The Cutout Bin

A collection of discarded or otherwise forgotten music.

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-Please see post #1 "Begin the begin" (3/24/06) for the raison d'etre for this blog. If you object to your music being posted here, email me and I will remove it.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Shockoe Bottom

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Dan Ryan- Guitar
Dan Piercy- Vocals
Chris Pyle- Bass
Jon Nanberg- Drums

In 1989 I was a freshman at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. There were a lot of great bands in Athens in the early '90s, and I'll be posting several of them. The first one I encountered was Shockoe Bottom, though they'd been together for at least a year before I saw them. The name comes from the party district of Richmond, VA where DanP and Chris hailed from. Dan's Iggyish vocals (not as obvious on the recordings as it was live) mixed with the band's dexterous post-punk/metal musicianship for a sound I've never heard anything quite like before or since. They often got compared to Jane's Addiction, but to me Shockoe Bottom had a more unique approach than Jane's recycled Zeppelinisms. DanP says he always thought of them as "a pop-centric Jesus Lizard".

They were great live. Jon and Chris hung back and laid the groove down with ruthless efficiency while the Dans went apeshit up front. DanP was a man posessed, reeling menacingly around the stage while ocasionally fucking with the delay pedal he ran his vocals through. DanR played mad scientist- hunched over his guitar one second, flailing on his back like an eplieptic the next. Even when they weren't practicing much (or at all), Shockoe Bottom had enough talent and sheer determination to put across an incendiary (if ragged) performance.

Shockoe Bottom were a classic "coulda been a contendah!" story- Athens had a chronic shortage of practice space (name me a place that doesn't), and they were constantly hamstrung by that. For a while, their sporadic live performances were the only times the band played together at all. Chris' departure in 1992 was effectively the last nail- there was some talk of my replacing him, and my "audition" was at a house party where I couldn't hear DanR's guitar at all. I didn't do so well. We jammed on an Appalachian Death Ride song (I'll get to them later) for what seemed like an hour, and I think that was it for Shockoe Bottom. Chris may have reunited with them for another house party a couple weeks later or it could have been a couple weeks before, I don't remember.

My favorite Shockoe Bottom story happened at the house party that marked Chris' last show with the band, where they played with Chris' new band Big Red Truck. Chris had already announced his departure, it had nothing to do with subsequent events. Shockoe Bottom was pretty popular with the "rock" crowd in Athens, but Big Red Truck was a radical departure that was more "pop" sounding and reflected Chris' new found interest in Christianity. As you can imagine, the crowd at the party was pretty diverse. Shockoe Bottom's crowd looked like your typical early '90s grunge rockers, while Big Red Truck's fans were pretty clean cut and looked a little uncomfortable in a house full of loud drunks.

Anyway, I was hanging out with DanP and his friend Hans in the living room after Shockoe Bottom's set. Dan was a little peeved about the impending demise of his band, and more than a little drunk. While we talked, he was constantly shaking up a can of Old Milwaulkee. He must have shaken that damn thing for 10 minutes straight. Finally, three girls walked in- well dressed, wearing makeup, looking like they'd just stepped out of a trendy restaraunt. Clearly BRT fans. Dan stopped talking in mid-sentence, ran over to them and yelled "ROCK AND ROLL GIRLS, ROCK AND ROOOOOLLLLLLL!!!! AAAIIIGGHHHHHH!!!!!" and proceeded to hose them down with beer. He'd backed them into a corner and there was nothing for them to do except scream as Dan wrung every drop of beer from the can. When he was done, Dan ran out the door screaming like a banshee. Hans and I were doubled over laughing, while the girls stood dripping beer and giving us the evil eye. Chris stood by his amp with a weary look like he'd seen it all before.


Hans has a new band (sadly, I don't have any recordings of his band Saturn 5 from Athens), you can check them out here-

10 city run.mp3


Blogger scott said...

that's an awesome story. one of these days you'll have to relate the story of the weird nudist acid party you somehow wound up at.

9:49 AM  

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