Thursday, November 24, 2011

Madball Show at the Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN

This is a combination food and music review, just so you know what you’re in for. Also, this is from a few months back, I just finally got around to editing my notes and posting it. My apologies.

I’ve been a Madball fan since the early 90’s, which means they’ve been around approximately 20 years. That’s a long time in the world of hardcore music. It’s a REALLY long time in the world of tough-guy hardcore music. I won’t get into all the intricacies and sub-genres of hardcore, but suffice it to say, this band brings with it a track record of blood, fighting, punching, and kicking to its live shows. When I heard they were playing in Minneapolis at the Triple Rock, I was pretty sure I was going. When I realized it was oan Wednesday night that I didn’t have my MBA class, I knew for sure I was going. What’s the significance of Wednesday night, you ask? Well, Wednesdays are “Free Bacon Night” at the Triple Rock. Could this be the best day ever!!?!?!???!!?

After some timing discrepancies on when the show actually started (the tickets and one website said 4:30pm, another website and Facebook said 7:00pm). I got it all straightened out and headed over. There weren’t a lot of people when I got there and they hadn’t started the show (likely for that reason). I grabbed a Strongbow from the concert-area bar and just stood there like a dummy. Free bacon didn’t start until 9pm, so I had some time to kill.

The first band went on, “Big Bang Fury”, and were decent. The lyrics were a little Dr. Suess – literally “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket” – and the band really didn’t move at all, but I have heard way worse. I probably won’t pick up their CD, but I’d stand through them again. At the time, there were maybe 30 people there at the show, including what appeared to be relatives of the band members and such. Hilarious. (And yes, I’ve been there, so I know what that’s like).

After they finished up, I decided to hit up the real bar and peruse the menu. I also grabbed another Strongbow while I was waiting to decide on something. The menu here at the Triple Rock always impresses me. I somehow forget that this place has MUCH better than average food and also cater to vegetarians where possible. One of the things I always seem to get is the Poutine. For those that don’t’ know, I’m huge Poutine fan – it’s French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy – that’s hard to pass up even if you’re not from Canada, where the dish was invented. I decided to try something new and got the BBQ Cajun Chicken Po Boy. And a Jack Daniels – neat.

People watching at the Triple Rock I always fun, so there’s never a lack of entertainment when you’re waiting for food. Also, they have fun things hanging on the walls in the bar area. For example, this memorial photo of Ronnie James Dio (RIP), and also a dolla dn photo of Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrisian from Star Wars).
9 o’clock rolled around and I saw the first of the bacon baskets rolling out. The bartender brought me over a basket along with some popcorn – I hadn’t seen that here before. So the skinny on the free appetizers is this: the bacon is baked partially and then finished in the deep fryer, so it’s amazingly awesome. The popcorn is then cooked in the bacon grease, so it is almost as delicious as the bacon itself. I was REALLY glad I came to the show tonight.

The Po Boy came out right after I got the popcorn and bacon, so that worked out really well for me. This Po Boy is one of the better ones I’ve had. It had a few onions in it, but the chicken was delicious. Seasoned with Cajun seasoning and with delicious BBQ flavor and with potatoes and pepperjack cheese, this sandwich was a force to be reckoned with. Sooooo good. The bun seemed tiny when compared with the insides of the thing, but even the bun had some butter on it and was toasted nicely. Top notch sandwich that I would recommend highly.
I knew I had missed at least one band, but was bummed to find out I actually missed the other two bands. So when I went into the show, they were setting up Madball’s stuff on stage and there were considerably more people there. I was still surprised this place wasn’t more full of fans, but maybe they’re not the big deal they used to be (in some people’s eyes). It didn’t matter, the people that were there were there because they love Madball, or because they’re old guys like me and loved them back when we were all kids.

The show started and things got very aggressive very fast. Not much of an intro – just straight into the songs. They played a lot of old stuff (they do have a ton of albums to choose from, so that’s not difficult), but they also played some stuff off their 2010 release “Empire”. These guys played REALLY straight forward, almost simple, tough-guy hardcore. IT isn’t meant to be impressive. It’s meant to get you feeling aggressive and want to punch people. I’m NOT kidding. It is very drum driven and the guitar and bass are secondary. The lyrics are generally about brotherhood and fighting for your boys and keeping your word. A lot of people don’t get this and just see the violence (which is pretty easy to spot, since people are punching, spin-kicking, and just running into crowds of people and punching wildly), but music was originally meat to evoke feelings and this follows that line of thought at its most core and basic sense.

I didn’t see any blood on the floor and the crowd seemed more subdued than previous crowds I’ve seen. But everyone seemed to know the words, even to the new songs which is always nice. The guys in the band still get the crowd going. Freddy, the singer has filled out, but isn’t fat. He’s just no longer a scrawny scrappy kid covered in tattoos. He’s done some jail time and has clearly been working out. He seems to have mellowed his stage presence over the years in that he was actually nice to the crowd and appreciative people were there, even if they weren’t on the floor punching the hell out of each other. Frankly, that was nice to hear him say. There were still kids jumping onto the stage to sing along, and jumping off the stage to take out as many people as they could, so that was as it should be and a welcome comfort.
This was one of the tightest shows I’ve seen them play. They’ve been doing this a long time, so you’d think they’d be tight, but this style of music, anything goes. The louder and harder, the better. The music is secondary to the message and emotion. You don’t have to play flawlessly to bring out the tough-guy in everyone in the crowd. That’s what you can always count on from these guys.

For my friends that missed the show, even though I had free tickets for them, you missed a fantastic show. I however, was filled with bacon and testosterone and will be listening to nothing but tough-guy music for the next couple of weeks. I don’t mind reliving my youth and being pissed off for a time. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about when I say tough-guy hardcore, see if you can find some youtube videos by these bands. Then you’ll understand better:

NJ Bloodline
Clubber Lang
Knuckle Dust
Sick Of It All
District 9
On a Warpath
Die…My Demon
Born From Pain
Cast Aside

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