This past Sunday, our band NEON PISS played our last show at 924 Gilman Street as part of "This Is Not A Step - 20 years of More Than Music." In its earliest incarnation (well, as far as this year's fest goes), the fest was supposed to be a benefit for Sarah Kirsch before she passed away from complications with fanconi anemia (I didn't capitalize that because I don't think we should give that kind of dignity to the things that kill us). We agreed to play the fest on the same day that Sarah lost her life.
The fest ended up being a benefit for Sarah's family, the SF Trans March and The Pacific Center for Human Growth (with the money being allocated specifically for transgender clients). Initially, I had my doubts with how the whole thing was being organized: the fest was dominated by bands populated by cisgender people. I wondered what it must be like as a transgender punk to come to a fest that supposedly has your lifestyle in mind but does not actually include bands with members who are trans. At one point, I told the organizers that our band would happily drop off of the fest if our spot would be given to any band that included trans members. Obviously, that didn't happen. I also talked to people who took issue with the fest being on the same weekend as Pride and people who thought that the workshops were weak. About a month before the fest though, I decided to stop complaining and just go for it. It takes a ton of hard work to set up an event of that size and scope. No matter what you do, you are going to have detractors. I believe that the organizers have their hearts in the right place and did a lot of good work. While I was truly a little embarrassed (no, really) to be on stage when our slot could have been given to voices who aren't straight white guys, I still believe that we all need to be allies to each other if we actually want to be any sort of real fucking change in this floating shit heap that we somehow magically inhabit. Every day, I see the absolute worst examples of human garbage walking this planet that just make me want to die, but this past weekend at the fest, I felt like everything was kind of okay for just a little while. Bands raged. There was an open mic on stage for anyone to utilize to say anything that was on their mind. The mic was mostly utilized by queer and trans people who said some really real shit that straight ears needed to hear. Being open and vulnerable in front of a crowd like that is an incredibly hard thing to do and I wish I had half the strength that some of the people on that stage did.
I felt the need to say something when our band played, even though the thought of speaking in front of large groups makes me wanna puke. I said something along the lines of...
"No one in out band was ever a friend of Sarah Kirsch but her life touched all of us immensely. I never even met her. We are in awe of her strength and determination. I admired her full commitment to the power and importance of DIY...to her commitment to punk and hardcore. I feel saddened that she never got the chance to live her life in the identity that she showed to us near the end of her life. I think that one tiny thing that we can learn from her is that we need to treat others with the respect they deserve because we don't really know how much time we have on this earth. I think it's really easy for people like me, straight cis men, to treat transgender people with respect....or to treat anyone who doesn't come from a place of privilege with the respect they deserve....and if I can do that, so can you" blah, blah, we are a band, this is our last show....
If you picture a nervous guy staring at the ground and insert about 45 "uhhh"'s, you'll get the picture. Anyhow, It was a fun show and I feel very, very lucky to have shared space with such amazing people in such a long-running institution as Gilman. Speaking of lucky, I am also incredibly lucky to have been able to play music and travel with my bandmates Kyle, Barker and Bryan. I'm still amazed that we got to make music that we enjoyed making and people actually took the time to pay attention to us. I know that's probably not a big deal to many of you, but it means a lot to me.
We decided to put out this CD-R a day before our last show and only have it available at the show for the cost of 25 cents. There's no insert or even a cover. We thought it would be funny....maybe just to us. Here's what's on it:
1. The one and only song by The MUNI MEN, our fake Oi band. We wrote and recorded this song in about 5 minutes at our practice space and it shows. Kyle played drums. Barker played guitar, Bryan played bass and I played that hot guitar lick.
2. Practice weirdness. Sometimes, people buy weird pedals.
3. A NEWTOWN NEUROTICS cover that we played (badly) at a squat show in Hamburg, Germany just because our friend Laura came all the way from Berlin to see us and she likes that band a lot. "No man is a cow"
4. A very early version of "Close The Door"
5. Us losing our minds on a 27 hour drive across the top of the country. Sounds best on headphones.
6. "Burn" on the Grand Manor piano in Chicago.
7. "Burn" recorded by Kyle at our practice space with different lyrics from the version on our 7".
8. We had some extra time at the studio when we recorded our 7" so we told Stan to just roll the tape and we shit out this weird song that just sounds like the theme from Roseanne. Stan couldn't believe that we used our time to do this. To be fair, neither could we.
9. A song that was never fully realized. No lyrics. Recorded at our practice space.
10. We were losing our minds (again) as we drove into NYC while listening to Harold Camping. Shit happens.
11. Another song that never made it out of the practice space. No lyrics.
12. Another stab at the Roseanne theme, but now with a bullhorn.
13. "Paranoid" as interpreted by freaks. Just be glad we didn't include our 10 minute version of "Born to Be Wild"
14. A 28 minute remix of our song "Close The Door" that Kyle and I collaborated on. Best listened to on headphones...in the dark.
Thanks to people who humored us and bought a CD-R for 25 cents. Thanks to everyone who helped us out in our time as a band. You can download all of our releases on our Bandcamp page for free or by donation. You can buy our records from Vinyl Rites, Cut The Cord That... and Deranged. Stuff can be bought from us on Bigcartel (not much is left).
Other bands we are in: Barker plays in WET SPOTS and HUFF STUFF MAGAZINE (their new album is great). Bryan also plays in THE NEW FLESH, who just released an awesome LP and are getting ready to tour both US coasts. Kyle is working on stuff with COLD BEAT and is constantly twisting knobs in his room. I started a hardcore band that doesn't have a name and has only practiced four times, so who knows?