Written by The Offender
This was my first ever “real” Punk show so I was expecting to see mohawks and lots of military boots. Burned into my mind for all eternity, the images of SLC Punk’s band performances were replaying with each song on the radio. I was informed by my friend and partner in crime for this adventure, The Motherfucker, that T.S.O.L. has been in the music industry for 38 years. Having been in the music industry for that long means that T.S.O.L. has both a dedicated fan base and excellent music as well. En route to the show, we blasted the T.S.O.L. top-15 from Google Play Music on the way down and I recognized quite a few of their songs including “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” and “Nice Guys”. It was a strange feeling realizing that a band I didn’t know was actually something I had listened to in elementary school. Without realizing it I was re-discovering a band from my childhood that had played a major part of my development. The nostalgia hit me like freight train when “Flowers By The Door” came over the stereo and both T.M.F. (The Motherfucker) and I went silent.
Having arrived at the venue an hour early T.M.F. and I proceeded directly into the grocery store across the street. Browsing the liquor isle reminded me of the proximity to ASU (15min) as all of the .750ml bottles of good whiskey and vodka were gone. Left with the choice of garbage brand liquor or mid grade bullshit, I grabbed a bottle of brandy and headed for the checkout counter. T.M.F. and I skated around for a bit and browsed some amazing glass work at the local head shop. We regrouped in the parking lot and we killed most of the bottle. We thought about buying drinks at the venue, but $4 for cheap beer was too pricey for our collective budget. We stashed the liquor, our boards, and whatever valuables we had on us and proceeded to the Yucca Tap Room.
The Yucca Tap Room is an unassuming double bar with sound stage and bar in one room. Pool tables and bar in the other. We approached the back entrance of the bar (street-side on southern) where there is a small smoking section and rear entrance, for quick getaways. We were directed around the building by a lone security guy lurking at the rear entrance. He was no doubt waiting for some punks to try sneaking in. When we rounded the corner there were a few small groups of people milling about in the parking lot and a merchandise booth for T.S.O.L.. I sidled up to the merchandise stand and acquired a T.S.O.L. patch for by bare vest, my patch jacket was left in the car. Upon seeing a bunch of random dudes working the booth, T.M.F. Grumbled about how un-punk it is to not be running your own merch stand and we proceeded to the will call.
The security was pleasant and despite a discrepancy between my out of state ID and the doorman’s non-UV flashlight I made it in without a hitch. T.M.F. on the other hand wasn’t so lucky. He only had a paper ID as proof of his being over 21. Since he didn’t have a “real boy ID” he was forced to spend the duration of the show in the under 21 pit. We made it into our respective areas and there was security spread sparsely about the room; two guys at either end of the stage and a third floating about as a decoy. The guy posted up at the fence dividing the minors from the rest of the adults really got on T.M.F. and my nerves after he shouted at T.M.F. for going outside to smoke a fag. It’s not our fault the guy looked and sounded like Gimley from Lord of The Rings! After we dropped that comment he seemed to calm down a bit and was content to glare at me from across the room. There wasn’t a whole lot of excitement from security other than a drunk teenager at the end of the show that got laid out for running his mouth and giving the door man the finger. More on that later in the article.
Father Figures opened the show and played an exceptional set. Their high energy was infectious to those in the soundstage. The aggressive guitar of Michael Cornelius rang out deafening those in close proximity. Anyone left with a semblance of their eardrums intact was quickly dispatched by Tom Reardon’s vocals. Bobby Lerma throttled his drum kit for those in the back of the room. Within minutes a mosh had started and people were moving and grooving, albeit rather violently. They didn’t have too large of a crowd, but I blame that on the people being next door at the secondary bar starting their drunk. Maybe next time they’ll go to the grocery store to get their drinks and do the mingling after the show. I was content to stand in the back by the sound booth and take pictures of the band and the mosh pit. There were quite a few people thrashing about in the pit and even a few ladies handing out beatings to anyone in their direct vicinity. Despite not having a “packed house” they stayed onstage for a solid 45 minutes and got a deafening farewell from the crowd.
With voices shouting and fists flying I headed to the bar nearest the stage to get away from the chaos. I ordered a Rogue Brutal Bitter and smirked at the bartender when she looked longingly for more than a dollar tip on the $4 beer. Two beers later and I was starting to feel my drunk. Father Figures was on their second to last song and the crowd wasn’t going to let them off with an easy 45 minute set. As they finished up the last song I headed outside for a smoke. After being distracted by a way-too-hot-for-this-show punk chick, I found T.M.F. and we traded cameras and strategies. He was put off by the dwarf Gimley and grumbling about security, but we made a game plan for the next two sets.
Left Alone was the second band of the night. By the time they took the stage the crowd had moved into the soundstage area and what little standing room that remained was quickly consumed. Under Elvis Cortez’s melodious voice and Nick Danger’s heavy bass line the crowd was at their mercy. Once Cobra began ripping out quick drumlines, the area in front of the stage quickly became a free-for-all. I took a strategic position in the back between the bar and the crowd and pulled out my camera. The band was picturesque and the crowd photogenic. The crowd photos were great and the mosh photos I took looked awesome. During the set I noticed some of the -21’s passing around flasks and sneaking into the +21 area. All I could think was that poor T.M.F. was dealing with a bunch of drunken teeny-bops with a mild buzz. So midway through Left Alone’s set I headed to the -21 section and traded cameras with T.M.F. He introduced me to some bubbly blonde girl from his high school days, sorry I’m bad with names, and I handed him my belt flask with a wink and a nudge, we both know better than to supply minors with alcohol. I made my way back into the bar/stage room and continued taking pictures of the crowd and band.
When T.S.O.L. took the stage the room was stuffy and hot from the constant moshing. I forwent the customary between set cigarette to get a prime location front stage. While the band was doing sound check and Jack was telling jokes I climbed up on stage to take some pictures of the crowd. Everyone flipped me off, no surprise there, I returned their kindness and started taking pictures.
T.S.O.L. was not going to let the crowd go without giving them a musical what for. Ron Emory’s guitar screamed out for violence and the crowd was more than willing to oblige. Jack Grisham was animated, belting out lyrics as he hopped and danced about. Chip Hanna played with a fervor that would honor any of their previous drummers. Mike Roche’s bass lines poured out at a steady cadence keeping the chaos mellow.
Being posted next to the -21 fence was a hassle once the pit got going. Some cougar half my size got uppity when I pushed her off of my crotch so I could take some decent pictures. Sorry lady it was a PUNK show not a Scottsdale club, I soon found myself being pushed slowly into the -21 area by her and her equally height challenged charge. After using what the enraged cougar described as “highly illegal” elbow shoves, I was able to assert my territory in the corner. The mosh pit got pretty intense and there were numerous times when I was forced to put the camera away and thrash wildly at the fists and elbows, (I thought those were illegal?).
With the pit in full swing and all manner of body fluid flying about the room, I attempted to take some more pictures, but was caught off guard by an unforeseen body shove. As I fell forward I put out my free hand in an attempt to stop myself and palmed one of the pedals for the guitar. The guitar stopped coming from the monitors and both the drummer (Chip Hanna) and guitarist (Ron Emory) gave me looks that would have burst a weaker man into flames. I threw my hands up and screamed apologies until a second shove threw me half way into the -21 section where some poor unsuspecting girl caught my arm with her face. I straightened myself and the girl and I had a brief stare down. I apologized again and forced my way back towards my corner, the area now occupied by the cougar and her man. There was another sound malfunction caused by the grind-happy cougar (suck it nerd!). To which I rejoiced greatly in having not been the only person to cause a sound malfunction. After some highly aggressive hip maneuvers, I hope you all have bruises, I had cleared a decent area from the drunk grinders and asserted decent shooting position.
After the metaphorical dust had settled and T.S.O.L. had exited the building I made a beeline for the front doors. Most people stayed inside to continue drinking or flirt with the punk chicks. T.M.F. and I had other plans. We did some mingling with a random group of people and the obscenely attractive punk chick, Miss Baylynn Wednesday the owner of Poser Productions (check out her Facebook), she got my number because I do things differently. When this 20 year old kid; I say kid because of how this guy handled his drunk, was getting escorted out of the under 21 section. After wrestling his arms free from the door man and his helper he proceeded to go on a drunken rant about how the security personnel were oppressive and abusing their power. The security guy stood there like the gentleman he assuredly was and listened to the poor drunken fool. That is until the kid threw up a middle finger right in his face. Upon seeing such a blatant show of disrespect to a man that could have easily made a human pretzel out him the door man cut in.
“Do that again you little punk and see what happens.”
With the level of inebriation he was at, the kid saw no other option than to oblige the door man. No sooner than the drunk was able to throw a second bird he was on the ground. My wrestling instincts kicking in, I noticed the hand hold the door man was using and let out a bellowing laugh. The kid struggled for a few seconds until the pain of the hold set in and he succumbed to the security personnel. The door man then turned to us and shouted something about the guy doing this repeatedly and that we were next. We all agreed that the kid deserved his fate and laughed as the police hauled him off.
We then noticed Chip Hanna off by the -21 entrance packing his gear. Ever the opportunist we struck up conversation and asked if he wouldn’t mind doing an interview. He obliged us, not that he had much of a choice, we were standing right next to his gear. Chip was a longtime touring mate of T.S.O.L. while in the band US Bombs so it was natural for T.S.O.L. to ask him to be their drummer. This show being his 9th show with the band, he played as though he had been with them for years. When asked if he did any nerdy shit Chip admitted to playing The Legend of Zelda and Mario on the NES. (Full interview will be posted soon!).
We also interviewed Elvis Cortez the lead vocalist/guitar for Left Alone, after making sure that we weren’t some big shot news outlet. (soon Elvis soon…) Due to technical issues we weren’t able to recover the audio from the interview, but I happen to have impeccable memory! It turns out Elvis is a big Star Wars fan, original trilogy. He thinks the prequels suck, and in his twenties he used to collect the action figures and models. When he decided to pursue music he sold all of his Star Wars things to buy his recording equipment. Now he plays in a successful Ska-Punk band but he holds Star Wars in high regards. We agreed that the new trilogy’s X-wing fighters look flimsy and the stormtrooper helmets too streamlined. Elvis thought that the Chrome-trooper (Captain Phasma for all you nerds) was utterly useless. And I clued him in that she will probably see a comeback in the next movie. We asked him what advice he would have for anyone trying to make it in the music industry and advice for us too. He simply said keep doing what you love and don’t let anybody stop you.
This has been a Tales of the Con article and an OFFENDER original. -SUCK IT (PUNK) NERDS!