Bands come, bands go. Most don’t leave a mark. The Goons made an impression on many people, an impression on a scene. That fact reflects the passion and power and value that they had.
I have been to many Goons shows in my life, and they all meant something to me. They all frightened me. They all left me wondering why I couldn’t make those sounds. They all left me wondering how far I could bend over straight backwards while screaming and not fall over.
In the end, those questions and feelings, and many others, proved meaningless, because there is only room for one The Goons. There will never be another The Goons. And for the last 10 years or so there hasn’t been a The Goons. On October 24th, 2015, The Goons reunited, and a scene reunited with them.
The bands were to be there by 8 p.m. for a proper “load-in,” (I’m in Copstabber, one of the bands lucky enough to be asked to open this melee, so this is a real behind-the-scenes account!), which is generally no big deal and is basically just a pseudo-requirement that is pretty much more or less disregarded by most punk bands, but for this show I think everyone understood that if you didn’t get there early you were going to have a hard time getting your stuff into the building. The house was packed, and everyone knew it would be.
There was an electricity in the air, and the doors hadn’t even been unlocked yet.
My bandmates and I went around the corner and posted up in the parking lot with some 40s and drank, just like we have been doing since we were teenagers, which started to bring to the forefront a feeling that emerged again and again throughout the whole evening: A feeling of being in a different time and space.
This was us, all of us, getting ready for a Goons show, in 2015.
The lineup was stacked: Station, COPSTABBER, Supreme Commander and, of course, The Goons. This was officially going to be a hell of a night, and none of us could wait to get started.
Shortly after the doors opened and the room began to fill in nicely, Station took the stage. They were furious and sounded tough, and with a powerful dual-vocalist attack they were able to give the crowd the inspiration to move. As a veteran of a two-vocalist project, I have long been a fan of that aesthetic. The different ways that you can play off of each other, the increased stamina you get by sharing the vocals — in the hands of the right band, it can all really add to a performance in a big way, and these guys definitely took advantage of that. I was happy to see that the crowd, although not as large as it would be by the end of the night, was full of energy and looking to participate. Bodies flew around the skinny, long room, and after each song the crowd gave the band back plenty of love. It was one of the best opening band sets I’ve seen in some time. I recommend going to see Station if you have the chance, because they are going to be Baltimore heavyweights if they keep at this. Both the songwriting and the performance were at a high level.
Before long, COPSTABBER took the stage, and in a show of seasonal festivity they were in costume, looking fearsome, and they had a set prepared to match that ferocity. For the next 30 minutes the crowd was peppered with insults, sprayed with ludicrous amounts of beer, moshed on constantly, subjected to tone deaf sing-alongs, and served a thorough mix of time-tested crowd favorites, a few lesser-known gems, and some unreleased new material. Outside of their idiot singer forgetting how one of their songs began, it was a damn-near perfect set from one of the premier punk rocking hardcore bands from the Baltimore/DC area. Unfortunately, the evening’s first and only noteworthy casualty happened during their set when their bass player Luke’s girlfriend suffered a horribly broken ankle while moshing and enjoying herself. I’m sure the injury had absolutely nothing to do with the half-inch of beer covering the tile floor of the bar. Obviously, we hope her surgery and recovery are speedy and successful.
Supreme Commander is a flagship band that rose out of a D.C. scene that was left in a state of confusion, perhaps even what many would call a pile of ashes, after the Goons stopped playing shows. This is a band that is probably not new to any of the readers of this website, as previous show and record reviews of theirs have graced this URL, but no matter how familiar I am, it gives me the sensation of being a lion tamer when this band goes on. You might have been there and done this a thousand times before, but you dare not get complacent because this outfit is dangerous. The all-out assault that these guys produce, along with the tightness of the performance, is a sight to behold. Everyone in that room was lucky to be a part of that, and that is the way I feel about every show of theirs that I have ever seen. These guys are pros — bottom line. They didn’t come to ask permission. They came to rip the party right out of you, slam it around for a half an hour or so and then give it back to you while you beg them to do it over again. I have personally known these guys for a long time, in some cases more than 15 years, and this was another set that, no matter how many I’ve seen, will always stand out to me.
They make catchy music angry that it can’t party like that, and they make angry music furious that it can’t throw down like that, and they do it with more style than most bands even have the potential to try to emulate.
Following a three-pronged attack of Station, COPSTABBER and Supreme Commander is no easy task. Frankly, I would be pretty intimidated if my band was about to come on next — but I’m not in The Goons!
Most people from the DC and Baltimore scenes who are over 24 have seen The Goons before. This band is the reason why half of the bands in this area are making music — and of the bands that are any good, the reason they are is because they got to see and hear and learn from bands like The Goons.
Whether they were playing a basement house show, a big-time venue, or even an international fancy-pants energy drink skateboard music festival, this band proved itself a cut above the other acts they performed with.
After almost a decade, they decided they were ready to knock the rust off for this show in Baltimore — and whether we knew it or not as the first notes rang out, we still don’t deserve this band.
I wish I had any kind of concept of how long their set was. I can tell you I heard pretty much every song I wanted to hear. I can tell you I watched an entire room piling on top of each other trying to get closer to the action. I can tell you that the couple hundred exhausted, sweaty, disgusting, filthy people in attendance were absorbing the energy and style and swagger that Serge and the guys were letting off. These jerks looked like they haven’t missed a day.
I wish this show was still happening. I wish I was still watching The Goons reminding everyone what we’ve been missing. I felt recharged.
I wish more of you could have been there to see it, because it was one of the most special nights of punk rock I’ve had in years.
The beer tasted better, the sweat was sweet, the drugs were awesome, the music was everything, and in the end it was all of us, standing there, thankful.
I’m thankful for The Goons.
— By Dave Homeowner