Hot Water Music
with Leatherface, River City High, and Pezz
Market Street, Gainesville, FL • September 9, 2000
Despite getting to Market Street at 10 PM, I unfortunately missed openers Pezz, a Memphis four-piece who’s really good. My bad. The first band up was Richmond, Virginia’s River City High. Maybe it was because I saw Leatherface and HWM last year, or maybe it was just that I could actually see River City High (more about that later), but they were my faves for the evening.
The quartet had really good stage presence, and when I heard the bassist/singer play a line from Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” just before the start of the set, I took this as a very good sign. Add to that two SG/Marshall guitar/rig combinations and a bassist playing a Stingray through an Ampeg SVT, well, for a guitar junkie like me, I knew they might be openers, but were not to be discounted.
The songs were punk rock, meaning the cowboy-hatted lead player actually played leads. They even worked in a momentary reference to “Back In Black” in one of their songs, closed with Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town,” and told tales of playing Gainesville house parties and “being forced to drink large amounts of alcohol and play AC/DC and Thin Lizzy, which we’d rather do anyway.” Did I mention I really like these guys?
Leatherface was the penultimate band, switching slots with HWM from last year’s tour. As ever, the most immediately recognizable feature of the band is vocalist Frankie Stubbs’ laryngectomy-candidate gravelly singing, which typically gives soundpersons fits for a live mix. Last year, it took the Covered Dish half the set to get anything workable out of Stubbs’ rasp. Market Street fared somewhat better, but only by putting the vocals so up front in the PA mix that you actually needed to be close enough to the stage to get the stage amps’ sound in order for the overall effect to be right.
And good luck getting close to the stage. Once Leatherface took the stage, pandemonium reigned. People were crowd surfing by the middle of the set for these emo godfathers whom label BYO Records describes as a cross between Husker Du and Motorhead (the latter no doubt because of Stubbs’ growl — the music sounds nothing like Motorhead).
When hometown boys Hot Water Music took the stage at the end of the night, the surfing was in full effect by the second song. People were standing on chairs, and the whole crowd was singing along (difficult given the oldschool-emo HWM practices), almost as loud as the vocal mix.
Of course, these are all good things.