Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #1

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

1. Urge Overkill, Iowa City early 2004

When talking to people, it seems that most people only know Urge Overkill from their cover of Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon on the Pulp Fiction Soundtrack.  I guess it is better than them not knowing Urge Overkill at all but  it was always a little disappointing because UO had so much great original music.  You have probably heard other Urge Overkill songs like Sister Havana and Positive Bleeding, but just didn't realize it was UO.

Urge Overkill wrote killer rock songs.  It was just a great blend of guitar riffs, catchy vocals, and an awesome dynamic.  UO had two lead singers in the band and they switched off on the various songs.  Nato Kash seemed to be the singer of most of the songs that got released as singles, but King Roeser could definitely hold his own, it was just a little different style.  I enjoyed both.  In my mind these guys were the atypical understated rock gods - talented and cool as hell but still under the radar of most people.

I was disappointed that I had never got to see Urge Overkill live when they broke up in 1997.  I don't remember how we heard about the show but all of a sudden UO was scheduled to play in Iowa City sometime in 2004.  We were both very excited for the show and I spent the next couple weeks listening to all my UO albums preparing.  The show was at a newer bar called Iowa City Yacht Club.  We hadn't heard of ICYC but it seemed like the owners were really into two things - good music and barbecue.  Day of the show Kelly and I decided to head to Iowa City quite a bit earlier than we normally would have for a concert to check the place out and get some ribs.

We arrived at the ICYC around 5pm, the show started around 8pm.  The place is pretty dead when we arrive and we order some ribs.  While sitting there waiting for our food, we were like "Huh, I think that is the band at the bar."  It was.  Most of the band looked like they had a few drinks and went about other business.  Not Nato Kash.  Nato looked to be hitting (unsuccessfully) on young girls and continued drinking.  We wait quite a while for our food but it is pretty good once it finally does arrive.  We finish eating about 2 hours after we first arrive and Nato is still drinking at the bar.  Eventually, the opening band Lost Vegas takes the stage.  Lost Vegas was a really good rock band, reminding me somewhat of Junkyard.  This Lost Vegas is not to be confused with Last Vegas or any of several Lost Vegas tribute bands.  These guys were out and out rock and it was a great set.  They seem to have disappeared in the years since.  Unfortunately, that was the peak of the night.  Sometime during Lost Vegas' set, Nato finally left the bar.

Lost Vegas played their set and then it was time to wait.  Lost Vegas did exactly what a good opening band is supposed to do.  The crowd was primed and pumped up and ready to rock out with Urge Overkill.  But we wait.  Roadies switch over all the equipment and do the sound check.  We wait, and wait, and wait.  In my opinion, switchover and breaks between bands should be 15 minutes...half hour tops.  We waited for about an hour and a half...no where near GNR, but way too long.  By the time most of Urge Overkill starts populating the stage, my excitement had flagged noticeably and I just wanted to get the show started.  One problem...no Nato Kash.  After about another 15-20 minutes, Nato finally shows up.  He is being helped down the stairs (this club is in the basement of a building) by the manager/roadie.  OK, he wasn't being helped, he was basically being carried.  You could see his feet not working and he couldn't make the coordinated effort to conquer the steps.

Updated for accuracy

Kelly and I both look at each other and think that this doesn't bode well.  Finally, Nato arrives on stage and despite being very drunk is able to hold his guitar and stand up with only moderate stumbling.  At one point he sort of rests his forehead against the microphone like the coolness of it is awesome.  I thought he was going to vomit.  Urge Overkill starts to play...and it is not good.  Nato is unable to play and unable to sing.  The band seems to try to stick with songs fronted by King, but Nato's guitar playing and background vocals are terrible.  The roadie/guitar tech tries turning down Nato's guitar amp in the sound mixer, but Nato keeps jacking up the knob on his cabinet and when it is shut off completely he gets pissed so his levels are brought back up.  You know when your own sound guy is trying to cut you out of the mix that something is really amiss.  It really doesn't sound good...but the first few songs are all songs that they crowd seems to be unfamiliar with (I'm guessing most people had only heard the couple songs played on the radio).  Everyone is cheering except for Kelly and I, who are booing.  It is THAT bad.  I don't think I have every booed anything before or since, but it was the only response.  No one else seemed to notice the awfulness the first couple songs but that was because Nato was playing a minor role.  Unfortunately, the third song featured Nato more notably.  His guitar riffs were a total mess, but his singing was a real train wreck.  Wrong lyrics, slurred, off time and tone.  Finally, a couple others in the crowd start to notice and after our booing after the song, someone else joins in with "Yeah that was pretty assy."  Nato started molesting the next song and Kelly and I are no longer only booing between songs.  It is awful, it is not right what is happening with this music.  We are now booing Nato whenever he tries to sing.  Once again their sound guy tries to stop Nato's musical rape by turning off his microphone but Nato wouldn't take it and grabs the microphone from King.

Kelly and I were then asked to leave by a bouncer.  He even kind of threatened Kelly when he started to argue.  This is the only time that I have ever been kicked out of any place.  2 hours driving to get there, $50 in tickets, $40 in ribs, 4 hours of waiting...and we get kicked out after 4 songs.  What are you supposed to do in such a situation?  As a fan at a show your only recourse is your voice.  Our booing wasn't nearly as bad as what was happening on stage.  I have to think when Urge Overkill started playing their more popular songs that other people in the crowd would notice how awful it really was.  Although I am not a person who usually boos, this concert compelled me to.  I emailed the Iowa City Yacht Club (ICYC) the next day about the bullshit of kicking us out and they said that UO's management apologized to the club and promised that somehow they would make up for the terrible show...so obviously ICYC complained too, they just had someone to talk to directly.  Of course, ICYC didn't apologize to us.  Claimed we were "disturbing other fans."  I have been to many shows were other people have booed.  It never bothered me one bit, its just one of those things that happens.  Most the time, I never even notice because I am caught up in the music.  Oh well.  I haven't been back to the Iowa City Yacht Club or listened to an Urge Overkill CD since...and I don't have any desire to.  Both are pretty much dead to me.

So what makes this the worst show?  Both a combination of a terrible show with horrible treatment from the club...the funny thing is that we would have probably left in a couple songs anyways (it was that bad) but the fact that the club took the time to actually kick us out just confirmed the fact that everything about this show sucked ass.  Nato, I can't even tell you how pathetic the whole thing was...and it could have been so great, but you wanted to be a drunk.  Fuck you.  I see you are just now coming out with new music, I probably would have been the first in line but now I have no respect for you and no desire to listen to your music.  Just remember a great show can make fans but a show where you show up as a drunken asshole can alienate your biggest fans.

That's it.  My top ten.  I am glad it's over...it actually took a lot more out of me writing these posts that I would have guessed.  Instead of Two Minutes Hate, each post was like an hour of hate and I was always tired afterwards.  Reliving these shows stirred up all the bad memories and they still make me angry.  These posts are actually much more articulate than I often feel because otherwise today's post would have basically been "Urge Overkill, you suck, you drunk, fucking asshole. Fuck you, you fucking, fucker."  Although that feels right, it really doesn't explain much.  I want these posts to help people understand what makes a show horrible, because I still see many of these mistakes repeated over and over by both large and small bands.

I might do a "Worst Shows - Honorable Mentions" post in the next couple weeks but it won't deal with each show as in depth.  I also plan to do a Top Ten Greatest Shows Ever series, but I really need a little break from writing about shows and music.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.


Shannonnicolle said...

Yay! I've waited 10 weeks to find out who would end up in the #1 spot. Urge Overkill should be very proud.

I know what you mean about being tired after a post. It's work being witty and entertaining! It takes me a couple hours to finish and post and then I am spent for the rest of the evening. I always think I'll start on a post and then finish it later so it doesn't take up so much of one day's free time but once I get going I can't stop.

Very entertaining list! It was the feel-good blog of the Fall! Fine family fun!

Anonymous said...

its nash kato not kato nash

Michael said...

Ha! It took me a long time to even remember that...sad really since I used to love them. After this show I've pretty much purged everything UO from my mind.