The hype this weekend for Tuscaloosa seems to be surrounding the long-awaited return of American Aquarium (at Green Bar, no less), and that excitement is certainly much deserving; however, there are two sleeper shows happening, both of which feature Tuscaloosa bands. A Friday/Saturday double punch of local, original music is proof that the city’s collective is doing shit right for this home game weekend. Each weekend needs spectacular shows, no question, but you gotta bring the heat when the crowds are in town.
On Friday night, Egan’s will be hosting Piss Shivers and IQ, both from Tuscaloosa. From David Allen’s genius and hard work, the Piss Shivers are a high energy, high fun, high noise, high punk blend of three chord wonder. IQ, new to me, promise to be interesting at their very worst. Their bio states that they are “just 3 emcees looking to revive the art of lyricism in the south.” Their recordings show a De La Soul vibe. Not bad. Judge for yourself, though.
The real dark horse winner, though, is in Egan’s on Saturday night, and it wouldn’t be one to sleep on. The bill brings Todd Farrell and the Dirty Birds to town possibly for the first time. Seems like Farrell is into Lucero, country music (the good kind), and baseball. His songs sound full of good energy and are worth a listen.
What makes the Egan’s show really worth mentioning are August Spies. (Has there been a better band name around Tuscaloosa in recent years?) August Spies are predominantly the brain child of Drew Brooks at this point, and he has kept the band going through one minor line-up change. (That’d be the affable Drew Brooks of Jimmy John’s and, most recently, Egan’s door guy fame.)
August Spies bring the Nineties-via-Seventies, punk, do-it-yourself mentality that all Tuscaloosa bands have, but Brooks infuses it with a what ostensibly appears to be a genuine love for punk music and the punk lifestyle. I’d be willing to bet that his furniture is propped up with bricks, that he has more than one tattoo, that he is rough on guitar strings, and that he is really quite nice in person despite the aggressiveness of August Spies’ sound.
Brooks and August Spies spit and bark their lyrics with head-bobbing enthusiasm and danceable guitar chords underlying the sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious lyrics. A look at “I Spend My Sundays Nursing Hangovers,” probably one of their best songs, shows how desperation can be found in humor. That’s sort of what works for August Spies. That, and the fact that for a punk band, they’re tight. I think that they actually practice.
Inevitably, the proof is in a live show: the last August Spies’ show I witnessed had people screaming (in a good way), dancing, and pumping fists.
It’s great to have some punk bands in Tuscaloosa. Glad that the August Spies and the Piss Shivers are two that we have. Go see them both this weekend.