Live Review: Meth and Goats @ Rozz-Tox Rock Island, IL 08/29/14‏‏‏

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By Ryan Meehan

The older I get, the more I am cautious of taking things for granted. Nowadays we all have so many things going on at once, it’s easy to miss the aspects of life that we just assume will always be around. The other day I was thinking about it because I was standing on my deck and noticed how close the power lines were to my apartment. I sat there and thought about how at one point in time, somebody had to put each and every one of those giant toothpicks up one by one and connect them with electrical wire that could fucking kill them at any given second. And to think that we just assume that it’s supposed to work flawlessly ever since the time that happened, God forbid the cable goes out and we miss an episode of “Pawn Stars” that will only re-air a maximum of sixteen times over the next five days.

I guess the power that came out of Meth and Goats’ music has always been like the power that comes out of those lines to me, and I kind of feel like a dick now for realizing it too late in my life. I’ve been around them since the old days at 620, and foolishly assumed that they’d always be available for my listening pleasure. When the band moved to the Kanga, I was in a band called From The Wreckage that had been spawned out of the remains of Hoth Wompah. I was at that practice space a lot, and I heard Meth and Goats all the time. Slightly before this period Ray replaced Nick (Kelly, former M&G drummer) and the band really started to come into their own and begin writing killer tunes. As a musician that was working on two of my own projects at the time, I guess I never really considered that I probably should have taken more time to listen to what they were doing.

Because now, I won’t be able to hear it live anymore.

On Friday, they played their last show. I have to believe that it’s really their last show, because all of the members have so many different projects going that it would be hard to think they’d be able to continue to make time for it even if they wanted to. While some other bands play their “last show” and then years later decide that they want to get together again, realistically I don’t that’s going to happen with Meth and Goats.

These guys set out to provide one last great live experience, and they delivered on every fragment of that promise. It shouldn’t surprise you if you you’re familiar with these guys, as they’ve always been able to make it happen in a big way regardless of whatever circumstances are put in front of them. But if you don’t already know them, before we go any further let’s meet…

The band

Jon: Even though the material he performs in Centaur Noir is much different from the abrasive stage presence he displayed in Meth and Goats, Jon will always be a great frontman because he knows people are there to be entertained. I can’t stand lead singers who are quiet between songs…I always feel like they are hiding something and don’t really care about the crowd as much as someone like Jon does. He can tell a story about just about anything off of the top of his head, and can make people laugh just as good as most feature act level comedians.

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Dennis: I’ve known Dennis for longer than the other band members, Chowski introduced me to him and I developed an appreciation for his appreciation of all things weird. His record collection was always a “Who’s who” of “What the fuck?”, and it really came out in the music he would write. He liked to use a lot of keyboards and effects pedals, but in this band kept it simple – relying heavily on his trusty DS-1 pedal plugged into a Sunn head and a Marshall 4 X 12.

Talbot: T-Bolt cut his hair recently, so although he still has the beard he is missing the shaggy mane that we have all come to know and love. At some point midway through the show, his signal cut out. Either his head or Hanavan’s cabinet went dead, and Talbot still sold it like a motherfucker. The rest of the band did a fantastic job minimizing the missing space considering it’s a one guitar outfit, and eventually somebody got an Ampeg SVT back on stage and he finished the set strong. As long as I’ve known Talbot, he’s played that same dark blue Jackson and it’s always sounded great.

Ray: Where do I even start? Ray is one of those “exception to the rule” drummers who seems like he’s still at 135% even though he might be operating at 95% because it’s towards the end of the set. That being said, this was not one of those shows and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show where Ray “mails it in”. He plays loud, hard, and uses a lot of dynamics during transitions. And accentuating dynamics during such transitions isn’t the easiest thing to do when you’re already pounding the kit like it’s breaking the law and it owes you money.

The show

Fittingly, Meth and Goats closed the show (dubbed Parkypalooza) and took the stage at around 11:20. They would be accompanied by a healthy crowd in a packed venue where the temperature was a little bit more intense than your average walk-in cooler to say the very least. Before they went on, I remember Ray telling me that this was going to be a hot one. He was right and the band began sweating profusely; just as hard as any heavy metal band I’ve ever seen perform by about halfway through the first song. They opened up with “How Does He Get To The Moon?”, one of my favorite math rock songs of all time. The video screen behind them displayed some of Jon’s video art which featured a lot of footage from NASA shortly followed by (for what I would assume to be reasons of juxtaposition) old clips of the Phil Donahue show. One of the more memorable moments of the show would be during “Filled up on Candies” where Jon belts out “We’re…the boys…with black lungs…” and he was flanked by a video image of a lit cigarette burning. Whether that was planned or not didn’t matter, because the images themselves matched the music perfectly at just about every time during the show.

Meth and Goats steadily cycled through all the classics: The smart-assery of “Don’t Tell Randy”, the rolling prog-rock break in “11-11-11”, and the snarky seemingly-always-ahead-of-itself pace of “God’s Got Money”…all played with the same intensity as they were written. Commanding lyrics from tracks like “Tell Me I’m Powerful” were being forcefully cranked through the PA, between hearty doses of Pabst Blue Ribbon that would later indirectly serve to water the plants out back where the other bands parked their vans for the show. A show that wasn’t just a rock show, it was a “Rock the fuck out” show.

The crowd

Off stage, things got rowdy in a hurry. It only took a couple of tunes for people to entertain the idea of crowd-surfing, something that is almost unheard of on an eight inch stage and difficult to fathom looking at this venue from the street. Nevertheless, it happened and for the most part everybody remained unharmed. Jamie Warren (whom you might remember from his work in Mondo Drag, Cool Off, or the last time he accidentally kicked you in the head at one of these events) got things going, and shortly thereafter another guy got up the courage to do the same. But I was most impressed by Dennis – still plugged in at this point – getting lifted high into the air in order to get just a few short feet from the blood red Roxx-Tox ceiling.

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He didn’t exactly stick the landing, but when he got up he was right back in business and rocking like he was 19 years old again. Everybody stuck around and hung out afterwards, which leads me to my next point…

What I loved most about the show

While the music was great and the crowd was going nuts, I couldn’t get away from the fact that all of these people who I never get the chance to see anymore were in the same place. It really touched me in a way that I haven’t been touched in a very long time. Josh Jones with his fedora on, calling people by the first letter of their name followed by a hyphen and some ridiculous suffix that usually ends in something like “dogger”. The now happily married Josh Hurley, who has that seemingly non-removable grin on his face that can’t be removed if there’s a great band on stage. Nick Eyre standing on the side videotaping everything with his phone. Zippy Vidmar bobbing his head approvingly with beer in hand. Bryan Warren. Bryan Fucking Warren at a show, something he admittedly hadn’t done in over a decade. Conza at the side of the stage watching the group like they never stopped practicing to begin with. Talbot’s other sister Rebekah eventually moving outside to watch the show from the nearest window, likely in fear that she may very well have either been trampled or drowned in the massive fog of dude sweat that was clouding up the pit. Lindsey Feiser, seemingly always around when there is some kind of good art on display. Jose Delucio. Gooch. Hanavan. All fucking champions in their own right, all friends.

And in the end, isn’t that really the point? None of us are going to make a million dollars doing this music thing, so isn’t the next best thing having everyone that you’ve loved in the same fucking place when your band finally decides to pack it in? Isn’t that really more than you could ever ask for to begin with?

I certainly hope so. If it’s not, I would wonder what those ulterior motives might be for other artists that find themselves in the same position. Thankfully with regards to this show I won’t ever have to, because it was all about having everyone who could make it there to love this festering foursome getting together one last time and having a blast.

Once again, thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan

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