Monday September 21st, 1999 at
The Replay in Lawrence, KS
Royal Trux & Filthy Jim
The meek shall inherit the earth and the losers that show up too early for The Replay get in free. So I sat on the patio reading a copy of Linux Journal until around 11:15 when Kansas City's Filthy Jim started their set.
Quite a crowd had gathered to welcome Filthy Jim back from a busy summer on the road promoting their new CD and they were rewarded with a jovial (if not intoxicated) band. Guitarist/vocalist Seth Cole started the show announcing "This song is called 'Pussy'" and was quickly followed up by "And it's about pussy!" from Paul Brooks behind his drum kit.
Filthy Jim is that uncle that doesn't get invited to holiday dinners, owes everyone in your family money, and ran out on three wives (one of which was pregnant). When you were a kid he would pay you fifty cents to get him another beer, you saw your first porno mag in his bathroom, and the dirty jokes he told, made you quite the hit with the kids at school. You know he's an ass but that doesn't make him any less appealing.
Filthy Jim's rock 'n roll is loose, dirty and loud - and all three were well represented. Brooks was particularly surly and asked the audience between songs "What's up with Veterans of Disorder [the latest album from Royal Trux]? Did they forget how to rock?" And while no one's vocals have ever sounded good at The Replay, Cole's were definitely rough. I imagine it's hard to sing over your stack when it's cranked up all the way and there are no monitors.
After the opening act had played for over an hour their audience started to loose interest and wonder why an opening act would play such a long set. When Filthy Jim began asking if Royal Trux had arrived before starting each song, we understood why. The band played every song they knew, and closed with a long, developed indie song which was, not surprisingly, my favourite song of the evening.
Twenty minutes later (about a quarter of one) Royal Trux's van pulled in and they immediately started setting up. The audience returned from the patio and over 100 people packed in sharing the tiny room with the band's two drum kits, guitar, bass, & vocal effects gear. That left me standing about 15" from the guitarists face - fairly typical for shows at The Replay.
The band began building a reputation in the mid 80s with post punk songs filtered through pharmaceutical grade rock and roll. And although the band were only given thirty minutes to play, they made a conscious decision to allow for improvised jamming, particularly from founding member/guitarist Neil Hagerty who played several incredible solos that were speedy, hectic and expressive. I was surprised to see the audience so tuned into a band that is often so difficult, but I even saw people dancing.
Just as soon as the band and the audience had come to their understanding, it was over and the band began packing up their gear. A 10 hour drive for a half hour set with only the prospects to do it all again tomorrow. Somehow you thought it would be different for a band so veteran of the indie rock scene, but if it were any different, it wouldn't be nearly so good.