|The Smugglers, then The Muffs and Chixdiggit. (All photos by Andy)|
17 years ago, Andy and I were at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC, to see Chixdiggit, The Donnas, The Smugglers, The Black Halos, along with the opening band The Goblins, featuring legendary Nardwuar, kick out the jams.
For that show, I had squeezed my way up front while Andy bought us some drinks, which included my favorite, at the time, a Lemon Drop. Andy came back and could not get the drink to me as it was too packed. He had to pass the drink off and ask all the accommodating Canadians to move it along to me. After the drink went through about 7 people, it arrived safe and full to my awaiting hands right as Chixdiggit started -- a dream come true (that would never happen in the states BTW). Thanks so much to the lovely Canadian fans.
Now in the present day, when given the opportunity to see Chixdiggit and The Smugglers again, along with The Muffs this time -- at the Commodore again last Saturday -- well, we had no choice but to attend.
Attend we did, and with our friends Pamela and Dave from Seattle = Punk Rock Roadtrip! And there was Nardwuar, again, standing near front stage.
I decided to rock out and let Andy have the reins at the photos as we enjoyed the show (with several Lemon Drops, might I add).
First, we had Grant Lawrence of The Smugglers (powerhouse headliners for the Commodore gigs, past and present) read from his new book, "Dirty Windshields," which was an enticing start.
Then came the raucous Needles//Pins with a nice Two Cow Garage'ish edge on a few songs.
Then Chixdiggit (whom I was very excited for)-- KJ did his schtick (telling funny stories, etc.) and they ripped, but it was unfortunately way too short! Apparently, KJ had blown out his vocals doing the Canadian National Anthem at the East Vancouver Baseball game earlier in the day... haha, this is fake news, but I'm just saying they played too quick!
The Muffs were the awesomeness that they always are, and "Oh, Nina" was one of my personal highlights. Rumor has it that a well-known Seattle guitar-meister said they were his favorite of the night, as much as he loved all the bands. (We'd actually seen a Muffs/Chixdiggit bill in Seattle in '97, and we're sure that same fellow was in attendance.)
And then The Smugglers, who packed the joint. Between their matching suits, rain boots, pink polka-dot shirts for the encore and dance contest, they put on an amazing gig.
Was a great night -- It will be fun to see if we can see these bands again and still be jumping about in another 17 years from now.
|The Smugglers, The Muffs, Chixdiggit and Needles//Pins.|
|Tons more photos after the following interview.|
** Here's a gig weekend rundown with The Smugglers' vocalist Lawrence:
-- How did Saturday's gig come about? How long was it in the works?
It all started when a guy named Alex Botkin got in touch with me last summer and asked if The Smugglers would consider reforming to play 924 Gilman Street's 30th anniversary in Berkeley, California. We got a few offers over the years to play, but turned them all down. The Gilman offer had a really strong tie to our old label Lookout and had a really strong historic connection to the punk scene. We played there about half a dozen times, so we agreed to do it.
That gig went really well (and provided a happy ending for my new book), which made us realize we should probably do a hometown Vancouver show. My book about The Smugglers called "Dirty Windshields" was scheduled to come out in May, so it seemed like perfect timing for a launch / Smugglers reunion. We had NO idea it would get that big.
Our plan was originally to do it at our local hot dog joint, What's Up Hot Dog, that seats about 20 people with no stage!! Rumours started getting out that The Smugglers might play a show, and I got contacted by my friend Aaron Chapman (the MC from the other night). He works at the Commodore and said "you gotta play the Commodore. It's the only room still left standing from the Smugglers hey-day." I thought he was CRAZY because the Commodore, as you saw, is HUGE.
But he convinced us, and the Commodore provided the budget to bring in our dear friends The Muffs and Chixdiggit, which pretty much put it over the top.
-- What was it like to see it come to fruition? What was the night ...and the entire weekend ...like for you? Highlights?
It was incredible! I was still worrying about people showing up even the day of the show! To see 1,000 people in the room from all over North America / the world, not to mention our hometown, was very very gratifying and humbling. It took a TONNE of work to pull it off, but it all came together somehow.
My highlights were seeing and meeting those that travelled from out of town to be here. A mix of old friends and new faces. Another highlight was the opening night "welcome party" at What's Up Hot Dog and seeing Larry Livermore (co-founder of Lookout Records) in the same booth as Nardwuar and The Muffs. Also, famed New York City rock critic Ira Robbins was there too, and really friends from all over. It was incredible.
On Saturday night, it was just great to see the crowd, hear Chixdiggit play "I Drove the Coquihalla" and hear the Muffs play "Lucky Guy." I'll never forget that night! It was a true rock 'n' roll party!
|Dance contest judging...|
|Dance contest champion!|
AND TO CLOSE IT OUT...