Wednesday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Mechanik, Calling All Destroyers, and Goldstar at the Intersection 5/8/2002

Going to a show in my town of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on a Wednesday night is a little like joining Fight Club. You recognize almost everybody from past nights like these, but you wouldn’t ever think of talking to them on the street, even if you knew their name, and somehow it’s understood that the feeling is mutual. You might get punched in the face, but there’s also the possibility that a semi-stranger will press a plastic cup into your hand and pour you a beer or two from his lukewarm pitcher, unasked, unanswered.

The Intersection smelled of blood and sweaty cardboard this week when I caught the triple bill of Mechanik, Calling All Destroyers and Goldstar. Mechanik took the stage dressed like a negative universe version of Ultraman, complete with black helmet, plastic faceplate, and blinking led vest.  His solo set sounded like a combination of Queen space opera soundtrack and Space Invaders (both the game and the early eighties novelty record).  Synth runs were punctuated by various electronic noises and raygun sounds; his keyboard case was painted like the side graphic of the Defender arcade game.

Calling All Destroyers had less of a stated theme, but they were definitely more in your face about it.  Lead singer Mark Hendershot took the stage trussed up in a regulation straightjacket and spent most of the first couple of songs struggling to get it undone, rolling around on the stage and knocking over mike stands, and at one point rolling right off the stage entirely.  Once free, he attempted to light his shirt on fire, lit off several firecrackers in his hand, curled up on the floor with a pillow and blanket while yelling “Don’t look at me!” He incinerated a plastic troll doll with a butane torch (which added a noxious chemical smell to an atmosphere already reeking of dry ice and cigarette smoke), and as a part of the finale, tore open his pillow with his teeth and scattered the contents in front of a fan.  Normally this kind of activity might be hard for a band to keep up with, or encourage the type of punk rock sloppiness you have to be wasted to enjoy (or play), but the rest of the Destroyers musically fufill the promise of this manic mayhem.  They’re tight and fast. And as Mark puts it, “It looks like we’re really fucking up here, but we’re not.”

One might consider this a hard act to follow, especially if you’re allergic to goose down or the smell of burning troll doll, but once the feathers were swept off the stage, Goldstar willingly took up the challenge.  We’re old friends, this band and I.  They’re the last of the Leppotone bands, and while a discussion of this history is a little outside the scope of this article, the band springs from a long tradition of great bands. They’re supposed to be a prog rock band, but I’m afraid that definition falls slightly short of what they’re capable of.  Once they warmed up, I banished any thought I had of quietly sneaking out and getting enough sleep to remain conscious at work the next day.  By the time they were wrapping up with “Kingdom of the Ants,” Nathan was playing faster than a toddler on pixie stix, Karl was playing standing up on his piano stool, and Scott’s drumsticks were a blur. Jason was nodding his head to the beat of his bass, but then, that’s what he’s always done. As the lights came up, the only people left in the place were the members of Calling All Destroyers and me. That’s how hardcore it was.

Mechanik and Goldstar both have recordings available on Scratch and Sniff Recordings (including Goldstar’s excellent Live at WIDR). You can maybe get more info on Calling All Destroyers by mailing this guy.

14 thoughts on “Wednesday Night’s Alright for Fighting”

  1. I saw Mechanik a couple years ago. I was shocked and amazed, and that doesn’t happen very often with local bands.I still haven’t heard Goldstar yet. I’m sure they rock though.Calling All Destroyers just sounds scary to me. Do they sound anything like early-nineties King Tammy?

  2. Sounds like a fascinating evening. I wish I could say I’ve seen Mechanik – the guy’s a friend of mine – but I haven’t gotten around to seeing a show in GR in years. Goldstar sounds awesome – I’m glad those guys are still cranking out the hits.I guess I should check the lineups next time I’m in town.

  3. Calling all Destroyers sounds almost nothing like King Tammy. The only reason that guy isn’t scary is because I’ve had many beers at Founder’s with him. He really does look like he’s going to hurt himself though, and the last show I caught he spent most of his time yelling at the audience and almost climbing up into the drop ceiling. These antics caused a couple of westside G.R. fe-mullets to pick a fight with his girlfriend, though whether they wanted him for themselves or were offended by his frontal exposure is lost on me. Goldstar’s Live at WIDR sounds more like a studio album than live goofiness at a college radio station. Well worth the five bucks I paid for it, and it comes packaged like a 45rpm record.

  4. Glad to see there are still good show in Bland Rapids from time to time. The fact that I’ve spent far too many nights at the Intersection makes the imagery all that more vivid.

  5. There are still a few good shows, but I swear that “Intersection” is an still anagram for “Never Again” for most of these bands. And while it’s no longer the only place to play in g-rap, there are none that spring to mind where you could expect any crowd on a Wednesday.

  6. Goldstar is one of the best things in West Michigan right now. Joy, pure, unadulterated joy comes through in their performances.As far as other venues, I heard the Pop Cafe is pretty cool. They booked the Owls recently. The Owls are a very powerful, very eccentric band that likes to take a lot of left turns throughout the song (and song titles).

  7. Wow, you’ve heard good things about the Pop Cafe? Maybe I went on an off night but when I was there it was a $5 cover with free coffee advertised. There was one pot of coffee for the entire crowd and no way to obtain any other type of beverage. No sound board, terrible acoustics. It’s the former backstage area of the intersection and I thought it was miserable. Although, it was fun to sneak back there and drink with bands back in the day.

  8. Hey Prop, when and where could I catch a lively folk/jam-band? I hear you’re down with that scene. I’d like to hear some dead covers and hang out in my birkinstocks. Maybe even hit on girls with armpit hair down to their knees. Any ideas?

  9. Well, if you’re interested in an alternative habitat, I’d like to invite you to my commune this weekend. We live in perfect harmony out at Peaceful Communal People Acres (AKA PCP Acres). At PCP Acres we accept you for who you are, even if that involves your slothlike body covered in mustard. We listen to mind-expanding music and read books of peace and love. Your comment about hitting on girls concerns me. At PCP Acres, you must first be accepted into the bosom of one of our followers of Gaia, then you shall know love.

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