From: Roger Deforest <email@example.com>
Subject: January 8th gig review...
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 21:31:32 -0800
I saw them the other night (1/8) at Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco.
First off, when I arrived at the club (about an hour before the first band went on), the line was incredibly long. I was shocked to see so many people turn out for Unwound. I guess they have more fans than I thought (I later learned that the show SOLD OUT).
As I impatiently stood at the back of the line while people were slowly filing in, I heard the guy behind me remark, "Remember when NOBODY wanted to see Unwound?". His friend whimsically replied, "Uh...no". Hah hah. So I finally make it to the doorman, hand him my I.D., and after much study he makes some crack as to how I'm probably the oldest person at the show, aside from the staff (I'm 30, and proud of it). I give him a sympathetic laugh and enter the confines of the club, gladly forking over 7 bucks to see one of the greatest bands making music today.
Now I'm inside. I immediately notice to my left an Unwound T-shirt pinned to the wall, along with the new album (in all formats), and the new 12". Somebody is selling goodies. Cool. I order an overly-priced Guinness in a plastic cup and make my way over to the cruedly constructed concessions stand. There is a guy in glasses sitting at a table talking to a platinum blond Vern. I wasn't too sure if it was Vern at the time so I didn't say anything to him (like how incredible his band is). I just bought the new CD (for a trite 8 bones) and made my way back to the bar where I stood looking at all the gorgeous women and girls (it was an all ages show). I played a little pool until the first band came on...
Godzik Pink were really good. It was three guys: a drummer, a guitarist, and a saxaphonist. They played instrumental/ska-like/jazz/improv/noise burst/free form type music. I liked them a lot and will probably go out and find one of the their records. Anyway, they did a sadfully short set and left. I found a highly-coveted stool on the side of the room and immediately snatched it up. By this time (10:00ish?) the room was getting to near-full capacity. Luckily, California's no-smoking law had just gone into effect at the new year so I was actually able to breathe among the piles of people. It was a strange sensation not smelling any cigarette smoke in a club. But that's another story.
Anyhow, the second band Tight Bros. From Way Back When finally hit the stage and played their hearts out. They sounded like a cross between old AC/DC and 7 Seconds. They were fun, and the crowd seemed to be into them. My only gripe is that all their songs sounded alike. But maybe that's the joke (like a Ramones type thing). Whatever. They got the crowd pumped.
So as soon as Tight Bros. left the stage, Unwound immediately and deftly set up their equipment. There I was, my ass parked on MY stool as Unwound tuned up their instruments and got ready to play. Then, Sara walked off the stage and disappeared into the multitude of bodies. As I sipped on my warm Red Hook, I noticed her making her way towards me. I was preparing to pump up Sara's ego by telling her how great her band is, when all of a sudden some girl grabs her just before she reaches me. Apparently they knew each other cuz they hugged and kissed and walked off together. Oh well, another chance to suck up to Unwound is lost.
Finally, Unwound began playing. I can't honestly remember what the first song was (I believe it was off Fake Train), but throughout the show they played songs from practically their whole catalog of albums. Mostly, however, they seemed to play stuff from the new album. I didn't know any of the songs at the time, but I think they did "No Tech!", "Laugh Track", and "What Went Wrong" among others. Obviously, I don't really need to mention how much they rocked. Almost halfway into the set, Justin joked about how amazed he is that Vern had gone this long without a cigarette. They mentioned the new no-smoking law and Vern poked fun at it by keeping an unlit cigarette in his mouth while he played the next song. During the song, however, someone lit Vern's cigarette and he gleefully puffed away, not caring that he is now committing California's newest and most heinous crime. Then, Justin got in on it. He lit up too, as did a couple of people in the audience. I was wondering when the club owners were gonna tell them to stamp out their cigarettes (the owners get heavily fined if someone smokes in their bar), but no one said a word and Justin smoked his brains out. Besides, there were so many bodies packed together that it would have been nearly impossible to reach the stage anyway.
So Unwound played for about an hour or so. They said it was their first show of the tour, so they may sound a bit off. I think they sounded great, and it was almost a religious experience seeing them for the first time. At the end of the set, Sara threw her drumsticks into the audience. One of them hit the couple in front of me. Ouch. I think either they or someone else picked it up, cuz it disappeared fast (I was hoping to get a little "souvenir"). When Unwound left the stage, everyone hung out for an encore. Several minutes passed and Justin came back onstage to tell us that they are not gonna be playing any more, but that he thanked us for coming. Oh well. I definitely got my 7 bucks worth.
As I made my way out of the club, I passed by that concessions stand near the front door and saw Vern there again being greeted by fans. I thought about meeting him and congratulating him on a terrific show, but I figured he has heard it all before. Besides, I'm not really one to go out of my way to meet my "idols". I can't wait until the NEXT tour. Perhaps by then I will be 31, and will have replaced Unwound with the more mature sounds of John Tesh. Nah. Who am I kidding? Unwound are fuckin' gods. They proved it that night. Rock on!!
From: Ian Connelly <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [mkultra]: (long) thurs 1/8 unwound show in sf
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 12:59:54 -0700
Showed up at Bottom Of The Hill in time for Godzik Pink, who I'd classify as perfect, soulless math rock. I don't mean any disrespect - they sounded really good - but you could practically hear them counting for weird 7:4 and 9:4 etc time signatures.
Ran into Justin upstairs as he was making his way back to 'where the cool people are' (his sarcastic phrase) - and joked about his new FILAs, puffy down jacket, and what Vern was going to do onstage if he couldn't smoke.
I've got to say I didn't think this was the best show ever; while I was happy that they dipped into old old stuff (Valentine Card, MKultra, All Souls Day) and played a lot of my favorite newer stuff (silly of me to forget how much I like Repetition), I felt like they were somehow looser and quieter than ever.
Onstage banter was amusing, and Vern's request for a cigarette was met with a hail of filtered treats - but no fire. He joked that he'd left his lighter in a bar in Washington (and that they'd hold it for him until he got back, hah), and eventually he and justin both lit up (if you've read vern's PNMV zine, you know I'm only talking about smoking so much because his 'nicoteenager' and 'nat sherman' articles are so good).
The Echoplex is really a major part of every show now, and Justin's really able to squeeze some wild sounds out of it. At one point he tweaked the loop to such a perfect point that everyone thought he was still playing, and when he turned around and took his guitar off, there was a little gasp and giggle that went through the audience (Brian M. says, "Justin and Vern joked about this at the show at the Casbah in San Diego, stating that 'all Unwound guitar parts have been pre-recorded for ultimate perfect live reproduction' or something like that").
When they finally stopped, after MKultra, I was sort of disappointed that they'd dropped the 5 minutes of unusual noise where Sara typically walks offstage and lets Justin / Vern do feedback... and also, upon reading that they've been ending with Kantina and Were, Are And Was Or Is, that they didn't come back. Now, though, I just sound like i'm being a jerk -- it *was* a great show, and I went home happier than I have after a show in the last six months... but I still felt a little disappointed.
This document was last updated 15 January 1998