St. Patrick’s Day — a national holiday set aside for good beer, good friends, good music, and good times. For two weeks my friends have been asking each other, “what are you going to do for St. Patrick’s Day?” And each time they asked me, they got the same answer. “I’ll be down at the Green Door, listening to Bongzilla, Brothers of Conquest, RPG, and Alabama Thunderpussy.”
Since doors at the Green Door open at eight and I arrived a few minutes early, I headed next door to Size Records. Size Records is one of those indie music shops straight out of another time. Long haired/long mustached owner Dustin knows his music and knows his customers. Each time I’ve gone in he’s sent me on my way with something good. This time, it was Dead Meadow’s s/t disc. With a huge selection of metal/stoner/punk/hardcore/indie CDs, it’s almost enough to make you forget you live in Oklahoma.
I was standing there talking with Dustin when in walked a couple of guys that he obviously knew. They introduced themselves as Johnny and Brian, and it dawned on me who they were — Brian Cox (drums) and Johnny Throckmorten (vocals) of Alabama Thunderpussy! After exchanging pleasantries and bullshitting about music for a few minutes, we all headed over to the Green Door for a night of good beer, good friends, good music and good times.
Seeing a band at the Green Door is like seeing them in your own home. There’s no back stage area, no green rooms, no VIP lounges. You sit where the bands sit. You piss where the bands piss. You rock where the bands rock. The club is set up like a big studio apartment. The stage is to the left, the seating area is in the middle, the pool tables are to the right and the bar is in the back. And shortly after eight o’clock, the Green Door’s complete roster included its staff, the band members, and me.
On my way to the bathroom, I ran into Erik Larson, ATP guitarist and legend in his own right. After taking care of business, we spent a few minutes at the bar bullshitting about the tour, the shows, and how sick everyone in the band was. After taking a couple of pictures of Erik and Ryan (the other ATP guitarist, amazing on the six string as well), I headed back to my spot in the corner, waiting for the festivities to begin.
These are the exciting things that go on at a show before the rock commences. After the stage was loaded and people began arriving, it was time for the show to finally begin.
The first band of the night was 16 (no, not their age, their name). 16 had the unenviable task of playing first, which almost always means ironing out technical difficulties. 16 wasn’t on the original bill, so the crowd turnout for their gig was pretty light (read: myself, and seven people from the other bands). Still, the three-piece outfit rocked as if they were jamming to a thousand people. The bassist lost his strap during the opening notes of the first song but never missed a beat, crouching to the floor and continuing to jam until Erik Larson (of all people) jumped on stage with a replacement strap.
Apparently Bongzilla was slated for the second slot of the night, but didn’t show. I don’t know the details of their absence so I won’t bash them too hard, only to say that there were at least a couple of people in attendence wearing Bongzilla shirts. I’m sure some people went home disappointed.
This change of events caught RPG a bit off guard, as the guys had been out muching on some Sonic hamburgers. “You’re next!” they heard as they walked in the front door. The guys got their stuff together quick, mounted the stage, and rocked the house.
To tell the truth, I’ve never considered myself a fan of “stoner rock”, although it must be said up front that the stoner rock I’ve heard to date sounded nothing like this. With the volume turned to 10 and the fuzz turned to 11, RPG sounded more like a hard rock/punk attack from the 70s rather than anything you would listen to while sitting in a bean bag. In fact, I can’t imagine sitting at all while these guys are playing! Despite a shortened set list, RPG kicked ass and took names at the Green Door. The band’s dual guitar attack sounded thick and juicy, and the bass had plenty of tone, volume, and attitude.
In between bands, I found my way back to my table. A collection of Bud Light longnecks crowded the center. Sweat rolled from my hair, down my face and onto my neck. I folded my coat up and hung it over a railing next to the stage. It was hot and it was muggy. Everyone at the club was hot, tired, exhausted, and having the time of their life. For seven bucks, this show had turned into the deal of the century.
Next up were the Brothers of Conquest, another band I hadn’t personally heard. The Brothers delivered a straight-forward style of rock and roll from another era — the 80s, this time, instead of the 70s. When “The Rock n’ Roll Outlaw” (vocals) took the stage, he certainly had the crowd’s attention. Donning a vest covered in WASP and Judas Priest patches, the Brothers of Conquest delivered a metal onslaught I haven’t seen the likes of since 9th grade. Armed with leather wristbands, plenty of attitude and even a Warlock guitar (how metal is that!), BOC worked the crowd and put on a stellar performance.
Normally people sit down in between sets at a show due to boredom; that night, it was from sheer exhaustion. During all four of the bands’ sets, you could find members from the other three bands in the front row, watching and cheering. So while we were energetic during the performances, after each one we plodded back to our chairs, resting, recouperating, and conserving valuable energy for the next band.
Around 11:30pm, Alabama Thunderpussy (the last band of the night) took the stage. It’s an amazing moment to capture, the moment where people stop being “people” and become “rock stars”. Brian and Erik had spent much of the night at the bar, talking with other patrons and hanging out. Erik was much shorter and skinnier than I’d thought. Ryan had spent much of the night sunken into a leather couch in the main lobby. John (bass) and Johnny had kind of been quiet throughout the night. But there’s that moment — the moment when people who just a minute before were sitting at the bar next to you are suddenly on stage. They’re suddenly 10 feet tall. Their instruments and amplifiers can drown you out and take over your head, your thoughts, your actions. It’s that moment when five guys you’ve seen wandering around all night suddenly come together and become something bigger, something important, something massive. The lights dimmed, the guitars roared, and those five, normal guys became Alabama Thunderpussy.
Cranking out new tunes, old tunes, songs I’d heard and songs I hadn’t, ATP tore the place apart. More loud, more furious, more raucous than any of the bands before them, ATP rocked on through the night. Despite being the loudest and hardest rocking band of the night, somehow they did it with a laid-back appearance. While bassist John rocked and spasmed his way through the performance, it was the calmer approach of guitarists Ryan and Erik that really caught my attention. The two axe-grinders dished up a three course meal in rockin’ that filled everyone’s bellies. In the back of the stage, perched high behind a kick drum with “FUCKING BULLSHIT” stickered to it sat Brian, complete with a backwards trucker hat and tattoos, glistening in the spotlight. At the front of the stage stood Johnny, a guy who somehow transformed from the quietest guy in the club to the most energetic. When he wasn’t singing, he was microphone twirling, chest pounding, fist thrusting and dry humping.
Those looking for good beer, good friends, good music, and good times this St. Patrick’s Day at the Green Door didn’t leave disappointed. For seven dollars, we had our butts rocked hard by some great bands all night long. Although the night went on for everyone else, I eventually had to excuse myself from the festivities. With a stack of CDs in hand (RPG 4-song EP, ATP’s River City Revival, ATP’s Staring at the Divine, Erik Larson’s The Resounding, and that Dead Meadow disc), a sweat-soaked shirt, a pocket full of free stickers and a ringing in my ears that still persists as I write this review, I headed out into the cold night and back to reality.
If this is stoner rock, then roll it up and pass it my way.