Meat Puppets 10/06/12
Track 16 – Santa Monica, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
It was a little over three years ago when I moved from West Hollywood to Santa Monica. Sure the temperature in this part of town is a bit lower but so are the number of quality live performances. So you can imagine my delight when our resident Meat Puppets groupie Jay Porks kicked down the knowledge that his favorite band was coming to town.
I had never heard of Track 16 before this show and as it turns out that is a damn shame. On this particular night the art gallery/music venue was hosting its final show as it is set to be torn down under eminent domain laws so we can finally have Metro Rail reach from Downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean. Tucked across the street from the local Hazardous Material drop off, I knew I was in for an interesting night when I entered the parking lot and saw some individuals who were no doubt alive for the original Woodstock Music Festival taking hits from a rather large bong.
I walked into the venue midway through the set by legendary OC punks Middle Class. How had I never heard of this place again? The scene felt more like a party than a concert. The walls were covered in art; Ice Cold PRB’s were yours for a fair donation of $2 and holy crap check out the dining car in the corner. As Middle Class cranked out their set a large a friendly circle pit took up a good chunk of the main floor. To further prove the anything goes philosophy of the venue, the pit featured one crusty punk sipping from a flask while others skateboarded around him. That’s something you sure as hell won’t see at any of the venues on the Sunset Strip.
Want to know what else you don’t see on the Sunset Strip? The headliner taking the stage puffing upon a big fat joint. That’s exactly what Meat Puppets did on this Saturday night before kicking off their set with a smoking Lake of Fire. Despite a less than stellar PA, the band were just warming up as they rocked the room hard on classic Puppet songs such as Touchdown King and Walking Boss.
With pits filled with punkers swirling I was excited when the band launched into one of my favorite songs Up On The Sun. Clocking in at 9 minutes the band was more like Phish than punk as Curt Kirkwood led the band into a deep jam. Then again with large clouds of pot smoke rising from the sweat soaked crowd I would say it indeed was more a Phish show than a punk show by this point.
Speaking of pot smoking, the newest member of the Meat Puppets, Elmo Kirkwood found plenty of time to partake in California’s best medicine as joints and bowl were passed to him (as well as his uncle, bassist Cris Kirkwood) all night. Other highlights of the 90 minute set including sweet takes on Comin’ Down, Hey Baby Que Paso (Texas Torandos cover)) and Sam.
After a rocking version of Plateau, the band closed their set with what I would describe as a 20 minute noise jam. I am sure there were some songs from the band’s early career in there that I don’t know the title of, but not even a broken high E string on Elmo’s pink Squire guitar could stop the band from heading deep into the wacky uncharted water.
At the end of the jam, the band left the tiny stage for just a moment. Where it looked as if an encore was coming, the Puppets ended up disappearing into back private room. As it turns out the venue that allows skate boarding and even pets had a hard curfew which the Puppets were apparently past. Despite a few fans up front chanting for the band (and one guy grabbing the mic letting the crowd know he band would return to perform Kiss Alive Volumes 2 & 4 in their entirety) the show was over. For as great as the subway to the sea will be, I walked out sad that I discovered a rad spot for music on the last night of its existence. So big thanks to the Meat Puppets for rocking Santa Monica on a Saturday night. Feel free to come back to Santa Monica when your untitled 14th album drops in 2013.
Follow The Meat Puppets on Twitter (@TheMeatPuppets)
Get The New Book “Too High To Die: Meet The Meat Puppets“, An oral history by Greg Prato over at the band’s website by clicking here.