with the Hudson Falcons
DIY Records, Orlando, FL • April 21, 2000
As of Friday, April 21, 2000, DIY Records is officially my favorite punk rock venue. The fact that a drunk like myself will say that about a venue that neither sells nor allows you to possess alcohol while you are inside watching the show should go a long way to demonstrate how cool DIY is. At first, I was skeptical about checking out a show in a record store. I’d been there a handful of times to bask in the glow of their amazing punk rock selection, but for some reason, I’d never peeked around the corner and noticed the back room where they hold the shows. It’s a cool back room, big enough to hold about eighty people if it were really packed, but small enough so that everyone can see and hear and be part of the show. It was the perfect place to see the Hudson Falcons and the Beltones.
The Vigilantes were supposed to get things started, but they never showed up. I hung around the record store for a half-hour, thumbing through CDs, wishing I wasn’t broke, and wondering why there weren’t more people. The Hudson Falcons had played to a packed Sapphire Supper Club only a few months earlier. Even though most of the crowd at the Sapphire that night had been there to see the Dropkick Murphys, the Hudson Falcons put on such an energetic show that I figured they would’ve converted the whole crowd. But by 8:45 on the night of their show at DIY, about five people milled around the record store, and no one was in the back room except the band. The soundman turned down the lights, I walked up to the front of the stage, and the Hudson Falcons got started. Their lead singer, Mark Linskey, started by explaining that they were a working class band and most of their songs were about freedom and protecting people’s rights. Then, the band kicked into their first song with all the enthusiasm and pride they’d had at the packed Sapphire a few months earlier. By the end of the song, the crowd had swelled to about thirty people. The band turned it up and rocked, fast and furious, rolling through songs like “Rich Kids Can’t Play Rock and Roll” and the Menace cover, “GLC.” A kid with a shaved head and suspenders shook his fist and sang along with every word of every song. The rest of the crowd got into the spirit. Guitarist Chris Lynn pasted a strange grin on his face for the whole of the song, “Come Out Ye Black and Tans,” then explained the grin by telling the crowd, “That’s as good as we get, and we did it for you.” The Falcons were so tight, playing so well, that they stuck it out for an extra ten minutes. One punk rock kid was so swept away that he handed over his last ten buck in quarters, nickels, and dimes for a Hudson Falcons T-shirt.
At the end of the Hudson Falcons set, the crowd again vanished. The Beltones set up, waited for about ten minutes for the crowd to return, then gave up on them and started playing for the Falcons, the soundman, my buddy Chris, and me. And just like the Falcons, the Beltones played like the house was packed. And just like before, the house was packed by the end of the song. The Beltones play something like an Irish folk song revved through the engine block of a four-barrel 1972 Chevy Malibu. Singer Bill McFadden growls intelligent and mournful lyrics like the mechanic sitting next to you in a bar who vaguely mentions his desire to gun down all the beautiful people, then laughs, slaps you on the back, and buys you a beer. Rob Sessions backed him up with fast and beautiful guitar work that sounded even better when he remembered to step away from the front of the speaker so that the rest of us could hear him. One time he stepped away from the speaker and almost ate shit off the edge of the stage. The Beltones rocked and growled through a dozen two minute songs, most of which are on their album, On Deaf Ears. Then, with their repertoire exhausted but the crowd demanding more, they ended the set by playing the same song they’d begun the set with, “My Old Man.” Most of the crowd hadn’t heard it yet, and those of us who had didn’t mind, because it’s still a great song.
I left the show happy that I’d seen all the things I love about punk rock: bands playing for who is there rather than for who’s not, lyrics with meaning, a venue more interested in bringing in great music than bringing in big crowds, a kid doling out his last dime for merch, and all that energy and enthusiasm for five dollars. There’s no doubt in my mind that these two young bands will be around for a while, growing musically and developing hordes of fans, and I’ll feel a little cooler about having seen them play for thirty people in the back of a record store.