Shortly after receiving a zero-guard scalping courtesy of Spirit Gun's vocalist and axe-wielder Pete Overstreet, I was invited to join my backyard barber, his mom, her next door neighbors and his girlfriend for a friendly game of cornhole. I've jokingly referred to the pastime as "the national sport of Chesapeake." This unofficial motto came into existence via my two previous experiences throwing bags at Big Woody's and the Thornton Estate -- both of which are located in different parts of said city. Leaving behind the nest of gray hair that resembled a pile of bird feathers, we walked over to the makeshift battlefield. All participants took their practice tosses prior to learning the makeup of the teams. I drew Pete's beau Marjorie as a partner, while Mr. Clipperhands aligned with the gentleman keeper of the boards. My past squads had enjoyed a number of successes fortified by a fair amount of ringers and stickers. Unfortunately, we weren't able to rely on nostalgia as an all-star in 2015. I've purposely forgotten our exact embarrassment, but the final tally was somewhere in the nether regions of 21-3. Since I can only recall contributing one measly point, I'll go ahead and assign the other two checked bags to Marjorie. Her assistance would've been greatly appreciated in the follow-up singles tilt involving me and "Mrs. Ringer." Compared to this contest, my aim had been akin to champion bowler and horseshoe pitcher Walter Ray Williams, Jr. in the earlier doubles competition. Succinctly put: I GOT SHELLACKED! In what has to rank as the nadir of my athletic history, the highly skilled opponent achieved legal drinking age before I was even born to take a sip from an Evenflo bottle. The 21-0 pasting should've been the nail in the coffin of my cornhole career, but I promised to return for another round with the reaper very soon. Marjorie's hearse was ready to transport my deadened confidence to an appropriate marker in Norfolk, so I bid adieu to Chesapeake and shut my eyes while traveling to the awaiting tomb.
Despite having to weave around a thick stream of birthday-wishing revelers, carrying several pieces of The Cemetery Boys' gear into FM Restaurant's chambers was a less arduous task than negotiating the corn-filled sacks I'd palmed just hours earlier. As the party-pooped began filing out, Edgar Von Graves (vocals/bass) and his son Lurch (drums) were busy positioning their instruments and stage props. This gave me ample time to discuss local music news with an old bud who was sipping fruity beverages at the bar. My friend soon vanished into the miasma of Granby Street gatherers, thus he missed TCB's opening howls. Donning skeletal masks and hooded jackets, the macabre-minded duo bluntly attacked thick slices from their self-titled slab. "Nitemare Queen," "Styrofoam Gravestones" and "At Midnite" melded the B-movie topicality of White Zombie with the boss riffage of Fu Manchu. The latter description would seem rather curious, since a standard guitar didn't even play the role of an extra in this Saturday screening. EVG's mighty tones were concocted via the use of a distortion pedal, thin bass strings and a powerful amplifier. Horror-stoner rock? That's certainly not as frightening as other loaded genre tags. The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" and Gary Numan's "Cars" were covered with fresh dirt from TCB's rusty shovels and served as final flashbacks to the decade of Freddy Krueger and Freddy from "Silver Spoons." Remember when Menudo performed that song at Ricky Stratton's spacious house? Perhaps EVG and Lurch can exhume the tune from the boy- band graveyard and expose its fractured larynx. On second thought, just skewer "Karma Chameleon" and call it quits for the evening.
As Spirit Gun were polishing the dust off their ammunition, I noticed one of the band's "super fans" seated on a stool near the entrance. It was my completely unnecessary duty to shield the individual from being spotted by the gentlemen on FM's slightly elevated platform. The hidden one provided very useful commentary throughout SG's stage time. Per his or her generous observations, I'm able to present the following recap. "New Eyes" blinked like a reflective Robin Zander being backed by Nirvana's rhythm section. Overstreet's soulful pipes on "Love Is A Hard Thing To Find" smoked with the smooth tobacco flavor of his main man Otis. Whereas the raw jangle on the studio take of "Occum's Razor" shaved in strokes redolent of a Flying Nun Records A-side from 1981, the live blade removed stubborn hairs like a cheap Bic on Dan Haggerty's wooly face minus the Barbasol. "The Status Quo Must Go" reshaped the squares in a call-to-arms clarion worthy of Bad Brains and Henry Rollins' recitation of MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" on the soundtrack to "Pump Up The Volume." Jacob McCormick's drum solo in the middle of a Spanish-flavored "Gypsy In Exile" garnered an extra helping of applause for its technicality and would've equally made the come-hither kittens at Jack Rabbit Slim's purr with delight. "Independent Movie Song" and "Cold Shoulder" leaned heavily upon bassist Ben Gugler's solid foundation with respective showcases of Police- inflected reggae rock and "Soul Train"- era funk grooves. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "U.S. Government" was the sole non-original in Spirit Gun's crosshairs. It's rumored that a certain '80s tribute act in Tidewater will play all night long for a single shot of Michelob Ultra.
Pete and I left in the DeLorean for a late-night craving of cheese fries and chocolate shakes at Denny's. Thankfully, the topics of bowling and its crazy cousin cornhole were never broached.