Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Psychobilly Punk

I have the best therapist ever. Yes, I have a therapist. Doesn’t everyone these days? I am totally stressed out and she was asking me how I can relieve some of that stress. I normally exercise when I am stressed. But this stoopid hernia has kept me from breaking a sweat. The therapist recommended I have a drink with friends, get a massage, and get out of the house more whether for work or play. Dayum, I like her!!

So yesterday late in the afternoon, a friend of mine emailed me about going out last night. My friend’s name is Jeff, but in order to protect the innocent, let’s call him Geoff. Much better. Geoff is almost 40. He has a brother that is in a punk band out of Austin. They are called Pickled Punk and actually label their music as psychobilly. Turns out Pickled Punk was on tour and had a gig late last night in a punk versus psychobilly battle of the bands. I decided I should follow my therapist’s advice and said I’d go.

Eight groups would be playing at a place called Wasteland.

This picture makes it look a lot nicer than it is. I didn’t even know this shitty neighborhood existed. The venue was a cross between a shed and a garage. It was attached to what looked like a crack house.

Geoff and I had to be the oldest guys there by at least ten years. And you may or may not have noticed that I don’t really look very punk. I don’t have enough hair to do cool tricks with it, nor do I have massive amounts of tattoos and piercings, nor do I paint my face and arms, nor do I have a closet full of punk. I showed up in a pair of jeans, my chucks, a t-shirt, a baseball cap and a twelve pack of Tecate.

Normally these people stand out in a crowd. Last night, it was Geoff and I that stood out like sore thumbs. Especially when I’d whip out my iPhone to snap pictures.

The music was really good. And of course, the people watching was top-notch. The punkers were cool and we met a bunch of them. Some guy with black paint over his eyes like a bandit’s mask introduced himself to me as Frog. And we met all the guys in Geoff’s brother’s band. And some muscle head dude from ‘out east’ was in town to visit his kid. He talked to us a lot between forays of arms swinging and punching in the mosh pit.

The whole punk mosh pit thing is a cool phenomenon. It looks like they are beating on each other, but actually it is controlled chaos. If someone gets knocked down, they are immediately helped up by whoever is closest. And it is perfectly acceptable to be standing on the fringes and give a few hearty shoves in the back to anyone getting too close.

As I stood there drinking my Tecate, jamming to the music and watching the moshers enough to be sure I didn’t catch an elbow, I thought to myself, “Self, it is midnight Tuesday and I am drinking shitty beer in a nasty shed in the bowels of Denver with a bunch of hopped up twenty something punk rockers and my friend Geoff the corporate lawyer.” I gotta tell you a reasonable man may have said, “What the fuck,” and removed himself from the situation. Of course, I popped open another Tecate and pushed Geoff into the mosh pit. I have never seen him move so fast as he immediately retreated back to the safety of the fringes.

Finally at about 12:45a, Geoff’s brother’s band played. They were the headliner. I wasn’t shocked at all when his brother changed into a pink pull over dress and proceeded to rock the house.

I tried to think of any other situation I knew of where two siblings could be more different. As Geoff’s brother let the pink dress slip to his ankles while he screamed lyrics in the most rank looking formerly whitey (they were dishwater gray) tighty undies, I took a few steps back to avoid the cinder blocks being thrown on the floor from the stage. I looked at Geoff standing there in his Fedora and then at his brother singing on stage while empty cans of Pabst were thrown at his head and I wondered how in the world those two boys were from the same womb.

Geoff and his brother are clearly living in different worlds. They only talk a few times a year. I watched Geoff watching his brother. He was smiling ear to ear. And when his brother screamed from the stage, “My brother is here,” the two of them raised arms to each other and had a brotherly moment amongst the chaos. It was cool.

And then somebody fell on a set of drums and I saw Frog nursing a bloody lip and punkers were throwing more cans at the band and Geoff’s brother pulled his dress back up and chunks of cinder blocks were being kicked around.

The Pickled Punks rocked. Geoff had brotherly bonding. Per my therapist’s advice, I found a way to relieve some stress. And best of all, we didn’t get knifed!


  1. Hey, it's OK that you are an old, un-hip, totally-out-of-it yuppie. This is one of your best adventures and posts!

  2. 1st, I need the name of your therapist. Mine just tells me that I am really screwed up and it is going to take a lot of work.
    Never heard of that place, and I am guessing that any where that you can get the shit beat out of you by dancing, men wearing pink dresses and you have to bring your own beer to, would not quite be my style. Of course what do I know, my therapist tells me I am messed up.
    That shit started at 12:45? I had been sawing logs and drewling for a good 4 hours.

  3. At least it made the night interesting lol

  4. Sounds like my kinda show! I'm glad you got to have some fun:D

    *needs more punk pics*

  5. Geoff’s brother looks like Zippy the Pinhead.

    Oh Hai XL!

  6. Yeah I got the Zippy lookylikey too but great post - and my kind of evening - cool!

  7. This was the most fantastic thing I have read in so long...sigh... it made me really miss my college days!

  8. What's that saying about when the music is too loud you know you're old...well even just reading this post, I had to stop a couple times and holler at you to speak up, this stuff is too loud.

    Yet I can still remember my nightly lullaby of a speaker on each side of my head with Zepplin cranked on high.

  9. This entry brought back memories of seeing Anthrax years & years ago in the basement of some condemned building. The mosh pit was a must and I stood out like a sore thumb - fisherman's sweater, cowboy boots (hey, it was the 80s), but my bf loved it and I was entertained.

    Btw, love the pic of the guy with the mohawk outside the club. I always wondered, how can they do that?

  10. Look at all the things that happen when I'm asleep!

    At least when you got to the venue, it hadn't gone out of business. Because a closed bar is a really bad one. Yep. That's what I've heard.

  11. i did NOT expect this post to come from you. 10 coolness points awarded! don't try to spend them at the mall or they'll be taken away.

    that being said, those people are all in the bar across the street from my home. welcome to the west coast, you land locker, you.

  12. @xl: This would have been a surreal adventure at age 22, much less 42.

    @danielle: You don't see this kind of stuff in the Things to Do in Denver lists.

    My therapist is too hot for you. You will get distracted by her and not be honest.

    @toni: Interesting is probably an understatement. You should get your punk on sometime!

    @OM: I do have more pics. A lot are blurry though cuz those punk rockers really get crazy in the mosh pit. Were you a punker?

  13. @mj: Haha, good call! Except Zippy the Pinhead probably doesn't wear any underwear.

    @lulu: When you aren't filming ants, you are throwing yourself around a mosh pit? I'd love to see that!

    @red: Clearly punk rock isn't just for breakfast (or college) anymore! You should go find some where you live!

    @@eloh: Zepplin 4, right?

    @little blogger: There was a 'normal' looking woman with a dorky looking guy that was trying to look cool. They were the only other people besides us that didn't look like they belonged. Until he went nuts joining the mosh pits and singing along to most of the songs. Clearly he was a closet punker and despite looking like a dork, the hotty was probably turned on by it. Interesting people watching I tell ya...

    @mags: Closed bars can lead to even better things.

    @kara: Sweet, I need lots of cool points. Hey man, I can adapt to many situations, including mixing well with you coastal folk. You are Portland, right? Love that city - been ther for work about four times.

  14. Sounds like a very fun, very cool evening. Glad you had a good time.

    Too funny... Jeff changed to Geoff. You never fail to crack me up.

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  16. Hilarious stuff! Impressed kudos for making a 12:45 show, but thumbs down on not taking a buddy photo of you with pink dress guy for our amusement!

    Wasteland? Best club name ever.

    Sweet that "Geoff" and his bro are still cool with each other. Would love to be a fly on the wall at their big family Thanksgiving dinners though.

    About half of my restaurant kitchen staff is usually comprised of Straight Edge kids, an offshoot of the punk culture. They totally abstain from any drug or alcohol use, and most are conservative Christians. The biggest visible difference is that they have nasty looking dreads,(that were covered in the kitchen) not mohawks.

    Their music scene is the same, they're totally covered in flamboyant tatoos, and they're really into all kinds of piercings, especially the overly stretched earlobe kind. *shivers*

    Most polite conciencious workers ever...never late, never stoned, never hungover. I'd hire one of them over a frat boy any day.

  17. LMAO! They are not known for standing still!

    Not exactly- I've never been a joiner, even of antisocial groups (hello!) and because of my short leash, I didn't find the good shit until I was (imo) a little too old to be fucking around like that full time (oh, 20ish:p). I still go to the occasional show though- good times!!!

  18. Same kinda thing here all the time. Once in a blue moon you stop and take stock while saying "how the hell do I get myself into a situation like this?". Ya just kinda go with the flow I guess. If that doesn't work, keep scoping out the punker chicks. they're crazy hot and for them it's an ego boost to have men of our calibre to even notice them.

  19. it's kind of funny the code of different groups huh? I love watching punks mosh, and have been known to occasionally join in myself...gosh I feel so old admitting that.

  20. @karen: That was one of my favorite parts of the post. Thank you for calling it out!

    @scarlett: Punk rockers are people too! Those huge round ear things freak me out too. I saw a dude there that had ones the size of a half dollar.

    @OM: You are never too old for anything! C'mon, non-joiner, get yer punk on!

    @cunning: That last line of your comment made me laugh my ass off. Yep, a real live spelled out lmao.

    @amber: I wonder what these guys would have done if any women got in on the mosh. I would be worried for you if you were in one. I should find a bigger venue where the chicks join in. Looks like I'm gonna be a punk rocker if I ever grow up.

  21. “Self, it is midnight Tuesday and I am drinking shitty beer in a nasty shed in the bowels of Denver with a bunch of hopped up twenty something punk rockers and my friend Geoff the corporate lawyer.”

    That, my friend, is Hemingway caliber. Well done.

  22. I loved this post all the way through. I felt like I was there. But I'm glad I wasn't, because I'm always the person the cinder block lands on.

    (I have a therapist too. She tells me the same thing, except I don't have a hernia, so I should probably get off my ass a bit more.)

  23. This is eerie. I had almost the EXACT same night last night. Except I was with my friend Caitlyn (Katelyn for anonymity) and WE were the youngest ones, and I had on blue underwear, and it was a cozy little tapas bar playing bluesie-funk instead of psycho-funk. But other than that - totally the same.

  24. Sheena was a punk rocker and let me tell you, it was the least stressed out time of my life. Now, I just jog for the master race.

  25. @mel: You are way too kind. That is one of the best compliments ever! Thx!

    @vic: I wanted to throw cinder blocks and mosh it up but the damn hernia was an excuse to lift nothing more than twelve ounce beers.

    @jess: This is almost EXACTLY the same. And instead of being hit by cinder blocks you were simply hit on, right?

    @moi: I might keep punk in the mix after I can exercise again. It was totally fun.

  26. How come I never get to see THAT Denver when I visit?

  27. oh.


    you're hilarious with your iPhone ..... capturing the moment.... LOL.

    do you ever watch South Park? I didn't until I lived in Denver, then suddenly it was so funny to watch a sarcastic cartoon about the place where I actually lived. South Park's "punk band" episode, and the things that they talk about that happen on Colfax... well... it kinda makes want to go see that naughy side of town just for fun.



    maybe i'll whip out my camera phone;-)


    ~ c ~

  28. Loved the post. Reminded me of my visit to a thrash metal bar a few months ago to see my friend's band play - Spewgore - they rocked. They opened for Piledriver and the lead singer (can you call him a singer) came out in this chicken-meets-S&M outfit. Loved every minute of it.

    Oh, and I need the name of your therapist too 'cause mine picks fights and sends me home angry. I'm supposed to feel better after a session, right?

  29. Haha, great post. It has been years since I went to a live band and it certainly was not as "raw" as the one in this post.

    Good advice from your therapist, but I have to ask, is this something you need to do every night until you have your operation? If so, well, you will be feeling your age before too long. All them late nights in dark sheds.

  30. Wow, that mosh pit looks kinda scary.

  31. Reminds me of when I met my wife, who is a small, five-two elf-like critter and was strangely into heavy music when we were young.

    I could always find her on the dance floor cos she was the only one wearing a small white vest and blue jeans in a sea of black leather and metal studs.

    She also knew all the words.

    Sigh . . .

  32. HAHA!! And that's why I don't live in Austin. ;)

    I'm glad you survived, although I'm not sure how "relaxing" that little outing was.

  33. Humm...not so much. But maybe because we spent part of the night going to the bathroom together and switching shirts back and forth to see if anyone would notice.

    They didnt.

  34. that was an excellent show! good to see an outside perspective on the whole thing. Spike's undies -were- pretty nasty though, huh.


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