I was fortunate to be in Boston with an old friend (Lord, did he look old)last night, someone that I went to both high school and college with. Of the many halcyon memories that we sifted through, we did an extensive deconstruction of all of the concerts we went to back in the day, not only the big arena shows (Danny's Fun Fact: I was almost killed coming home from the Monsters of Rock--Metallica, Van Hagar, Scorpions, Dokken, Kingdom Come. I was sitting in the shotgun seat and woke up just in time to scream at the driver, who had fallen asleep and was in the process of drifting over three lanes of traffic towards the concrete barrier. After narrowly avoiding a deadly collision, he asked me how I managed to wake up just in time, and I told him that I had a dream where the ghost of Cliff Burton was yelling at me to wake up and get out of his dream. We pulled over and pounded a six pack of Jolt cola immediately after) but also club shows and the local stuff we saw while at UConn.
I asked him if he'd ever seen Avant Garde when he was there, and I was disappointed when he said he hadn't. Avant Garde looked like a hair metal band, all spandex and hairspray, and lyrically they could stray into hair metal territory with songs like "Never Forgot" and "Standing in the Paris Rain",which are songs about being all sensitive with girls. Musically, though, I thought they had more in common with bands like Fates Warning or Metallica than Poison--the song "Renaissance" off the demo tape in particular has a great twin guitar riffs and some wicked drumming.
They were five kids from the high school that bordered UConn, and I thought they were great. I heard them play two or three times, and ended up buying a tape they were hawking at the shows. Here it is:
I thought they had real promise. The songs were original and catchy. They cleary spent some time crafting both their songs and their presentation, but they also seemed to have a sense of humor and fun about what they were doing. There's a partial song on the tape called "Free Fall" that they sang as "Tree Frog" during one of their sets, which they and their fans, myself among them, thought was pretty hilarious. I remember being particularly impressed by their drummer, a tall red headed guy who set up his kit in this weird vertical way. I think he played at the front of the stage with his back to the audience, so that everyone could see what a titanic skin basher he was.
I think I saw them twice, and would have gone to see them again but they stopped playing locally. I heard a rumor that they'd all gone to L.A. to seek their fortune. I looked forward to them maybe getting signed and producing a whole album, but instead I never heard of them again until about a year ago.
I kept the tape, though. It was one of the few that I kept after my Great Cassette Purge of 1995. I listened to it quite a bit, and was smart enough to make a copy so as not to degrade the original, and I've since burned the songs to mp3 and have them on my iPod. And, ha ha! You'll never get them! And they're awesome! Ha ha ha ha!
Sorry. A year or so ago I read somewhere that one of the Avant Garde guys--the guy I actually bought the tape from--was Rivers Cuomo of Weezer fame. This kind of broke my brain for a bit, mainly because Rivers is now one of the least metal-y looking guys in rock, and also because I'm huge Weezer fan. I have most of their music on vinyl, which I mention to quell any doubts about how hardcore a fan I am. "In the Garage" off the blue album could practically be my biography.
My old friend (I was just kidding about him looking old, that was just me being bitter about him having retained more of his hair than I did--he showed me the bag he keeps it in) now works at Harvard, where Rivers graduated from not that long ago. Isn't that cool? Why do we say "small world" when the tiny moments of synchronicity like this actually expand the realm of possibility?
One of the other things that my friend and I talked about is some of the ways kids will differ from our generation (X) as time passes. X'ers use Internet tools like Facebook, etc. to track down a small percentage of friends we regret losing touch with. Contrast this with the youth of today, who have grown up attached at the e-hip with everyone they've ever gone to school with since the age of seven. Instead of tracking down forgotten chums and teen sweethearts, y'all will spend the rest of your lives trying to cyber-ditch all those people who just won't go away. I feel bad for you, too, because ditching is a lot harder than finding.
Sorry, kids, but history will prove me right on that one.
In the meantime, Weezer have a new album. You should get it