Bark at the Moon
By Michael Henningsen
Wednesday, June 4; The Meek, Smug and Stretch; Golden West Saloon ... and Launchpad
This was not your average local show. First of all, Golden West only sporadically opened its doors to the local rock scene in the past year or so, and second, they decided not to open their doors to Smug on this particular night. I won't get into technicalities for several reasons, but the show, as they say, must go on. In the end, all three bands on the shared bill got to play. Reviewing the event, though, involved quite a bit of legwork due to the fact that it wound up taking place in two separate venues. Here's the play-by-play:
10:15 p.m.: The Meek take the stage at the Golden West and blast through their first two songs to the pleasure of the small but determined crowd who can't believe they're watching a rock show in this particular venue.
10:18 p.m.: Smug are nearly ready to begin their set.
10:20 p.m.: I'm back at Golden West just as The Meek bassist Bob Beckley (you may recognize him from such rock bands as Steve) is introducing what he succinctly calls their "Fourth Song." It rocks.
10:25 p.m. Smug have, by now, exploded into their set and sound great despite a rushed load-in, set-up and soundcheck. Eric Kennedy is behind the board. He is a hero. R.B. Greene is watching nearby. He, too, is a hero. Smug blast through four more songs in just under six minutes. Being jilted by the powers that be at the Golden West has apparently had no effect on their positive outlook or their performance. They are champions of punk rock.
10:29 p.m.: Guitarist Dan Murphy (you may recognize him from such bands as Steve and Gaceystick) is midway through an impassioned solo, and the rest of The Meek aren't. Instead, they deliver one musical body blow after another.
10:35 p.m.: Sanjay still has not ordered a beer. Smug are a sweaty, supercharged punk rock spectacle to behold.
10:44 p.m.: The Meek have inherited the earth, or at least the portion of it stationed inside the Golden West. It's their second club gig, and they've already garnered a sizeable handful of lifelong fans. I am among them. Their set comes to a close. I haul ass.
10:49 p.m.: Smug announce their last song. It's "No Caffeine ... Just Beer For Me" from their recently released Don't Turn Your Back 7-inch. Still, Sanjay does not order one. A few leaps and a shout later, Smug thank the crowd and Launchpad and begin tearing down.
10:55 p.m. Stretch is setting up at Golden West. Guitarist Len Apodaca (you may recognize him from such bands as Dead Leonard), for some reason, is tinkering with the drum kit. Drummer Luke Cordova is somewhere around.
11:15 p.m. (or so): Len finds his guitar and Stretch break into their first song, which I'm pretty sure I recognize from their 10-song cassette.
11:24 p.m. (give or take): Stretch are a much different band live. Of course, the tape was recorded to 4-track in Len's basement, but the band have a very definite indie rock flavor not so readily apparent on tape. They're also heavier. And that's good.
11:49 p.m.: I am fairly hammered by now and winded from running back and forth between venues (I know they're right next door to each other, but I don't get much exercise). Stretch have thoroughly surprised me.
11:55 p.m.: I walk home.
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