I’ve got a real love/hate relationship with Virginia’s post-punk and hardcore scene. When I look back on it, I find the scene as a whole creatively constrained and kind of stifling — it was this kind of styleized suburban orthodox dudefest of screamed vocals and far-left political statements set to guitar feedback and complicated drums.
But look, man: if you hated sports a little and frat-culture a lot in the late ’80s and early ’90s, what else were you going to do? Punk and hardcore had a low barrier to entry then – just get yourself a guitar, a garage and couple other guys and add a few metric apeloads of sweat and willpower. You could turn a pizza parlor, VFW hall or urine-soaked living room into a mothership full of people that were just ROCKING THE FUCK OUT with you at the helm.
I met almost all of my best, tightest, life-long friends at these shows. We made bands, made tapes, played records, took road trips to the Black Cat in DC and Twister’s in Richmond together, and ate a WHOLE lot of hash browns at truckstops in the middle of the night together. I went to a lot of weddings and I’ll go to a lot of funerals because of the people I met back then. We shepherded each other along the messy, complicated path into adult life, and I plan to return the favors on the way out.
Some of my best friends in college – the kindest, strangest, funniest guys in the world – formed the Sleepytime Trio. And when they played in our tiny living room in Harrisonburg, VA, the energy was Thor banging his hammer on the ground. Lightning bolts connected everybody and people dove off the mantle and jumped out the windows … before opening them.
Everytime they played, something got broken, someone got hurt and everyone in the room took a malt-liquor shower together and we smiled about it real hard, too. Because we all knew that nothing this awesome was happening for hundreds of miles around this tiny little mountain town and we all made it together.
Here’s the Sleepytime Trio playing at ABC No Rio back in the late ’90s. This looks and sounds a LOT like my living room did when I was in college.
So I’m really, really honored and exceptionally stoked to be MC-ing the Slip/Lovitt Party at SXSW on March 15th — featuring a rare and raw Sleepytime Trio reunion. There are 8 bands, and I’ll be telling stories between all of them. You don’t need a badge or anything, just earplugs. And maybe some extra deodorant.
See, that love/hate thing – it’s not really hate. It’s the natural flipside of a nurturing relationship. You will always resent the thing that makes you just enough to get out on your own. It’s scary out there, and if you didn’t push yourself away, you’d still live in your mom’s attic.
For me, this thing’s like coming home for Christmas. We’re all grown up, and we’re all going to rock this thing as hard as we know how.
For the rest of you, the show ought to be really fun, especially if you like hanging out with dudes in cargo shorts who still buy 7″ records. Hope you can make it.