Last Carsickness

Back in the 70's, Pittsburgh was a different place. I wasn't there of course, but I can see the pictures. Pittsburgh was just transitioning from the harsh industrial era; this was before Lawrenceville rents were sky-high and condos started popping up on every corner. Just like other places, some cool bands started to pop up in the city. You can call them punk bands, but they weren't just loud, fast Sex Pistols clones. Pittsburgh seems to have connected more with the post-punk bands, synths and minimal sounds, and also with a resurgence of earlier garage rock from the likes of The Shadows of Knight and The Seeds. Then there was Carsickness, who kind of combined it all.

Ever since I first saw the name, I thought Carsickness was so cool. I discovered them online, and I was able to find a lot of their old musick for free. They combined the scratchy, dub-influenced post-punk, complete with synths, with an unusual side of prog-rock. The singer, Joe Soap, or Karl Mullen as he is called now, seemed to shout from the same guttural place that Joe Strummer said "Somebody Got Murdered". Now they were getting back together.

The Non-Punk Pittsburgh exhibit went up in the spring of 2017 downtown at Space gallery. It was a comprehensive pfoto gallery of the Pittsburgh's post-punk era. The organizers didn't feel right saying it was a punk scene, hence the name. It was great to see all of the pfotos of all the bands back then, and it was awesome to actually see Carsickness! They reformed and played two final shows, back to back, at Space and Gooski's on April 21st and 22nd respectively.

The only other band to play the shows was Nox Boys. I hadn't seen Nox Boys for a few years; I saw them back when they were just starting, kids in high school, and now they were older, more skilled, and on Get Hip Records. They also had a new bass player, Chris, who does a great job! Bob's slide guitar really added a new dimension to the songs; it seemed more prominent and spacey than before. Zack had the cool rock moves, and Sam laid down the beat. Everything seemed tighter and more confident than when I saw them back at Roboto.

Wow - Carsickness! I was excited to see them - just jolting with energy! Both nights, they were great, with Gooski's being a little rougher than the pristine, and echo-y, Space. It must have been interesting to play in front of pfotos of themselves and their friends from the past though. Carsickness was not the original lineup, adding a new bass player but still retaining Dennis Childers, Karl Mullen, and Steve Sciulli. They were joined by Karl's daughter for a few of the poppier, more reggae/world-influenced songs like "For You". It was strange to see the songs actually performed live. I had only heard them as scratchy mp3s, recordings of a "legendary" time that I could only see in pictures; now I was seeing the songs happen in front of me. It gave the lyrics more weight, the instruments more depth, but it also humanized the myth. It was especially strange, because few people I know even had heard of Carsickness or any of the other bands from that era. Somehow, despite the internet and the oral history of cities, those bands had been forgotten, or perhaps more aptly never learned of, by people my age. Though the non-punk bands were obviously real, they were actually in front of me now. And they didn't just play the songs from the Police Dog EP or Shooting Above the Garbage, tracks that I had listened to over and over. They also played later stuff, like the afore-mentioned "For You" and "They Came Crawling". This was the complete history of Carsickness, from beginning to end, in their seemingly final hour.

Both shows were great. I was so glad to see them. I got my copy of Shooting Above the Garbage, which I had found on eBay when I graduated from high school, signed. It wasn't cheap. I had some of the mp3s before that, but I wanted "the real thing", as I usually do. Now you can get "the real thing" without spending "the real cash" - a Carsickness compilation was released by Get Hip Recordings around the same time. I wish it had every recording, but it is a good selection. Get it here.