DIY Surgery

Hello. My name is James, and I’m reviewing myself.

This is what happened when my band, Surgery Dot Com, played at Comet Ping Pong on 11/19/11 with Booze Riot and Replicant, pushing our agenda of broken amps, wrecked minds and ruined lives.

This was only Surgery Dot Com’s second show. The first one was in September at the Corpse Fortress with At The Graves, the Coits, and two bands from Olympia, WA, that ruled. So, we were very eager and amped for this show.

We worked hard to write a sick set of new tunes which we couldn’t wait to subject an audience to. With that in mind, we warmed up in the parking lot. My former job is a few doors away from Comet and I barely suppressed the urge to vandalize that basement bookstore coffee-shop piloted by a Napoleon complexioned swine which shall aptly remain nameless.

My original plan was to send every member of Booze Riot and The Coits into the place right before closing time and have them order complicated and expensive drinks only to proclaim that their drinks sucked while demanding reparations. But since one Coit couldn’t make it to this show, the potential for the destruction of property and a brawl was severely reduced and that put a damper on the whole evening.

Anyway, back to reality for ping-pong and pizza. The Com has one of the best vegan pizzas I have enjoyed inside the Beltway. While munching a slice, I started getting into that nice whoa-where-am-I-what-the-hell-is-going-on-who-am-I-why-am-I-here-whoa-man-whoa-rock-n-roll state of mind that generally sets in before a gig.

Replicant opened the show with what could aptly be termed “some good, heavy, post-hardcore-influenced metal. The ‘Cants seem to be nice guys who are enthusiastic about what they do. Fun fact: They had, by far, the nicest gear of the three bands on this bill, and accordingly they sound far more professional than yr humble Dot Commies. They reminded me a little bit of Zao, but are more “musical.” I eventually learned that the guitar player used to be in a band with one of the Zaoists. Let’s just say he that didn’t have any fond things to say about him. Yeow! Whoa! Hey! Alright!

While Booze Riot was setting up, somebody plugged an ipod into the PA and played Black Flag and Minor Threat and noisy ’90s alternative rock, which ironically put me in just the right mood for the Booze Riot. I’m very intimate with this band – a little too intimate, some might say. Their guitarist and vocalist, Brain Riot, is one of my (and Ross Dot Com’s) roommates, so the Riots is at the house often (a little too often, some might say), and we all share gear and booze and food and stuff – it’s kind of like we’re all members of the same tribe, or, to be more specific, like we’re all a mottled collection of flies, united by our position inside a tangled spider’s world wide web, vibrating frantically, arrhythmically, and pathetically.

Speaking of Booze Riot, I’ve heard like a million of their practices. They keep getting heavier, tighter, crazier and, in a word: better.

This show was the best I’ve seen yet. What I love about this band – in addition to the Riot’s straightforward and catchy old-school punk/hardcore rock – is BR’s attitude. Far too often, bands give me the impression that they’re running down a checklist of requirements for whatever genre or scene they’re trying to fit into.

The Riot does not give me this impression.

Rather, the Riot gives me the impression that they are insane motherfuckers (literally) who aren’t out to impress you, me, or anyone else. BR’s mass of confidence, energy and good old fashioned audience harassment made their’s my favorite set of the night. …

… My spazz-o-meter ticked up another notch as Surgery Dot Com prepared to hit it.

I was planning on using Booze bassist Aus Doyle’s amp since mine blew out at practice the night before (not the first (or second or third or fourth) time I’ve pulled that off); then Doyle’s amp blew a fuse at the end of their set. Luckily, Replicant’s bass dogg was cool enough to loan me his rig. It’s always chill to use other people’s stuff that’s way nicer than anything I could ever afford.

Before I’d even had time to attempt to figure out how this amp worked, Ross was surfing waves of feedback and Dan was slaying his drums, setting up the intro to our first song. I “got it together” just in time.

What happened next is what usually happens to me during a gig that doesn’t suck: As soon as I started playing, the spazz receded and was replaced by total immersion in the music.

I love playing in this band. I love Ross’ twisted and gnarled, yet pretty, layers of guitar and the way he sings mellow melodies on top of it, and I love how Dan plays choppy off-beat (yet also on-beat) rhythms with understated tastefulness.

I hope my bass playing, with its hardcore and Black Sabbath influences, sounds good with what they do.

I’m not sure how to best describe what we do, but we’ve been compared to Sonic Youth, Placebo, Swans, Q And Not U, and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah zzzzzzzzzz.

What I know for sure is that the three of us tore it up at this show. The songs sounded tight, the stage banter was almost as awkward as a Lemonheads gig, the crowd was decent-sized and seemed into it, and we were way into it. Everything was going great until the last song. Ross and I were so overly distorted that we got lost in the sauce. At one point I looked at Dan and then at Ross and realized that we were each playing different parts of the song. I guess they caught this at the same time, because the next thing I know, Ross is flailing across the stage and throwing his guitar on top of a speaker to let it feedback and Dan and I jam our way out of the mess. The audience, of course, is largely unaware that we arguably made a mistake — they’re loving it!
Thanks a bunch to Rep, Booze, Ross ‘n’ Dan, Comet, vegan pizza, jobs that fire me, gullible audiences, DayAfterDay and whoever’s reading this.

In order of importance, the morals of this story are:

A) Always play from the heart.
B) There’s a sucker born every minute.

Editor’s note: A

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