Friday, January 31, 2014

Moshed Potatoes demos

         Moshed Potatoes.  A local hardcore punk band I remember seeing briefly at the Henderson Elks Lodge in the late 80's.  A name that sucks so bad it doesn’t need to be disparaged so in that sense they fit in well with the other Las Vegas bands I’ve written about here.    

       Always hated the word “mosh.”  It’s total meathead, metallicrap, east coast, tough guy posturing.  At least I’ve always believed it to have originated from the east coast although I couldn’t tell you who’s the genius for the genesis of the word.  I always thought slam dancing had a better ring to it.  Because to me it was about dancing whereas moshing seemed to lack finesse, style, even individuality.  It was misdirected fascist aggression instead of being about having a good time.  If you hurt someone in the process of slamdancing it was just a bonus but it wasn’t the whole point of the exercise.  To me “mosh” has an almost blatant whiteness about it due to the inability of said moshee to find the fuckin rhythm.  Moshers, for lack of a better word, can easily be picked out of the herd because it’s almost always the case where the hard mosher is new to the party and usually unfamiliar with the protocal of the circle.  Devoid of style and filled with an aimless macho regard they don’t look like they’re having much fun.  That’s the kind of desperation you leave on the street. Don’t bring that shit to the party turkey trot.  Sure wanton disregard had an obvious place in the sometimes nihilistic world of hardcore but it was never the centerpiece in my opinion.  Well it wasn’t always the centerpiece anyway.  Still it’s a part of the lowest common denominator bullshit that’s always present in human nature and not surprisingly more popular than ever.  OK, I'm not above it all and I’ll admit I like watching train wrecks as much as the next guy.       

        Still I gotta say I always loved the violent guy in the pit.  He’d plow into a few people, maybe even “accidentally” punch someone in the face all while bouncing around and being a general pain in the ass.  You know in his mind he’s “moshing” up a storm.  But just like in nature all storms eventually peter out, or a high pressure system rolls in, so to speak.  I loved seeing a jackass like that enter the fray on the "dance floor"since I always seemed to figure out the right time to retaliate on a stupid piece of shit like that. Right when he had reached critical mass and had pissed off enough people, I could usually judge from the crowd and notice the exact second when the macho mosher was suddenly in danger of getting his ass kicked by the crowd at large.  There’s been several times in my life when I’ve been the first to kick the oppressive tough guy square in the ass, or push him hard onto the floor, or an elbow to the face, knowing that everyone else in the vicinity was ready to beat the motherfucker down just like I did.  I have many memories of making the first move to attack the prick in the pit and then stand to the side to witness the rest of the crowd take the motherfucker down like a pack of wild dogs.  Seeing their face go from cocky to shocking fear was always a hoot.  This exact scenario, or it’s metaphor has happened several times in my adult life albeit less violently.      

     How these people could think they can ram into a crowd without repercussions, when they are in the MIDDLE OF THE CROWD is just beyond me.  What the fuck are they thinking?   Everyone has their mythology of what "punk" is.  When you get to a show you can let yourself go.  But if you're not trying to unify the party you're just a prick that needs to get smacked.  But just as often I’ve seen the crowd take a bunch of shit and not react at all.  There’s a pretty blatant metaphor there as well I guess. 

     I don’t know… was I the violent guy in reverse waiting for someone who was begging to be punched knowing I could get away with it because it’s something "we" all wanted?  Or was I the hero who got the ball rolling towards justice?  Who gives a shit?  I loved taking it out on that guy perhaps as much as he liked dishing it himself.  It’s almost like justice except I was waiting for the violent muh fuh at every show and he almost always would make an appearance at every show.  So maybe I was being a macho jackass?  I was certainly smarter about it, but it stands to reason that these dudes were walking into a situation blind thinking they knew what’s up.  After a few wacks from the audience I’d imagine very few of those tough guys ever entered the pit with the same ruthless agenda.  But hey some people are just fuckin stupid, whaddayagonnado?

       That kinda amateur shit happened a lot back then and even more in the 90’s when all sorts of people showed up to “mosh.”  Yeah I mentioned Whitey earlier, if my turning this into a race thing rubs you the wrong way perhaps you should fuckin relax and learn to dance or else don’t go to places where people dance and just stay at home listening to your Flotsam and Jetsam records.  Can’t believe I still yearn for the days when metal and punk were bitter rivals.  Nothing could be more irrelevant.  Although this blog is exploring the depths of irrelevancy in ways I never imagined possible.    
This sticker from an old tape case of mine shows how even punkers like Danny Breeden used the word "mosh." What a poseur.  This sticker was marked up in blue by Geoff Hughes back in 1988 when Fuck Shit Piss wasn't cool anymore.    
       Speaking as someone who used to live and die for hardcore punk, also I should mention I’m bored to tears by most of what passes for punk or metal lately and all I listen to is jazz, hip hop, and R&B so I’m gonna completely generalize and probably miss the mark completely here: punk and metal are no longer a threat if they ever were a threat to begin with.  Somhow over time metal actually became more intelligent and in someways more realistic than punk, whereas punk today has devolved into a mindless display of token tantrums and shock tactics with no redeeming value.  Both genres are a limpwristed parody of “hard rock” a mere lilywhite stomping ground for white boy blues mediocrity.  And Black Metal?  C’mon man, only a bunch of white people with nothing better to do could come up with such a load of horseshit.  Or should I say norseshit.  Ok I'll admit I’m still a big fan of Melechesh, so sue me!    

        I should also share a story of a time when my adolescent tough guy wannabe hero posturing got me in a situation with the violent guy in the pit which completely backfired.  It was at a shitty show that could have only happened in the 90’s.  Ministry was at the height of their popularity but on a downward slide when they played the Hard Rock with Jesus Lizard.  I went with a few friends and we all quartered a dose.  Nothing too heavy, right?  I showed up just as the acid was coming on and these big fat biker douches are standing in the middle of the pit pushing people around.  Somehow I seemed to know a bunch of people at this show so I figure what the fuck and I kick the fattest of the two bikers fucking hard in his ass.  Well for being a lard ass he sure was quick.  He immediately turned and grabbed me by the throat.  Shaking me up and down.  I shit my pants a little as the whole concert watched me getting choked.  He let go and I slunk away.  Thanks friends.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the 90’s was the worst time ever for popular music.  I’d say it was the worst time for unity as well but I don’t think unity has ever had it so good to begin with.  Let's face it unity only happens when everyone’s got it so bad they don’t have anything else to turn to.  Maybe we should wish for more bad times to speed up this craaazy revolution I keep hearing about?    

       Anyway.  Moshed Potatoes.  Coulda swore I saw them play the worst show I ever saw at the Elks Lodge in Henderson.  Maybe I’m getting my shitty shows confused here, but I seem to recall them playing with Caustic Resin or maybe it was Nasal Sex?   Caustic Resin was the worst touring band I saw in the late 80’s beating out Nasal Sex by the slightest of margins as the dumbest shit ever foisted upon a listening public.  And if I’m not mistaken, which I probably am, Moshed Potatoes opened the show.  Maybe I came late to that show because I don’t remember anything about M.P. aside from hating their name. 

       I was contacted by Omar the singer of MP a few months ago.  He was psyched to hear some of the old KUNV broadcasts I’ve shared here and he asked me to add their demos to the list of oldy moldy downloads available at your click.  I never heard their demo back in the day.  So I gave it a listen after drinking a six pack.   

      Omar mentioned that MP had recorded some of these songs as a part of a compilation that was planned to be released by the somewhat shady organization known as the Las Vegas Alternative Music Co-op.  Somehow no money ever surfaced from the LVAMC to complete the pressing of the record, hence my insistence that they were a shady organization.  And I’ve heard that from several sources.  Anyway in our correspondance Omar seemed to indicate that he and his buddies were hoping to release these tracks and other tracks from You Damn Skippy, and some other bands from the time who might be better left forgotten.  Not sure who will buy a record like that but maybe I’m just being cynical? 

              The Moshed Potaotes demo displays fairly competent 80's hardcore but it does have an east coast slant to it which is something I’m not real particular towards.  Simple lyrics that ask few questions and provide no answers so they got that going for them.  Moshed Potatoes urges you to “be yourself” and “be cool.”  So long as you are not a “fucking liar!” which is something for which all angst ridden  teenagers can relate.  Buzzsaw guitars and straightforward drumming mean you’ll never confuse this with crossover metal shit.  And the liberal use of the f word (fuck) is the sure sign that we got a punk band up in here.  And they top it off with a cover of Henry Garfield’s original name, I mean original band State of Alert.  And if you got that reference then you are a real stickler for details.      

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Belated 5th anniversary of Keep Laffin'

     It’s been a long year.  And not a very productive one with the keep laffin blog and that’s a cryin fuckin shame.  I could just shit myself.  Still I’ve been productive in other ways which are none of your fucking business.  So there’s that. 

            I’m still hoping to get better at writing and such.  I switched from beer to whiskey a few months ago thinking it would improve my writing but then I kept coming up with excuses to not even try.  I started writing this blog five years ago I was all over the map, loose, unfocused.  Kind of like my life, and I think it was a good start.  As far as the music writing is concerned I came out like gangbusters trying to fill in an historical perspective on a world that didn’t seem to exist in the internet void.  It’s becoming more concrete as more people are sharing their stories and experiences.  And I love nothing more than defacing concrete.  So expect some defacing and deflating in the new year.  It's the only thing I excel at I guess.   

            I’ve really enjoyed writing about old timey music.  I tend to be downtrodden when I reflect on the billions of things I don’t know shit about so I have to admit it feels like I’m lounging on white fluffy clouds when I put pen to paper after listening to a shitty old demo recorded on a boombox in 1987.  It's inspiring to be able to write about something I feel I understand.  It's also juvenile and irrelevant so in that regard I’m in my element which is comforting and inspiring.  Maybe I'll do more artsy fartsy shit while I'm at it.  We'll see how the new year plays out.  

           I expect to continue writing so long as it continues to be fun.  The music is only one aspect of the blog but it tends to be the biggest focus to the rare visitor that now turns up.  I was putting out big numbers in the beginning of last year but that has slowed to a trickle in the last few months as my output has lagged.  My average audience of 3,000 "hits" a month has abandoned me since last summer which makes me feel a little better about continuing.  I don't feel like I've ever been the popular guy so I really don't want to start now.  I think I'm lucky to get 800 hits a month now which is a fine by me.  

            I have to admit I sometimes go far out of my way to be able to talk shit about the old scene and scenes in general.  Not that talking shit is the smartest thing I can do but it tends to be more fun than jumping up and down screaming how great things used to be.  Many people will always look back with rose colored glasses but the truth is the old days weren’t that great.  It was fun and frivolous to misspend my youth, but it wasn't innovative.  Doesn’t everyone fucking do that?  Doesn't punk rock die for most people the second their punk band breaks up?  Even more laughable are the few people who believe that the scene effectively dies when they walk away from it.  But every ego needs to be juiced so I don't fault anyone for creating and destroying the punk scene in their own mind.  We've all done it.          

         Five years ago I merely wanted to start a dialogue on the historical figures in the Las Vegas underground.  I figured after I’d get the ball rolling there would be some action which would bring about more attention and probably more recordings would surface.  Instead there was a reunion show which featured dozens, or at least a dozen, old geezer hardcore bands.  I even went back to Vegas to see the show.  I will say it was an incredible thrill to see Schizoid revived.  And 5150 is absolutely one of the best bands Las Vegas has ever produced.  I feel I gave them short shrift when I included them on the blog years ago.  Now there’s talk of making this reunion gig an annual event.  Shit, why the fuck not?      

            When you’re young everything that happens in front of your face is the most important thing that’s ever happened.  The tiny world you inhabit is filled with heroes and villains and it’s all a very stark black and white.  I take art too seriously.  I take music too seriously.  And I have looked down on the spectacle of what was known as "punk" for a long time.  It's failed too many times over to be celebrated.  It’s flawed just like people are flawed.  But the reality is there is no such thing as punk rock as a static entity and to think that it is is naive and ultimately petty.  I hate to think that the hardcore scene was little more than a huge drugged up party scene but I myself have played it up as such on this blog.  It meant more than that in some ways but it’s all subjective so some would argue it meant less.  We were smarter, more informed, more accepting freaks on the fringe of society.  Or maybe we were just the newest in a long line of elitist self absorbed pricks who thought our shit didn't stink?    
             The good thing about looking back to those halcyon, troubled and ultimately tragic times, aside from being able to talk shit and reference Corrosion of Conformity, is to see how far we’ve come and try to figure out if something can be passed on to later generations.  Sure the music was great, well some of it, but it’s equally important to remember what the legacy is if there is one.  It’s a question I pose to myself and to you as well.  If we could overcome the road blocks and hurdles to put on a punk show in the middle of the desert it’s just a stones throw to figuring out some other bullshit.  Right?  Many times you see examples of how small problems can be solved, this leads to reasoning that other problems can be solved, maybe even the biggest problems.  Solutions feel as if they are within reach.  I can’t stop thinking like that even as the old man I’ve become.

           Being exposed to the late 80's hardcore scene and it's subsequent offspring changed my world forever but in the bigger picture the underground scenes and cliques that I have been witness to have had absolutely no impact on the larger culture and society at large unless you count the fact that it is socially acceptable to dress like a dumb shit punk fuck today.  In fact I now see squares with worse hair then I thought imaginable back when I had liberty spikes.  I guess the other broad cultural impact was eventually seeing a Ruckus Rob and Derek Jeter, sorry I mean Dirk Vermin reality tv show.  If that ends up being the cultural milestone LVHC makes on the above ground world then I sincerely hope more people stand up to share their perspective because the promo I saw for that show made me throw up in my mouth a little.        

              At the end of the day the legacy always remains the same even if the song itself keeps changing.  It's all about UNITY.  There's been an ebb and flow throughout the Las Vegas underground that I have witnessed.  Times of extreme unity and times of extreme infighting.  It's a microcosm of the same bullshit each generation finds itself facing.  I've intentionally tried to keep a distance from politics in my writing here.  And to be honest it felt like I was trying to perpetuate a voice that would draw in readers who identify with my degenerate lifestyle only to eventually clobber them readers over the head with a lumpen prol pep talk to convert the heathens.  I might still try that approach over time.  Or maybe I'll just go into more detail concerning what I saw at the tender age of sixteen while sniffing glue?  I really did that, no lie.    
            Sorry no downloads with this post.  Expect more shit in the future. This is the belated 5th anniversary post.  It was exciting to write it but now it’s done.