Navigating drunk punks

Scribbled notes and mad music during the St. Paddy’s Day debauchery

A SMASHING PERFORMANCE <br>Rich Silva of Hit by a Semi goes off like a truckload of kerosene during St. Patrick’s Day festivities at Mr. Lucky

Rich Silva of Hit by a Semi goes off like a truckload of kerosene during St. Patrick’s Day festivities at Mr. Lucky

Photo by Miles C. Newell

Walking down Main Street at about 11:45a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, I found myself wondering just how many of the people shuffling from bar to bar were really celebrating some guy’s banishment of all the snakes out of Ireland back in an early century A.D., or how many of them even knew of the legend in the first place. My guess was not many.

My guess was that the holiday just got wrapped up in its own Guinness-soaked traditions long ago, and now the legend serves only as drunken diatribe fodder for old gents to complain to younger bar patrons in places like Duffy’s, where the Jameson’s flows like water and the sun barely pokes in through the windows to shed any light on otherwise obtuse ramblings.

Armed with only my wits, I found myself at Mr. Lucky just in time to catch the tail end of an acoustic set from Union of the Dead. Upon hazy glance it was just Cliff strumming his acoustic Ovation guitar and singing along Eric Clapton-style unplugged. But after a bit, lead guitarist Gerardo joined him and lent a helping hand on rhythm and harmony. There was much rejoicing and pint glass raising, and before you knew it the set was done and Hit by a Semi took over.

Regarding the strange rumors going around about how punk rock is bad music played badly by people with no talent, I can say with conviction that these rumblings are sorely untrue. Hit by a Semi vocalist Rich Silva is keeping the fun in punk rock, and (with his Semi crew) he rocked the Lucky crowd with drunken aplomb. The Harmless Cherries lent a hand during one song and were a “riot grrl” spectacle, providing the right amount of estrogen to keep things from taking on too much of a testosterone-tainted vibe.

Not to ruin a good thing, I hung around Lucky long enough to hear the Inverted 9s round out the block of punk with their take on the genre. Chris on vocals is a bit more shrew-sounding than the danceable, lyrical stylings of Hit by a Semi’s Silva, but at no time did the voice of the 9s slouch from his duties by going for the quiet approach. No power ballads here. The 9s rocked and at around mid afternoon were well on their way to beer-drenched St. Paddy’s Day bliss.

At this point I left the darkened confines of Mr. Lucky and steered my rudder through the brutal and unrelenting sunlight toward The Bear to see what they were offering in the way of music and cold drinks. Out on the packed patio area, Griswold was throwing down their funk infusion flavor of rock. It was the first time I’d caught Griswold in a long while, and it sounded like they’d been ironing all the wrinkles in an already super-tight group reminiscent of a less-reggae Sprung Monkey or a younger Incubus. The venue on the patio was a great change from seeing so many indoor shows lately, what with winter just loosening its hold and spring bringing blooms to the flora around Chico. Can’t wait to see what summer brings to The Bear.

The “noon to 6pm” section of my memory banks was filed in some reach of my brain beyond any recollection capacity and only returned the message “404 NOT FOUND” upon attempts to retrieve. But luckily, thanks to a handy page of notes stuffed into the back pocket of my shorts, I can say someone inhabiting my body did go to The Negatives performance back at Mr. Lucky. Notes include a quote from Bryan their singer dedicating the song “Whiskey and Women” to Chico because “this town has so much fucking, we’re moving.”

The note card also indicates that the band, also of the punk genre (go figure), has a Smut Peddlers, sawdust feel and that there weren’t as many patrons in attendance as earlier in the day but that the few who hung around were troupers and held the torch aloft in the early-evening lull.

A few hours later, however, the streets were once again filled with green-wearing revelers in varying degrees of abandon. I made my way down a dark and quiet Third Street to find out if the fabled show of improv hip-hoppers Luke Sick and Sacred Hoop was really happening in a living room party. Lo and behold, only a couple blocks from downtown I found a small house bumping with beats as a DJ spun the ones-and-twos and Sick and his sweaty bros broke down the rhymes, house party style. I caught only a few numbers from the energetic Hoop before retreating to the relative safety of the downtown streets to partake in more of Chico’s Dionysian excesses.