For the seventeenth time, Skip Dixon held his annual Christmastime tradition last weekend.
Okay, so it was only nine bands who show for the annual 12 Bands of Christmas event. Still, The Pour House in Ocean City was the place to be for local rock, as those nine local bands wailed through the night. And unlike previous events, there was a nifty prize to be had:
The reason the autographed Paul Reed Smith guitar was being raffled off (at $25 per chance) was to raise funds for Melanie Davis, a 9 year old Pittsville Elementary student who was hit by a car in October, with the family racking up over $150,000 in medical bills so far with her care. They also had a 50-50 drawing and passed the hat, collecting a few hundred dollars more. It’s amazing how many shows I go to which are like that – the local music community is always happy to lend a hand.
Before the hat was passed, though, we heard the Phantom Limbs and it was good.
As always, they entertained with their mashup of punk, surf, and jam music – so much so that they only played four lengthy originals in their set.
But the crowd was gathering while the Phantom Limbs jammed to see the next band play.
These guys had to play early or else the bar would be in trouble – none of them are over 18 yet. But The Hooplas showed talent some bands with much more seasoned players couldn’t match, and it will be interesting to see what happens as they mature in the local music scene. All I know is that these youngsters packed them in, apologizing for not knowing all that many cover songs. Fellas, I don’t mind a bit – keep doing those originals!
…was next. As opposed to The Hooplas, they did all cover songs but picked out a heavy set which included a reasonable version of ‘Master of Puppets’ that got me screaming out the lyrics. “Taste me you will see…more is all you need.”
Apparently this singer doesn’t always sing for them, and I can’t recall who he normally sings for. (I want to say Lime Green?) But Slackjaw played a couple songs as a three-piece, too.
Livin’ the Dream also played part of their classic hard rock set as a three-piece. They put the host to work back on the drum kit, as you can see here and in the next photo.
But midway through the set they picked up the second guitarist to play some Van Halen and other classics. Yes, there was a KISS song too – ‘Detroit Rock City.’
We reached the midway point with another hard rock cover band, Dust ‘n Bones.
While they played a solid, workmanlike set I wonder why they don’t play their namesake Guns ‘n Roses song. Maybe next time I see them.
One has a bad leg, another has a surgically-repaired wrist, and they’ve gone through more drummers than Spinal Tap lately. Yet Semiblind keeps on playing as they remain a staple of Skip’s events.
But Jim Hogsett’s wrist held out and Michele Hogsett managed to stand through the whole half-dozen songs they played, gamely going through several of their newer cover songs. Semiblind doesn’t just play standard classic rock anymore, as they can toss out some country, funk, or Top 40 too. They are perhaps the most versatile band playing about these parts.
We took a short break to draw the 50-50 winner and hear a little bit from this friend of Skip’s.
Tim “Thunder Walrus” Yarosh is a comedian of some repute, although I wasn’t familiar with him. But perhaps I should check him out further since he was kind of a funny guy. (That or he may threaten to stay at my house.) I won’t dislike him simply because he didn’t draw my 50-50 ticket. Nor will I blame him for messing up the sound, as I’ll explain a bit later.
After the brief bit from Yarosh, we got back to music. A band which apparently hadn’t been playing around here of late was Abby’s Cage.
Just by a close listen I thought maybe they weren’t quite as tight as a couple of the other bands, but that would come back as they return to the fray. And Abby’s Cage liked the hard stuff, too.
Yet most of those who stayed waited to hear We Might Collide, a band making their debut at this show. The six-man band could be construed as a local supergroup of sorts as it includes three former members of the popular local band Lennex and two others from the late Baltimore-based band Fourth Element. Both of these late, lamented groups were talented enough to write a number of good, original songs – some of which I own on CD.
And they played all new material, too. So when I figured out that these guys shouldn’t have been that rusty, I had to concede that the last bands in this 9-band show suffered from a lack of sound quality – the mix didn’t seem right to me. Perhaps it sounded great in the stage monitors that the bands hear themselves from, but on my end it seemed too muddled together. So I’d rather not judge either Abby’s Cage or We Might Collide based on this show.
The sound was really off by the time Witches Brew, the final band of the night, took the stage. I couldn’t even hear the drums on the first song and the overall sound detracted from should have been a better effort to close the night.
I know Witches Brew can play their Judas Priest covers better than they sounded, because I’ve seen them enough – they’re also reliable veterans of Skip’s shows. But I have to chastise the fans as well.
Sure, they probably came out to see We Might Collide. But it always annoys me that so few stay around to see the last band, which gets to play to a half-empty bar but works just as hard as the other bands do. To me, it’s just common courtesy to stick around. Maybe that’s just me, and of course I wasn’t looking to get smashed or pick up someone. I just wanted to hear some good tunes and support local music. It’s what I do.
So the next time Skip has one of these shows – probably Spring Luau 2012 – come out and stay for all the bands. You won’t be sorry.