We Went There: AmRep Bash 15 at Grumpys
“Nostalgia, as always, had wiped away bad memories and magnified the good ones. No one was safe from its onslaught,” Gabriel García Márquez.
The above quote popped out in an article I was reading post-Bash 15, the 2015 installment of the legendary party thrown by local label Amphetamine Reptile, or AmRep, at Grumpys in Minneapolis. Each installment of AmRep bashes have been a mix of old and new, usually anchored by an institutional act that gets top billing for the day. Bands like Boss Hog, Die Kreuzen, Mudhoney, Melvins, etc etc have filled this role in the past. This year, AmRep were able to dust off the legendary noise-punk weirdos Cows, with a slight twist (Hammerhead’s Paul Sanders filling in for guitarist Thor Eisentrager) constituting a switching of the s to a z, making Cowz for a one-time performance.
I had never seen Cows before, so I naturally wondered if it would live up to the billing, or would be a heady but disappointing trip laced with nostalgia. It was the former. The band sounded maniacal, with frontman Shannon Selberg yelping and prancing around stage like dog-eared court jester, holding the crowd in the palm of his hand (and, when he did his trademark handstand, the soles of his feet). Powering through a 60+ minute set of songs from throughout their frazzled discography, the band left no doubt that time has not diminished their songs, and age has not diminished their weirdo-savant spirit on bit.
Leading up to Cowz was a solid lineup that somehow was ahead of set times all night (which combined with other obligations caused me to miss Gay Witch Abortion & The Melvins). Hammerhead were as viscerally pummeling as any group all day, Run Westy Run felt subdued and lite compared with what came before and after, but seemed to be a popular set with the locals, and a really great, fun set by newish band Le Butcherettes, who seemed to get a good reception from the crowd in the prime right-before-Cowz set where the well-lubricated crowd was ready to rock.
The whole thing was a serious affair, with the merchandise-to-audience ratio one of the highest I’ve seen at a non-arena show. These weren’t just randoms passing through Grumpys, but people fired up and ready to soak in the raucous noise. The dedicated, passionate fans (mostly bearded, ball-capped and tattooed) were rewarded with much more than a nostalgic trip, but one of the best rock and roll shows this city will see this year. Bad memories were nowhere to be found, and the good was magnified, indeed. No matter who fills to the top slot, I’m already looking forward to the next trip down memory lane from the great folks at AmRep.