Reflections on the Seaweed Reunion.

(The Jersey Beat article with additional images.)

This past Friday night my eyes and ears were treated to what can only be described as Epic. On Friday, May 22nd Tacoma Washington’s own Seaweed blessed Brooklyn’s Bell House with a reunion show for the ages. I got to the Bell House a  few minutes early and had a chance to stake the place out. I’d heard mixed reviews about the large bar and performance area from varied sources. Most of which described their love/hate relationship with the spot. Anyone visiting can’t help but notice how though very large in size they manage to keep a cozy,  friendly vibe throughout. Everyone I met on the staff from the ticket collector to the bartenders were very friendly and had absolutely no hipster vibe to them. As I made the rounds and ran into a number of friends and familiar faces I couldn’t help but feel I was in for a memorable night.

(Damn) This Desert Air opened the night and though I don’t like to use the word twice in one week, Their sound was ‘EPIC’. Though the members come from such well known acts as Instruction, Nora and Fire Still Burns to name a few. DTDA’s sound is somewhat larger and deeper. My ears were hearing influences such as Quicksand and early Thursday. I couldn’t help but think the room was the perfect size for what they were performing.  Needless to say it was good on the ears.

Next up was  Chicago’s All Eyes West. A  band I’ve been hearing more and more buzz about lately. There are many ways to describe a bands performance and style but the if I were asked to describe them I’d say “Think of a twister that rolls into town and levels every mother fucking thing in site” Then add musical instruments. I’ll say this for the record: Jeff Dean is a god damned assassin. I brought a wide angle lens to shoot the show and Christ, I couldn’t keep up with the guy. If you see him, ask him what the deal is with that crazy leg kick. My one and only regret on the night was that I missed these guys when they played the Court Tavern in New Brunswick about a week before.  Insanely good. They’ve got a record due out in June. If it’s anything like their set I might have to buy two copies.

Soon enough the floors of the Bell House became packed as Seaweed took the stage. We were about to be treated to a reunion for the ages. In all honesty there was not a sad face in the entire crowd. Complete strangers became best friends  while packed in front of the stage like sardines. There were people like Tracy Keats Wilson who drove all the way up from Richmond. People I talked to who remember when and where they bought their first Seaweed 7 inch or recalled that amazing set the played at CBGB’s in 1993. (Yes, I was there too)

The band quickly launched into Antilyrical and from that point never let up. I don’t think there was a soul in the area code that didn’t feel something. Aarons energy and exuberance were unstoppable. That coupled with a song list that captured the bands finest moments and a crowd that sang along to every song, chorus and lyric and you had a night that people will be talking about for years. Even the encore was killer. Though they didn’t bring out everyone’s favorite Seaweed cover (Fleetwood Mac’s) “Go Your Own Way.” They didn’t miss delivering any of their own classics.  Their foot print will remain a lasting one but this show will only serve to have casted a longer shadow. JD

Jersey Beat article

Scream reunion @ the Black Cat in Washington D.C.

When I got home late the other night there was a message from my old friend Freddy letting me know their was an extra ticket and seat for the ride down to D.C. for the reunion of the band Scream. It was an automatic and enthusiastic “YES” for me. I had been craving a road trip over the last couple of weeks and the opportunity to see the legendary Scream was as good an excuse as it gets. Though the weather called for snow I hoped for the best and kept my fingers crossed.                                                                                 Saturday came and the snow came as forecasted (imagine that, an accurate weather forecast.) The snow came and kept on coming. By the time Freddy called me Saturday night it had turned into a blizzard. Freddy’s voice did not sound good. “I don’t know man. The snow is pretty bad. I heard that D.C. is blanketed in it. I don’t know if I want to go.” I know how he felt but asked that he wait until the morning to decide. The next morning I was jolted by the phone. It was Freddy again. “We’re going. Meet us at Great Jones at noon. I jolted out of bed, got dressed and headed to the city. Freddy Alva, Mark Ryan, Nikki Sneakers and yours truly packed into Dave Steins car and headed out.                                 Prior to our leaving I had pictured the cover of the D.C. benefit compilation “State of the Union”  where homeless men are covered in tattered blankets while covered in snow. In all honesty I pictured us going 20 miles and hour in Antarctica like temperatures and Siberian snow drifts. But the roads were clear and there was no traffic to be seen. Within a few hours we’d be in D.C. The trip was pretty uneventful. Dave and Freddy in the front Me, Nikki and Mark in the back. Bad Brains and Cromags playing on the iPod. Eventually we arrived in D.C. and found a spot right in front of a good record store a few blocks from the club. I scored an Urban Blight and an Undertones record while Nikki seemed to make a serious killing. After that it was over to Busboys and Poets where we were joined by more people for dinner. B&P is a combination book store, bar and restaurant with some great books and even better food. I highly recommend the catfish btw.

Afterwards we headed up the block to the Black Cat for what would be an amazing night. What were originally scheduled to be four bands were narrowed down to two. Rust Buckit and Scream. Rustbuckit which features for members of Black Market Baby were a good teaser. Playing balls out rock ‘n roll that the crowd really got into. They had a good presence and got everyone whipped up. As the set ended I noticed the club was filling up quickly and from there I never looked back.

For the record Scream was perhaps the last of the great D.C. bands of the 80’s that I fell in love with. That said I have done a lot of catching up over the years. The band fired into a set that was powerful, emotional and memorable. The bands energy coupled with the crowds response were impossible to contain. Pete paced back and fourth on the stage belting out a set that was an even mix of old and new songs. Skeeter plucking away on his bass and Franz firing his guitar. I heard a few comments about them playing too many new songs but if you ask me the crowd was too whipped up to mind. When the band returned for an encore they were joined by none other than Brian Baker on guitar. My mind was blown. The crowd became even more frenzied and the bodies started flying off the stage. I remember seeing a sign that read “No stage diving or crowd surfing allowed. You will be thrown out.” But by that time it didn’t seem to matter. The night was just about over. Elated and exhausted we headed home. Special thanks to Dave Stein fro driving and the door to door service. It was much appreciated.

Dave Stein later had this to say and I couldn’t agree more.

“Taking a road trip like this just confirmed to me how important not just music is to my life, but LIVE music. I’ve hitchhiked, taken buses, flown, crammed in vans and trucks and cars to see bands I love and I look forward to having the reason to do it again.”