Like the far off roar and screeching tires of '73, eight-cylinder Monte Carlo at 2 am somewhere out in the blackness, I had heard rumblings of the CRASH long before I saw the beast up close. A friend had mentioned this mystery band that'd been doing something of a residency down at Kelly's Olympian-a joint whose slightly decrepit marquee tends to feature acts with names like MUDDY RIVER NIGHTMARE, KODIAK PISTOLA, and BLACKOUT RADIO. A place permeated by the reliable scent of stale macrobrew, problematic plumbing, and a touch of Pine Sol. A dive that always gets a friendly tip o' the cap from Portland's own BARFLY publication. My kind of place.
But somehow I never made it down to any of the shows. Always some conflict, and besides the parking sucks down there.
But one sublime summer afternoon I happened to turn up at a block party: a perfect blend of sunshine, sumptuous eats, great folk, lotsa beer, and a fella in the backyard with a funny cigarette wrapped in American flag rolling paper-to whom I promptly introduced myself. Ahh yes, I mused, a spontaneous sanguine free-ride the midst of life's grinding gears. Just as I was taking in the pure satori of it all, a subtle stealth-like transition began to transpire. The previous hour's musical entertainment ceded the bandstand to what seemed to be a scruffy crew of middle-aged men. One with a graying goatee and flashing eyes clutching a Fender P-Bass, a larger bloke assembling the gigantic Drumkit of Doom which seemed to include everything but John Bonham's gong, and an oddly-charasmatic bald character, wrangling an Orange half stack and a small pile of guitars, with the subtly-ominous smirk that one might attribute to an arsonist who's just hatched a new idea for a "project."
Intrigued, I took an up-close seat for this curious assemblage. After a dubiously-long tuning session and some scatological pre-amble, a vociferous clamor exploded forth, wilting the season's fresh flowers within several lots' range and sending small children whimpering for their parents' assurance. I confess to being slightly bewildered, repulsed, and magnetically drawn in simultaneously. This was not the stuff of "Dad Rock"-polite, meticulous, neutered cover tunes from the Creedence Clearwater back catalogue. This was audio equivalent of burnt tires and acetone. It left my mind scrambling for answers: what mental/ musical file does this belong in? And, as I took another drag from the red, white, and blue, the answer rang out like a chorus of broken bells. Ahh yes; the rocket propulsion of the MC5, the greasy come-hither of Iggy and the Ashton brothers, the peyote-induced incantations of Patti Smith, and the lumbering ramshackle beauty of Crazy Horse---somehow all infused into a delicious cocktail of absinthe and gasoline.
Suddenly I was in the clutches of the black Bacchanalian demon and, after a half hour's luxuriating in the filthy glory of it all, I found myself propelled to a neighbor's basement to fetch a Les Paul and a Swollen Pickle fuzz pedal. Once the band accepted my self-generated "invitation" to join in, I endeavored to surf the wave of sturm and drang hot lava that tossed me sideways and licked up around my ankles. Pure, unbridled, heathen ecstasy with a Pabst Blue Ribbon finish.
Since that sun-dappled afternoon of fire, intoxication, and mayhem I have had the pleasure, numerous times, of drinking from the mysterious ram's horn that travels everywhere the Crash lurks. Make no mistake-with Monster Sean on feral drums, Matt Bastard's growling 4-string providing incessant low-down tumblecore, and Woz Ass, brandishing the blow-torch guitar of Detroit Steel, you are in for a dangerous ride. Take a listen, if you dare. But be forewarned: this is no turtle-waxed, smooth-gliding Caddy, friend. This is a bored out rat-rod with suicide doors and no seatbelts.
Life is short, chickenshit; climb in and let's go!
Steve Murray, Audio Pugilist Portland 2010
© CRASHDISC 2013