These photos below taken by the awesome Kevin D. Hartnell. check out more of his stuff at HERE
Well, it all happened. After three intense months of strategy, coordination, and preparation (mental, physical, & musical), the Sluggo reunion finally happened. And from our perspective at least, it was nothing short of AMAZING.
I think I can safely speak for the entire band when I say that we are all still reeling from the whole experience. Everything came together so perfectly that night that we can hardly believe it.
The crowd that showed up for the 2010 Jockey Club reunion was truly inspiring. So many old friends came out of the woodwork, not only from all over Cincinnati, but the country as well. Friends from San Francisco, Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and elsewhere. We felt so much love in the room, it was impossible to not give everything we had in return. A few people told me Sluggo was the first band they ever saw at The Jockey Club. A kid in his late 20s told me had bought our "Contradiction" EP when he was thirteen and he had been waiting fifteen years to see us. There was even a handful of young kids who knew the words to the old songs. It was so fucking cool. We want to thank all of you for making this reunion one of the most epic nights on stage that any of us can remember.
It's hard for me to convey just how much this gig meant to all of us. What started out as almost a lark back in August, grew to mythic proportions in just a few short months. None of us really anticipated how wonderful it would be to get back together after all these years and play Sluggo songs. As friends. As musicians. As former hardcore disciples now (sort of) grown up. We had so much fun just reconnecting with each other, let alone the music, we hardly wanted it all to end.
And yet, for these past three months, there was this Nov 20 date looming in all of our minds. We only had ONE hour. ONE shot to get it right. Every song had to be perfect. Every note. Every change up. Everything. And the Tshirts had to be awesome. And the banner had to be big enough. And we needed enough stickers. And to make matters worse, Ben Cruz & I had committed to filming the event and professionally recording it on a 24 track hard disk. So it was no longer just a gig. It was the ONLY gig. And it was the gig that would be preserved on film and on tape, for all eternity. I think it damn near consumed some of us.
As the day finally approached, I kept saying to the other guys "I just want this shit to happen, already!" I really did. We were incredibly eager to relieve this weight, and just get out there and see if we could deliver at the level we had convinced ourselves was possible. A Jockey Club Reunion means a lot to us. The JC was our home, and is fused within our DNA forever. Performing for the JC crowd is an honor that we all took very seriously, and we were eager to prove ourselves to the hometown crowd, not to mention all the friends and family in attendance.
When it finally came time to hit the stage, we all understood it was now or never. These past three months had lead us to this point. Now, we just had to fucking bring it home.
My own performance aside, as the lead singer, I can say with full confidence that the Sluggo rhythm section really delivered the best Sluggo set I ever heard. The band was just incredibly tight and ferocious. When all players jumped in at full speed, the sound and fury was undeniable. And the thunderous stops on a dime were so precise, I was just awe struck. I heard the same reaction from so many people afterwards. Richard Hell, who flew in from New York, kept asking me "How on earth did those guys get so tight in just a few weeks?". Praise from Caesar, indeed.
Chris Donnelly had worked tirelessly for months to craft the perfect set. The right Sluggo songs. The right covers. In the right order. At the right speed. We all followed his lead. Eric Moreton was just a fucking beast on drums. He pulled so many little fills and accents out of his bag of tricks that very night, it was if he had just been toying with us during rehearsals. Tom Byrne played possum for weeks as well, then came out all guns blazing the night of the show (I knew he was gonna pull that shit). Karl Meyer was at his precision best, pouring molasses all over the chunky guitar riffs to create that Sluggo crunchiness that we had all come to expect. Peter Aaron rounded out the latter half of the set with his signature wild abandon and classic, teeth-grinding stance that just screams rock n roll. As for myself, I hadn't been on stage singing in front of a crowd in 25 years. I was insanely nervous up until the very moment we walked on stage. Once up there, I just decided to cast off my fears, get lost in the moment, and play the gig like it was my last night on earth. And it felt like the crowd was really with us, which just made it easy. We walked off stage just entranced. All of us agreed, it simply could not have gone better.
Again, I cannot thank you guys enough. The crowd at the Southgate that night really made it all worth it. Just a perfect storm of awesomeness from all sides.
On top of all that, all of the bands that played that night delivered a great show.
Uncle Dave Lewis kicked things off with the Wolverton Brothers backing him up. Dave hadn't changed a bit. I'm glad to report he's still the provocative oddball he always was, and his music sounds as original now as it did 30 years ago. He's one of Cincinnati's true mavericks. I was trying to get up the courage to confess to him that Chris D & I used to prank call him when we were 14. We had seen some skit of his on his public access show that involved him begging for money on the street, and we would call him up and whisper in to the phone "can I get a quarter for a cheese sandwich?". The Wolverton Brothers were in fine form, and it was great talking to Tim Schwallie, who I hadn't seen in years.
The Speed Hickeys hit the stage next, and really impressed the hell out of everybody. Rick Hickey is one mean mother fucking guitarist. And he makes it look so effortless too! It'd been a long time since I had seen a three piece get up and deliver that great of a show, and I didn't even know one song. Everyone in Sluggo was raving about them.
SS-20 brought it all home with a great set of classics and new material. All of us in Sluggo were so fucking high from the adrenaline rush of the show, we couldn't even understand how Chris could manage to play yet another blazing hardcore set 30 minutes later. But blaze he did. Jughead was thankfully the same old Jughead, and was as kind and gracious to me as ever. He really took Sluggo under his wing from the very beginning, and made us little punk-ass kids feel welcome in that dark, seedy club in Newport filled with freaks and weirdos twice our age. It was great to see him still out there giving them hell. The die hard fans were loving it.
Overall, it was a perfect night. All of us in Sluggo want to sincerely thank Chuck & Betsy from Aurore Press for including us in this year's Jockey Club Reunion. We had more fun than anyone can imagine.
The Sluggo documentary is well underway. Just a few more interviews and we get in to editing. I'll keep you posted on the progress in the coming months.