I pretty much never go to rock shows, for the following reasons:

  • I only like about four bands

  • I generally don't fit into the subcultures that like the bands I like

  • I am dubious about the venues

The last time I went to a rock show was in 1997, when I went to see Local H and Veruca Salt (two of the four bands I liked at the time!) in Raleigh, NC. The show was pretty good — Local H in particular did a great set — but the room immediately filled up with smoke despite the No Smoking signs posted everywhere, and I was harassed by a cretin during the intermission. The previous show I saw was in 1995, when on the spur of the moment I took a friend-of-a-friend's ticket and went with a bunch of people to see Sonic Youth and R.E.M. at the Shoreline. But it turned out that everyone had tickets for different areas of the amphitheater so I ended up crammed in shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of strangers on a hill about a mile and a half from the stage.

However! A while back I happened to click on the "shows" link at the web site for one of my favorite bands, Killola, and discovered that they were slated to do a show at, of all places, Buhach Colony High School in Atwater, California. Hunh! I looked into it and discovered that they were headlining the 4th of July fireworks show at the BCHS soccer field. This seemed perfect: a band I liked at an unthreatening venue, and it'd even give me an excuse to get out of town that evening so I wouldn't have to sit in my apartment listening to the neighborhood goons setting off firecrackers. So yesterday I climbed into the Aluminum Lung and made the 106-mile trip to Atwater. (At 66.7 miles per gallon! Hooray for highway mileage.)

I decided to bring a book just in case there was some waiting around, which turned out to have been a very good idea because the organizers weren't very competent and took ages to start letting people in; then there was another long wait before the opening band came on. I wound up plowing through 77 pages. It was an even lower-key event than I had imagined: the "stage" was a small flatbed trailer and the field was sparsely dotted by multigenerational families who were clearly there for the fireworks and not the music. The first band was a local frock-rock trio called Nadine who had some good basslines. I got the impression that I was the only one who was there and listening who didn't know them personally. Then I happened to glance away from the stage and OMG THERE WAS LISA RIEFFEL EEEEEEE

See, I am old enough and sufficiently out of touch that half the time when I'm looking at news sites and see a story about celebrities I have no idea who they are. But to me, people like Jessicka Fodera and Julie Christmas are hyoooj stars. I mean, every time I drive somewhere there they are coming out of my speakers so they must be famous, right? And Lisa Rieffel is one of these. So it was about then that I realized that this wasn't going to be like the other concerts I'd been to, which were like watching television — up on the very same stage that Nadine had played I was about to see freakin' Killola! Life-sized! Four feet away! Eeeee! I had planned to kind find a patch of grass away from the crowd and listen politely to the music, but hell with that — when they came on and started playing I went right up to the stacks with the couple dozen other fans who were there and hopped around like an idiot and went "whoo" between songs and all the rest of it. It helped that their show was completely awesome — it turns out that the huge range of vocal styles Lisa shows off on the records she can do equally well live, all while jumping around. And the band seemed to be amused by the unusual venue: after a few songs a crowd of preschoolers had collected in front of the stage and the band brought them up to boogie and sing along while they played their next song, which was completely adorable. And then the sun went down and amazing professional fireworks started going off in the sky behind the stage while they played "Dr. Rock" and that moment basically turned Independence Day from my least favorite holiday into my favorite, at least this year.

Then I drove 106 miles back home, as fireworks went off on both sides of the freeway the whole way, and arrived around midnight to find the neighborhood goons already safely back in their houses, their firecrackers set off in my absence. Rock!

1. "I Don't Know Who"
2. "Strung Out on Sunshine" (my favorite of this set)
3. "Barrel of Donkeys"
4. "This Is How the World Ends"
5. "Is This a Love Song?"
6. "All of My Idols Are Dead"
7. "Heartrate 160" (with impromptu backing vocals by toddlers)
8. "Get Around"
9. "You Can't See Me Because I'm a Stalker"
10. "Dr. Rock" (with fireworks!)
11. "Johnny Are You Queer"




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