Kevin Seconds/Bucky Pope/Owen Mays; August 23, 2010; High Noon Saloon
Unlike everyone else in the High Noon tonight, I was never a 7 Seconds fan as a teenager. I didn’t go to all-ages afternoon punk rock shows (though I am pretty sure they didn’t exist in Tomah), and I didn’t even know the term “straight edge” until I read Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life. The first I ever heard of Kevin Seconds’ band was when they were name-checked by the Hold Steady on “Stay Positive.” This lack of prior knowledge was probably helpful tonight, because I wasn’t the least bit disappointed that Seconds is now a singer-songwriter. A few days earlier one of the High Noon bartenders who hates everything had pointed to the poster excitedly and asked if I was coming. “You know he’s a singer-songwriter now right?” I asked him. He shrugged, “I don’t care.” Tonight as he watched the show we asked if he liked it. “I’m here to support,” he replied. I’m guessing that means he didn’t like it.
On a Monday night support was a good thing to have. There weren’t a lot of people there, but they were an enthusiastic bunch and that made it feel like a much bigger crowd. And Seconds was easy to like, he was charming and witty and a little self-deprecating. His recent record Good Luck Buttons has some definite winners, but other tunes seemed out of place when I listened to it before the show. They did, that is, until he explained the song “No Good Eggs.” Apparently he used to dream of writing songs for Johnny Cash (an odd dream for a punk rocker, but a good one) and this was one of them. Once he put it in the frame of a Johnny and June duet, the slightly hokey song, which also features his wife on the record, made perfect sense. The punks and former punks had to be a little disappointed in the lack of band material in the set, but he admitted he didn’t think any of their songs could be done as acoustic songs. In fact, the only one he did was “Soul to Keep,” a song that Matt Skiba had covered on the split CD they did, because he had figured out how to do it first.
I liked that song and his shoulda been a hit “1981” enough to pick up that CD after the show. Now I need to find out who the heck Matt Skiba is, because on their disc his songs steal the show from Seconds, who still seems confused about being asked to do it. “There are people that could help you sell more CDs than me,” he told him.
The openers were, um, interesting. Owen Mays was fine, but he sang every song in a monotone, and not even loud enough or with the amusing banter necessary to make us pay attention. I hear Bucky Pope is a Madison institution, which apparently means you don’t have to practice for a gig. At the end of the first song a big smile stretched across his face. “That smile means I got through the song without fucking it up or forgetting the words,” he proudly proclaimed. I am pretty sure that was the last we saw of the smile. In fact, he seemed pretty oblivious to the fact that we were there at all. His cover of the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” sounded as if it were being performed by Daniel Johnston, which was strangely OK. In fact, that would describe his entire set. It was a train wreck, but it was an oddly entertaining one. I’ll take that over his Buzzcocks cover band B’dum B’dum any day.