Tuesday, November 15, 2011


You didn't ask for it, but you got it anyway: the obligatory post-bonanza writeup of the bands events party etc that were the Norton Records 25th Anniversary Ball. They didn't call it ball but it was a ball. It was such a ball that I came home ill and had to stay home from work hawking phlegm balls. Oooh I said ball/s again. Ball.

As a prelude to all this, let me tell you that the Meat Puppets passed through Ann Arbor again on Wednesday November 9, the day before I took off for New York. They're great people and they always stop at WCBN when they come through and everyone gets on the pest list. I went to bed around 3am and had to get up to go the next morning at 7am.

Never travel anywhere with me because my bad luck will fuck you up. We were supposed to leave at 10:25am and yet, I didn't land at LaGuardia until 4pm. My plan to take a nap before the Norton Ball commenced was thwarted. I got to the Bell House in time for the Norton Records house band, the Nortones. They played covers of songs like Link Wray's "Jack the Ripper" and the Ramones' "Judy is a Punk" and the Rivieras' "California Sun." They were wearing matching white cardigans with red "N"s stuck onto the right breasts. I said breasts. Given what we've come to expect from Norton Records (you know what I mean!) I was surprised that the Nortones were pretty tight but also little stiff, as if they had rehearsed quite a bit and were nervous. I'd be nervous too if I were kicking off a four-day Norton Ball. I was expecting something sloppier, but by the third night they had relaxed and were closer to what I was expecting. I like sloppy.

Up next was Dex Romweber and his sister Sara in the Dex Romweber Duo. She is some kind of drummer! I saw them once before, on a night in Detroit where there were three great things all happening in one night so we were like "ooooooooocheckoutdexromweberooooooocheckouttheseotherbandsnotimetothinkjustgogogogo" so maybe I forgot to notice that she could really play the shit out of the drums, not just your standard perfectly passable garage drummer but like Bruce Brand or something. At this point I finally stopped thinking I should've taken a nap and skipped the first couple bands. Dex Romweber is great.

After Dex it was the Phantom Surfers. I think Russell Quan used to play drums but this night he was the singer. All good instrumental bands need a singer. He did a really good job conducting with his back to the audience, waving drumsticks and dropping papers on the stage. At a certain point he started doing jumping jacks. He also climbed up on a flimsy folding chair and then fell off it and even though that was probably deliberate, it was still hilarious.

Following up after the Phantom Surfers were the Alarm Clocks. Their single "No Reason to Complain" is obligatory proto-punk fare and appears on countless 1960s garage comps everywhere. Norton put out a record or two recently by the recently reunited revitalized band. The Alarm Clocks are on my "probably should but don't give a shit" list. I spent this 45 minutes mostly looking through the Norton records at the merch table. Sorry, Billy & Miriam, if I drooled on any of them.

The Hentchmen were booked at this shindig, for Saturday night. It was nice to see familiar faces so I talked to Johnny Hentch for a few minutes and met the closest thing I have to a counterpart at WFMU, the inimitable Terre T of the Cherry Blossom Clinic.

It occurs to me I haven't mentioned emcee Kim Fowley yet. I don't remember specifically any of the things he said but I believe his main role was to horrify and offend (and thus delight) the audience. Mission accomplished! He is a depraved old man who was funny but also offensive. He asked one woman to shout the worst word she knew into the mic. Of course she said "cunt!" Someone in the audience yelled "Kim Fowley!" Cunt's not such a bad word, though.

Finally, the's were cute and coordinated and everyone loved them and after that it was the Black Lips, a last-minute-addition to the bill to make up for the last-minute-cancellation of the Gaye Blades. I'm a little embarrassed to admit I had never seen the Black Lips- in spite of multiple opportunities, including one where they played with Quintron, I've just never made it in to Detroit to see them. So they were young and punk and sloppy and unshaven and they made out with each other, maybe to shock people or maybe to demonstrate their love for each other, I'm not sure. At this point though because of the previous late night and the all-day trip to LaGuardia I was kind of crashing so I left before they were done. I'm old so I can do that now.

This was only the first day. Let's post this now, how about that, and add in the other days one at a time. I know you are on the edges of your seatses.

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