Saturday, April 28, 2007

Little Brother's (RIP)

As mentioned in my previous post, Little Brother's, one of the best indie rock joints in the country, is closing its doors. In that post, I mostly wrote about my experiences at Stache's, Little Bros.' predecessor. In this post I will describe my memories at Little Brother's.

It was the spring of 1997...I was just finishing my undergraduate degree at Capital University in elementary education. The school where I was student-teaching was wrapping up its school year. A break-up several months earlier was still lingering. And I was preparing to leave Ohio forever (well, not quite).

Brainiac frontman Tim Taylor had just died in a car accident in Dayton. I had just seen him play at Stache's, my favorite music venue. Brainiac was this incredibly awesome dance/punk outfit from Dayton (or Sayton as my brother and I called it) that was prepared to take over the world.

Stache's closed down and Little Brother's was opened a short time later, this time south of campus in the Short North area. The venue went into what I believe was a furniture store, next to a church and youth center. The interior was clean and barren. It looked as if they fitted an old bar to the wall with a gigantic cooler. The restrooms were sterile, unlike the pits in Stache's. The stage was four or five feet off the floor, and the sound system was still suspect.

The
first show I checked out was Yo La Tengo in late May. I attended the show with a woman who picked me up at a Will Oldham show the previous month at Stache's. I saw Grifters the next week with no one in particular. Neither show blew me away or made Littlle Brothers feel like home. The venue was relatively empty on both nights. I was leaving Columbus and thought this was the city's way of breaking its bond with me.

Then, I saw Guided By Voices. It was the second of two shows in as many nights that I saw GBV. (The first involved me driving to Dayton ad having my ear cleaned out by the tongue of a strange woman who bummed a cigarette from me.) I picked up some friends and headed for Little Brother's for what I thought would be my last night in Columbus. Bob Pollard and the rest of the boys rocked that night, sending me off on a drunke
n farewell.

The story of me returning to Columbus is long one, but I did eventually return. It was only a matter of time before I also returned to Little Brother's. There were, of course, several more visits by GBV. I saw the White Stripes (or the White Strips as it stated on the ticket) for the first time opening for Sleater-Kinney. Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) hid behind her bangs and drunkenly stumbled through a set of old favorites and period Jon Spencer ramblings. I saw Built to Spill for the first time and was blown away...until I saw Doug Martsch play a solo set a few years later.

My sister's first club show was at Little Brother's. I took her to see Helium on a Saturday in October. I remember, because we stopped to see a hippie friend who lived north of campus. (Ohio State lost to Michigan State that night, ending their national title hopes.) It was a fine show, but I think it was a good time fro my sister and me.

Over the years, my sister has had several interesting experiences at Little Bros. When Stephen Malkmus came to town, she promptly told SM and Bob "Nasty" Nastanovich how our family raised sheep. The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser offered to buy her roommate a drink, which she declined. And I'm sure she's been drunk there more than once.

I remember seeing Eric Bachman under the name "Crooked Fingers" open for Superchunk and ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. It was one of those nights when no one was into anything slow and dingy, like Eric Bachman's voice. The crowd talked and drank over Bachman's gravely voice, drowning out his stories of...well...drunken rowdiness leading to disappointment. I met the guys from ...Trail of Dead while they were selling t-shirts. I asked one of the members what they sounded like. He told me death metal. While they weren't death metal, they were loud and great. At one point, the lead singer jumped off the stage to scream in the face of the biggest dude in the place. It was exhilarating to watch such a spontaneous punk rock moment in a time lacking any such spontaneity. The set prompted me to overdo the consumption of Columbus Pale Ale and virtually forget what I am sure was a blistering set by Superchunk.

One of the most moving moments I've ever witnessed at a rock show featured the same Crooked Fingers only as the headliner. Since that night when Bachman bombed horribly, I had picked up on the first two Crooked Fingers' discs, and they were quite good. Besides that, Eric Bachman had done enough with Archers of Loaf to earn my eternal admiration. Anyway, this time he brought a guy on stand-up bass and a drummer. To open, the trio began on the floor in front of the stage. The place was rather empty possibly due to the poor showing the year before or the lack of reputation Loaf held around town, or a little of both. Bachman is a menacing dude, standing at 6'6" with his balding head, thick black-rimmed glasses, and a weight-lifter's physique. He announced that he was going to play a Prince song which prompted a snicker from the small crowd. Bachman quickly interrupted the laughter by informing us that it was a good song. The band then broke into "When U Were Mine". Absolutely brilliant! It was one of those moments you nearly cry because of the beauty of one act in such an ugly setting. To this day, Crooked Finger's take on a Prince song is one of my favorites.

I'll miss Little Brother's. I still want to go back, but it doesn't seem like I'll make it in time. The club that I followed from the north side of campus to the Short North will close this summer for good. Farewell.

5 comments:

seejae said...

I HAD FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE BRAINIAC SHOW AT STACHES. WHAT I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER IS THAT ON OUR WALK THERE WE DISCOVERED THE BRAINIAC BOYS DINING ON THE OUTDOOR PATIO OF BURGER KING. THAT WAS MY ONE AND ONLY STACHES EXPERIENCE. I REMEMBER ATTENDING A PAVEMENT SHOW LATER WHERE THEY REMINISCED ABOUT THE VENUE. I RECALL MALKY SAYING, "HEY-HEY POTSY LET'S GO TO STACHES." HE PRONOUNCED IT STA-CHEEZ.

seejae said...

AS FAR AS LITTLE BROTHERS GOES I SAW SO TOO MANY SHOWS TO COUNT INCLUDING MANY YOU MENTIONED. CROOKED FINGERS PERFORMING ON THE FLOOR WAS AMAZING AND APPROPRIATE GIVEN THE SMALL CROWD. I REMEMBER YOUR SISTER'S CONVERSATION WITH NASTANOVICH, AS I WAS TRYING DESPERATELY TO PREVENT THE GIRL I WAS WITH FROM QUIZZING HIM ON EVERY PAVEMENT SONG HE HAD NO HAND IN WRITING AFTER I MISTAKENLY TOLD HER WHO HE WAS. MOST RECENTLY I GOT TO SEE THE SILVER JEWS PLAY THERE FOR MY BIG 3O. THE SHOW WAS OUTSTANDING AND INCLUDED BOB AND WESTY. I SAW ENON THERE NEAR THE END OF LAST YEAR AND IT BECAME SOMETHING OF A REUNION FOR THE OLD DAYTON CROWD. IT WAS A REMINDER OF DAYTON'S MUSICAL HEYDAY.

comoprozac said...

I remember that Pavement show as well. I think it was at the Newport. How does that crap hole stay open?

kate said...

little brothers hasn't officially closed yet...although it probably will.

Donna said...

Hey! This isn't related to Little Brothers. But, anyway--YAY!!!!!!!!!

You know what I'm talking about.