Thursday, June 24, 2004

Of all bands, I think Budgie come closest to embodying the DiffMusic spirit—eccentric, neglected, and downright heavy as they were. Amassing their catalogue was one of the most enjoyable record collecting quests I've ever embarked on. They made me work for each LP, but not too hard...and the music on every album made the effort well worth it. There's no "sell out" album, no half-assed change of direction that embittered me on first hearing. They did it right, stayed true, and I (along with thousands of other fans) salute them for it.

So I feel damn lucky to have been at the Brickyard last night to see the Pete Boot All-Stars. Pete Boot was Budgie's drummer on their best-selling album, 1974's brilliant In For the Kill. In the decades since, he's been cursed with Parkinson's disease and is now raising funds to fight it via his "Fill Your Head With Rock" campaign.

The gig started with Hooded Fang, a heavy trio with solid (if not stunning) musicianship and better-than-average songs. Good stuff; I wouldn't mind catching them again sometime.

During the break, a tall, balding gentleman set up a double-kick drum kit on stage. Could this be Mr. Boot? Yes. A few minutes later, he and the band (two guitarists—from local bands Sir Hedgehog and STREETS—playing Tony Bourge's parts, and a bass-playing Burke Shelley substitute courtesy of The Feminists) started to play "In For the Kill," which went into "Breadfan"! I've been to some unfathomable gigs in my time, but this one was quickly taking the cake.

Between songs, "Burke" explained that Mr. Boot had heard about some local gigs that had been organized in aid of his charity, and was in town to check things out for himself. Bearing in mind that the band couldn't have had much time to rehearse, the results were quite good. Budgie songs aren't exactly verse-chorus-verse constructions, but the players had obviously done their homework and got most of the change-ups right. And Pete's affliction didn't stop him from giving the kit a good thwacking.

From there they tackled "Hammer and Tongs," "Parents," and "Zoom Club," with a couple covers thrown in: "White Room" and "Moby Dick," closing out the show with a drum solo. At the end, Pete got out from behind the drums, took the mike, and said his bit for World Peace.

Ten Miles Wide, a cranky-sounding sludge trio, played last. Their crabby songs and delivery contrasted with some between-song jocularity. Were the band really as anti-social as they sounded? Their set was about the right length, filling my head with enough rock to tide me over for at least a couple days.

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