Saturday, May 20, 2017

Punk Rock Roadtrip: Revisiting the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC

The Smugglers, then The Muffs and Chixdiggit. (All photos by Andy)

By Cat

17 years ago, Andy and I were at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC, to see Chixdiggit, The Donnas, The Smugglers, The Black Halos, along with the opening band The Goblins, featuring legendary Nardwuar, kick out the jams.

For that show, I had squeezed my way up front while Andy bought us some drinks, which included my favorite, at the time, a Lemon Drop. Andy came back and could not get the drink to me as it was too packed. He had to pass the drink off and ask all the accommodating Canadians to move it along to me. After the drink went through about 7 people, it arrived safe and full to my awaiting hands right as Chixdiggit started -- a dream come true (that would never happen in the states BTW). Thanks so much to the lovely Canadian fans.

Now in the present day, when given the opportunity to see Chixdiggit and The Smugglers again, along with The Muffs this time -- at the Commodore again last Saturday -- well, we had no choice but to attend.

Attend we did, and with our friends Pamela and Dave from Seattle = Punk Rock Roadtrip! And there was Nardwuar, again, standing near front stage.

I decided to rock out and let Andy have the reins at the photos as we enjoyed the show (with several Lemon Drops, might I add).

 First, we had Grant Lawrence of The Smugglers (powerhouse headliners for the Commodore gigs, past and present) read from his new book, "Dirty Windshields," which was an enticing start.

Then came the raucous Needles//Pins with a nice Two Cow Garage'ish edge on a few songs.

Then Chixdiggit (whom I was very excited for)-- KJ did his schtick (telling funny stories, etc.) and they ripped, but it was unfortunately way too short!  Apparently, KJ had blown out his vocals doing the Canadian National Anthem at the East Vancouver Baseball game earlier in the day... haha, this is fake news, but I'm just saying they played too quick!

The Muffs were the awesomeness that they always are, and "Oh, Nina" was one of my personal highlights. Rumor has it that a well-known Seattle guitar-meister said they were his favorite of the night, as much as he loved all the bands. (We'd actually seen a Muffs/Chixdiggit bill in Seattle in '97, and we're sure that same fellow was in attendance.)

And then The Smugglers, who packed the joint. Between their matching suits, rain boots, pink polka-dot shirts for the encore and dance contest, they put on an amazing gig.

Was a great night -- It will be fun to see if we can see these bands again and still be jumping about in another 17 years from now.

The Smugglers, The Muffs, Chixdiggit and Needles//Pins.

Tons more photos after the following interview.

** Here's a gig weekend rundown with The Smugglers' vocalist Lawrence:

-- How did Saturday's gig come about? How long was it in the works?

It all started when a guy named Alex Botkin got in touch with me last summer and asked if The Smugglers would consider reforming to play 924 Gilman Street's 30th anniversary in Berkeley, California. We got a few offers over the years to play, but turned them all down. The Gilman offer had a really strong tie to our old label Lookout and had a really strong historic connection to the punk scene. We played there about half a dozen times, so we agreed to do it.

That gig went really well (and provided a happy ending for my new book), which made us realize we should probably do a hometown Vancouver show. My book about The Smugglers called "Dirty Windshields" was scheduled to come out in May, so it seemed like perfect timing for a launch / Smugglers reunion. We had NO idea it would get that big.

Our plan was originally to do it at our local hot dog joint, What's Up Hot Dog, that seats about 20 people with no stage!! Rumours started getting out that The Smugglers might play a show, and I got contacted by my friend Aaron Chapman (the MC from the other night). He works at the Commodore and said "you gotta play the Commodore. It's the only room still left standing from the Smugglers hey-day." I thought he was CRAZY because the Commodore, as you saw, is HUGE.

But he convinced us, and the Commodore provided the budget to bring in our dear friends The Muffs and Chixdiggit, which pretty much put it over the top.

-- What was it like to see it come to fruition? What was the night ...and the entire weekend for you? Highlights?

It was incredible! I was still worrying about people showing up even the day of the show! To see 1,000 people in the room from all over North America / the world, not to mention our hometown, was very very gratifying and humbling. It took a TONNE of work to pull it off, but it all came together somehow.

My highlights were seeing and meeting those that travelled from out of town to be here. A mix of old friends and new faces. Another highlight was the opening night "welcome party" at What's Up Hot Dog and seeing Larry Livermore (co-founder of Lookout Records) in the same booth as Nardwuar and The Muffs. Also, famed New York City rock critic Ira Robbins was there too, and really friends from all over. It was incredible.

On Saturday night, it was just great to see the crowd, hear Chixdiggit play "I Drove the Coquihalla" and hear the Muffs play "Lucky Guy." I'll never forget that night! It was a true rock 'n' roll party!


Dance contest judging...

Dance contest champion!





The End.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

EyeHateGod's Williams returns to the stage following liver transplant surgery | Interview

Mike IX Williams with EyeHateGod in Seattle. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy

It's great to have Mike IX Williams in this world.

He's battled back from serious health issues and said that music was one of the driving forces that has kept him going. He was in the hospital for an extended period late last year, and on Dec. 14, 2016, he underwent a successful liver transplant surgery.

Friends and fans of the EyeHateGod vocalist have supported Williams not only with their positive vibes and prayers, but by donating a total of $76,913 to date to help pay for his mounting medical bills.

Last month, the always intense Williams returned to the stage with EHG at the Berserker IV fest on April 14 in Pontiac, Mich., and the band also blew doors off venues in Philly and Brooklyn the following two nights. More dates are on the docket in the upcoming months.

Williams celebrated his 50th birthday that weekend. He's doing well health-wise, he tells us, and is stoked to be back on stage.

Here's a candid Q and A with Williams:

** How does it feel being back on stage with EHG?

Mike IX: Well obviously it feels fucking great man. I was a goner, I was having multiple organ failure due to my liver being completely toasted, so fighting my way out of that vicious gang war and living to tell the tale makes life all the much more enjoyable now. One of the things always in my mind when I was sick for ever how many or so years, was surviving to play music, write music, hear music and just live music as I have been my entire life...

** What were your thoughts before taking the stage ... and then during the shows? 

Mike IX: The usual rush of nerves, excitement, overall feeling of happiness really. The fact that I'm still doing this band after 30 years is immense. I've been in bands since I was 15 & to be able to do what I love through thick & thin makes the world seem brighter in some spots. There's still always reasons for anger, especially with the events in our American government as of late.

** How are you feeling following the surgery? 

Mike IX: Amazing. Better than I've felt in ages. I'm also not drinking booze at all and that doesn't hurt my well being much either. I've been sober over a year and a half. EyeHateGod are just gonna continue to tour and rip clubs to pieces & that's just all we wanna do. We have songs written for a new album, it's just a matter of time before we get our asses in the studio to lay down some tape. 2018 is our 30th anniversary as a band & we will be touring the earth non stop!

People can help Williams and his family out by donating to:

Here's our previous story on Williams:

Follow the band and Williams at and 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Captain Sensible falls off stage and breaks rib, The Damned postpone three gigs

Captain Sensible and The Damned in Seattle last month. (Cat Rose photo)

Captain Sensible is on the mend.

As we reported earlier this week, the Captain fell off the stage and sustained a broken rib in Toronto on April 30 and The Damned had to reschedule some gigs. The band with guitarist Captain are planning on returning to the stage on Saturday at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. The gig is sold out.

This is the second injury on the band's 40th anniversary North American tour. Last month, vocalist Dave Vanian hurt his left arm at a Sacramento gig and played some shows with the wounded arm in a sling.

The Captain wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday:

Hi All, although I made light of my 'stage dive' in yesterday's post I was actually out cold for a while owing to a fair old drop from a petty high Toronto stage... clattering down onto metal supports holding up the barrier. The docs all said it could've all been a LOT worse than a broken rib though... so I guess in some ways we've even been a tad lucky here!

Most movement is painful for yours truly at the moment so I've been laid up in bed the last couple of days... but am getting thoroughly bored with all that and wanna get out and complete what has been a truly memorable 40th Anniversary tour. So we are going to get the show back on the road in Asbury Park on Saturday, and if that works out OK onwards through a rejigged but complete list of dates. Heartfelt apologies to all whose arrangements have been disrupted!

A new press release was issued by The Damned on Thursday:

"Dear Damned Community,
Unfortunately, Captain’s injuries still require more time before a performance can be attempted - thus some date juggling is forced on us.
Montreal, Boston and Brooklyn have now been rescheduled as listed below. Apologies to all affected, especially those that have made travel and hotel arrangements - we are doing our best in a very difficult situation - and appreciate your patience and continued good wishes for Captain’s healthy recovery.
All tickets and VIP packages will be honored for the following dates:
May 23 - Brooklyn, NY - Warsaw
May 24 - Boston, NY - Paradise
May 25 - Montreal, QUE - Club Soda (This has been moved from May 23 to May 25)
Many thanks playmates,
The Damned”

Complete May schedule:
6 Asbury Park - SOLD OUT
7 Philadelphia
9 Baltimore
11 Atlanta
12 Orlando
13 St Petersburg
14 Fort Lauderdale
16 New Orleans
17 Houston
18 Dallas
19 Austin
21 Tempe
23 Brooklyn
24 Boston
25 Montreal