There are a handful of bands from my live rock heyday of roughly 1986-1995 that I saw play live over fifteen times each, as obsessive as that sounds, and is. CLAW HAMMER are easily #1, pushing at least 40+ shows, but then again I went on tour with them, and they were friends to boot. MUDHONEY – at least 25 shows, partly driven by their longevity, and partly by the fact that I lived in Seattle a few years & wormed my way onto a few pest lists. LAZY COWGIRLS – absolute crazed late 80s mania for these guys. If they played in Los Angeles, where they lived and played live every month during 1986-89, I was there. I missed one show in the desert and one in Long Beach that I know of, and I’m pretty sure that’s about it. Sick! THE ICKY BOYFRIENDS and MONOSHOCK – between one and three dozen times respectively, but then again, those fellas were also friends, in addition to being a blast live.
There is one band in the 15+ club whom I’m never really met, broken bread with, nor followed too obsessively, and yet whom I delightedly saw play live somewhere between 20 and 25 times. I’m talking of course of THE THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282. “The Fellers” need to have a reeducation campaign conducted around them, lest they be forgotten to time. In their day they were such a goddamn powerhouse – a wacked amalgamation of convoluted BEEFHEART riffs, Krautrock propulsion, raging punk rock-styled banjo & mandolin, and a noisy and strange take on then-current independent rock flavors. Some of their live shows, especially around 1991 or so, are among the jaw-dropping best I’ve ever seen. Their San Francisco Bay Area-based fans devotedly hopped from gig to gig, and for a year or two it was absolutely worship-like at the shows themselves, with lots of drunken screaming, rolling in the aisles (or in the “pit”), good-natured heckling, and general speaking in tongues. Their core early contingent was largely made up of friends of theirs in bands whose names repeatedly got dropped in BANANAFISH fanzine, which was at the time the ultimate inside “noise” joke, a perplexing, maddening and yet somehow compelling read that centered around editor Seymour Glass’s noisy and offbeat musical favorites, as well as on iconoclastic weirdos of all stripes. Then there were dorks like me who just sorta showed up and witnessed every single show, because it was the best entertainment option available that night, which it most certainly always was.
Now the 22-year-old me had a slightly less robust BS detector than the 40-year-old me does, and I’ll admit that the band’s recordings don’t hold up that well, except for the great “Mother Of All Saints” 2xLP and a few tracks from each album and 45. The Thinking Fellers had this ridiculous, “look at us, we’re really, really weird” show-off thing going on that even bugged me back then (exhibit A: their dumb band name), with some of the guys in the band wearing dresses at times, and actual recordings that consisted solely of farts. Not that I’m not one, mind you – but the Thinking Fellers were TOTAL NERDS. They were nerds that also made some of the most joyously twisted, scraping and fun music of their day, and I’ve picked a couple of representative tracks – their “hits”, if you will – to illustrate this point. Sorry, no YouTube videos of the band live at the 6th Street Rendezvous in 1990 appear to be available (yet)!
Play or Download THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 – “Sister Hell” (from 1989 LP, “Tangle”)
Play or Download THINKING FELLERS UNION LOCAL 282 – “2x4s” (from 1990 Nuf Sed 45)