2012, End of Year Lists



SHAWNIE BRANDO is the singer and guitarist in BUGS AND RATS.

Here’s his list:

I went to more shows in 2012 than any other year of my life and the vast majority of them were pretty fucking good. It wasn’t easy to pick just 10 but here we go.

I think In Heat played this show but I might be confusing this show with a different one at Gay Gardens. If it was this show then In Heat fucking ruled. I’ve seen this girl in a bunch of other bands and i never recognize her. She always looks wildly different each time and someone has to tell me it’s her. The first time I saw her was when Tinsel Teeth opened up for Pissed Jeans at the Middle East Upstairs and when I walked in she was naked and rolling on the floor covered in blood. At the Gay Gardens show she had on a black blazer and glasses and I saw In Heat last week at Moe’s and once again I didn’t recognize her. She had on a baseball hat, some ill jewelery, and white bike shorts. The girl has incredible style and is really intense. She has an all or nothing vibe that’s totally mezmerising. I can guarantee that in 10 years she’ll still be doing cool shit.
Then Cave Girls played and me and Radek had a new favorite band. They play that fast punk shit that me and Radek are suckers for. They have a song called, “2 Dudes No Mom,” which is just so fucking awesome. They also did a Crass cover that night and if you hang out with Bugs and Rats long enough you eventually will be listening to Crass. So yeah this show was fun. I mean, Radek only owns 2 cds and one of them is a Cave Girls record.

Ya know, the Middlesex is really cool and everything and I love these two band bills they have but $10 for a jack on the rocks is a bit much. I bought my drink and they gave me a fucking vat of whiskey. Dude, Lemmy would have thought it was too much. Whatever man, I was fucking drunk at this show.
The Pats played first and made everyone uncomfortable with all that psycho energy they have. Those kids are obviously sociopaths. Everytime I hang out with them I’m like,”Wow, I really like these kids. What a nice group of guys.” But everytime I see them play I start thinking,”What the fuck are these kids hiding from me?”
You ever see that video where Kurt Cobain splits that bouncers head open with his guitar? He just drills this biker in the head and breaks his skull open. Fucking blood everywhere. I always think of that when I watch the Pats. I wanna see Luke smash someone in the head. Just open some frat boys head and use his skull for a drum. Mic it and send it to his mom in the mail and be like, “oh sorry, I had to kill your son for being a date raping piece of shit but hey we got a good sound out of his already empty skull. Don’t be sad. He was useless anyway.” Maybe I’m overthinking this but whatever. My point is the Pats fucking rule.
After the Pats me, Sam, and a couple dudes from Skimask went outside and smoked a joint and talked a lot of shit about a lot of people. So now I got a vat of whiskey in my belly and I’m stoned out of my face. Time for Happy Jawbone. And another vat of whiskey.
Happy Jawbone is the polar opposite of the Pats. They’re not menacing at all. Except for that bass player. He looks kinda crazy. I don’t think he blinks. He just stares wide eyed at the audience for the whole set. In fact, the whole band looks equally amazing. I think bands look best when they look like gangs and Happy Jawbone definitely looks like they belong together. Some of those songs are just so fucking catchy. Book of Fire, man? Oh my God! Some days I just listen to that song over and over again. Those lyrics are so devastatingly beautiful. Man oh man oh man.
Anyway, they ruled. Show was over and I guess I drove home. Although I can’t remember.

This show was cool. I’d never been to this house before and I haven’t been there since, but the whole vibe was pretty relaxed. I’m not sure who played first but it doesn’t really matter.
Needy Visions are catchy as fuck. Like, crack rock catchy. Ever since this show I’ve been walking around with that song they have,”Everything I Have Is Broken,” in my head. That riff is a monster. If I ever mutate into a radioactive superhero and I need a theme song, that would be my first choice. It’s hard not to relate to a song called,”Everything I Have Is Broken.” I think most musicians would agree. I mean, at the moment my amp is broken, my guitar is broken, my record player is broken, the mirror and tape player in my car is broken, most of my human relations are broken, the front step at my place is fucked, the sink in my bathroom is fucked from a misguided attempt at getting all sexy with someone, my coffee table is missing a leg, all my CDs and records are scratched, even the shoelaces on my Docs are fucked and I can’t find new ones anywhere. So what I’m saying is I like this song alot. Plus Sam really gets into his “rockman lover” moves while he plays this one. Dude makes some ill faces.
To me Sara Lee is kinda the most unsung band of all the bands in town. Those songs are really beautiful and sound really honest. I’ve seen them a bunch of times but this show was the one where I noticed that song “So Sorry” which is a song that if I play it once I’m gonna play it 50 more times. I’m wearing out my rewind button with that one. I just love Sara’s voice, man. It’s really special. It’s too bad she moved to Rochester cause they don’t get to play anymore but whatever. All bands end. Except Bugs and Rats. We’re gonna make you listen to our bullshit forever. We don’t have any better ideas.

It’s day two of the fest and me and Pete from Gorilla Toss have been given the task of collecting Andy Brown for his headlining slot with Skimask. Originally they cancelled cause Andy was going to Chicago but at the last minute they were added back to the fest cause Andy wasn’t going and headliner Gary Wilson cancelled. No one knew if Andy was gonna actually show up but the place was packed, Dom and Corey were setting up, and Sam and Dan were getting nervous. So here we go. Me and Pete walk into Veggie Galaxy and we see that Andy’s still washing dishes out back.
“Andy? What the fuck? You have to go.”
“I’m busy. I can’t.”
I turn to the other employees for assistance.
“Can he leave? He has 300 people waiting to see him.”
“Oh, he’s playing that fest?”
Pete emphasizes that Andy’s the headliner.
“Yeah, he can go,” one girl says.
“Andy, let’s go,” I plead.
“I’m fucking working,” he says.
“OK dude, what’s the deal? You coming or not?”
“Yeah,” he says.
“Yeah,” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says.
“OK, man. You better be there.”
Me and Pete walk back still not knowing of he’s actually gonna show up or not. I tell Sam and Dan that he’ll be there in 5 minutes even though I don’t know that for sure.
The band is set up and now we’re waiting for Andy. I’m standing on stage with my eyes FIXED to the door for the first sign of him. Next thing you know Andy comes down the stairs and starts pushing through the crowd to the stage. My heart started beating with excitement. As soon as he got on stage he grabbed the mic and started kicking that ill Andy Brown banter for 5 seconds, the band kicked in and they proceeded to tear…the fucking…house…DOWN!
The kids up front were moving, stagediving, and just digging it so hard. Honestly though, I don’t think anybody could have dug it as much as me, Pete and all the Boston Hassle kids. Just knowing that that performance wasn’t guaranteed till the last second just made it so fucking epic. It was one of the best musical moments of my life. Honestly. I’m on that bands dick so hard it isn’t even funny. I continuously gush to people who don’t even care about them. Something about their sound just connects with me so deeply. I can see how if you’re trying to work with them it might be frustrating to deal with. YES, I can see that. But for me and everybody who’s a fan of theirs…they couldn’t be doing it more right. They’re perfect.
All the bands that played the fest were amazing. Pissed Jeans, Dan Melchior, Gorilla Toss, Happy Jawbone, Arvid Noe, Mayo and Andy Eat Cloud, IDM Theftable, Container, Ben Hershey, etc, whoever. Everybody was amazing but I guarantee I’ll remember that Skimask shit for the rest of my life.

Dude…oh my God! Nice Guys rocked their set so fucking hard it wasn’t even funny. They did a set of all Coachwhips songs that I can’t imagine the Coachwhips could do better. I hang out with these kids quite a bit and I was SHOCKED at how good they were. After the show me, Jen, and Sonam were all just standing outside in disbelief at what we just saw. I’m talking broken keyboards, Alex just RUSHING the crowd, and Lowell meatheads going apeshit. These kids know what they’re doing and what they’re doing is making me hate their smooth skin, youthful energy, and overall sunny dispositions. Fuck the Nice Guys! Stop being so good.

This show I’m a little fuzzy on who actually played. I might be mentally combining two shows together. The only band name I remember is a band called the Orient who played shit in that Death Grips style with the fuck-you-up-bass-assault. They had some kid rhyming who couldn’t have been more than 20. The kid was such a ball of energy that you couldn’t help but feel it. He never had two feet on the ground at once. I havent been able to find any of their shit online but if they ever play again I’m fucking there.
Some other group played too with the same kinda style as the Orient. They were all white boy thugged out and it was kinda awesome cause you could tell they kinda scared all the skinny mismatched boys and girls in the place. The singer had these huge pants and a massive gold chain on his shirtless chest and just didn’t look like anybody else in there. He looked like a jail dude from Brockton. He looked like my Uncle Billy basically.
Also, and I may be wrong, Will Mayo’s band with some of the Rotten Apples guys played too. They pulled a tarp over the audience and proceeded to just brutalize everyone there. That might have been a different show at the Butcher Shoppe though. Maybe not. Whatever. Parts of the year are really fucking fuzzy. I can’t be held accountable for half the shit I did this year.
Oh and some kids were spinning some amazing ignorant shit too. They played that Juicy J song, “Who Da Neighbors?,” and some sexy boys and girls started getting busy. It was kinda hot.

This show almost restored my faith in punk rock. Almost. Although I’m not really gonna throw on a Crazy Spirit record these days there really is nothing like seeing these bands live. Having spent most of my formative years going to nothing but HC shows at the Rat or wherever, there is a part of me that’s not satisfied with a show unless kids are doing backflips off the fucking PA speakers. It’s like being in a war and then trying to do normal shit like go to the supermarket. Actually, it’s not but you know what I mean. Even now when I go see a band like Gorilla Toss or something I don’t dance too much cause if I just let go all my old HC kid instincts will kick in and I’ll end up hurting someone for real. So it’s pretty cool when you’re in a room with a bunch of people that understand that they might get kicked in the face and they’re willing to except that. So with that being said, I guarantee that a few people got kicked in the face at this show and it was fucking AWESOOOOOME!
Goosebumps were cool but in my opinion guys should never cover Bikini Kill. Ever. It’s like Blink 182 doing a James Brown song like, dude….just leave it alone, man. Besides that they were cool.
Crazy Spirit played next and brought the ruckus but Hank Wood brought the fucking house down. They opened with,”Hard On the Street,” and the place just went crazy. Like totally crazy. The whole place just looked like a sea of fighting rats crawling all over each other. Flying bodies, feet in the air….it was awesome.
And on a side note, and this’ll probaly sound stupid but I was happy to see that Hank Wood has a NY accent when I talked to him and that he wasn’t from Conneticut or something.NY bands are cool with me ass long as they’re from there. Whatever. I don’t even mean that. I’m just talking shit, basically.

After this show I’d never felt so sexually inadequate in my entire life. Me and my friend Knife are just standing there watching this ass shaking insanity and every few minutes just shaking our heads in disbelief. Knife turns to me at one point and says,”This shit should be an olympic sport.” And yeah, I agree.
Nikki Da B is in the middle and has a girl on one side and a guy on the other with a zipper down the back of his pants and all they did was shake their asses and, like, mock fuck each other for a half an hour, all to the sound of crushing Diplo bass beats. It was so hot that I wanted to cry.

This show would be number one of the show I picked for number one wasn’t so much fun. As far as I’m concerned, these four band are the best bands on the planet right now and if you disagree then you’re just not paying attention. The Pats opened the show and destroyed it as always. To me the Pats sound like one of those guys that puts acid in your beer just to watch you lose your mind later. The music is menacing, the stage presence is menacing, and Colby’s voice is fucking psychotic. Luke has this stance where he spreads his legs and kinda takes these slow calculated steps that make him look like he’s gonna pounce on someone. Like if Steve Albini fucked a preying mantis or something. I mean that as a compliment. Plus “My Dealer” is getting the Jam of the Year Award. That song makes me wanna stab a cheerleader.
After the Pats me, Sam, and P.O.B went out back and smoked a joint with the dude from the Dreebs, who I’d never seen before but was already a huge fan from watching their videos which are just gorgeous. I especially like the video for “Seven Hills” which is just the band bugging out in the parking lot of some breakfast joint. I always get hungry watching that video. So after getting righteously stoned we went in and they proceeded to blow everyones mind with that sound that belongs to the Dreebs and only the Dreebs. You could try to compare them to other bands but it wouldn’t be right. They sound more like a hurricane or a tornadoe. A massive circle of wind that would be beautiful if it wasn’t whipping a 2×4 through your stomach. Fuck it, it’s beautiful anyway.
After they were done I bumped into Shannon and Shelly from Dream Warrior and we all agreed that the drummer from the Dreebs was a fucking babe and that I should go talk to her.
I tried. I failed. Let’s move on.
Gorilla Toss was up next and by this point I realized that half the place had dropped acid and kids just started getting LOST in the music, which with G Toss is real easy to do. Even without acid.
Man, these guys are just stunning. I’ve seen them a million times and everytime I can’t believe how good they are. I just assume that everyone’s like me and have no idea how to play their instrument but not these dudes. Dudes are the extremely EXTREMELY rare breed of band that has brains and balls. Most bands sacrifice giving you that feeling in your gut so they can make you think. Who the fuck wants to think about music? If it doesn’t make you wanna fight fuck cry or dance then who gives a shit? G Toss make me wanna do all those things but mostly cry cause I’ll never be able to do what they can do. Anyway, they fucking destroyed the place. I really like the fights that Cassie and Simon get into on stage. See, what did I just say? It makes you wanna fight. By this point in the show psychedelics were controlling the minds of most in attendance.
Next up was Skimask. Nobody was really sure if they were gonna play but they did and as always it was stunning. By now everybody was tripping their balls off, including members of the band, and we all just went crazy and lost our minds for a little while. The crowd was moving, stagediving, and I was just reveling in the fact that Boston is the best city on the planet. I get in arguments all the time when I talk about the bands in this city. Some people just don’t see it. They don’t appreciate how many good bands there are right now or how the clicky bullshit has kinda gone out the window. For most of the past 10 years things were kinda depressing. All you could get in Boston was bad metal, tough guy HC, or douchey Phoenix bar rock. Maybe they’re not native to Boston and just don’t know but to me the bands that played on this night are really special and they mean alot to me. They’ve convinced me that I’m never fucking moving. And even though the Dreebs are from Brooklyn…fuck it. We’re making them an honorary Boston band. They play every week anyway.

This one is getting the show of the year award. Everybody had so much fun at this one. Having been a fan of Ian Svonious for over 20 years now it was a real thrill getting to meet him and kick it with him. Not to mention getting to see him play at the Whitehaus of all places. It was so fucking cool. So unbelievably cool. And it was even cooler the next night when me and Andy saw them in Providence the next night and he walked across the room to come talk to us. Me and Andy turned into puddles of giddiness over that shit. We just kicked it and told him about all the awesome bands in town and how awesome Boston is right now and he agreed having seen it first hand the night before. They even dedicated a song to Skimask in Providence and talked about how awesome they were. It was so fucking rad. Me and Andy were just geeked on the whole experience.
And it’s true. Skimask were AMAZING at the Whitehaus. The whole house was just getting busy all night for every band. Needy Visions were amazing too. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever had such pure fun at another show in my whole life. If you don’t believe me just go check it on youtube. You can tell that it’s the best show ever. Just drunk sweaty sexy love dripping from every corner of the basement. It was the type of show that made me happy I was alive to see it and that I wasn’t dead yet. Honestly man, I’ve been in a good mood SINCE that show. I really love this fucking city man and if you don’t then you should probaly just spare us all your bullshit and leave, ya know? School’s over. Go home.
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