To lend some context, 1975 marked a year when Gerald Ford ruled our nation, “Wheel of Fortune” saw its network television debut and “The Godfather: Part II” practically swept the Oscars. But on a local front, 1975 marked the last time that treasured dive bar the CC Tap hosted live music. That is until last Friday and Saturday, when live music returned for the club's 80th anniversary celebration.
The CC Tap eventually re-actualized into the CC Club, becoming a fixture for musicians and the creative subculture, capturing the ethos of Uptown one jukebox track at a time. Despite an ever-changing neighborhood, ownership shifts and the passing of time, that ethos has been preserved within the CC's dim walls. And that was precisely what enhanced the magic of the club’s 80th birthday, marking a triumphant return to live music and a reassertion that the community surrounding the place is still pretty darn special.
Spoiler alert: The Replacements did not play and there was no Tom Arnold standup routine (though host Curtiss A gave him a run for his money).
Organizers/CC club employees Kim Laurent Lusk and Adeana Arnold were the only people with knowledge of the event’s 12-band lineup. On Friday evening as they excitedly held together a sheer curtain in front of the stage—protecting their proud secret for just another minute— the anticipation in the room was palpable. Once the curtain opened, a diverse array of musicians took the wheel, and took a beer-stained room of happy people on a joy ride.
Hardcore Crayons kicked things off fast and loud to a still-filling room with their assaulting, bizzaro blend of prog-rock and dub. Their skill was well-suited to the makeshift CC stage and it helped set a tone that was almost on par with a basement show (in the best possible way).
Sean Anonymous offered an early change of perspective as the only hip-hop act, proving that his vein of quick-lipped wisdom and rousing beats could not only coexist with traditional “rock” acts, but even dare them to take it up a notch. His animated display of “Seat’s Taken” had generations far removed from the young MC waving their hands in the air.
Personhurter, after warning the audience to “get ready for some soft rock,” ushered in an audio attack and, additionally, another fresh musical perspective. The local metal trio are technical and speed wizards on their instruments and incredible to watch. A highlight of their set included a death-growled “Happy Birthday” to the CC Club.
Pennyroyal astounded with an inspired cover of the Replacements “Achin’ to Be.” This group doesn’t get enough credit for their solid spin on understated ‘90s rock.
Red Daughters’ are without a doubt quintessential PBR-rock and their gritty riffs and classic demeanor fared unsurprisingly perfect in a place like the CC. It was clearly a night of fun for the boys, and that sentiment was definitely shared. Shirts may or may not have become unbuttoned.
After much speculation on the smoking patio and the suspense-building comic relief from a lovingly buzzed Curtiss A, the headliner of night No. 1 was presented: Tapes ’n Tapes. The popular indie band hasn’t played a show in a while, so, naturally, show-goers were thrilled, though also drunk enough not to care that the energy-level dropped following the intensity of Red Daughters.
Bethany Larson & the Bees Knees initiated night No. 2 with a starkly different presence than, well, anything else on the bill. Her mild-mannered demeanor eased the evening into gear. To be fair, it’s awesome that the CC sought to represent a singer-songwriter on the lineup. It marks deliberate effort for musical equity.
Gay Witch Abortion melted with a set that marked one of the highest points of the two nights. The experimental noise/rock/genre-bending duo captivated live, seemingly possessed by their twisted instruments. GWA performed “Escape From New York” through deranged, Carpenter-esque noise.
The esteemed Mighty Mofos win the award for most heart. The band fought through mild forehead injuries and barreled through a raucous set of covers and the most authentic CC Club nostalgia. The image of Billy Batson’s sweaty, blood-stained, nearly crazed face was one of the most memorable moments of the evening.
BNLX rock another Replacements cover with Ashley Ackerson singing lead in “I Don’t Know," channeling the effortless cool of the generation that song was born from. Even thought they are of the present, this performance felt the most nostalgic.
Buildings carried in a second taste of pure, unaltered rock-battery to pleasantly counteract the more tame performance preceding them
Nearing the end, some people were still hanging on to a shred of hope that Paul Westerberg was going to emerge from behind the stage. And, of course, that hope was 100 percent dashed. Sex Rays closed out the affair in a sleazy, surf-rock display that continued to gain energy, ultimately leading to a party onstage - complete with Curtiss A and Joe Hastings.
In the end, the CC has a lot to celebrate. For one, the event created loads of conversation and anticipation even with no promotion of the bands. But secondly, the greater victory that needs to be acknowledged is that it united musicians from many local music scenes in a way that this city doesn’t seek to do all that often. To see a band like Personhurter receive such deserved respect on a shared bill with Tapes ’n Tapes is both refreshing and a relief (hint: keep putting on live music)!