Machine Gun Blues, Ghost Buffalo, Mr. Pacman, the Nicotine Fits Saturday, August 9, 2008 Bluebird Theater
The skies opened up early Friday evening, shattering the recent heat wave and bringing down what can only be described as a shit-ton of rain, flooding many of the lower streets around the city. It was the type of storm that stops you short, leaves you gawking and, if we were to clumsily make some allusion here, it was a lot like a Machine Gun Blues show: blindingly intense, occasionally awe-inspiring and every once in awhile, fucking terrifying.
The storm seemed to keep many people inside, preventing the Bluebird from being the sell-out that it should have been for the five-piece’s final gig, but a who’s who of Denver’s current musical pillars were there to cheer on a band that has dropped jaws around the city -- and country – since 2003 with its ragged, boozy blues and chaotic live performances. Put it this way: I’ve seen Machine Gun Blues perform plenty of times, and, unable to make a recent show, I texted front man Aaron Collins: “Have a good show man. Rock out with your cock…in?”
Nudity, blood, sweat and whiskey have become staples of crew’s stage repertoire.
The Nicotine Fits got the night going and the Colorado Springs act rocked with everything it had for the thirty to forty nodding, appreciative heads. The band’s intensity should have put it later on the bill, as its sound would have provided the perfect John Stockton to Machine Gun’s Karl Malone, but the kids wrapped early allowing Mr. Pacman and the always-solid-yet-not-perfectly-suited-for-this-bill Ghost Buffalo to finish up opening duties.
Then it was Machine Gun’s turn.
When asked if he was excited for the show, I had overheard bassist Jermaine Smith remark, “I need five beers and two shots, and then I’ll be excited.” By the time the group took the stage, it seemed like the whole band might have been a beer and a shot short of the fire. Collins took a turn playing guitar with the boys (rather than just singing) and the show seemed to jog out of the gates, not sprint.
Within a few minutes, however, the members of MGB found whatever it was they were looking for, and the show raged to typically glorious and chaotic heights: a suddenly pink-underweared simulating giving his bassist a blow job, writhing on the floor with lead guitarist Josh Mac Terry and falling off the stage into pit below like a kamikaze. The only real indicator that this was MGB’s last show and not just another in a slew of impressive performances, was the self-loathing, which seemed ratcheted up.
“We’re such a shitty band,” Collins told the audience.
“All the bands on this bill are better than us,” he offered next.
And, my personal favorite, commenting on the non-sold-out show, “We wanted to do this here, instead of the Larimer Lounge, to accentuate how many people hate local music.”
Maybe the comment was tongue-in-cheek, maybe it wasn’t -- the guys have certainly garnered a loyal following around town. But it was a fitting fuck-you from a band that has always said fuck you, and the crowd seemed to eat it up. There was whiskey-spitting and flailing, rides on the shoulders of audience members, detritus hurled through the air and that undeniable nihilistic joy that MGB brings. The band did not disappoint.
At the schwag booth, MGB gave away all of its remaining wares, including copies of their new disk, I Hate the MGB.
It’s a fitting final message. Because god bless ‘em, they fucking hate you too. -- Adam Cayton-Holland