Off With Their Heads/Seth Anderson/Dave Decker/Purr Purr Purr
Monday, January 22nd 2018
Lucky You Tattoo, St. Petersburg FL
The dollar dances on our asses. Never is that truth more tragic and brutal than with American hospitalisation. Stacey Dee, guitarist and co-vocalist of Fat Wreck’s Bad Cop/Bad Cop, was supposed to be a part of this three-week Off With Their Heads acoustic tour, but at the final hour was rushed to the ER with possible appendicitis. Simultaneously uninsured and without income, kind people that like fast music have stepped in to try and plug the financial gap, including with a line of Dee-themed shirts at Ryan Young’s Anxious and Angry podcast website, where Stacey is a regular guest. In shithole countries like El Salvador that provide universal healthcare (despite the best efforts of the IMF and US State Department), they don’t get to have these bonding, “Big Society” experiences. The poor sods.
Speaking of “Amnesty Don” (that friend of foreigners and women alike), tonight’s opening act Purr Purr Purr were the inspiration for our cock-scratching flyer. In an example of how two oversaturated mainstream internet concepts can be combined to make something new, the duo perform trap rap songs about felines. Your cats funny facebook account ain’t shit. Lady Shae-Shae (formerly of locals Y Los Dos Pistoles) is accompanied by DJ Scratching Post and the swirling light bulb dead eyes of the stage-dominating Purrminator X. They’ll “fuck your blinds” up, get lost on a Fast and Furrrious highway and fill your ears with an abundance of identical Public Enemy air horns and moggie meows (come on people — you’re already applying some pretty stringent creative limitations on yourself here, at least use more of an array of samples). All involved in Purr Purr Purr being here are to be applauded in the name of variety, with a crowd that would likely be more in their comfort zone watching Soo Catwoman or Josie & The Pussy Riot. But I can’t help but feel that anyone who treats hip hop even remotely seriously will view this sort of primed-for-online-fame gimmick as further evidence of peak trap.
With a night of no drummers ahead, Purr Purr Purr are kind enough to leave the swivel-eyed loon in place as a backdrop for all performers. Dave Decker of Decker, Too Many Daves and too many others is next as a timetable-saving replacement for Dee on this local stop. He has an impressively original take on the “punk dude with acoustic guitar” formula, playing nonstop for some 15 minutes with odd time changes, patterns of the same few notes in energetic bursts, and noticeable stretches without vocals. It’s like he’s doing as many notes as a full band, just not all at once. The droning tempo of this almost makes me think of drum ‘n’ bass rather than punk, as similar an emphasis on speed as they might have. Decker has an album called Rekced, so perhaps Dave has secret dreams of being a Deckwrecka (to borrow the moniker from the UK hip hop producer). He does sing “I love Depeche Mode and I love Eazy-E.” Just as I’m thinking the whole set will be like this, he stops for a breather then slows down for Asylum (Decker seems to have a running topic interest in homes and neighbourhoods). Increasingly, he forces his admitted nervousness out in explosions of voice and rigid body posture movements, before closing out on a number about George Carlin and his stint narrating Thomas the Tank Engine.
Our next guest doesn’t seem likely to be doing a rendition of Carlin’s seven dirty words any time soon. According to smiling Seth Anderson, fast-strummed acoustic can be like “being stabbed in the eye,” but if that’s what you want, he’ll play it. The Alberta-based and “truth-inspired” folk rocker is the resident foreign nice guy (don’t look to me, dicknose), thanking the crowd for not throwing things at him and singing self-doubt love songs. He’s signed to Joey Cape of Lagwagon’s One Week Records, and is so polite that he named his most recent record One Week. (Okay, every record on the label is named that – it’s a bit like those time constrained Fuck The Kids/Surfer EPs NOFX did.) I really shouldn’t make these jokes, knowing what it feels like to be considered of an overly genteel nationality; Anderson does scare the crowd by strapping on one of those harmonica neck appendages reminiscent of an overly enthusiastic dentist’s work. He plays a number about the DIY space he and his friends made up in the Rockies, and the track 24 which has a video filmed (I’m presuming) in said cool-looking space. “Here’s a slow one that’ll make you feel good in your pants.” This is a comment for which the singer would later apologise.
And before we get into Off With Their Heads, I have some comments of my own to whom they may concern. Dear any Americans who love July 4th as much as they love a Royal wedding: do us all a favour and learn that the world’s anti-democratic upper class swindles are not there for you to play make-believe in, and then stop giving these society-drenching leaches the oxygen of good global PR. Keep that birthright celebration bollocks for Disney World if you absolutely must. Laudable monarchy-punishing names aside, this gig is part of the final North American tour of OWTH’s acoustic record Won’t Be Missed (review here), before they embark on making a new original album. It’s Off With The Band as Ryan Young is performing solo, making the interesting choice to open his set with the line “Take my advice and leave now while you have a chance” (Go On Git Now). I suppose that sort of dichotomy is part of the appeal of The Heads: dark lyricism and uplifting tunes to lift your spirit; talk of death, gambling, drugs and all warts in just the first five minutes, amidst hilarious, affable and warm banter. Even alone the man’s got room presence.
We get the likes of Old Man and Jackie Lee, and are informed that the latter was first performed here in St. Pete. There’s also a few renditions that aren’t captured on Won’t Be Missed, such as My Episodes from In Desolation, and From The Bottom cut Fuck This, I’m Out. Not satisfied having recorded a podcast with the man in the parking lot of Lucky You that afternoon, Young brings up tourmate — and, I would imagine, fellow Windsor family head chopper — Seth Anderson to accompany him through the latter half of the set. The burly American largely drowns Seth out on all fronts, berating him for seeing the dark side of Norm on Cheers and warning that voicing such opinions will get beer bottles thrown at your face by hard-drinking, sitcom-loving yanks. He sips threateningly from his Sierra Nevada. So much for “clearing the air.” Working equally well as a melancholy romance song and show closer, Stolen Away is where Young and Anderson choose to end. Anxiety and Anger will doubtless be rearing their heads again soon, but for the moment at least, they’ve been ‘cast aside.
* You can arguably render most of my amusing observations — and by extension entire role here — moot, by watching Ryan’s set for yourself in the Youtube player above (video by Jess Lupin Bowles)