Burgie Brigade Redux
In Chico, there are those for whom the band name “Dog Killer” will undoubtedly conjure visceral feelings of trauma, loathing and horror. And there are those for whom Dog Killer conjures warm and blurry memories of rebellious adolescent inebriation. And as long as we’re stating the obvious, we may as well acknowledge that there are those for whom the song title “Burgie Brigade” does not induce feelings of pleasantly genteel nostalgia.
But for a certain subset of Chico music lovers—a subset large enough to fill Duffy’s Tavern to near-overflowing—the chance to see Chico’s first homegrown punk band, Dog Killer, reunited and performing live on stage for the first time in close to 20 years was enough to bring us out in force on a Sunday evening.
Back in the day—the mid-1980s—Dog Killer was commonly found doing shows in the back yards and living rooms of houses that naive parents had left in the care of their high-school-aged offspring, or, more rarely, on stage at Melody Hall, the Other Theatre or the rock ‘n’ roll church on 12th Street. There were always a lot of teenagers drinking Black Label and puffing on clove cigarettes on the porch or in the shadows. At some point, the constabulary would inevitably arrive and make everyone disperse without actually arresting anyone. Being the first one to shout, “The cops are here,” became a sort of parlor game, as did disappearing from the scene of the debacle without having to actually converse with said cops.
So Culture Vulture was pretty stoked when our pal Dog Killer bassist Derek Tupper e-mailed to tell us that the band would be doing a never-again reunion at Duffy’s on the 18th. Word spread fast, and on the appointed evening, Duffy’s was packed to capacity with people anxious and happy to see this infamous band together again for the last time.
It was kind of weird to see the Heavy Dirt Crew, aka the skate-rats, amiably approaching their 40s. Nice to see Geoff “the Beast” Earl, former singer of Porcelain God and calendar editor of this paper, sporting a distinguished gray goatee.
And great to see the band members themselves: Howard Hall Morey on lead vocals, Dave “12 Pack” Sorenson on drums, the aforementioned Derek Tupper on bass and sonic mastermind Chris Ross shredding guitar. Any tiny skepticism evaporated as soon as the boys kicked into gear.
With only two days to rehearse songs they hadn’t played since 1989, Dog Killer delivered what may have been their best set ever. And these weren’t easy songs. “You Can’t Eat Marx” may be short, but it rips along at a searing, hardcore pace. “Clove Monger” alternates spacious heavy guitar rock with even harder hardcore, with Morey’s intricately constructed lyrics perfectly syncopated to Twelver’s frenetic drums. And Morey’s vocal and lyrical showcase—the brilliantly poignant and hilariously sarcastic “No More Tomorrows"—which quotes Jimmy Webb’s “MacArthur Park” in an absolutely genius punk rock context—may be one of the best songs to ever come out of Chico.
You don’t even have to trust my judgment. Just go to www.myspace.com/dogkillerchico and find out for yourself.