That's you and your band, my good man. You guys are a bunch of assholes. I don't mean that to be cruel. I know each and everyone of you is a sweetheart, and I'd leave you to babysit my kids for the weekend in a heartbeat. But I would only do that because my kids aren't old enough to understand music criticism. You know what I'm saying?
I think it's just that this band brings out the worst in all of you. And I mean the worst. So when you invited me to your reunion show at O'Brien's, (which the world demanded the same way it did the film American Reunion), I was skeptical, at best. Most reunions are all about cleaning up and selling out. I wondered silently (to myself, and only myself) what would be left of the Slurred Murrays' signature sound when you had scrubbed it down for mass consumption. But here I was making false generalizations, like that you had grown up from all that Allston Rock City, PBR-flavored vomit nonsense and moved into respectable careers in sales and telemarketing.
Boy, was I wrong. No, this reunion wasn't fueled by revisionism but by a desperate urge to crawl back into the primordial sludge. All I can say is, am I ever glad I didn't have to pay to get in. Well, you know, I buttered up the doorman and told him I was going out of the country the next morning and had already converted all my cash into yen, and that I was an old friend of the band. Admit, one of those things is true.
Anyways, he let me in, and I'm surrounded by every kind of half-wit, no-goodnik, and troublemaker. The between set music is pumping so loud that any sort of conversation I might strike up with these lowlifes is impossible. What do you say anyways to a man with “Fuck Off, We're Full” printed over the silhouette of America on his t-shirt? Do I have anything in common with these people, besides, of course, paying hard earned money to watch people behave like assholes? (Acknowledging that in this particular moment, I didn't have to pay?)
Then the band got started, and it was asshole soup from song one. I would get into the particulars, but what's the point? “Gallows Tree”, “7 Up Trucks” and “Pox Blanket” all sound the same when distorted to incoherence and played at blast-beat tempo. The whole venue smelled like bleach for some reason, and “smells like Bleach” would be a pretty apt description for the musical oeuvre if Bleach were recorded by a smack-head version of Bad Brains, or something. In fact, your band could bill themselves as being born in a high school lavatory on the outskirts of Seattle 1989 and transporting to our day and age through a “mop-sink time machine”. Moreover, you probably do bill yourselves that way, because it's such an asshole thing to do. Maybe you'd mention your conservatory educations in your bio instead, if you had any. What's your alma mater anyways … UMass Lowell? That shit would never fly at Ryles.
No, I won't mention the music because this show was more Bacchic revelry and circus spectacle than it was musical. When the singer came out, my good and dear friend, one Momo “The Amazing Dancing” Murray, he was summoned by the backing band the way one might call forth the Elephant Man in a freak show. Momo entered in tuxedo and stovepipe hat, teardrop shades. He reminded me of a bloated, sunburnt cousin of Gene Wilder. This confusing imagery, mixing the freak show with the ringleader, was cleared up soon enough. After just a few songs, Momo gaped there in his black wife beater and bow-tie, his head covered in electrical tape, humping the air. He sprayed Narragansett all over his supplicants. Later, simulating the fate he imagined for his fans, he made the mic cable into a quite ineffective-looking noose. The sentiment was later recounted by the guitarist (and, dear friend of mine), Dickie Murray. Dickie made the orders explicit. “This is our swan song,” he said, “Everybody, you gotta fucking kill yourself right after you hear this.” Now, I've never been close to anyone who's killed themselves, but I can imagine what that's like, and honestly! What are we going to joke about next? The Holocaust?
Even that would fail to satisfy the need to devolve which attracts people to this kind of garish insult to civility. When all bad taste has been exhausted, shall we simply turn to self-immolation? Despite the apparent lack of thought binding this schtick together, it's less Where is my Mind? and more “where's my earplugs?” If this music were the result of some gruesome Nazi medical experiment, I would demand that the International Military Tribunal intercede.
But what makes this more than tasteless, but actually painful, literally painful, is knowing the heights each and every one of the Murray brothers can reach when they're not holding each other back with cult of barbarism. Their drummer, Wheels Murray, and I have played in the experimental doom rock project Hoof, alongside Dickie, where they both showed a keen improvisational talent and ear. Now Dickie and I have played together for years. Never once in our collaborations were jokes on suicide considered necessary. Lloyd Murray, that inestimable bassist Lloyd and I have shared a stage many times, and he has proven not only his reliability but also his deft musical understanding and aptitude for the abstract. And Momo, my dear Momo, a man of hardly estimable talents, to spend your own birthday in such a manner? I have not forgotten our work in theater, where you put on an Elizabethan-era butcher with great aplomb and dramatic wit. No, the true tragedy is the latent talent of these Murrays, unharnessed by their collective contract for stupidity.
Now that you've finally committed in public to ending this middle-finger-wagging war on grammar, I celebrate that you can stop being assholes and move on to better and bigger things. On a related note, if any of you guys are free and are finding some of your weeknights uncommitted, I'm holding auditions for an O.A.R. tribute band this Thursday. I've already got a gig lined up for us at Bill's Bar. Call me, huh?