Abstinence, French Quarter, Tacocat, and Forever at YOBS, 6-27-11

Abstinence, French Quarter, Tacocat, and Forever
YOBS in Tempe
Monday, June 27

The cops who patrol the Farmer neighborhood handing out noise violations can rest a little easier at their posts. Last night, YOBS, a.k.a. Ye Olde Bike Saviours, a.k.a. Tempe's noisiest punk rock house venue/art space/zine, record, CD and cassette tape factory, hosted its last concert ever.

Fittingly, it was sweltering in the place, the summer standard at the D.I.Y. /B.Y.O.B. house, and while the event was short on weepy, nostalgic testimonials to the house's importance to the outsider-art/punk/indie-culture it fostered, it was clear that the the place has had an undeniable impact on those who have lived and played there since the co-op's opening in 2006.

"Raise your hand if you've ever had sex at YOBS," Stephen Steinbrink of French Quarter commanded during the band's set. Two hands popped up, including that of bassist Preston Bryant, but regardless of the fact that not everyone in attendance had done the deed at YOBS, it was clear that most in attendance felt at home enough to at least consider doing so.

I complained slightly in my review of Sunday night's Peter Case gig at The Rhythm Room that I had been attending a lot of sit down, mellow affairs, and that I "really needed to get back out to a rock show." Don't get me wrong, I love sitting down and contemplating music, but there's something to be said for a sweltering dance party, with too-loud guitars and drums and vocalists who can't hear themselves. The YOBS show did the trick.

Abstinence, featuring Jackie of The Pods and Preston of French Quarter, opened the night with a set of brash, deconstructed rock 'n' roll. The band traded off on vocals, and covered The Silver Apples' "You and I," which twitched and spazzed with intensity.

French Quarter, a band that has played many a YOBS show, showcased material from the band's forthcoming new full length, the latest in a long run of CD-Rs, tapes, and records. Recorded at Dub Narcotic (known for its association with Olympia label K Records), the new songs sounded completely formed. Though Steinbrink has recorded solo as French Quarter, drummer Chase Kamp and Bryant on bass made the new songs feel whole. Kamp's effortless fills and expressive snare work locked in step with Bryant's slightly over-driven bass tone, while Steinbrink cooed and coaxed open-tuned melodies from his amp. "Got Ideas," from the new record, was particularly great, a dubby, deep mover with R&B roots. The band closed with a haunted take on Nirvana's "Dumb," ending with a long, winding guitar jam.

Seattle's Tacocat followed, packing the room full of gyrating, sweaty bodies for their set of bubblegum punk. Listing The Wipers, Fleetwood Mac, Screeching Weasel, and ODB as musical inspirations on their Facebook page, there was practically no way I wouldn't love the band. Singer Emily Noches banged a tambourine and shouted lyrics about urinary tract infections and Tonya Harding. "Volcano," a song about "smoking weed from a volcano," got the crowd moving, with ice cubes being tossed out at the crowd by YOBS resident Allison Karow in an effort to help everyone cool off. Bonus points for guitarist Eric Randull's awesome Ramones Pleasant Dreams tattoo.

Portland's Forever ended the night, thanking YOBS and the people there. The band's harmonies were a little off and drowned out a little by the clanging guitars and thumping drums, but the set wasn't short on exuberant energy, with droning guitars buzzing underneath strident post-punk vocals. Singer Sheana Corbridge asked if the crowd could see drummer Joel Lopez's balls, and Lopez apologized "in advance if they pop out." Stripped down to just a tiny pair of running shorts, Lopez had the right idea. I was dripping sweat as the band plowed through "A Thousand Times," but the crowd was into it, dancing and singing along. Not wanting Courtney Love to go unrepresented after French Quarter's Nirvana cover, the band closed with a feverish cover of Hole's "Violet," with Corbridge screaming "Take everything, I want you to."

Forever hold the distinction of being the last band to play YOBS, a great example of one of the functions the venue has served: bringing independent music to Tempe, offering admission based on donation, providing a place to talk, drink from paper sacked tallboys, and hear music.

Gerald Biggs of YOBS posted some of the questions and answers from the Jackalope Ranch post Benjamin Leatherman wrote yesterday about YOBS closing on his Facebook shortly before the show kicked off. While somewhat critical of New Times, Biggs' last statement bears repeating. When asked "what sort of impact will YOBS closing have on the community," Biggs responded:

"Hopefully, YOBS closing will have no impact. We hope that people will move beyond us, and create more queer-friendly safe spaces for the community. We hope that they are more successful than us too. The worst things a community can do, is depend on a leader to do things for them, which they won't do for themselves. We trust in the potential of people here to accomplish many amazing things."

I'll let that speak for itself.

Critic's Notebook

Last Night:
Abstinence, French Quarter, Taco Cat and Forever at YOBS

The Crowd: A teeming, sweaty mass of punks, rockers, art students, indie rockers, thrift shop-clad gals and guys.

Overheard: Via a buddy who snatched this morsel of conversation in the back yard: "My motto used to be live fast, die young, but now it's live fast, drink young. 'Cause when you stop drinking, you're old."

Random Notebook Dump:

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.