the Whore Moans – 2009.04.29 – Middle-East, Cambridge

Wednesday night.the Whore Moans

Middle East Upstairs.

$9 show.

My expectations; Very Low.

Mark sent me a text months ago. It went something like this, “The Whore Moans. You’re new favorite band. Must go see them.”

As I get older, Wednesdays have become a wasteland. Wednesday is the epitome of the work-week. I can convince myself that it’s OK to start the weekend a day early, on Thursday. Occasionally I can be convinced to extend the weekend to Monday or Tuesday night. But Wednesday? Oh, what the hell. Mark’s Birthday was coming up and the tickets put me out a total of $18.

Worked late, scrambled to get to Colin’s baseball game, arrived late, got our butts kicked, flew home, put the kids to bed, change clothes, headed for the door. Before walking out, I stopped; It’s 8:45 on a Wednesday night, after a full and crazy day. I’m about to get in the car to drive nearly an hour to Cambridge. I have to be at work at 8:30 tomorrow. What the hell am I doing?

I found a spot on the street around the corner from the Middle East and walked over to meet Mark. Based on the 12 other people that are milling about the club, my outlook on the evening didn’t getting any better. My fond memories of this space are limited to a sold-out Angry Samoans show about 5 years ago and a sparsely attended Little John show more than 10 years ago. I expect that following tonight the scoreboard will stand at 2 for 3 at the Middle East upstairs.

We missed the first band while eating a pie at Hi-Fi Pizza but showed up in time to catch the Dogfight U.S., the second opener. I discovered that hardcore circa. 1982 is still alive and well in Boston. These guys sounded like a serviceable combination of Keith Morris-era Black Flag and Jerry’s Kid; a comparison I’m pretty sure they would be thrilled with. It wasn’t quite as exciting to me as it was back in the late eighties when I discovered hardcore, but it was still worth a listen.

It’s funny, I used to think a lot about how cool it would have been to have seen the first wave of American hardcore. My friends and I always had this romantic vision of seeing Black Flag or the Misfits, or any of the early D.C. Dischord bands. You know what though; I think the reality would have been much more like this Wednesday night at the Middle-East than any fantasy show that we could imagine. 25 guys standing around trying not to look too into the band, while trying just as hard not to look too bored. Or worse, crammed into some basement squat with the same 25 guys and no windows or air conditioner. Over the years my philosophy has changed; enjoy the bands you have the opportunity to see today. Don’t pine away for a past that couldn’t possibly have been as cool as you imagine it. I also have the benefit of having lived long enough for the pendulum to have swung back around. Lots of these guys have gotten bored with their lives and decided to go back on tour. Thus in the first decade of the 21st century I’ve been able to see Henry Rollins and Keith Morris play all those Black Flag tunes live as well as see classics like Jerry’s Kids, the Angry Samoans, Gang Green, the Freeze and the Decendents. I have a feeling that I appreciate the opportunities today as whole hell of a lot more that I would have 20 years ago. So don’t wax nostalgic for a past you didn’t live. Chances are it will come around again to meet you in adulthood. But I digress…

I knew nothing about the Whore Moans beyond Mark’s recommendation that we check them out. I did manage to check out a song or 2 on their MySpace page, but frankly it sounded horrible. I learned that they were from Seattle and from the pictures on the web site my mind went immediately to Mudhoney. So, with nothing but a couple of pictures and the knowledge that they came from the Great Northwest, I held some sparkle of hope that this night would not be a total waste.

Nearly a month later, as I write, I still have no idea how to describe what I saw that night. Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to post this show is that I haven’t figured out how to coherently write down what they were all about. I guess I can start with; I freakin’ loved them! They were nearly a disaster from the get-go. These four guys were all over the place; standing and falling off the drum risers, climbing on top of amps, trying to jamb themselves into a crawl space above the stage. They were careening all over the stage (that’s not much bigger than the back seat of my car). At any second the whole thing could have degenerated into a racket of feedback and out-of-tune instruments. But it didn’t. They were as sloppy as anything that I’ve ever seen out of Seattle, but at the same time they were tight; never missing a beat or a note.

They were the strangest combination of influences I’ve ever heard. At the core was the garage-punk of the Hives. There was definitely a fair dose of Mudhoney mixed in. Then suddenly, in the middle of everything they would start a harmonized, sing-a-long chorus, ala Naked Raygun. My favorite effect was their screamo backing vocals. At key moments, the rhythm guitarist would step to the back of the stage and, totally off mic, start screaming a chorus at the top of his lungs. Clear as day you could hear him from the back of the room. I was convinced that this was a cute effect that could only work in a tiny room like the Middle-East, but listening to their CDs I found that they managed the exact same thing in the studio.

These guys were band-geeks high on hardcore, mixing every style of indie rock and punk that I could imagine. That’s one of the particulars that really grabbed me. This felt like music by music fans. They took everything that they liked to listen to, threw it in the blender, and watched what came out the other side. The beautiful thing was that they didn’t seem overly concerned about what came out the other side. As long as things they loved were in there, they were happy. That approach lent to the near-disaster feel of the performance. It felt as though the whole thing was going to fall apart at any second, but it never did. They just kept sounding great and weird and like nothing I’ve ever heard before.

Remind me not to shy away from Wednesday night show invitations.

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~ by spinthis45 on May 23, 2009.

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