Making stuff as a founder of Avocado. Former music-maker. Tuna melt advocate. Started Google Reader. (But smarter people made it great.)

Reno, Nevada or We Can Lick Any SOB In The House

You can enter Reno by several different roads. But I defy anyone to arrive in Reno via any description other than "rolling into town." Because Reno is that kind of place. We rolled into town around 8:30pm following one of the most beautiful drives ever: the Donner Pass at dusk. Amazing... I recommend it if you happen to be a traveling musician.

We arrived at the Zephyr Bar in downtown Reno next to the bright pink neon sign flashing ADULT, ADULT, ADULT. Chris still hadn't done his taxes yet (TurboTax hung during the upload process) so we needed to find a technical waystation of some sort. We found unlikely support from the band we were to play with, a group of large, gruff, and flanneled men from Portland, Oregon who call themselves I Can Lick Any SOB In The House. They had a phone they could use as a modem...but we had too many problems installing the drivers.

So we climbed on stage and did our classified-as-indie thing. A nice moment? Adrienne announcing the next band..."And now...I can lick any SOB in the house." They clambered onstage and opened brilliantly with a power ballad about a Greyhound bus.
Outlaws and convicts - they all ride regrets and Greyhound

The big engine sound - my how she sways
Their set? Direct and passionate. The words I struggled to find all night and found instead today were...bully patriot barbarian minutemen. They railed against life's injustice with a million miles of grit underneath their dirty fingernails, tongues lightly in cheek and a half-empty longneck sweetly caressing the stiff full frets of a hollow body wielded by a freedom fighter in musical ecstacy.

And yeah, I'd like to believe they fully understood the complex psycho-sexual drama enacted so often in blues bars with rock bands. One of the SOBs blew the harmonica (popularly known as the mouth organ) with some fervor and amazing skill. And he and the afore-mentioned lead guitarist would draw close with locked-in gazes, the guitarist with his head thrown back, the organist crouching, working that mouth organ silly. With a commanding rock performance, a military pedigree ("I was in the 101st Airborne") and an exposition extolling the virtues of gay marriage and including blistering criticisms of virulent anti-gay protestors ("I hope I live long enough to shit on Fred Phelps' grave") I think...yeah, they knew. They got it.

And then this...
you and me my friend we are all just dinosaurs
all of our lives going back to mud
...a take on the theme, timbre, and construction of a song like "Mississippi Mud" but adding this somber layer of reflection. I dunno...maybe I Can Like Any SOB had a kind of dialectic via pop-knowledge going on throughout, as in the above example where they're musing on the enormity of mortality while embracing a common denegration of their type of rock ("dinosaur").

Or maybe a lit-crit deconstruction of their act is just so much crap and in the end they just Wanna Rock and really can lick your ass. Really, what's the difference? They were great, so I bought a T-shirt and saluted as they passed. If you get the chance, see 'em. (You should be warned, however, that their politics are as partisan as their guitar solos are epic.)

On a side note: the bassist reminded me only very slightly of our friend and good man, Justin Hall. Who, like me, could lick any SOB in the house.

Provided the house in question is an elementary school.
posted at April 18, 2004, 3:13 AM