When it's cold outside, you thank your deity of choice for a place like the 7th St. Entry. The intimate little room is the perfect place to warm up to the person next to you, discover a new favorite band, or, in the case of Thursday night, catch up with an old one.
Before Tommy Stinson's revamped Bash & Pop project took the stage, Brooklyn’s So So Glos put forth their best effort to whip the private-party crowd into a respectable Minnesota-on-a-work-night frenzy. They played with abandon and without pretension during the playful opening set. The night belonged to co-founding Replacement member Tommy Stinson & Co., though.
Opening with “Fast and Hard” -- from 1993's Friday Night is Killing Me -- was sort of a mission statement from the get-go. The band stumbled a little due to an out-of-tune guitar, but the titular message was there and the crowd responded. Hell, there was even a little pushing and shoving up front. It was glorious to behold.
This was a rock show. Were there bum notes? Yup. Strange stories from the stage? Well, yes. Bashing and popping from a band that knows how to bring it? Come on.
The crowd was treated to a mix of songs that drew heavily from 1993’s stone-cold classic Friday Night is Killing Me, the soon-to-be released B&P follow-up, Anything Could Happen, and Tommy’s solo album, 2011's One Man Mutiny.
Mr. Stinson dedicated a new song to his uncle, Tom, who apparently played guitar with surf-rock legend Dick Dale. Tommy rattled off all the Toms in his family tree, and quipped, “There’s a whole lot of Tommys going ‘round here."
As usual at a Tommy Stinson show, the smirking energy was as infectious as the rock 'n' roll was genuine.
Current single “On the Rocks" chugged along at that perfect tempo that feels like an old friend is coming to visit. Tommy wasn’t too proud to restart another Anything Could Happen track, “Bad News," when it wasn’t up to his standards. Solo track “Don’t Deserve You” stomped all over the Entry’s stage. Tommy started it on guitar, stopped the action, and prompted the drummer to open the song with a beat instead.
“Who said the M-F word?! Come on, there is family here!" Stinson admonished before dropping some F-bombs of his own.
These are quintessential Tommy Moments™.
Bash & Pop returned to Friday Night is Killing Me for a rolling and tumbling version of “He Means It," before launching into the acoustic portion of the night.
“Nothing," also from 1993, was just as yearning and plaintive as you remembered it, 2011’s “Zero to Stupid” was acerbic and on point, and returning to the '90s, Tommy simply broke hearts with “Tiny Pieces."
To the delight of everyone, he started playing “Nothing” again, before cutting it off and asking, “Did we do that one already?”
Tommy Moments™, people.
Worth mentioning: Stinson’s vocals sounded halting and a little lost at times. When you have rock and roll flowing through your veins instead of blood, as Tommy does, you wear the warts with pride every night, every time.
Also worth mentioning: By the time Bash & Pop got to their next single, “Anything Could Happen," they were delivering fully committed, weaponized rock 'n' roll. “Unfuck You” should be on everyone’s “Best Song Title of 2017” list, and the band steamrolled the crowd with it. The people up front left the Entry with a few broken ribs. Pretty sure.
Tommy took an unscientific poll of the audience, asking who was having a good time. Everyone raised their hand, but he wasn’t satisfied:
“Who thinks we suck? I’m looking at you, I know you’re out there”.
After the exchange, it was fitting to finish off the set with One Man Mutiny’s “It’s a Drag,” with its refrain of, “It’s a drag, they’re always bitching / It’s a drag when they are done / It’s a drag when no one’s having fun."
Had Bash & Pop not encored, it would have been strangely appropriate. But the band eventually came back with more from Friday Night is Killing Me.
During “First Steps," everyone was treated to weird Stinson family facts. Who knew about his aunt moving to Chicago? “Never Aim to Please” might not have been striving for it, but the audience was, well, pleased. That album’s title track will be taught in high schools 500 years from now, and the crowd learned it well last night.
Tommy gave a final “Tiny Steps” redux, ending the encore as it began.
Long overdue Tommy Moments™ -- brought to you by the man himself and Bash & Pop.
Critic’s bias: I saw B&P the first time around in the mid ‘90s in the Entry. This is roughly the 23-year reunion.
The crowd: Aging rocksters with $75 to spend on a Thursday night, and bless ‘em all for it!
Overheard in the crowd: Who is this [referring to openers, So So Glos]? Snow Globe? Soul Glow?
Random notebook dump: I’m glad Tommy won the war of attrition with his microphone stand.