Editor's note: Yes, this review is a bit late. Fault me for that; I had the copy and didn't post it because I'm a dillweed. Don't let it dissuade you from reading Rick's solid prose on a good night at Gooski's!
Halfway to the show on July 2, I swerved my car to the opposing empty lane of traffic (like a character in some Michael Bay flick) and ventured back home to change clothes. You see, I realized my wardrobe gaffe: a cheap green t-shirt with the name of the very bar housing the night's show embedded on the back. Donning a dive bar's t-shirt while drinking at that actual bar ranks in embarrassment with sporting a red shirt with a yellow star while dining in a local Vietnamese restaurant (the waitress gave me weird looks). Later I realized the ridiculousness of my worries: I was driving to Gooski's --probably the last place in Pittsburgh where people care what you're wearing.
I arrived with a fresh shirt to the smoke-filled bar shortly after eleven. The empty stage signaled a late start, so a 24-ounce PBR was ordered. I carried my beer (needing both hands) past the jukebox playing _______ ________ (insert random post-punk band here) towards the air-conditioned empty back room to wait for show time.
The first pleasant surprise of the evening: Paul Quattrone (!!!, Modey Lemon), as locals Holy Daze had to unfortunately cancel last-minute. He was armed with a disheveled vintage drum kit and a box of electronics for his 88 Sex Biz solo project. Five minutes of distorted samples introduced the set, but electronic rhythms soon crept into the mix. A cymbal crash gave way to a driving drum groove that gradually disjointed more and more. What made his set extra special wasn't the technical proficiency (which was impressive) but instead how his jigsaw puzzle of acoustic drums and glitchy electronics linked together to create what sounded like one unfaltering instrument. His multi-tasking skills put any other band-named-who's-after some Ice-T-lyrics to shame.
Next were two Columbus bands. Half feedback monster, half party band, The Unholy Two thrive in their home turf: the dive bars of America. As if trapped in the dark basement and released maybe 20 minutes a night to wreak destruction on others' eardrums, they unleashed an entertaining noise rock bender. Drummer Bo Davis kept things cemented and steady while Adam Smith cranked Suicide-esque keyboard lines on guitar. Singer/screamer/confrontationist Chris Lutzko abandoned his guitar and his crooked stacked amplifiers to strangle and throw his mic stand for most of the set. Fans of Amphetamine Reptile Records bands pay attention …The Unholy Two's set was finished before we knew it, but they still may lurk in the depths of Gooski's basement.
It was soon nearing a tired one o'clock. Luckily I stuck around for Cheater Slicks. Three of the oldest gentlemen in the bar, their dirty garage-cum-punk rock dates back to 1987. My inability to differentiate between their new and old songs didn't matter, because the overloaded guitar buzzing was easy (and fun) to digest. Tom Shannon and Dana Hatch's raw vocals added hints of melody to the repetitious basic guitar riffs and jolted me awake (or was that the second 24-ounce PBR?). Instead of retrieving a new shirt from home I should've grabbed my earplugs, because the show was LOUD. At the same time, nothing gives you that pseudo-satisfying next-day ear ringing like a short night of messy, noisy punk at Gooski’s.