How many hungry, hungover dirtbags does it take to fill the Entry? At STNNNG's 4th Annual Lunch Show, First Ave staff was determined to find out. The 2005 Picked to Click winners and their friends in Signal to Trust, both local exemplars of the fine AmRep/Dischord/Touch & Go tradition, celebrated the release of new CDs, STNNNG's Fake Fake and Signal to Trust's Golden Armour. The promise of sloppy joes and fierce, abstract, punishing punk rock was enough to get a sizable line's worth of kids up at the crack of noon, waiting outside on a blustery Saturday. When the doors opened, the queue snaked around the inside of the club to a bar where the potluck was stacked; the cheese plate didn't stand a chance.
The surprise of the morning was pigfuck godfathers Shellac, in town for a later show, turning up early to give the ears of Minneapolis that extra measure of tinnitus. Steve Albini exuded genial misanthropy with his banter as much as with the music, ribbing Signal to Trust for being "Canadian" on the basis of their name, and praising everything about Minneapolis back in the day, particularly the "magnificently slutty women. Seriously, you couldn't drag your dick through the gutter without getting at least three or four bites." Bassist Bob Weston interrupted the winding rumination about road life with, "you're kind of being an underground Garrison Keillor."
It was hard not to think of the two local bands as elaborating on the sound Shellac pioneered: circular riffs that either snap off abruptly or threaten to never end, an un-bluesy pummel heavy on the extremes of chunky bass and stinging guitar treble, with songs that don't resolve so much as fearlessly forge ahead. STNNNG were focused and frantic, while Signal to Trust were more wide open, given to ringing Daydream Nation-isms and adding a trumpet now and again.
Left hungry for an encore, the audience grazed on the remains of the cold cuts. Back out in the hard November daylight, I spotted the perfect summary image: In the load-in area on First, there was a lonely-looking sausage, dropped in the gutter.
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