I go back a looooong way with The Dickies. It was 1979 when my new friend chasinvictoria was soaking up the various New Wave Samplers that labels were issuing to general neglect from the unwashed masses. Among the music geeks like us though, these were seen a gospel. None moreso than the sacred “No Wave” sampler from A+M Records! Chasinvictoria made it a point to buy every album from the artists associated with it as we soaked up the new sound with a sponge. He quickly bought both Dickies albums released in 1979 and we reveled in their goofy lyrics, irreverent “punk” covers of sacred classic rock canon, and mainly their blinding velocity! I had a compilation with Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” on it and The Dickies cover was even faster than the original played on a turntable at 45 RPM. I know, I tried.
We have kept an eye on the stately progress of The Dickies, as the band have soldiered onward against sometimes difficult circumstances, to have a body of work that stretches back for 40 years; against all odds. I have loved this band and hold their first two albums as mandatory examples of the sheer pleasures of Punk Rock that can withstand the passage of considerable time. I have bought any and all releases that I have come across over the years. For me, their seminal apex of form and content was their insanely fast cover version of the “Banana Splits” kids show theme. It was among the very first 7″ singles that I bought when presented with the mind-expanding notion of mail order record catalogs in the mid-80s; courtesy of another friend, Mr. Ware.
In the ensuing 39 years I had never had even the ghost of a chance to catch this brilliant band in concert… until last week! Better still, the show was happening when chasinvictoria [who normally lives in the capitol of British Colombia, Canada] was in a perfect position to swing by from visiting his brother a few days earlier in Atlanta, before heading off to a Dr. Who con gig [he’s the sort of elder geek who has 40+ years of Who fandom and now officiates panels at these things] that was happening a few days after the concert. So of course we made room in our tiny home to accommodate the guy who introduced me to The Dickies, lo, those many, many, many years ago! This was definitely going to be fun as well as a long time coming.
It got even better as my wife asked me the day before the show if I had thought to invite Tom. He’s another close friend from that far back, who we see many concerts with, and he lives four hours away. My wife was right – curse me for the novice! I immediately hit that email and against all odds, with about 32 hours advance notice, he managed to not only get his supervisor’s approval to duck out for a day, she told him he had to go! Yes! The music geek A-team from my high school daze were going to see The Dickies in concert. Finally!
After eating a tasty meal of Indian street food at Chai Pani, we headed over to The Grey Eagle by 8:15 to see things were still waiting to happen, so we got our “will call” stamps and retired outside to catch up and chew the fat. The bill had this as a joint tour with The Queers opening. My wife and I had actually seen the tail end of a Queers show in the mid 90s at the Alachua Music Harvest, which we were attending to see George Clinton + The P-Funk All-Stars. That should work like a charm with The Dickies. Locally, there was a third act added to the bill that we didn’t know about; Pleasures of the Ultraviolent. As they started up our ears were assaulted by a painful wall of noise; outside of the club! Okay then. We were definitely sitting this one out as we were catching up together for the first time in six years. Though we had earplugs, this sounded like a total miss.
We remained outside chatting as Stan Lee of The Dickies came by and was greeted by some fans wanting photos with him, which he obliged. We saw he was checking his phone for messages, so we left him alone. Then we heard The Queers kick off and we thought that this was when the fun began, so we made a bee-line to the stage and the rapid fire tuneage of The Queers. I remember hearing them in the 90s on college radio, and I had no idea that they had begun as early as 1982, making their origins in line with the hardcore movement; though their strong use of melody would keep them apart from the sheer loud/last/rules crowd. Unlike the kranked up mayhem of the first opener, the sound for The Queers was perfect! The songs were loud [without being painfully so], fast, and clear as a bell. There was a mosh pit at the front of the room but the floor was roomy enough for us old timers to scoot back a little. I can’t remember the last time I attended a show with a most pit but it had to have happened in the 90s. Definitely not since I had moved from Central Florida to Asheville.
Like The Dickies, The Queers also had a sense of humor driving their tunes. Less surreal than The Dickies, but who wouldn’t be? They played a full set of about 80 minutes and it felt good to get some punk rock laced with pop into the bloodstream for the first time in ages. Their drummer looked like an octopus in concert! His arms were a furious cloud of beats. Then it was over and we drifted back to the merch table to peruse the offerings. The members of The Queers were there there and we chatted with their drummer, offering praise for his over the top percussion force§. He bounced right back and said “wait until you see The Dickies!”
§ – did you spot the second Cabaret Voltaire reference in two days?
I was flabbergasted to see that the T-shirts were a flat $15 each… except for some Lookout Records shirts The Queers had in tow for…$5.00. The Queers sued Lookout for non-payment of royalties and got their masters back so this was a little extra payback. Chasinvictoria and I had to have the black “Gigantor” Dickies shirt and I opted for a Dickies button featuring a banana. Tom bought his supervisor a signed, framed [glass and everything!] Dickies tour poster as a thank you. That was only $25! Talk about jamming econo! I have to love Punk Rock On A Low Budget [that’s got to be a blog concept right there]. I was not planning on buying merch as I am trying to save for two trips in the next few months, but at those prices it would be insane to pass it up. We took our merch to the car and resumed our chat outside the club until we heard The Dickies taking to the stage.
Next:…Do The Dickies Deliver?