Polvo Still Owes Me Money

PolvoI received word that Polvo was reuniting in the form of a text message. Because, when God gave rock and roll to you, your fellow brethren utilize technology for such trivial things like announcing the reformation of one of the greatest unheralded guitar bands of the 1990s.

This kind of information is text worthy to some, particularly if you’re familiar with the band’s wonderful catalog of alternate-tuning explorations. For those that aren’t, and there’s a number of you who fall into this category, seek out Today’s Active Lifestyles or the double lp Exploded Drawing for some of the most satisfying guitar sonics ever to emerge from the 90s.

I jumped on during Lifestyles and it served as important highpoint when my previous guitar heroes, Sonic Youth, seemed to be aping the 120 Minutes crowd by reigning in the noodling in favor of the three minute rock tracks that filled out Goo and Dirty.

Polvo sounded like they listened to Bad Moon Rising after watching Five Deadly Venoms.

It’s important to explain that during this time (the mid-90s) I was floundering in a low paying job. It was the kind of job that paid so little that it forced me to evaluate every cd purchase, justify every concert expense, and monitor every dime that left my pocket. So when I spotted a club flyer that listed Polvo as a coming attraction, it seemed like a sound investment.

The problem was/is that Iowa is usually seen as a mid-week stop for lots of bands; while weekend gigs are secured for Minneapolis, Chicago, or St. Louis, Iowa is often saved for that impossible to attend weeknight gig that makes it hard to get up for work the next morning.

Polvo chose a weeknight to play in the Hawkeye state, which meant that I’d have to leave work immediately after my shift and that it would take a few hours of additional OT later in the week to pay for the beer and gas to go see them.

This was around the time of the band’s Celebrate The New Dark Age e.p. release, which meant that I was going to the show alone. Most of my friends in the area hadn’t even heard of Polvo, and none of them wanted to invest a weeknight to test the waters on material they weren’t familiar with.

The doors opened at 9:00pm, and I hoped that I wouldn’t have to wade through a lengthy set with some shitty opener.

But wade I did: the opening band was a quartet of barely legal and barely competent rockers who seemed to be aping some sort of No Wave dissonance with little regard for melody, structure, or empathy for the very thin crowd that had gathered.

When I say “very thin,” I’m talking probably in the neighborhood of three dozen patrons, some of which were the four members of Polvo loitering around the back by the soundboard, respectfully watching the openers struggle with rudimentary guitar chords, consistent tempos, and the general arrangements of their own material.

Before long, the band began to stop trying to impress anyone, turning the event into a mock rehearsal where they were free to explore even more unrehearsed nonsense and laugh at their own inside jokes. With that, some members of the crowd began to rightfully ignore the trainwreck on stage and start conversations with one another. The female drummer began a low-key song, one where her voice was barely audible due to shyness, experience, or just plain poor vocal technique. Even with the assistance of a substantial p.a., the rest of the band watched her struggle with this out-of-place number. Noticing that a few members of the crowd were now beginning to overpower the vocalist with their own casual conversations, the guitarist, a young man in his late teens, suddenly shot an angry look at the crowd and screamed “Shut up!”

For the rest of the performance, the band began to chastise the audience for being “rude” and disrespecting of their inherent right to perform their shitty music without distraction.

I had only started my second beer of the evening (remember: I had very little cash on hand and a fairly decent, late-night drive after the show), but I began sizing up the loudmouth guitar player, figuring that I could probably take him with little chance of physical damage to myself.

After counting to ten a few times, the openers finally ended their set, making it abundantly clear that they were not happy with the ambivalence they received from the audience. The drummer threw down her sticks in disgust and the guitarist muttered a quick “Fuck you” as the pre-recorded music began playing over the p.a.

The opening band for Polvo did not receive any applause for their performance.

There was the possibility that my spirits might be lifted with a decent performance by the headliner. I watched them load in and, having never actually seen a photograph of the band, I attempted to put faces to the names in the liner notes. I determined that the curious looking fellow was Ash Bowie.

The small crowd, now sensing that the prior shenanigans had ended, obediently moved towards the stage to get a better view of the main attraction. It was clear that the band was not inspired by the light turnout and they quickly began to run down their setlist, perhaps with the idea of making a quick exit to get a head start on the next gig.

Their routine of merely going through the motions bothered me a bit, but not as much as what happened next. After two songs, I began to hear heckling coming from behind me. It was the opening band, a few of them sporting bottles of beer, shouting at Polvo as they attempted to re-tune in between songs.

At first, I resisted the urge to confront them, but then suddenly became confused as they began to address the band by their names. Either this meant that they had studied the liner notes too, or that they actually knew the members of Polvo. The heckling continued after every song, with much of the targets falling on Bowie, identifying him as a “rock star” and “spoiled pretty boy.” Ash responded by calling the hecklers a “shitty punk rock band” and kicking into a nice rendition of their song “Thermal Treasure.”

It appeared that Polvo would be able to take care of them and, perhaps, assist in getting the offenders removed from the club so that those who were in attendance could enjoy the show.

By the next break in the action, the heckling started again and it became increasingly obvious that the two parties knew each other. The back and forth volleys between the two bands continued, turning the focus from actually performing songs into a comedy routine of personal attacks, inside jokes, and road weary tomfoolery.

My indignation now expanded to Polvo.

Rather than affirming my love, the band managed to not only provide a lackluster performance, they turned the entire show into day one of “the grudge I held against Polvo.” The two groups were still tossing insults at each other while I flipped the bird towards the stage to anyone who might notice and stormed out of the club, festering at the choices I had made that evening.

I vowed not to buy another Polvo record again.

I’ve been told that I can hold a grudge for a long time, occasionally for trivial reasons. As a matter of fact, there are still a few grudges that I have for which I can’t even remember the original incident. But understand that Polvo was such a good band that by the time that Exploded Drawing came out, I had conveniently forgotten about my aforementioned resentment and admitted that the record was pretty great. So much so that I even purchased the This Eclipse e.p. that I managed to avoid during my bitterness.

By their last album, Shapes, I even felt a tad sad that they decided to call it a day. It wasn’t until I received that text message about Polvo’s possible reunion plans that I started investigating the nightmare that was my only live experience with the band during their original run. Knowing that Mark Prindle was a bit of a Polvo freak, I started messaging him, asking for any help that he could provide in my quest to name the offending openers.

“Did they have a real obnoxious girl lead singer?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied excitedly, thinking that we may be on to something.

“No, it couldn’t have been them,” he responded, “they broke up around the time Lifestyles was released.”

Right when I was about to throw in the towel, Prindle had convinced me that the band may have been Picasso Trigger. Also hailing from the Chapel Hill area and fitting the bill of vaguely remembered band members, Picasso Trigger did release a few records on the Alias label, which may have meant they toured nationally to support one of them.

I located the former lead vocalist of Picasso Trigger, Kathy Pointdexter, on MySpace. Apparently, she’s still making music, this time in a more alt-country lineage, and her page did hint at a few acknowledgements of her former punk salad days.

I sent her a message asking if she remembered playing a gig with Polvo in Iowa sometime in the mid-90′. I contemplated how the confrontation would sound until I received a fairly quick response to my query: “Picasso Trigger never played in Iowa.”

I’ve given up on my campaign to locate and harass that long-forgotten opening band. After all, the real guilty people are the members of Polvo, right? I mean, doesn’t the headlining band, regardless of the venue, share some of the responsibility of trying to provide fans with a relatively decent show? And when they fail to provide it, or if they allow a bunch of retarded monkeys throw feces at the crowd, shouldn’t they at least offer an apology for said antics?

Well it’s too late for apologies, Polvo. I feel that since you’re probably getting paid a few grand for your upcoming reunion show at All Tomorrows Parties, you owe me some fucking money from that dreadful night.

The way I see it, your tab comes to around $22, but if you want to throw in a ticket to your show and a plane ticket to get there, I’d be happy to call it even and forgive you.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

MP3s: (courtesy of Touch & Go)

Polvo – “Feather of Forgiveness”

Polvo – “Enemy Insects”

Tour dates:

05/16/08 – Butlins Holiday Center, Minehead, United Kingdom

05/17/08 – Butlins Holiday Center, Minehead, United Kingdom

05/18/08 – Butlins Holiday Center, Minehead, United Kingdom

05/29/08 – Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, Spain

05/30/08 – Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, Spain

05/31/08 – Primavera Sound Festival, Barcelona, Spain

06/20/08 – Middle East, Cambridge, MA

06/21/08 – Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

06/22/08 – Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ

07/25/08 – Subterranean, Chicago, IL

07/26/08 – Wicker Park Festival, Chicago, IL

26 thoughts on “Polvo Still Owes Me Money”

  1. i sympathize for the bad show, but it’ll be great to see polvo back together again. it’ll be a bit surreal to see them playing a street festival in chicago (wicker park fest), but i guess that’s the route i’m going to take. i’ll just have to nudge my way through all the baby strollers and hipsters to get a decent view.

    definitley one of my fave long lost acts of the 90’s.

    great article, by the way!

  2. “Shit” is what they put in those KFC Bowls, Colonel. You tell your boys that they’re lucky I ain’t charging interest. Actually, it’s still the openers I have a hard-on for Vintage Violence for. A simple “Sorry, Todd” would do from Pulva. Update: there are rumblings that the openers in question may have been Erectus Monotone. If anyone has an opinion of that theory, or evidence of them acting like fucktards, please reply here.

  3. Hey Krissy..I just purchased The Collected Works Of Henry David Thoreau. Care to peruse them over a bottle of wine this weekend?

  4. Well Krissy my dear perhaps you shall your mind. If so I will be in the Borders parking lot tomorrow night (saturday)at 7. I will be driving a brown van with a large painting of a wizard on each side. I do hope you change your mind.

  5. Well Krissy my dear perhaps you shall change your mind. If so I will be in the Borders parking lot tomorrow night (saturday)at 7. I will be driving a brown van with a large painting of a wizard on each side. I do hope you change your mind.

  6. Colonel you were brilliant this morning…smoking your cigarettes and talking over coffee. Your philosophies on Art Baroque moved you

    You love Mozart and you spoke of your loved ones

    As I clumsily strummed my guita. You taught me of honest things… Things that were daring, things that were clean Things that knew what an honest dollar did mean

    So I hid my soiled hands behind my back. Thanks for a winderful weekend!

  7. Krissy I don’t think we should see each other anymore.

    I’m sorry. It’s not you it’s me.

  8. You took your coat off and stood in the rain

    You were always crazy like that

    I watched from my window

    Always felt I was outside looking in on you

    You were always the mysterious one with dark eyes and careless hair

    You were fashionably sensitive, but too cool to care

    Then you stood in my doorway, with nothing to say

    Besides some comment on the weather

    Well in case you failed to notice, in case you failed to see

    This is my heart bleeding before you, this is me down on my knees

    These foolish games are tearing me apart

    Your thoughtless words are breaking my heart

    You’re breaking my heart

    Excuse me, I think I’ve mistaken you for somebody else

    Somebody who gave a damn, somebody more like myself

    These foolish games are tearing me apart

    You’re tearing me, tearing me, tearing me apart

    Your thoughtless words are breaking my heart

    You’re breaking my heart

    You took off your coat and stood in the rain

    You were always crazy like that

  9. Please Colonel! I beg of you!

    Stab me with your hot tipped love arrow just once more in the back of your Wizard van.

  10. My Dear Krissy…

    Since our encounter I have developed an itchy rash on my mouth and private area.

    My dermatologist says it is consistent with a rare affliction she witnessed on a patient who had recently come to the United States from Africa. This individual had worked closely with monkees and apparently caught the rash from the primates.

    I know you told me you really love the zoo and spend a lot of time there. Please do not confirm the worst as to what I am thinking.

  11. Dear Colonel,

    You, my friend, are in a world of hurt. I’m sitting here on my favorite limb outside the “Winter Cage Village” (like that clever moniker makes us believe it’s anything more than a cell with a tire swing, right?) and surfing the web with my shorty Ms. Pickles, and I just realized that your Krissy is the same Krissy that’s been visiting us at the Primate House for the last two months.

    When I say that girl can put a banana in her mouth, I mean that girl can put a banana in her mouth! And I ain’t talking about bananas, ya feel me? Shit, she put the moves on Bobo, Triscuit, AND General Gorilla – and that motherf***er has been to Africa and Then some! Ms. Pickles (who is so kindly removing some gnats from my back as I type this) even got in a fight with her because Krissy was trying to steal Princess Diana II’s “rubbing stick” to do god-knows-what with.

    She is Bad News my friend. Get out while you can. Get out while all you have is an itchy rash. It may be too late already, but I pray you read this in time. If the itch… progresses, shall we sway, I can arrange a meeting for you with General Gorilla. Hopefully it won’t come to that.



  12. Yikes! I’m getting the wizard van completely fumigated first thing in the morning.

    On second thought I may just set fire to the sumbitch!


  13. Dude

    The whole point of puppetry is to make the Audience interact with your creation. Granted, It’s a nice show, but I don’t see anyone here being invested in it at all.

  14. Is it? Or is the point to put on whatever kind of show you want? Which brings us right back to the whole point of Todd’s piece: Should the artist be held accountable for a lousy performance? Should the artist care about the audience’s feelings at all? Is art personal or communicative? Or is it just entertainment?

    I think it’s quite clear that the “Colonel” has created a parallel experience to the performance that Todd was writing about. Brilliant, really.

  15. For you my sweet Colonel…..

    I hear the clock, it’s six a.m.

    I feel so far from where I’ve been

    I got my eggs and my pancakes too

    I got my maple syrup, everything but you.

    I break the yolks, make a smiley face

    I kinda like it in my brand new place

    I wipe the spots off the mirror

    Don’t leave the keys in the door

    Never put wet towels on the floor anymore’ cause

    Dreams last for so long

    even after you’re gone

    I know you love me

    And soon you will see

    You were meant for me

    And I was meant for you.

    I called my momma, she was out for a walk

    Consoled a cup of coffee but it didn’t wanna talk

    So I picked up a paper, it was more bad news

    More hearts being broken or people being used

    Put on my coat in the pouring rain

    I saw a movie it just wasn’t the same

    ‘Cause it was happy and I was sad

    It made me miss you oh so bad ’cause

    Dreams last for so long

    Even after you’re gone

    I know you love me

    And soon you will see

    You were meant for me

    And I was meant for you.

    I go about my business, I’m doin fine

    Besides what would I say if I had you on the line

    Same old story, not much to say

    Hearts are broken, everyday.

    I brush my teeth and put the cap back on

    I know you hate it when I leave the light on

    I pick a book up. Turn the sheets down.

    Take a deep breath and a good look around

    Put on my pjs and hop into bed

    I’m half alive but I feel mostly dead

    I try and tell myself it’ll be all right

    I just shouldn’t think anymore tonight ’cause

    Dreams last for so long

    Even after you’re gone

    I know you love me

    And soon I know you will see

    You were meant for me

    And I was meant for you

    Yeah…. You were meant for me and I was meant for you.

  16. Krissy makes me sick but after I get sick I just get sad.

    Because it burns being broke and it hurts to be heartbroken but always being both must be a drag.

    She’s been calling me again.

    She’s been calling me again.

    Krissy’s been calling me again.

    And I can’t stand all the things that she sticks into her skin.

    Like sharpened ballpoint pens.

    And steel guitar strings.

    She says it hurts.

    But it’s worth it.

    Tiny little text etched into her neck it said “jesus lived and died for all your sins.”

    She’s got blue black ink and it’s Scratched into her lower back.

    It said: “damn right i’ll rise again.” yeah, damn right you’ll rise again.

Leave a Reply