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Sunday, May 22, 2016

I'm Against It!: A Tribute to the Ramones

flyer by Steph Neary
The first Ramones album was released on April 23rd, 1976. It's a great album. On Friday, April 22nd, 2016, I booked a tribute show to the Ramones for the 40th anniversary of that album. Ten bands played Ramones songs for 10 minutes each all night at the newish venue, Spirit. We also had a booth from the Carnegie Library with Ramones/punk media and trivia games and a DJ playing Ramones-related songs. It was a fun night.


The Weird Paul Rock Band played first. They played "Timebomb", "I Wanted Everything", "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement", "Poor Little Rich Girl", and "Durango 95". "Poor Little Rich Girl" was the only Dee Dee King song played the entire night. The set was pretty authentic to the Ramones sound, guitar-bass-drums. Weird Paul was wearing sunglasses, which got in the way for one of the songs; he had to take them off so that he could check the lyrics.


Second up was Jim Storch on his ukulele. I think a lot of people were thrown off. I heard that some of the audience anticipated the show to be one or more Ramones tribute bands, which wasn't the case. All of the bands have their own songs and do shows pretty often around the area. If some people left, too bad. Anyway, Jim did a good job; he played "Rockaway Beach", "She Talks to Rainbows", and "I Want You Around". They all sounded good, with a very cool and Ramones-appropriate lo-fi sound, especially "Rockaway Beach". I also really liked "She Talks to Rainbows", because I had never really heard it before. Jim said that he based his cover off of the Ronnie Spector version.


The new band, Beasters, played third. Beasters is composed of 2/3 of the band the Cunks and 1/3 of the band Boys. They played a doom/fuzz/noise rock that sounded like it was sung by Macho Man Randy Savage. They referred to this as caveman rock; it was an appropriate name. The songs they chose were "Beat on the Brat", "Mama's Boy", "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", "Judy Is a Punk", and the version of "Happy Birthday" the Ramones played on The Simpsons. The songs were so distorted and weird; it was great!

pfoto by Steph Flati

My new band was next. We're called Sorry, I'm Dead from a line in the NES game Monster Party. This was our first show. We played "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?", "Glad to See You Go", and "Everytime I Eat Vegetables, It Makes Me Think of You". The second song was dedicated to some jerks I know, and the last one was for my friend Patrick. I'm really happy with the set we did, but this was the only one that I forgot to record. We might do some new versions at our practice space. Though the band was formed just for this show, we are definitely gonna be playing out some more in the coming months.


Bat Zuppel, was next, and they are great! They played a lot of the big songs: "Pinhead", "Go Lil' Camaro Go", "Outsider", and "I Wanna Be Sedated". It was a great performance, full of energy, that ended with the singer on the floor amongst pulsating feedback. I've tried to book this band a few times before, but this was the first show we actually got set up. I hope to see them some more.


SFX played sixth. They did a very straightforward set, though it lacked some energy. The songs were "Crummy Stuff", "The KKK Took My Baby Away", and two songs the Ramones covered ("R.A.M.O.N.E.S." and "Take It As It Comes"). There were a few false starts, and the band got into a small argument on stage. Some people said that the argument was intentional, to replicate the real way the Ramones were on stage, while other people told me that the argument may have been more real. Scott wore a funny wig.


The next set seems like it divided the room a bit, though the night was also getting late. If you were really just expecting all bands that sounded exactly like the Ramones, too bad for you. Anyway, Xylen Roberts played an electronic set via keyboard and loops. The songs were the more political ones: "Planet Earth 1988", "Anxiety", and "Poison Heart". I think his set was hurt a little due to all of the vocals being sampled from the original songs with the keyboard over top, but there were medical reasons behind that decision.


Middle Children was next, and they were joined by Dustin Giannopoulos on drums instead of a backing track. I hope that they do that more. Middle Children played the songs "Surfin' Bird", "Do You Wanna Dance", and "We're a Happy Family". "Surfin' Bird" was super fun because they all wore bird hats when they played it. It was a fun, upbeat, and goofy set.


Second to last, there was the Lopez, probably one of Pittsburgh's coolest bands. They played "I Just Wanna Have Something to Do", "Don't Come Close", "Howlin' at the Moon" and "Swallow My Pride"; they play the last of those songs regularly. The songs sounded good. It was cool to hear more synths being played on these songs.


The last band, Abysme confused the remaining crowd with their death metal versions of the classic Ramones songs "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World", "You Sound Like Your Sick", "You Should Never Have Opened That Door", and "I Wanna Be Well". The vocals were so phlegmy and gross, which made a lot of sense for these songs. Some people had no idea what songs were being played. I'm not a big fan of death metal, but even I thought it was a cool set.

Correction: An earlier version of this article listed that members of the band Beasters comprised 2/3 of the band Boys.

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