Published on November 17th, 2012 | by Stefan Rogenmoser0
Garage-Rock Blast Turns Into the Wildest Party of the Year
Tuesday night (Nov. 13) was a who’s who slice of the local, regional, and international garage rock scene. Slovenly Records artists Bazooka (of Athens, Greece) and Paint Fumes (of Charlotte, N.C., pictured above) headlined as local rockers Borings Portals took the Tin Roof stage first and set the scene for one of Charleston’s rare nights of pure psychedelic freak out.
All three acts cranked the reverb and fuzzy amps to 11 and stomped on overdrive pedals. The vocals had enough reverb to seem beamed in from outer space — the perfect vocal sound for each shouting singer.
Ever since Boring Portals added bassist Emily Connor and keyboardist Joel Hamilton to the lineup, they’ve become Charleston’s most psychedelic band with crunchy loud guitars, pounding drums, groovy bass lines, and screeching organs that at times sound like a theremin. The songwriting is split between Scott Dence and Brett Nash, who switch from drums to guitar about mid-set so each writer can sing the songs they penned on guitar.
Paint Fumes’ Elijah Von Cramon thrashed out rhythmic guitar chords as he jumped up to the microphone to sing each Fumes rocker. Guitarist Brett Whittlesey played blistering leads that stretched onto what seemed like every fret. Drummer Josh Johnson pounced wildly on a kit of a snare, tom, kick, and crash. Paint Fumes played “Panic Attack” and “Egyptian Rats” from their 7-inch, and from their LP Uck Life, they played the title track along with “Surf Party Apocalypse” and “Walkin’.”
Bazooka was the most rhythm-driven group with double drummers and thundering double rhythm guitars. They performed at near-deafening volume, as did each act. The Greek quartet delivered such songs as “Shame Take My Brain,” “Ravening Trip,” and “Zed the Mythical Goat,” some of which have recently been released on a 7-inch. The crowd cheered and danced with enthusiastic gusto for each band.
While the show was everything fans of trashy garage-punk could hope for in Charleston, the real story of these bands is the after-party. It was shifted from its original downtown location because one of the hosts’ roommates had to work early the next day. It’s a good thing for her the party was moved because it became an all-night rave at Dence’s house a few streets away.
At first it was just a group of close friends, members of Boring Portals and garage rockers the Lean Few and Sans Jose (the locals) hanging out, drinking cheap beer, chatting, listening to tunes. Then the guys from Bazooka and Paint Fumes showed up. They each had their own lively crew in tow that none of the locals seemed to know. Everyone gathered in the main room and it was on.
The coaster-sized ashtray was crammed with about 300 butts that had formed into the shape of a bloomin’ onion. A group of strangers gathered outside and talked loudly. Dence told these people to quiet down and come inside to not disturb his neighbors (whom he calls dicks). The neighbor’s house is about three feet away.
Somehow another party made up of mostly the Bazooka members formed in a bedroom next to the main sitting room (perhaps the party that came in from outside?). Details became blurry and irrelevant. Suffice it to say everyone seemed to be feeling pretty good or better.
Everyone’s ears were still ringing from the show, which meant everyone was speaking at volumes louder than normally necessary. When 20 people are chatting away in one room it gets loud fast. Many sentences and questions were repeated. A DJ who was traveling with Paint Fumes plugged his iPhone or iPod into the stereo and jammed some cool tunes. He said when he does DJ gigs he only plays vinyl. If memory serves he was set to DJ before the bands, but it was trivia night at the Tin Roof and three bands were on the bill.
The real treat of the party, and what made staying up this insanely late worthwhile, was when Johnson hooked his phone up to the stereo. This guy knows music, and so do the rest of Paint Fumes. It was probably approaching 4 a.m. Whittlesey had long ago passed out in a sleeping bag under the table as other guests had fallen asleep on the floor or the sofa. Those sleeping on the floor were often trampled on and tripped over by drunken feet climbing over them unsuccessfully.
Von Cramon, Johnson, and Dence were still rocking out. This is when the real magic happened. We were treated to the psychedelic sounds of the Golden Dawn, Lee Moses, Captain Beefheart, Jacques Dutronc, T. Rex, and even Wu Tang Clan. Dence and I had never heard the Golden Dawn or Lee Moses, and we were completely blown away. Lee Moses is an incredible Southern soul singer. He’s as good as Otis Redding, Lee Dorsey, Percy Sledge, or Wilson Pickett. The Golden Dawn were contemporaries of the 13th Floor Elevatorsl they knew Roky Erickson, and were coming up in Austin, Texas around the same time. Johnson said Erickson got the Golden Dawn signed to the Elevators’ label. The band sounds like the Elevators minus the jug player.
Johnson relayed a story where he and Paint Fumes had either met members of the Golden Dawn or even Erickson, memory does not serve, and asked someone to take a photo of them together. But the idiot photographer had one of their fingers over the lens and the photo didn’t turn out. Johnson was extremely disappointed.
Johnson, who recently moved to Los Angeles, said he’s just been hired by Light in the Attic, the label that reissued the Monks album and Sixto Rodriguez. He said they’re currently working on a Lee Hazlewood reissue.
A College of Charleston girl read some poems and passed around a notebook asking something about everyone’s favorite building in Charleston.
Dence and Von Cramon talked about the book Please Kill Me. More people passed out wherever they fell. Others were suddenly awake again and extremely talkative.
Somewhere in the haze members of Bazooka, whose English was incredibly proficient, explained that the scene in Greece is mostly heavy metal. They are friends with fellow Athens rockers Acid Baby Jesus, another pysch-garage band who in May played in Charleston at the Royal American with Paint Fumes, Boring Portals, and the Lean Few. Bazooka member John Vulgaris was the recording engineer of the Acid Baby Jesus LP, also released on Slovenly.
Eventually everyone passed out. By 7 a.m. I’d been up for 25 hours. It had been some time since I’d done that. Nash had been up for about the same amount of time, but he had to work that morning after about an hour of sleep, which came while sitting upright on the sofa with a cat in his lap.
In the bedroom it appears that five people crammed into one bed and bitched about how cold it was. I gave my jacket to a girl curled up on the sofa to use as a blanket. Good thing I’d kept it on until then. Afterward my body temperature dwindled like a balloon letting out air. Good thing I decided to wear an undershirt. I slept on the psychiatric couch.
Dence spent his time between sleeping on the floor and partially on the sofa when there was room. Jim Faust slept on the floor using a stack of books as a pillow. Laughter and loud talking still emanated from the bedroom.
Those were the last sounds coming the most rock ‘n’ roll party in Charleston I have ever been to. Dence said Von Cramon used to host house shows every night in Charlotte. He said the house shows were even wilder. Those came to an end after Von Cramon moved to a different abode.
Photos by Stefan Rogenmoser.
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