A few blog posts ago I wrote about how cool it was to be in a big music scene, much like The Who and Zeppelin, and The Dead and The Band, with Old Union and Ballhog, Mile 8, and The C.E. and such. I just realized that when I was about 16, 17, I was right in the middle of a pretty big one. My older sister's best friends in the world were the members of Caesar's Glass Box.. When I was about 14, I started my longest hobby, following a band around. My sister was cool enough to let me tag along, and I got to go to all the shows and hang out behind the scenes. I carried their gear, fixed broken guitar strings, and kicked some serious ass in the mosh pits at places like the Boro, Main Street, Sebastians, 328, and Lucy's in my last 2 years of high school.
So those guys were managed by one of the guys from Spongebath Records, who still, to this day, manages the Features. We all went to church together and after church on Sundays, we would go out to lunch and talk about all the stuff that was going on. Stuff like the new Features record or the next Self show. My sister also dated Josh from the Katies briefly and he actually came down to the studio and brought a snare drum for me to use. Sally and I were in a band called The Friendlies, and we played for a while in Mboro and Nashville. We even got to open for The Fluid Ounces once, and maybe, we might have opened for The Katies too. So anyway, we were in with the in crowd, and it was a blast. During all this, I had my first experiences with alcohol, got high from time to time, and almost failed Algebra II. I also went to dozens of good shows from all combinations of the Spongebath roster. Somehow I got into all those bars.
Spongebath eventually folded, and a lot of the bands, including the Friendlies, broke up and went their separate ways. I graduated and did some traveling and my sister ended up moving to Seattle and marrying the singer from CGB. I just thought about this because The Scene did an article about Spongebath this week and it really made me think about my life long love of being involved with the band and being there for all that shit. Just a little something I thought I might write about.
I wrote this (that ^) the minute I saw the word "Spongebath" in a headline on the Nashville Scene's blog the other day, before even reading the article. The Spongebath days in Murfreesboro in the mid-to-late 90s were some good times around here for local music. The article ended up being some of SB's biggest names talking about the label in retrospect, but also, it was plugging a Spongebath Night show at the Basement. Not my favorite venue, but hell I would go to the Trader Joe's in Green Hills to hear the Katies and Self play some songs.
I got there late and missed most of the Katies set, just catching the last two songs but recognizing neither. I did hear later from an old Slacker friend that they played a bunch of songs from the record and it was awesome. In seeing the two songs I saw, I realized that it was going to be very stripped down, often acoustic tonight, which meant three huge things were missing: Josh Moore, Sam Baker, and Jason Rawlings, three of the four local drummers that influenced me most. It was still great to see Jason and Gary playing and singing together, Jason on a distorted acoustic and Gary with the nicest bass I've ever seen him play.
Next up was Seth Timbs, who still looks, and sounds exactly the same. His band has changed into the Seth Timbs Thing (again, no Sam Baker) but that guy is still making some great songs. He showed us the latest versions of his piano pop, and it was good, but really, we were all there for some old stuff.
The buzz was on, no one really knew what Matt Mahaffey was going to do. It turned out he was going to play drums and Timbs was going to play keys, and they were going to "Comb through the ol' Spongebath Catalog." They took turns, Matt song, Seth song, starting with "Lucid Ann", and rolling through favorites such as "Don't You Wanna Have Fun", "Canon", "Record Stack", and finishing up with "It All Comes Out In The Wash". They even teased an old Features song, giving a nod to the one big SB act that couldn't make it. The rearrangement of Self and Ounces songs into just piano and drums really showcased the two artists' talent. Freakin' Awesome.
The encore featured Mahaffey on keys and Timbs on drums for a couple of songs, and then it was clear they were going to honor the biggest request of the night. They brought up the Katies and played a rollickin' version of Spongebath's own song, "Hey Lou", written by the birthday boy, Sam Baker, but covered by every act on the label.
We all sang along "and over and over and over and over" and it was great, and then it was over.
It wasn't was I was hoping for rock-wise, but it was still a great night. Seeing people that I remember out of nowhere, like Randy Alexander, the Thunder 94 DJ that played Self all the time, and hearing names like Don Sergio and Dietz. And although my favorite drummers weren't there, those two are super incredibly talented and they made some great music. Each has one of those voices that stands out, like Kim Deal or Billy Corgan, totally unique and memorable. Their individual writing styles made for two great bands, but it was something else when they played together. Hopefully, with Mahaffey back in town, we might see more of these reunions. Or maybe something new?