with the Gotohells, Buck, John Cougar Concentration Camp, and the Lexingtons
The Hardback Cafe, Gainesville • December 2nd, 1998
Despite getting to the Hardback “early” (before 11; bands usually don’t start ’til 11:15 at the earliest, due to the theater next door), John Cougar Concentration Camp was already on as we entered the door. They were a 3-piece decked out in the official post-Ramones leathers and T-shirts and were quite good in a Riverdales, Crumbs, etc. (i.e., rather a lot like the Queers, without the Beach Boys influence) kinda way. Unfortunately they were underappreciated by the crowd, a large percentage of which hung outside in the traditional Hardback-slacker-disaffected-teen (although few teens were in fact there on a Wednesday night) mode.
After a change made quite brief by using the same drum kit and amps (or “backline,” as we professional musician types like to say, in order to let you know that we are, in fact, professional musician types), Buck came on. A local flier noted that Buck contained ex-member(s) of Cub, so as you might expect, a much more indie-pop sound was churned out by Buck. The boy guitarist and girl bassist traded lead vocal roles and were quite good; at one point the guitarist broke a string in the midst of a song and the girl vocalist immediately came up with an extemporaneous bridge to cover the space as he quickly changed guitars, the drummer never missing a beat. As much as I love seeing talented fuckup kids on-stage, there’s something to be said for professionalism, and Buck and the rest of this tour had that in spades (the tour also apparently had some of the downside of the “higher” levels of the music biz, but more about that later). Again, Buck was underappreciated by the Hardback crowd — there were moments of pure pop bliss when both vocalists were singing, but a lot of the crowd seemed not to care.
After two fine bands, I was beginning to get into full concert mode, on the one hand, and more than a little pissed at the crowd, on the other. Next up were the Gotohells, from right here in Florida. They were a four-piece with two guitars, and so had a fuller sound and could play more solos (although this wasn’t overdone by any stretch). After Buck, the Gotohells were a return to straightforward rock and roll that had me spontaneously pogoing, until one of my buddies (who, like everyone at the Hardback except maybe some of the people on-stage that night, is at least a decade younger than me) gently reminded me that no one pogos anymore. Within moments, a pretty good mosh pit was started, just me and 4 or 5 other guys having fun and hopefully getting the crowd into the band a bit more. Got my first split lip in ages, and, even though I was playing the Hardback myself the next night, it was well worth it.
The Queers came on next, borrowing the guitarist from JCCC as bassist and playing as a four piece. The place was far too packed for a pit to get going. If you don’t know the Queers’ sound, it is basically the Ramones meet the Beach Boys, although necessarily in a live situation there’s a lot more of the former and less of the latter. Songs in the set included “Sidewalk Surfin’ Girl,” “Kicked Out of the Webelos,” “Bonehead,”
“This Place Sucks,” and “Punk Rock Girls.” Towards the end, they threw in some covers, including the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” and the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright.” Some folks left just before the encore of “Louie, Louie,” making room for some slamming and even one crowd surfer (something I’d never seen at the Hardback, which has a pretty low ceiling).
The touring bands packed up and left, along with a goodly portion of the crowd, as locals the Lexingtons took the stage. According to folks in the know, despite that they had been scheduled to open, the Lexies had been bumped to last at the insistence of the tour manager, who pulled one of those “my way or the highway” ultimatums. The Hardback was also not in agreement with the tour on how much the door should be, the tour wanting to charge $9 (Hardback crowds are used to $3 during the week and slightly higher on weekends), eventually agreeing to charge $6. The Lexingtons finished the evening with their set of punk somewhere between hardcore (they were easily the hardest band of the night) and the more Lookout Records sound of most of the touring bands, keeping a surprising number of people up ’til way too late for a Wednesday. Oh yeah, and the bassist was wearing Saran Wrap.
A good time was had by all.