I’m sure we’ve all been to Springwater at least once—maybe to catch a kick-ass touring band like Monotonix or Blowfly where you’re squeezing between sweaty bodies in a crowded room, soaking in the stench of cigarette smoke and spilled beer, dying for a breath of fresh air by show’s end. But some would argue that you couldn’t truly absorb this landmark’s essence without showing up on say, a Wednesday night to catch a couple of unknowns on stage, and swill PBR with the regulars—who often provide more entertainment than the bands. Last night was a perfect opportunity.
We showed up around rock o’clock to find what was essentially two shows stacked on top of each other. Show number one started with local pubescent quartet Looks Like a Snake! These lads were laying down a sloppy garage flavored style of experimental country music distinguished with stumbling beats, clamoring guitars and just enough teenage awkwardness to make them endearing. Their audience was composed of a handful of barflies and members from one other band, but regardless of their lack of size, it seems no teenager on a stage can resist closing the set with a few minutes of gear smashing and improvisational noise.
Following up were local folk freaks the Betty Rats, who played to the band that preceded them and a few more regulars that were filtering in. Betty Rats indulged in a half hour of their peculiar brand of organic, backwoods progressive folk rock before rotating positions and performing again as Aquariums. Aquariums turned down the eccentricity a little in favor of a little more melody, but the overall effect was that we’d just seen the same band play twice as long.
Show number two said goodbye to acoustic quirk and hello lean, mean rock 'n' roll. New Hampshire’s Live Fast Die kicked up the amplitude several notches with some loud, fast and nasty garage rock. The band ripped it up at lightning speed, burning through a dozen or so songs in rapid-fire succession for an audience of about four.
By this point, midnight had come and gone, four bands had played, most of the regulars were paying their tabs, and the boys from Cheap Time were in no hurry to set up their gear. Fortunately, they didn’t take too long, and upon starting, they brought a dozen or so folks in who’d apparently been hiding in the shadows, or maybe just out front on the deck. Dragging us all into a time warp back 30 years, Cheap Time laid down some simple, blistering punk riffs with a few new wave hooks and sweetened with classic power pop melodies to make noise that might have sounded derivative in 1980, but in the context of modern music injects some much-needed snottiness back into rock 'n' roll.
Cheap Time kept it short and sweet like all good punk bands (or any band for that matter) should, but the tiny mob off stage wasn’t having it. Without much coaxing, the band launched back into their first song of the evening and proceeded to play the entire set over again. While we were definitely getting our money’s worth, we’d had enough deja vu for one evening, wiped the sneer off our faces and headed home.