he gets to that point in his drunkeness where he becomes ornery and violent. We were all in the kitchen laughing about it and shaking our heads, secretly afraid that he would knock her out. Luckily, Paul calmed down, took away the hammer, and Theresa and her cronies left. A happy ending for everyone. Except Little James who had to move into her trashed room.

About a year later, Mike and Kevin came through with Haram. I loved the first stuff they did. It reminded me a lot of the later Majority Rule songs, which were my favorite. They came through again a little bit after Katrina and played the Darkroom in Baton Rouge. This was when I was living in Oakland, so they figured I wouldn't be able to do the show. Fools! I was in town on vacation and putting on shows. Could've hooked up a rad show at Coach's house. Pretty much no one was at the Baton Rouge show, and I think they got screwed on money which was a pretty typical story for touring bands who played at the Darkroom. Luckily, the next time they came through in 2007 I was back in town and throwing shows at the Green Project.

I caught them the night before in Pensacola, and that was my introduction to Pygmy Lush. They pretty much blew me away the first time I saw them. It was really refreshing to see my good friends doing another band that I could get into as much as their first efforts.

To hype the pile of shows I'm throwing for these guys this year, I did a short run bootleg CDR of the live radio set they released. The actual CD also has the quiet tracks off of Bitter River and Mount Hope (without repeating the ones they played on that show), but you should just go ahead and get those records; they're amazing. The titles on these tracks might be a little off. Let me know if you catch a mistake.

Dead Don't Pass

Throw the Jockey
No Feeling
Butch's Dream
Hard to Swallow
The Lonesome Waltz of Leonard Cohen (Page Ninety Nine cover)
I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (Ramones cover)

I must have accidentally hit the "mirror image" option when I was making these copies, so the text came out backwards. I wasn't trying to be arty, that's for sure. Special thanks to my pre-fiance Emily McWilliams for helping with the cutting, stamping, folding, and collating of these.

As soon as I can get a copy of the recording, I'll post the songs that Eric Martinez recorded live on WTUL last time I did some shows for Pygmy Lush on the Ghastly City Sleep tour.


evan said...

haha josh, what a sell out.

i remember moving back from oregon just after that first pg. 99 show in new orleans and josh freaking out about how awesome they were. missed the show in NOLA with waifle but caught them the next night at the show we recorded in shreveport. good show, but i wasn't totally hooked until the dixie show with majority rule.

that infamous show at the ark was ridiculous. if they actually made it through 15 minutes it was only 6 or so of actual playing. i think they only finished two songs, started "the list" then everyone walked off. chris was amazing heckling people as they left.

Joseph Gates said...

You forgot to mention that the Faeries played that MBD/Mannequin show (2nd show with Jack), and that it was our best show aside from Santa Cruz.
And who are this band the Faeiries on that Hissing Choir show? I've never heard of them. Here is footage of the last Hissing Choir (Taylors, JR, CrestNathan, Cregger, Gates) performance at our old haus (remember when everyone was spelling their punk houses like that?):

Egg Salad Sandwiches said...

Will you put up the bootleg up for download?

Anon. said...

The bootleg is mostly songs that are available from the band (stuff off Mount Hope and Bitter River), and while you can pretty easily find that stuff for download on plenty of other blogs or on slsk, Mike has asked me not to let it leak out onto the internet through my hands. It should be easy enough to find, though you would be do a lot better to just pick up the vinyl! It's well worth it!