(Re-upped. The first post from last year, now reavailable for your downloading pleasure.)
So I'm dating this girl. She's a riot grrl in 1997, so that should tell you something right off the bat. Or maybe not. But she & I get along swimmingly. We both live about 15 minutes from the Pennsylvania border in Maryland. We have a lot to do, but we spend most of our time making mix tapes for each other, hoping on the hood of my Grand Prix and shouting "Anarchy" and going to DC for shows. After all, the Ottobar was newly open, Memory Lane was a distant memory and the only thing Fletcher's was good for was the occasional H2O show.
She & I drive into DC to see Sleater-Kinney for the first time. We trek down to the old Black Cat, me terrified someone is going to break into the Grand Prix. It's probably the month Dig Me Out comes out, so we are fucking down for the show. I think Versus opened. Wow, they sucked. I'm not feeling it at all. Neither of us is legal drinking age, and if memory serves, there was no re-entry that night, so we both hawk the merch stand, furiously puffing cigarettes like only 20-year-olds can.
(Now that I think about it, maybe it was 1998. I definitely seem to recall drinking a beer.)
(But I digress.)
We end up behind the soundbooth, trying to talk over whatever P.A. music happened to be on. She had seen a flier for Fugazi's annual Fort Reno show, and we quickly made plans to attend. The music changes on the P.A. A marching band beat quietly plays. A guitar drops in for 8 bars, maybe 12. Then...fury.
"What the fuck is this?" I ask her. A shrug.
Stop. Start. Weird time signatures. Whispery vocals that barely raise over the driving rhythm. For a kid raised on harDCore and John Coltrane, this was a revolution.
"Seriously, have you ever heard something like this before-" and then I'm cut off by this skronky saxophone. And Mr. Whisper is hollerin' over the beat, and I really want to break a window out. That's how tightly by the throat this track has grabbed me.
I lean in to the soundguy. "Sorry to bug you, man," laying on my best impression of a hipster. "What is this you're playing?"
"They're called Sweep the Leg Johnny. I think they're from Chicago or something."
And that was the first time I heard Shower Scene.
I got to see StLJ live twice: once at the Ottobar, on a bill with Yaphet Kotto, the Exploder & League of Death; and out at the last Michigan Fest, where they were one of three reasons I drove halfway across the country for a show. I've heard them described as math-rock, but they always struck me as a little too aggressive for that tag.
Enjoy the reason I started this blog.
Sweep the Leg Johnny - 220.127.116.11
(click the record to DL)
RIYL: Ornette Coleman, Swing Kids, Don Caballero