Story by Pamela Sternin
In a northbound van housing four talented musicians who brotherly antagonize each other and suffer from occasional outbursts of tourettes, go Grenades and I. Jerome (guitar) is making good time to Bellingham while we listen to some mix cd’s Aaron (vocal/bass) made for the trip. Elton John, Owen Hart, Dead Prez…the creme of the creme. We make it to the house early, crack open a few beers and mill around. Not long after saunters in a smiling troupe of friendlies, Smooth Sailing. The bands intermingle and hilarious conversations take off in fine form.
A little past 8 o’clock the mutterings of ,”Hmmm, wonder if anyone’s going to show up?” kicked in. Every time the basement door opened all heads in the room would crane to see who it was. Every time there was a resounding yell of “Ohhh, it’s just you (a band member)” or “Booooo”. There was a scream of excitement when a group of three friends showed up closing in on 10 o’clock. The fact was clear, there was no audience but for them and the few of us that clenched rides with the bands entourage.
Sisturn Moth kicked off the evening with an exuberant noisy guitar/yowling vocal solo project, moaning and slurring over free form guitar squeal attacks. After his set, Grenades and Smooth Sailing assessed the situation with still no audience and it being almost 11pm. There was a shared decision to make a few phone calls to some local venues in an attempt to move the show. A call was made to the Shakedown and I contacted the Cabin, both were booked. Faced with the reality of it being the first weekend of spring break and the evening of St. Patrick’s Day in a college town meant that any last chance to find a host venue would be a hopeless endeavor. So the decision was made to literally, play to each other. Both bands set up on the floor facing one another in a kind of Grenades .vs. Smooth Sailing fashion (Sorry Grudge Match, didn’t mean to step on your toes there). This was going to be a treat indeed. A gentleman’s game of rochambeau between the two bands (best two out of three) resulted in a victory for Grenades, winning them the responsibility to start the face off.
House (basement) lights off and blue drum kit light engaged, Grenades release the hounds. Their first song had a driving rhythm combined with searing riffage, only getting heavier and deliberately thrashier by the minute. Then the torch (mic) was passed from Aaron to Chris , Smooth Sailing’s turn to return fire. They introduce this as a song about fucking. Low and behold, they introduce every song they play tonight as a song about fucking. It’s a sludgy, tar shoveling intro into an out of control shark frenzy shred-a-thon. Their foggy light show filling up every inch of real estate in the room. Back and forth, Grenades and Smooth Sailing exchanged song after awesome song until maximum rockupancy was achieved. Afterwards, everyone was content with how the evening went; it turned out to be in every sense of the word, Fun.
Which leads us to the moral of this story:
If two incredible bands rock out in a Bellingham basement and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer is “Fuck yeah and you missed out”.