I sacked plenty of choice ass thanks to Smoking Popes. The first time I saw the brothers Caterer and crew was 1996 in Fort Lauderdale in support of their lightning strike album Born To Quit, which was steadily becoming everyone's new favorite love thanks to a strong slot on the Clueless soundtrack, spins on KROQ and Q101, and in Morrissey's personal player. Popes opened for Jawbreaker who were in support of their major label nail in the coffin Dear You. This was when the format was new and restless, giving No Doubt, Save Ferris, and Goldfinger the spotlight while ultimately burying these two extremely influential indie rock bands in the alternative radio waste bin. Both bands became legendary and the singers of these two very different outfits couldn't have been more opposite, with Josh Caterer (Popes) finding God and becoming born again while Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker) lost his shit and had a briggity broke ass break down.
After the Jawbreaker/Popes event I was crossing the street and luckily saved the life of a girl named Bonnie who repaid me by laying me. In Chicago 2000 a girl named Vanessa bagged me like the groceries we sold together at Whole Foods because I resemble the Josh Caterer singer. NOTE: No one sexed me up because I also look like Billy Corgan...no one. But this isn't about me as much as it should be MORE about me.
The very very last time that I saw Popes was 1997 NYC CMJ at the Continental. The Destination Failure rekkid was in prime position to begin, er, drown at commercial radio and therefore no one was at this gig. I miss St. Mark's Place, I do, just as much as Coney Island High or that old bag lady who dropped drawers and leaked all over the city sidewalk while singing God Bless America. Gotta love the city.
I heard recently that Smoking Popes were getting back together with a promotional tour for their live CD/DVD, Smoking Popes At Metro, distributed by Chicago hardcore label Victory Records. Yes yes I KNEW Tony Victory secretly wore sweater vests and coke bottle glasses. Smoking Popes fit PERFECTLY on the Victory roster. I think I'll put them right between my dusty Earth Crisis and Hatebreed LPs. But it's a Chicago thing and the kids have to eat...still, Victory?
Chicago 1991 is the birthplace of Smoking Popes, same city where us fools with Jerk Alert Productions rocked a variety hour called Chartreuse in which one time Pope Tom Daily (touring guitarist on Destination Failure) played smashers from his superb rekkid The Burlington Northern. Mike Felumlee was also missing from the reunion lineup. The skinny skins banger heard on most Popes records (who briefly joined Alkaline Trio on From Here To Infirmary) must be beefing up his imprint Double Zero Records, who released the Popes' last couple of recordings (1991-1998, Live, The Party's Over).
Chicago is the same city where I won $10 from Bobby English when I bet him that the kid we were staring at one drunken evening at Metro was in fact Popes guitarist Eli Caterer.
"Are you Eli Caterer?"
"Sweet ass. You just won me ten bucks bitch!"
I quickly ran downstairs and found legendary music madman Wesley Willis in the lobby of the cabaret Metro selling CDs and listening to his trademark headphones. Those buggers kept him off the hellbus. I purchased a disc, which Wesley autographed, and I told him that he always will rock it like a masochist better than all the rest. I still have a photo shot of Willis in my scary washroom. Rock over London, rock over toilet!
From the Bellevue Mental Hospital at Bellevue and Pine, I walked through the bowels of downtown Seattle America to 2nd and Blanchard, and ended up at the Crocodile Cafe. Earlier this year these ears have been pounded by explosive sets from The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys in this intimate room with powerhouse speakers that make hearing go away, the good way.
I wore my Promise Ring t-shirt (Dan Didier baseball ringer and rolled my pant legs up to accentuate my Sunny Day Real Estate tattoo. Texas Is The Reason button on my bucket hat proving to the new jackaroos that I am still more emo than motherfucking Phillips.
This waitress at the Croc is always here...posing. Why does she try so hard to look so hard? Her pink blonde locks strapped down under a thick ski cap, black wife beater shirt shows off the tattooed wings on her bare back. Are you going to murder anyone with that M-16 bullet belt girlfriend? Stop being such a poser slut and bring me my beer!! I didn't look at her all evening. She is used to people staring, I'm used to not caring. She played her game and try try failed to snatch my attention from the floor, ceiling, art dangling from the freshly coated walls. She is one of those dirty faced chicas who makes my stomach upset. Rolaids were invented because of douchebags like her.
I drank my PBR bottle and glared at the crowd. Who were these people? How did they know about the Popes? Did they even realize that today, May 22, is Morrissey's birthday? Fucking amateurs.
After borrowing the opening band's amp (who remembers opening band names?) the three Caterer brothers from illy noize came strutting onto the stage with some fatso stick wielding unknown named Ryan Chavez on drums. They kicked right into "Let's Hear It For Love" which had some nitro to it, extra Chicago habanero peppers, Zest fully clean riffing. "Need You Around," back over to "No More Smiles" and this reporter was sweating to the fucking oldies. Josh was somehow missing the actual tempo of the song, inserting lyrics off time and somehow still catching the beginning of the next verse in time, in tact.
Brothers and sisters, I was a dancing machine. People were watching me, thinking I was about to fall and break something like your face, my back, someone's spine; everyone speculated that something vital would snap. But I continued to shuffle slide that dance floor down with these fast moving feets o' flames. Fancy fast foot action. Sweet Jesus in tap shoes I can scuff up every show room on the planet.
"Gotta Know Right Now" flipped into a near perfect drum segue to "Midnight Moon." So far I believe we have touched both the Johann's Face release Get Fired and Capitol major label burnout Born To Quit. Song six in the dreamboat set was "Paul," taken from the band's last proper studio release, Destination Failure.
Lots of old tunes were cleaned up and shined bright for ball tickling reunion type set. One by one, the warm fuzzy fury attacked our welcoming ears. The new dazzler in the sizzle set was "If You Don't Care," which banged out the poem, flutter like captive birds afraid to fly. Take THAT Sepultura, THAT'S fucking metal!!! "I Know You Love Me" consisted of Josh leading the crowd in a singalong way before Chris Carraba was even born. I mean how old is that tattooed GAP commercial? The sixteen-song smash ended with "Writing A Letter" from the early daze.
Brief obligatory encore than back into action for three more charm balls. "On The Shoulder," "Not That Kind Of Girlfriend," and the ironic show closer, "You Spoke To Me," which includes the apropos verse, "You didn't play my favorite song, But that's all right, I love the new stuff too, I'm just glad I got to see you." Goddamn perfect.
Much like The Ramones, Smoking Popes never got the credit they deserved. Their loveable style inspired dozens of bands who can now be heard diluting the radio airwaves (Fallout Boy, Hawthorne Heights, Thrice, insert shit stupid band name here).
We'll assume that since the new song appeared that a new album will follow, resurrecting one of the greatest little rock bands that ever could. Where will this reignited rampage lead to and did the voyage ever stop? Was their absence from the lo-fi sad song sound scene merely a hiatus? Will this just be some "gimmick last ditch sales effort?" Will the power pop strumming and gushy gooey vocals continue to serenade the yoof of today the way it did for kids like me way back when we spent all those 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours working through our 24 Hour Revenge Therapy? We should hope so.
You will not get blood from me this evening loyal readers. There are no controversial characters to love, hate, or identify with. This is about a true American success story. These kids play sweet fucking gritty love songs that move the balls in everyone's sack (ladies too.) I mean shit, if MORRISSEY gives these kiddos the thumbs up, then what a better way to celebrate the birth of the Mozzer than to listen to something he and I both agree whole heartedly on - Smoking Popes.
And I'm done. Here is the set list, full set list, so you can see how cool I am since I know all of the songs they played at the show and you fucking don't.
Fucking blah blah blah seeyattle 20000000sex
May 22, 2006
"Lets Hear It For Love"
"Need You Around"
"No More Smiles"
"Gotta Know Right Now"
"Can't Find It"
"Just Broke Up"
"If You Don't Care" * new *
"I Know You Love Me"
"Off My Mind"
"Before I'm Gone"
"Writing A Letter"
"On The Shoulder"
"Not That Kind Of Girlfriend"
"You Spoke To Me"
Jason Anfinsen was born in West Palm Beach Florida 1977. He is a professional noisemaker who has created weirdo kkkomedy for the past decade on stage, radio, and in print. He has performed improvisation around the world at comedy festivals and theaters in London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Toronto, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle. Jason is a contributing writer for The Tripwire, Redefine Magazine, documentarian for the BellEvUe mENtal HosPitAL series, and author of the book Stab At Sleep. His loudmouth voice has blasted 103.1 The Buzz in West Palm Beach, Virgin Radio in New York City, and can be heard screaming on 107.7 The End.
He lives in Seattle America 2006.