Ever feel like you just go out either for the Hell of it (an expensive thing) or just to support your friends' bands (a good thing)? Those of us who miss the big festivals and rarely see shows out of town (as a spectator or performer) are prone to fall in that rut. This is not leading up to an anti-Cleveland rant, as this can happen anywhere. A much-needed boot-to-ass show that'll remind you of why you got into underground rock music in the first place comes around often enough to keep most of us going, even if it's due to a less established band and at an unexpected place.
My previous boot-to-ass experience was in Detroit last September (the 21st, to be exact) when I saw The Raincoats, a favorite since I was a teenager and a band I might have never seen if I had stayed in Atlanta. They were great and worth driving to a city with a bad reputation alone in a car that at the time was missing a window, even if I got lost downtown and it cost me another chance to see Grass Widow. Getting out of town briefly to see an international act should be a boot to the ass most of the time, like when I saw The Slits in Birmingham, Alabama several years ago.
So what city did I go to this time and which reunited group did I see? The answers this time were an open mic night in nearby Lakewood and, instead of favorites from my teenage years, a modern touring band from Wisconsin I've been in contact with since the 7 Inch Atlanta days. Because everywhere else was booked way in advance, Trio's hosted The Hussy last Tuesday during its usual open mic night. Though I had been in contact with guitarist Bobby Wegner since he mailed me a CDR of demos several years ago and he appeared on my radio show back when I was in graduate school, I had never met him or his bandmate Heather Sawyer in person. Meeting them and scoring a copy or two of their new Tic Tac Totally LP was a nice treat on what I expected to be yet another night out in Cleveland. Once they did what they were there to do, though, it was not just another stop during a night of bar-hopping. Their solid catalog of songs sounds great live, and both members are equally good at playing and performing. Everyone will remember Bobby setting his guitar on fire, but it's not like that was one moment out of a boring performance. There was not a dull moment and, just like on their records, there was not a weak song.
What is the point of this long-winded tale? You never know when going to see a band you like but have not seen live will provide the kind of boot-to-ass usually reserved for higher profile shows. After all, bands who share your passion can provide the same pick-me-up as more established groups, so this boot-to-ass concept I keep kicking around (ha!) might come into play the next time any of us have a show.