We started the night out at Congress' traditional Bloat Christmas, sticking around just long enough to catch a few Ultra Maroon songs before someone suggested The Knockout Pills' show up the street. I'm a sucker for the K.O. Pills, plus the sight of Gary Bear in a manger was kinda creeping out my girlfriend, so off we went.
We had already missed the first band, Mad River Glen featuring Mr. Free, a pack of high school kids who we later heard described as being influenced by the Velvet Underground, Galaxy 500, Jonathan Richman and early Talking Heads. Luckily, we did arrive in time to catch the Sneaky Pinks, who were double-booked and had performed earlier at Congress, but whom we missed there. The Pinks comprise Trent and Justin from the Okmoniks, who in this case, play guitar and bass and sing along with taped accompaniment. They sounded something like a lo-fi Ramones, if there were only two bruddas, and they had both gone to art school. (If you're interested, the duo recently released a limited-edition 7-inch on Rubber Vomit records--$4 postage paid, from firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The vibe at Vaudeville in general was far more punk-rock holiday-family-reunion than just another night at the local tavern. People mingled with old friends and met new ones, many of whom were dragged to Vaudeville by their friends, who urged, "You've got to see The Knockout Pills."
And it was The Knockout Pills, playing their first show of their patented punk rock 'n' roll after a bit of a dry spell, that brought the congregation together. Just when we'd gotten used to the tried-and-true favorites from the band's first two albums (of which there were many), they sprung a handful of unreleased surprises on us. Seems they've been on a serious writing binge and are both working on songs for a new album and planning to release Odds & Wads, an album of demos, unreleased outtakes, covers, etc., on the Texas-based Mortville label. While the crowd seemed split on the earlier bands, The Knockout Pills unified the masses in adoration. If you've seen them before, you know what we're talking about; if you haven't, two words will suffice: for shame! It was just about the ultimate way for any self-respecting connoisseur of fine punk rock to kick off the holiday weekend.