Once again back from the wilds of (extremely regional) touring, let's talk Twin Cities. St. Paul, to be specific...
Back in 1998, I had some friends who were SUPER excited because a band called No Knife were going to play at the Concert Cafe, up in Green Bay, where all the good shows were. I'd never heard of 'em, but a good show is a good show, so I was as excited as anyone. Come the Monday of the show, No Knife did a stellar job (I still think Fire in the City of Automatons is a classic record) but I was more taken with the openers.
Two guys, two gals, scrappy punk rockers, but BETTER. There was something wistful about some of their songs, chords and melody lines that seemed kinda...I still can't really place it. New wave-ish, maybe? Everybody sang, there were harmonies, all sorts of call-and-response stuff, but most importantly, GREAT SONGS. Selby Tigers.
Nathan, the guitarist, had been in a band called Arm. His wife, Arzu, was the other guitarist, and had been in a band called Lefty Lucy with Nicole and Dave, the rhythm section. This was, I believe, their first tour. Nate sang the rock anthems in a clear, high voice. Nicole had a rough-and-tumble punk thing going. Arzu could switch from a sweet, almost babydoll sound to an Ari Up shriek. And Dave would chime in everywhere. They played a song called "d-Day" that night, which I never saw them do again, and I remember Arzu doing a clockwork robot dance in the intro.
We chatted a bit that night, I got a copy of their EP for WRST, as I tried to do with every good band back then. Also, back then, I used to go home on a pretty regular basis. I made the three-hour drive back to La Crosse, said hi to Mom, and checked in with the Warehouse to see what was going on that weekend.
The Warehouse was the only game in town, then as now, for those under 21. I saw some pretty incredible shows there (Poster Children, Melvins, Savage Aural Hotbed, et cetera) inbetween all the MPLS industrial has-beens that could still draw a pretty good crowd. Lo and behold, playing there on Friday night was the same No Knife/Selby Tigers bill. So I headed on down.
I got there ridiculously early, for some reason. Ran into Dave outside, he was hanging out with his brother. We went across the street to the Bodega Brew Pub. I was all of nineteen, but had my long hair and beard, and they didn't look twice at me. I didn't have a drink, though. Went back and said hello to everyone, and I recall hanging out on the sidewalk with Arzu and Nicole. I'd brought my portable reel-to-reel recorder (I think this was the same weekend I recorded the steam organ that would later appear on the first Hifi demo) and when they got onstage, I hit record. That tape deck, Dave's brother, the soundguy and I were the only ones to witness the debut of "Cutting School," which would lead off their second EP.
It's not too far from St. Paul to anywhere in Wisconsin, and the Tigers would make the trip often. I saw them every time they played in the state. Nicole quit, to be replaced by Dave Gardner, a well-known, respected, and kickass musician and engineer. They signed to Hopeless Records in 2000, and their songs started to lean more towards straight punk. They were damn good, always, but I felt like something had gotten lost from those early records. Same thing happened with another Twin Cities band, the Soviettes...
I guess by the end it got pretty bad. Nathan and Arzu got divorced, and I heard stories about them all showing up at their last show in separate cars. Not that I knew they'd broken up. In 2003, everything didn't shoot instantly across the internet like it does these days. We never did get to play with Selby Tigers, but we did a show with Arzu's next band, So Fox.
Nathan and Dave G are in a band called the Dynamiters. I've missed them twice now, but I hope to see them soon. Arzu's been in a ton of different bands, most recently she's formed a band called Pink Mink with our pals Christy and Charles from Ouija Radio. Dave the drummer moved to Japan, and was playing with Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her for a while. I don't think he is anymore, though.
Their two Hopeless albums are still in print, so you won't find those here. This is everything else, though:
-their first EP, Year of the Tigers
-their second EP, South Then West
-the "Sidewalk" 7"
-the pre-second album 7" with "Tell it to the Judge" and "Snoball"
-"Pomona" from a four-band split single
-"World Without Charm" from one o' them Hopelessly Devoted to You comps
And three, count 'em THREE, live shows:
-the aforementioned show in La Crosse, WI at the Warehouse
-a wonderful basement show in Madison
-the last time I saw them, returning to the Concert Cafe, blowing Bratmobile and the Donnas solidly off the stage. Ears open for a shout-out to me at the beginning of "Snoball"...
A stellar band full of stellar people, that meant a lot to me. Hopefully you'll dig them, too.
The whole shebang.