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Gig reviews: Fresno Grand Opry/the Bel-Tower, 5/14/2011
Before I heard Misfits "Evilive" my musical world mostly revolved around Buddy Holly, so Saturday night was like the literal manifestation of my earliest musical education. On one hand there was the hay-baled hillbilly styled Fresno Grand Opry down at the old Liberty Theater, where six bands where taken to task to recreate some of the best old-time country western music. And in the other was a circle pit of shirtless screaming punks down at the Bel-Tower.
I felt like singing "I Want to be Cowboy" all night long.
Fresno Grand Opry
This was a fundraiser for KFSR, somewhat based on the National Big Fresno Barn Dance. There was some criticism early on that the show wasn't really representing Fresno's county roots (in terms of musicians involved). But it was never really meant to be that. The idea was to get a bunch of local musicians (from all different genres, young and old) and unite them around their love for old-time country western. And that's what happened.
And 400 or so people showed up to watch.
Our set: This wasn't our first gig, but it was the thing we were working up to. We opened the nigt with a three-song set: "You're the Reason that our Kids are Ugly," "You're the Reason God Make Oklahoma" and "Stand by Your Man," plus a couple bits of banter between the songs. The first song was our most practiced and we went through it comfortably, got a few laughs, I think. I fumbled around some on the guitar during the second song and brought down the house with the "top-o-the-lungs" chorus on "Stand by Your Man." Jaime killed it as Tammy with the dress and the wig and her best Oklahama twang. Coming off the stage with the a guitar in one hand and a cowboy hat in the other, with the bright lights shining and the crowd applauding ... I felt like a true country western star.
Karen Marguth: Karen got together an all-star essemble that included Tony Quinn, Brian Hamada, David Aus and Adan Infante and they did a powerful set that ended with Karen and David doing a duet on "Jackson." Good stuff.
The rest of the show ... I missed, because I had to run off to The Bel-Tower. Word is Strange Vine killed it. To which I say, "duh."
Deadbeats: The Deadbeats are one of the new-ish bands I've been wanting to catch for awhile, but always seemed to miss, even when were on the same bill. So this was a treat. The band does a crazy mash up of ska, thrash and straight-ahead punk. They play fast and loose, and that might come across as sloppy, but the crowd circle-dancing through the set didn't seem to care much. Not to be sexist, the bass player Ariel stripped down to just a bar a tiny skirt (or maybe she started the set that way), which was probably a plus for the dudes in attendance (and some of the ladies too now that I think about it).
Born Loser: Musically, these guys don't pull any tricks, just pound away at quick, two-minute pop-ish punk tunes. Where the Deadbeats play it enthusiastically loose, Born Loser comes off tight, clean and polished (in a sort of Ramones-ish way). This is a compliment. Also, they had a smoke machine (which is always cool) and a tiny rotating laser light. They were handing out 7-inches before and after the show. If you can get your hands on one, you should.
Our set: We played everything that's on the soon-to-be-released 7-inch, along with a few requests, including "Say What Mutherfucker," which got a HUGE response from the crowd. So that's probably gonna be on the list whenever we play there from now on. 'Cause it's fun to share the mic on songs you're written. While bar shows have pluses, there's nothing like a all-age gig to remind you why you play.
Instant Asshole: I missed them, because I had to get back to the Opry to help clean up and whatnot. But this was the band's last show in Fresno and they played a double set of 30-plus songs. I am sure someone passed out from exhaustion before it was all done.