A band that I grew up with / MxPx at the Hard Rock in Vegas

Posted: July 22, 2010 in Life, Friends, and Love, Music

Now when I mention MxPx, most people say “Oh yeah, I think I have one of their records…. Buffalo something…..” or, “I saw them play at the warped tour like 8 years ago!”. But my love for this band started a few months after their first release had just been put out. (Pokinatcha 1994). Which would have made me 13. Besides Greendays (Dookie), and The Offsprings (Smash), that was pretty much my introduction into Punk Rock. It opened a whole new chapter in my life. Suddenly I was aware that I didn’t have to listen to my parents music (Not saying The Eagles, Queen, Foriegner, and Chicago are bad music…. ok.. well Foreigner is, but most of the parents music is pretty rad) during long drives on vacation. This new found joy also led me to the holy grail which was a thing called “Grunge”, I found such treasures as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl jam, The Melvins, Ween, Stone Temple Pilots, Temple of the Dog, The Screaming Trees, and even though they technically aren’t grunge, Weezer. I was also becoming proficient in the punk / ska scene, now listening to bands like Bad Religion, Nofx, Strung Out, Lagwagon, Blink 182, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, AFI, Less than Jake, No doubt, The Supertones, Rancid, The Descendents, and even some old school stuff like Minor Threat, and Black Flag. But I digress (Sorry I have a habit of getting on rants). MxPx was always a staple band for me, I listened to their music non-stop from 13-19. I have seen them live about 6 times now, and they have never dissapointed. Now as I got into the music scene, I got involved in the industry side, and also was part of some successful bands that sometimes shared the stage with this band. During my time in the industry I had the pleasure of meeting Mike, Tom, and Yuri several times, and they are just stand up guys. As I have gotten older I have been listening to MxPx less and less, because… well….. sometimes you just grow into another direction. Thats not to say that every now and then I don’t pop in Life in General and rock out…. Just not nearly as often. However this band was the sound track to my teen years. I have so many memories associated with this music, that I could never give up my still unopened CDs I have stashed away. So the summary of this non-sense would basically be.. I have a soft spot for MxPx.

So 1 week ago I get a call from my friend Kris Bonner (Who is the only friend I have left that still enjoys going to see punk, or ska shows), saying … “MxPx is playing an un announced show at the Hard Rock in vegas, and their drummer is quiting. This will be the last show with the original line-up. (I know that Andy was the original guitar player, but you know what I mean! Gosh why do you got to get hung up on the details!!!!) Let’s get tickets! We have to go!” So my answer was Yes, and YES!!

 

So on sunday July 18th, after Church, Kris Bonner, Tyler Anderson, and I left at 12:30 pm, and headed for Las Vegas. After a quick stop off at the Mad Greek for gyros (A traveling tradition), we arrived at the Hard Rock hotel around 4:45pm. We headed for will call, and were told that the doors would open that night at 9:30pm, the first band would start at 10:30pm, and MxPx would start at 11:30pm. So we headed back out to the casino floor wondering what to do with ourselves for the next 4 hrs. We headed to the round bar area in the center of the casino, and sat at the bar to watch the rest of the Cubs vs. Phillies game. I was delighted to find that it was happy hour, and the beers were only $2. Once the game ended we wondered around the casino looking at all the rock and roll memoribilia. Around 8pm. we left the Hard Rock, and went across the street to another of my favorite places to visit in Vegas.. The Hoffbrauhaus. For those who have never been, it’s like walking into Oktoberfest in Germany. Authentic German food, and beer. Everyone is seated at large tables with other patrons they have never met, inside of a large hall decorated in old world german style. They have a traditional german band that plays a mix of polka, and old german drinking songs, as everyone sings along with steins swinging in the air. We decided to split the Schnitzel, and potatoes, and Kris and I had 33oz. Dunkels (Such a great Beer). I was a little dissapointed this time around, as the band kept on playing contemporary, and country songs…. (Who wants to go to an old world german drinking hall and hear John Denver?)

 

Around 9:15 we headed back to the Hard Rock to get in line. We ended up being the 4th, 5th, and 6th in line, and were able to get center front row placement inside the venue. The venue was very small and intimate. Roughly about the size of the Roxy (400-500 seat), A couple of club like booths and tables around the out skirts, but mostly standing room only, with a small stage (About the size of the Chain Reaction stage), but excellent sound. Very trendy, and nicely decorated room. We patiently waited for the show to start, and conversed with others in the crowd.

About an hour later, the opening band hit the stage. I saw the Mesa Boogie Stiletto half stack, and the Hartke 8X10 on stage, and I started cringing. I was already starting to dread the opener. (Yes I am a gear snob, and yes I tend to judge bands by what kind of amps, guitars, and drumset they play!!! You can reprimand me all day, but 9/10 times I am right) The bands name was Sprocket, and they were terrible! They had no idea how to write songs. The guitar was way too loud, and his timing especially when chugging was way off. The bass player wasn’t bad, but he kept on playing solos with a little boss multi effects pedal set to add chorus, and it just didn’t fit. The drummer was obviously the most talented, but he was the kind of drummer who would rather twirl his sticks, flip them around his neck, make faces at the crowd, and lick his stick handles then play a solid beat. He would play these crazy fills, and great beats, but they were off time, and he could never seem to end his fills in time to come back into the song on tempo. This guy couldn’t sit in a pocket in a fabric store. So after being taxed 30 min. of my life…. yet again we waited.

MxPx hit the stage about 11:30pm. I was standing close enough to reach out and touch either Mike, or Tom. Mike announced…

“This is not a show, this is Yuris retirement party! This show is for him, which is why we only announced it to the fan club, and our family and freinds. You all may know that a long time ago we put out a record called Life In General, And that record was a big landmark for our band. That was the point in time that we went from being a little garage band – to being able to make a career out of being musicians. Something we still work on today. So in celebration of that time together, tonight we are going to play the Life In General record from start to finish!”

Yuri clicked off 1..2..3..4.. and they dove into “Middle name”, and memories came flooding back. They played every song to perfection!! Sounded so great! Mike announced “I am 33 yrs old now, and my mom does not still clean my room!” before tearing into “My Mom still cleans my room” They played fast, and ferociously through “Do your feet hurt?”, “Sometimes you have to ask yourself”, and “The Wonder years”, and I was right there singing lyrics that I forgot that I knew! Amazing how you can sing an entire record all the way through, and not even know you remembered it! They did an elongated intro then started “Move To Bremerton”. Afterwards they stated that they had never played some of these songs before, and actually had to re learn them in order to play them. They blew through “New York to Nowhere”, “Andrea”, “Your Problem my Emergency”, and then had Yuri come out and do the dance he did in the video during the bridge of “Chick Magnet”. Next came “Today is in my way”, “Sorry so sorry”, and “Doing Time”. They kind of stumbled through “Correct me if I am wrong”, and “Cristalena”. But finished strong with “Destroyed by You”, and “Southbound”. After that they said goodnight, but everyone stayed where they were for the encore. After 5 min. of chanting they came back out on stage and played “Secret Weapon”, and 1 new song that I didn’t recognize. Then they played “Responsibility”, and “I’m OK your OK”. Then they jumped into a cover song of “(I’m Gonna be) 500 miles” (Can’t remember for the life of me who originally did this song) and during the bridge they dropped into the chorus of “Surrender” by Cheap Trick. They’re setlist said that they were going to play “Let it Happen” next, but they must have run out of time, cause they said “This is our last one, and Yuri gets to pick it”. So after a quick count of “1,2,1,2,3,4” which signified his choice…. They’re absolutely tore into “Punk Rawk Show”!!!! So amazing. The show was epic. The end of an era. I was happy to be there to see it. It’s strange how oddly I feel attached to some bands, this was one of the concerts I was expecting to be so so… and it ended up being on some level a pretty emotional show for me. Congrats on your retirement Yuri Ruley. I agree, and respect your decisison to put the provision of your family first. You have been a part of so many peoples lives without even knowing it. We will miss you. Mike, and Tom, thanks for another great show.

So we left the Hard Rock at 3 am. And I drove the entire way home. Brutal. PS those 5 hr energy shots only work for 1 hr. That is some serious false advertising. Thanks Tyler for getting my ticket, and the new additions to my itunes! Mad props to Bonner for… being Bonner. Sorries go to Mike Pouwells for not informing him of our plight…

Currently listening to:     MxPx – Life In General

What’s the soundtrack to your life?

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