The 90’s Were Alive and Well at The Cabooze on Thursday Night


I was more than happy to get to a show Thursday night. Sure, a couple nights off were nice but, let’s be honest, we all knew that wasn’t going to last long. I went to the show with no expectations other than the feeling of being at a live show and, like so many other nights like that, I walked away more than impressed.

The night started off promptly at 8 with Wisconsin band Porcupine. These guys had a very 90’s feel to them that I instantly fell in love with. They seemed to have bucked every single trend out there in music land these days and stayed true to their late 90’s sound throughout their set. I honestly would have bet that they were one of those bands that have been around since that time frame but was shocked to find out they are fairly new having formed just ten years ago. 

Singer Casey Virock had a voice that truly stood out due to it’s perfection and the way it felt soft but still had an edge to it. It didn’t matter if he was singing into the normal microphone or the one that distorted his voice to sound a bit like a megaphone, it was a voice of beauty and a huge selling point for this band. Don’t be fooled though, even though Casey’s voice had me sold, watching Greg Norton on bass and Ian Prince on drums was just the icing on the cake. All three members of this band had a personality that shined above the music and that made the set feel intimate and special. 

After Porcupine’s set, I realized that this was going to be more than just a “random show” for me. Although I was optimistic about the show all day, it was like something just clicked with me and I was genuinely excited to see what else the night would hold.

Mike Watt was up next. After talking to the photographer that was covering the show with me, I realized just how big of a deal this Mike Watt character is. Not only was he one of the founding members of The Minutemen, he also played for The Stooges (yes, as in Iggy Pop and the Stooges). I mean, that right there should be all you need to know about the bass God that is Mike Watt.

The second he and his band mates took the stage, I was struck by his age. Yes, calling out the elephant in the room. I mean, this guy is damn near 60 years old and he took that stage like every twenty-something band that I go see nearly every night. He was greeted with a warm applause and respect that I had never witnessed before. After a few technical difficulties with a power strip, it was off the races and that race didn’t end until the very last note rang through the speakers.

Mike Watt’s music hasn’t seemed to change much through the years. Even though it was an old-school brand of punk rock, it was still this punky, fuck the establishment music that has stayed relevant through all of the years. The music sounded great and all three older gentlemen on stage seemed to nail every single note (other than when the drummer got a bit off beat for one of the last songs which turned into almost a joke). With far too many albums out to even begin to list, I’m not quite sure what all Mike played or what era of his life the songs came from but that didn’t matter. What mattered was the steadfast attitude that he and his band mates had.

The great music from this trio was matched only by their energy. Seriously, for a bunch of old guys, these guys were absolutely killing it and selling every single note with a smile on their face. The passion radiating off the stage was undeniable and it was so easy to tell that they truly loved being on stage and just playing for people. I quickly started trying to imagine what Mike would have been like back in his early days and it was damn near impossible for me to figure it out. I mean, if he has this much energy at nearly 60 years old, he must have been a complete bad ass back in the day. 

As I attempted to recover from Mike Watt’s set, the stage was being turned over for the headliners of the night, The Meat Puppets. These guys became infamous after the two brothers in the band (Curt and Cris Kirkwood) were two of the backing musicians during Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged show. I think it’s safe to say that that kind of exposure truly put The Meat Puppets on the map but it was their sheer talent and creativity that kept them on said map.

The older crowd that had filled The Cabooze to the brim seemed more than excited to see such a legendary group in such an intimate setting. Much like when Mike Watt walked out on stage, the four members of The Meat Puppets took the stage to a warm greeting of applause and shouting from the crowd. The crowd went silent as the band started their first song and seemed to have an undeniable sense of appreciate and admiration for the musicians on stage. 

These guys play a brand of music that is truly unique. It’s definitely rock but, depending on the song, you can hear everything from a punk influence to a country-western influences. Because of all of these influences, each song seemed a bit different and leaned towards a different side in the music genre spectrum. There were definitely a few songs in their lengthy set that had me rolling my eyes or debating on skipping out early but, within just a couple of minutes, they would start another song that had me tapping my feet and bobbing my head. It kept the set feeling interesting and fresh and, for someone who knew very little about the band prior to the show, had me enjoying every second of the set. Whether I enjoyed the current song they were playing or not, I enjoyed the passion that the musicians shared and the shear talent they had.

Sometimes those “random shows” that you just stumble into or the shows where you know nothing about who’s performing are the best shows. Last night was proof of that.


1 Comment

  1. Wow man I envy your youth. Greg Norton from the first band used to be in husker du. I mean all of these guys were musical pioneers well before nirvana “catapulted them to fame”. I’m not dissing you, the review was cool. My god this was post punk from before cell phones or internet existed!

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