I wasn’t sure.
However, in April 2019, while driving home from a lacklustre show in Peterborough, Ontario, I was positive I did not want to step on a stage again. By stage, I meant a floor face-to-face with an audience. It wasn’t that I don’t like performing or the hardcore few that come out to support Chachi On Acid. I do. I love you. We all have other responsibilities, and it did not feel worth driving far for the few. We’re something else. I get it. We don’t appeal to the masses; I am cool with that. I’ve inspired people who have surpassed my achievements, and I can live with that. I’m not much for achievements anyways. I only toot the award-winning journalist horn because I would like to not worry about paying my bills one day. Many of you can relate to that in our current economic situation.
I love seeing live music, whether a small punk rock show or a symphony. I love the music I love and get irritable ear syndrome when I am subjected to music that does not move me. Modern pop music is so bland that it goes in one ear and out my urethra. What happened to hooks?
I have travelled almost 5,000 kilometres to see concerts. Not festivals, but small concerts in small venues.
I have travelled thousands of kilometres to play shows, to enthusiastic audiences and empty rooms. I did not know whether I wanted to do that anymore.
Then COVID-19 hit the planet with its world tour, and it was the only show in town. Music was stopped in its tracks except for people attempting Livestream concerts or intimate solo sessions from their homes. I was a bigger fan of the private sessions than the concerts because I love the audience interaction at a show.
That loss of connection between performers and the audience due to the pandemic was another reason I was sure that 2019 was a good year to put Chachi On Acid to rest. Close sweaty audience interaction is key to a good rock n roll show for me, even if I think stage divers and crowd surfers suck.
Work with other people in the studio had fizzled out by around 2016 or 2017. I am trying to remember precisely when the acapella Chumbawamba cover was completed. Heidi and I were visiting Studio A in Kitchener for a side project that was not meant to be. By 2020 that song seemed relevant, so we released it because it looked like a rising tide of nazi rhetoric was hitting the world hard. It was released as Chachi On Acid because we thought it would get more hits than a side project no one has ever heard of. We were correct. It quickly became the most listened-to and shared song Chachi On Acid has released.
Is that saying much? I think so.
As concerts have returned as an option, I have taken my camera out and documented the enthusiasm denial unleashed. Enthusiastic fans have been rushing back to see live entertainment. Should we be mingling so eagerly? I don’t know. But it’s tough to deny the urges. Humans are social beasts.
I was sure.
What the hell? Why not stomp back up on a stage? We jumped at the opportunity when Hooch Parkins and his fellow Matadors invited us to play a Halloween event at Palasad Social Bowl in London. We even rehearsed for it, although it may not have looked like it. Sometimes stage monitors confuse some Chachi On Acid members, and the last person they will ever let know that a particular instrument needs to be louder is the sound man. Even though there are monitors at many punk gigs, there is no actual sound engineer to tell, so we deal with the issues. Palasad was different. Hell, it even has an actual stage. The blame is on us for not speaking up.
It was a Halloween show, so what better costume for a band than grieving the halcyon days of a scene’s former glory? Not to say there is no current glory, but we reached back to 1995 or 1996 when the Agoraphobic Record Syndicate and Speed City Radio converged. We travelled back and came forward to the present, killing the heart and soul of the mid-90s London Ontario punk scene, our dear friend Michael Todd. We didn’t skimp. We started with a eulogy, and some people got the joke. Others, well, the humour wasn’t appreciated by everyone.
Shortly after we left the stage, The Dead Souls exhumed the spirit of Ian Kevin Curtis and the members of New Order with a set shimmering with Joy Division. The hypnotic tones and faint fog drifting through the air overpowered the humour of the Napoleon Dynamite meets Lucha Libre of the Halloween garb the band members wore so that the Manchester melancholy of the songs dully shone through. The depressive atmosphere successfully achieved a “these guys do Joy Division so well I could just top meself.” Well done. If these guys had channelled The Smiths, there might have been trouble.
The suave psychobilly, horrorbilly, rockabilly (whatever label you want to stick on them) terror that is The Matadors finished the night with a set of greatest hits comprised of beautifully crisp horror-tinged delight. These cats can play dammit!
These musical maestros took control of the stage with stage support from at least one satanic minion, I’m sure Hooch has more on the payroll or perhaps locked in a cellar at home; these aging ruffians were overflowing with almost 30 years of material that kept the crowd dancing in the blessed spirit of Samhain. Well, damn near Samhain, anyways. Hooch promised a new album to celebrate that 30-year benchmark, so keep your eyes and ears ready for that tasty sonic morsel.
Speaking of new material, that was my takeaway at the end of this whole experience of hopping back onto a stage. If it’s going to happen again, it needs to be freshened up. I will be 50 soon enough, and Chachi On Acid is over 30 years old. Many of the songs we perform were written in my early 20s. I don’t mind that, but I know I am a much better writer now, and my taste in music is much broader. I have met so many talented musicians over the years that I wonder what collaborations could enrich new material. Why not push the envelope and let the cookies crumble where they may?
If we’re going to do it, let’s not just keep rehashing the Beaver Room, fun as it was.
I am sure.
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