The Dickies/The Bottle Babies @ Bandito's Burrito Lounge, Richmond, VA (12/16/2014)

The shortest distance between two points is a crooked lie.

Per driving directions on MapQuest, the quickest route from my favorite Starbucks spot on Main Street in Suffolk, VA, to our Richmond target was 1 hour and 35 minutes away. For many years, I've told numerous folks that Peanut City is at least half-an-hour closer to the state capital than the travel ticker from Norfolk and Virginia Beach. I mentioned this "fact" to Hoyt while cruising in a Lincoln along Pruden Blvd. "Well, at least there's ONE advantage of living in Western Tidewater," I arrogantly boasted amidst the soothing warmth of heated seats and the sonic blast of The Zeros' "Don't Push Me Around" on a high-wattage sound system. 

Let's advance the calendar one month later. I still haven't started on this review. In need of an angle for the first paragraph, I returned to MapQuest and used the Starbucks on Colley Ave. in Ghent as a starting line. Guess how much time was added to the original trip? ONE MINUTE!!! It would take me longer than sixty seconds to hand Tessa a fiver for a pre-made beverage and organic peanut butter cups. As I shamefully bury my head in coffee grounds, I can now confidently make the following declaration: Richmond is roughly ninety minutes from anywhere in the Tidewater area. Any further geographical points shall be referred to Mr. Thomas French, who was a teacher extraordinaire at Churchland High School in Portsmouth during the 1986-87 purgatory otherwise known as "9th grade." My favorite moment in the class had to be his creative pronunciation of an obscure African nation: "DAY-JAH-BOOTY!"

Back to 2014, Hoyt and I arrived at Bandito's shortly after 9:30 p.m. I was certain that we'd missed the majority of The Bottle Babies' opening slot, but most of the members were busy finishing off their pre-show dinners and drinks. With the last bites of Mexican rice consumed, "Norfolk's Finest" called the initial audible on turf they'd traversed almost a year ago. Like any Bill Walsh-directed offense from the 49ers' dynasty days, TBB scripted their first fifteen plays. "High Class Low Life" unleashed a requisite Dead Boys-esque attack coupled with a hard-rock stiff-arm reminiscent of Acca Dacca. "Do You Wanna" spiked Stiv Bators' Gatorade with the potent flask of The Humpers' seediest moments on SFTRI. "Crying All The Time" and "Heartbreak And Pain" were reflective "ballads" that ran like old game film from guitarist Eric Thornton's former team (The Villains). "Jump On Board" stomped on would-be bandwagon jumpers with occasional Rotten-ish snarls. Vocalist Todd Owens tore the playbook to shreds via "Ain't No Punk." The pre-song spiel revealed a casual rejection to the genre during his formative years (he preferred artists like The Cure and Oingo Boingo), but Todd gave props to The Dickies as an exception to the early rule. To reinforce that point, The Cars' "You're All I've Got Tonight" reinvented itself from a New Wave classic to a contemporary TBB rocker. On the subject of cover tunes, a committee composed of Candace Andrews, Laurel Lynn Rochford and I will soon nominate Michael Jackson songs for The Bottle Babies to reinterpret. Before Todd and Eric tell me to "Beat It," I want to flash a universal "Thumbs up!" signal for winning over many in the nonpartisan crowd. That's how you handle your business on the road.

Formed in 1977, Los Angeles legends The Dickies are widely considered to be an even zanier version of the Ramones. Their Great Dictations compilation offers tracks from their two 1979 albums (The Incredible Shrinking Dickies and Dawn of the Dickies) as well as period singles. I first heard the punk-packed collection about twenty years ago after rescuing a cassette copy from Camelot Music's 39- cent tape bin. As an introductory platter, I'd rank it alongside the building blocks that lay the foundation for the Ramones Mania lesson plan. Naturally, Hoyt and I enthusiastically spun the plastic circle along the Bandito's trail. We predicted The Dickies would commence the festivities with "Gigantor" and blow out the Christmas candle via "Silent Night."

Uh, I put the ugly seasonal sweater on backwards. Singer Leonard Graves Phillips donned a Santa cap and belted the holiday classic in THAT voice longtime fans have found most suitable for caroling. Stan Lee, the other O.G. representative, strummed the silly strings on an especially Johnny Ramone- flavored "Give It Back." "Fan Mail" addressed the oft-shaky relationship between the accomplished and their admirers. For a modern example of this query, watch the scene in "The Fault In Our Stars" where Hazel Grace visits her favorite author at his residence carpeted by unopened letters. "Nights In White Satin" trimmed the fat on a supposed "classic" and considerably lightened the shade of its blue mood. Of course, The Dickies have forever owned the definitive take of "Paranoid" and possibly had a 6.66% effect on Ozzy being fired from Black Sabbath. (Question: Did the original tune somewhat influence the structure of the Dead Boys' "Ain't Nothing To Do"? Hell if I know...) "Manny, Moe & Jack" tipped the oil-stained Mopar cap towards Pep Boys' "Big Three." "You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)" pounded its chest with the excitable news of a new exhibit at Norfolk Zoo. (Question #2: Was there a huge gorilla statue outside of a business located on Bonney Rd. in Virginia Beach circa 1994?) A humorous and sensible rant on how the "Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle" began with The Monkees continued the primate talk and prefaced an extremely disfigured version of "She." "Curb Job" was a story about a dog and his bone, but I cite it here for only one reason: Hoyt's parallel-parking display earlier that evening. Not since Denise's miraculous maneuvering in the 1987 masterpiece "Summer School" had I witnessed such skill with a steering wheel and transmission! "Waterslide" furnished a scuba mask and snorkel to prevent any drowning in a sudden undertow of salsa. The aforementioned "Gigantor" was so large, there wasn't any room for an encore. No matter. The Dickies on a Tuesday night in Richmond for free? I'd say that's a bit more filling than my usual appetizers.

There is a 1981 German bootleg of Jethro Tull containing a take of "Thick As A Brick" that lasts 1 hour and 35 minutes. During the same year, The Dickies messed around with the song at a practice session and were finished after 1 minute and 35 seconds.



Gunther 8544

Give me 20 days to write something for Hardcore Norfolk, and I'll piss away 19 of 'em.  Which is why my career caps on the site hover around 30 instead of 300.  Nonetheless, I am occasionally inspired by talented folks who call the Tidewater area home.  Believe it or not, glowing marks have been awarded to individuals unbeknownst to me.  My mathematician side would like to construct an NCAA March Madness-like bracket representing the 64 greatest bands in our region's history.  Perhaps Debra, Paul and I will assemble in a conference room somewhere in Suffolk and bring the draw sheet to life.  


The Bottle Babies