The first concert I ever attended was blues guitarists Johnny Lang and Buddy Guy at the Pier in Seattle. The second was The Who, on their final three-member tour-bassist Jon Entwistle passed a few days before their next attempt to play the Gorge on the band's subsequent jaunt.
The third concert I attended was AC/DC. The album was Stiff Upper Lip, and the venue was the Tacoma Dome. It was awesome. But the real significance to that particular show was this: it was my first concert without a parent. My mom wasn't dragging me along, as with Lang and Guy. My friend's father wasn't playing escort as with The Who. We were standing in Tacoma, getting our asses rocked off for two hours, with nary a parental authority in sight.
It was formative. There are far too many people who would be ashamed to say they liked something as fundamentally shallow and conventional as AC/DC, but I'm not one of them.
I think this is part of why I've grown to love Big Wheel Stunt Show. They don't sound like AC/DC, per se. They have a little more energy than the Aussies' relentless groove, and a little more of a punk rock, grungy tinge. But on some level they occupy the same headspace within the dark bowels of my musically eccentric brainpan.
They live in the same world of repeating guitar riffs, wading pool lyrical depth-the last track on their new record Brand New Bag is called "Douche Me," for example-and spasmodic guitar solos.
My first experience with BWSS, at the Squirt show in November, saw me as one of maybe 10 people standing around the old Hell's Kitchen while singer/guitarist Evan Nagle wailed on his knees in the middle of the floor. It was kind of sad, frankly. But such is the lot of the Thursday night opener. Brotherhood of the Black Squirrel only fared moderately better this time around.
The new Hell's Kitchen sports two giant speaker cabinets built into the front of the stage - optimally placed for guitarist leaps - and they saw their fair share of activity at Nagle's hands. Or feet. Whatever. The bottom line is headliner Big Wheel Stunt Show brings a large enough audience to really appreciate this level of showmanship.
I was fortunate enough to receive Brand New Bag for perusal on Monday, and it's struck a bit of an odd chord with me. For one thing, a little bit of the edge to the guitars is lost, as often happens, thanks to the compression of the record. Somewhere in that tonal difference the band come out sounding like Long Winters half the time, which isn't bad so much as it doesn't communicate what the live show ends up being like.
What a BWSS show ends up being like is Rock Music. Really good Rock Music. And if you've been reading my columns over the last few months, you know how I feel about Rock Music. (Hint: I like it. I like it a lot.)
Big Wheel Stunt Show is rolling off to Austin for a few SXSW shows, but they'll be back in town for an April 2 Java Jive show with my last article target, 10 Miles of Bad Road.
Go forth and become rocked.