If someone held a gun to my head and forced me to offer advice to a very young person, I’d tell them to get into music. Over time, you will disappoint yourself repeatedly. Your dreams will be seduced and consumed by your own apathy. Most of your friends will leave town or realize they don’t like you. Your parents will abandon you (if they haven’t already) or die. But if you have a few favorite bands or singers or DJs or rappers or “rappers” who mostly sing or whathaveyou, most of those people will go on tour once every few years and play concerts in nearby cities for as long as they possibly can, no matter how big of an asshole you are.
They have no choice, really. It’s how they make their money. They can play songs for you, or they can starve to death. The exactitude of their execution may waver. But for those of us who forever ago lost count of how many times we’ve seen Leftöver Crack, it’s comforting as fuck to go to one of their shows in 2018 and walk away saying, “That was pretty fun! Little uneven! But eh, what can y’do?”
Scott “Stza” Sturgeon needs to hire a keyboard player, ‘cos spitting his attention between irreverent frontman duties and fiddling with auxiliaries diminished both elements of Monday’s very sold-out night (December 3) at Brighton Music Hall. Dude’s legend has snowballed since his first-ish band Choking Victim’s No Gods, No Managers turned normal, wholesome American Sublime fans into anarchist devil worshipers across the nation in 1999. He’s got an innate presence that does a lot of work by itself, y’know? It’s not like we’re gonna feel ripped off if he personally isn’t singing, playing an extra instrument, and also awkwardly bantering with performatively-hostile audience members.
We just need to hear “500 Channels” and we’ll completely lose our minds (which we did). Stza doesn’t even have to sing every part of every song. Joey Steel from All Torn Up! filled out Kate Coysh’s parts on “Bedbugs & Beyond,” the verses of “Crack Rock Steady,” (and I’m pretty sure one other bit that isn’t in my notes for some reason?) and I didn’t hear anybody complain. Not that I would’ve been able to anyway, ‘cos it tends to be pretty loud at these things, but I’m sure you understand what I mean.
Except for “Bedbugs” and “Don’t Shoot” (correct me if I missed one), the band could’ve played Monday’s same setlist in 2008. Perhaps not coincidentally, this tour supports Leftöver Leftöver Crack: The E-Sides and F-sides, a comp of non-album cuts that, contrary to its title, includes essentials like the original Rock The 40 oz. EP from 2000, and half of the Baby Jesus, Sliced Up In The Manger split with F-Minus from 2001. It’s well and good and fine to revisit old favs, likewise for hearing tried-and-true crowd pleasers like “Life Is Pain” and “Born To Die” in the live setting again.
But there’s a version of Leftöver Crack that emerges in way more recent tracks like “Loneliness & Heartache” and “The War At Home” that’s specifically relevant to This Awful Fucking Era, and I kinda wanna hear more from that band. When there’s literal Nazi White Trash occupying the highest echelons of American power, is it really worth anyone’s while to sing about worshiping Satan and killing cops? There’s no such thing as Satan after all, and if Stza ever actually killed any police officers, then why isn’t he in jail?
Speaking of, people (perhaps wisely) looked at me like I was a cop when I asked around for the whole story, but nevertheless, we know for sure that somebody barfed all over the place right in front of the stage before the end of the first opening band. The room still smelled faintly of bile by the time Negative Approach did their thing. To understand Negative Approach, let us consider William Hartnell. The British actor’s best-known television work offers little that a modern viewer hasn’t seen done better. But just as Doctor Who boggled minds in 1963, Negative Approach certainly felt like the bleeding edge of aggressive music in 1981. So we can’t credably review, let’s say, The First Doctor’s inaugural encounter with The Daleks and write “Thing Boring!!!” because it’s not as cool as the best Matt Smith episodes, y’know?
I showed up a little late for Crazy and the Brains, although I noticed their “People Who Died” cover heavily emphasized a xylophone part I do not believe appears in the original Jim Carroll Band version, and was splendid. Meanwhile, I visited the merch table and successfully replaced my no-longer-funny (and, eh, probably never-funny?) “Shoot the Kids At School” ‘00s-era Leftöver Crack t-shirt with their much friendlier, kitty-centric “Meow and Forever” design. The band’s newer merch encourages us to “Shoot Drugs, Not People,” to clarify their official stance on mass murder. Turns out mass murder is bullshit, and Leftöver Crack hate it.
Barry Thompson hates tweeting but does it anyway @barelytomson. He took that photo up top.