Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Masked Intruder @ Churchill's Pub

Friday, February 22, 2013 - Churchill's Pub, Miami, FL

 (I know this photo sucks, but it's the only one I snapped due to the flash on my phone going off like a neutron bomb...I thought I paralyzed the band)

Ah, Churchill's...Every time I'm looking for a parking spot, driving through the wastelands of Little Haiti, I tell myself this is the last time I'll ever be visiting, but somehow I always come back.  I circled the area for about 15 minutes, looking for a safe and legal place to park.  In the past, the local derelicts would ask for a dollar to make sure your car is safe (you always give it to them or forfeit your windows smashed & tires slashed), now they are wearing orange "construction" vests and directing you where to park.  One guy was telling me to straight-up park on the sidewalk blocking both directions.  Since I didn't have a good feeling about my car being there when I returned, I decided to keep looking.  I was almost ready to go home, but found a spot about two blocks down on NE 54th St.  There was some kind of strip-mall church on the same block with people hanging outside, so I told myself that I should be relatively safe here, being their religious and the 10 commandments, or whatnot.  I got out of the car and slipped into the shadows, making a b-line for the venue, hoping not to be seen or mugged.  

The venue itself is an anomaly in Miami for not being the usual glossy, high end techno dance club.  It is loud, scuzzy, and most definitely has that CBGB's charm.  And just like the famous Country, BlueGrass & Blues, if possible, try not to use their bathrooms...it's fucking nasty.  Beer is pretty cheap for Miami standards, but the people are mainly loud, obnoxious hardcore-knuckleheads.  They have that unique Floridian flair where it's not unusual to see a studded leather jacket combined with a feathered Justin Beiber haircut.  But whatever, after their self-titled debut making my 2012 "best of", nothing could ruin my anticipation to see Masked Intruder.  Yet another great band hailing from Wisconsin (Madison) and recently signed to big-punk-rock-indie Fat Wreck Chords, Blue (lead singer/guitarist), Yellow (bassist/singer), Red (drummer), & Green (guitarist/singer) combine to create an amazing blend of bouncy, melodic pop-punk with a stalker-like, hopeless romantic Ramones crunch.  I loved their debut album, but little did I know that their live show would eclipse it.  

After the band (sans masks) set up, they all left the stage to the back area.  I think maybe 10% of the audience knew their schtick.  Sure enough, 15 minutes later the music playing in the bar dies down and local DJ Skidmark welcomes Masked Intruder.  Police sirens blared over the PA, as the four masked men made their way through the unsuspecting crowd to the stage, followed by someone dressed like a cop, later revealed as their parole officer (who stood behind them, watching the entire show and never breaking character).  They immediately burst into their best sing-along "Stick 'Em Up" and won the crowd over.  They rolled through a majority of songs from their latest album including "25 To Life", "How Do I Get To You?", "Unrequited Love" & "Why Won't You Love Me In Real Life".   They also played 2 or 3 new songs that sounded fantastic and super dance-y (wish I could remember their names), most likely from their upcoming album this year on Fat.  For a relatively new band, they didn't look green is the slightest.  They were a tight, well-honed machine and the crowd reacted to it appropriately.  Like the cherry on top, they had that special band-to-audience factor.  There was lots of hilarious banter going on.  They all spoke in these over the top NY accents, like they were the T-Birds from the movie Grease.  Blue (adorned with spectacles over his mask), found a girl in the crowd and asked her "Hey there...You here alone tonight, honey?...Am I embarrassing you?" and dedicated one of my favorite songs "Crazy" to her.  Then, Blue announced they were going to steal a few songs and play couple of covers.  Green reminded everybody that it "...ain't stealing if you ain't caught" and they broke into The Outfield's "Your Love".  The bassist, Yellow sang this one and they all pounced together in all the right places to make it the best version of that often-covered song I've ever heard.  From there, Green ironically sang Green Day's "She".  The entire place went nuts.  It was the most energetic performance of the night.  After a brief breather for all involved, Blue asked everyone not to try to sing along to the next one "You'll confuse yourselves, just snap your fingers like this...".  The entire band let their instruments fall to their sides and began snapping and singing acapella doo-wap style.  As soon as the second verse ended, they exploded into "Wish You Were Mine" and the audience who were staring at these guys previously harmonizing sweet doo-doo-da-doo-doo's were caught off guard and immediately were sent into a frenzy.  They ended their set, said goodnight and I genuinely believe they weren't going to play an encore song.  After all, they were the opener for the opening band .  People loved them though, and they looked at the DJ who was ready to announce the next band and said they had time for one more.  They tore into the tiny morsel "Gimme Parole" off their earliest EP First Offender.  In one minute it was over and they said good-night for real.  They probably played a 25-30 minute set, and I think everyone was taken aback by how good they were.  Even DJ Skidmark who was kind of crusty and older said something like, "Everyone give it up for Masked Intruder!  Wow, that was great!  How have I never heard of you guys?!  Everyone buy a T-shirt or CD...maybe someone in the band can give me a cd, how about it?!".  It was a great show.  One of those shows you feel lucky to have witnessed.  My only gripe was that they didn't play my favorite track "Hello Beautiful", but I forgive them.

I walked into the night with a smile on my face, knowing I had one of those rare occasions of seeing a band in their prime on the verge of greatness.  I hastily walked to my car, my pockets bulging with merch, hoping to make it without getting a bullet between the eyes, or my hubcaps stolen, or "Honky Lips" spray painted on my vehicle. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

You Know What I'm Sick Of ?...

Longboards.  Get a normal skateboard.  Get rid of the flippy-floppies and put on a pair of sneakers, like a Man.  Don't forget your white sunglasses & to pop your collar before you head out, to complete your transformation into a total South Beach waste of space.  Now go ride in the street, asshole.  I'm not moving over on this sidewalk.  Turn up those headphones & keep texting while you head into that upcoming intersection, *douche-bag.
*click on the photo above to go to the OFFICIAL douchebags on longboards blog! yep, it exists!