Drop Day, 3rd Term, 1995

by Alan McConchie

So I just got back from Stale Urine's dramatic comeback concert, their first live performance in over a year. It was quite a spectacle.

First the set up: Four of seven band members were present: Jon, naturally, is off having a life and so on, Godot has flamed back to Minnesota, and Heidi is off stoned someplace (as Benedetti is proud to apologize at the beginning of the concert). Mike Radford has been flown in specially from Boston, and is dressed in disco and possibly jetlagged, Kurt was seen drinking several shots of vodka minutes before, Benedetti is looking frazzled and disorganized, and Adam seems to be being himself. The band members seem to be as tight-knit and amiable to each other as usual. The audience consisists of mostly of Darbs and other Techers, all of which had been previously having more fun either at the ASCIT formal or the Dabney disco drop day party. The band possesses a bunch of metal and garbage cans, one guitar (with amp), one accordian, and no microphones. They've practiced for nearly half an hour together. That being said, the performace wasn't that bad.

The concert began with the band having fun with this megaphone they found someplace, and Adam performing bits of None Dare Call it Treason. This was pretty promising, and I was excited enough to accidentally reveal myself by yelling ``Declaration list! Declaration! Declaration list!'' a bit. I, at least, was enjoying myself. There was an amazingly large crowd hanging around . . . it looked like this could be Stale Urine's big breakthrough performance.

Then they began their first song. I was told later this was Bleed, a song to be released on their upcoming studio album ``The Black Milk of Dawn'' or whatever. Mike B. began the song trying to use the megaphone, but soon gave this up and just sang. No one understood a word. At the first chord change, they stopped the song and tried again. The same thing happened. Benedetti then grabbed the guitar from a grumbling Kurt and they played the song in its entirety. The song was pretty long and remarkably unexciting. I suppose it could be better with words or bass or something.

Half the crowd was gone when they began the next song: everyone's favorite Wax Man. This song was a little better, and due to the fact that Adam was standing up, was closer to the audience and was singing words I already knew. Plus, the addition of the accordian added more of that good old Urine feel. Adam's singing was inspired as always, and he became so wrapped up in his performance (I guess) that he had no idea where the rest of the band was in the song. I first noticed this by catching Benedetti mumbling over to Kurt, and later yelling ``rhythm!'' or something to Adam. Adam didn't seem to notice, and by the end of the song was at least ``half a measure'' ahead of the band.

Sensing the feedback from the audience, the band decided to fall back on something that couldn't possibly go worse: a concept piece. This untitled song involved Benedetti leaning back in his chair, telling a story into the megaphone and the band tapped quietly on their instruments. The swirling disco lighting made it all kinda surreal, and I think I'll call it Morrison-esque just to bug the band. This is kind of performance is exactly what the Urine is best at, and it shows. I could follow the story just enough (I was listening a little better, and the instruments were less overwhelming), and the banging was riding the perfect edge between beauty and pain. I think the audience didn't dislike it.

Next came another Egon favorite: ``Things Fall Apart''. You could almost understand the lyrics again, and it was pretty impressive to watch Mike try to play accordion and hold the megaphone simultaneously. The percussion was lively and familiar. At the end they had the audience sing along with the chorus, and some of them even did. Soon Mike was standing up and running around, almost fooling us into thinking we were enjoying it more.

Finally they played ``The Third Rail'' quite well, although it took a few moments for them to get the hang of it again, it seemed. However, when it all came together, they were at their best and most united. Kurt's concentrated and angstful guitar played of the tight but soaring crashing of Radford's trash can and metal tray, his finest and most releasd playing of the night. Benedetti's accordion riffs were distinct and furious, much louder and more obvious than the studio version. Finally, Villani's voice and stage presence, despite depleted by his earlier ``Wax Man'' exertion, were as powerful and impassioned as ever. The song descended into violence and terror as never before seen, with Benedetti and Adam colliding and careening across the floor, Radford's ``instruments'' spiraling into the crowd, Adam wearing a plastic bag over his head and (the final glorious touch) Kurt torturing his guitar with--get this--a circular saw: a definite and symbolic artistic progression from the embryonic power drill technique. The end of the song had the audience bewildered, amused, frightened and cheering as never before. We were given a final encore of more guitar taunting, involving Mike B. and Kurt kicking and hammering the instrument across the floor. At the end of the concert, less than an hour from those first hesitant strums of ``Bleed,'' the audience stumbled from the Dabney Dining Room, knowing exactly how that guitar must have felt.

Alan McConchie,
Independent Music Critic extraordinaire
May 27, 1995

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