Nobody f*s with potluck. Or The Faint.
!Forgive this minor trip down memory lane and all of the bullshit elitism that is bound to emerge, but this is my personal story of my relationship with the band The Faint on the eve of their show Saturday. It all started in 1999— or was it 2000? Either way it doesn’t really matter. It was the early era of The Pirate House, punk house at 14th & Kentucky that was home to at least a dozen young, clean-ish DIY punks and a pretty kick-ass, pro-kid (kid as in Peter Pan syndrome, we were the kids and we were proud!), pro-fun, not-very-drunk-very-often DIY punk scene. Bands from all over the world played The Pirate House during the years of 1999-2003. I moved to Lawrence in the summer of 1999 to live and work a year before I could get in-state tuition to go to graduate school at KU. I chose Lawrence because I decided to accept the grad school invitation at the school located in the town with the best local music scene. Lawrence beat Bowling Green, Ohio, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama hands down (is it too obvious that I have great priorities in making life decisions?). Before moving to Lawrence, I talked to some kids on KC anarchist and punk email lists about finding a collective to live in when I made the cross-country move. The kids who responded to my post turned out to be the boys of the Pirate House. Over email they invited me to move in, but I decided a more established collective, The Rainbow House, would be a better fit. The Pirate House would soon be the center of my social world. One day early in my Lawrence residency, I got an email from one of these boys, inviting me to a vegan potluck on a Thursday night. Little did we realize at this first gathering, but Thursday night vegan potluck at The Pirate House would became an institution. Plainly spoken, you just didn’t fck with potluck. You showed up early, if you wanted to try the homemade, wheat-gluten BBQ that Daniel Goldman spent all day making at his mom’s house in Kansas City or to grab a big scoop of Justin Shiney’s killer fried tofu and vegan gravy. In the early years, potluck was a pissing match of culinary skill. (In the later years it wasn’t surprising to show up to find only a salvaged bag of bagels, a 12 pack of generic root beer, and a culinary experiment or two like spaghetti with soy sauce.) There are several legendary shows at The Pirate House that we still like to sit around and mythologize. Whether it was the amazing and well-documented (both great film footage and still photographs) show with Canadian punks, Submission Hold, or the front porch show with The Locust, which brought the police out in less than 7 minutes. Another one of these legendary shows is a show that nobody in the house seems to have ever booked: The Faint show. At the time, a lot of us pirate punks were involved in planning lots of activist projects. It was well-established that activist meetings were never scheduled at 7 p.m. on Thursdays—potluck night. Like I said, nobody fucked with potluck. Potluck was sacred. But The Faint didn’t know that the night they showed up. Nor did we know a band was showing up. The Faint brought 20 or so local indie rock kids with them and at this time there was a minor war between the scenes. To call someone “indie rock” was to deliver quite the insult. It usually came with jokes about white belts and bad haircuts; like the punks had any room talking, what with our contributions to hair culture: the drullet, or dreaded mullet, and the those wacky Frankenstein dread extensions wherein one sews the dreads off a friend’s newly shorn head in order to lengthen ones’ own dreadlocks. Anyway, so The Faint shows up during potluck. Annoyed housemates move the potluck table into the kitchen where 20 or so punks could squeeze around it to finish their dinner. Meanwhile, The Faint sets up in the living room and begins playing to their indie rock friends. Within the first bars, the punks began heckling the band from the kitchen. ‘Who fcking told The Cure they could play our house?’ ‘Go to the fcking Replay!’ See, the pirate punks were anti-establishment, but more importantly, most were not yet of legal drinking age. To them, bars were for boring old people and punk houses were the only authentic site for true punk fun. The punks had matinee shows with after-party bike rides. The punks played kickball in Hobbs Field on warm Sunday nights at midnight. The punks played “anarchist soccer” with free-for-all vigor. Pirate House flyers sometimes included the playful words, “Fck the Replay!” which later got responded to with a chalk message on the Replay’s specials board: “Fck The Pirate House.” It was a friendly rivalry, I think. But our punk elitism soon melted away. After heckling The Faint for a few minutes, I remember the sheepish glances amongst each other as we realized: THIS BAND IS FCKING FUN! Circle pit! The punks rushed the living room and led the small crowd into a gyrating pulse. In hindsight that moment is really quite awesome. Here, in my friends’ living room, was a regional band dropping some electro-infused, beat-driven rock ‘n’roll , a sound that would affect the next decade of indie rock. The punks, for their part, were forcing the indie kids to show some sort of emotional response to the music.! Since the show was unannounced, I didn’t have my camera on me to document that moment. But, several months later I’d get some photos of The Faint when they played—wait for it—The Replay. It was a historic night, really. Punks crossed the Replay/Pirate House front to watch The Faint play a type of music they said they despised. And Lawrence indie rockers finally gave up the shoegaze, apathetic, bored-at-shows look to dance their asses off. Goes to show that subcultural elitism is really pretty boring. In any case, both Lawrence scenes have served me well and kept me hanging out in this town a little longer than I ever planned. : http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/ailecia/faint1.jpg : http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/ailecia/faint2.jpg