Krakow,  May 21, 2015


Mike Watt & The Missingmen are the true inheritors of the great legacy of the legendary Minutemen, the San Pedro hardcore pioneers. So it must have been pretty tough for the other two bands to share the gig with them. But when the first of these groups called Crossfirefuckinhurricane, the Irish-English quartet based in Prague, hit the stage, guess who was there to save their souls. Your old Mike the Sailor was standing right in front of the bandstand giving them his full moral  and artistic support.

The band seemed to appreciate Mike's attitude as they played with double energy. Their singer kept flying both over the stage and well into the crowd. And when he was not singing, he kept banging the drum kit's crash cymbal with an extra stick. A good, lively set.

Next came Uz Jsme Doma from the Czech Republic, a frequent visitor to these shores. They offered their trademark cabaret punk rock for which they're quite well known. Slightly unusual for punk standards was their use of a keybord and a trumpet. Also, this time they were all dressed up as spacemen wearing something that reminded uniform white space suits. All that together with perfoming with almost no lighting made them look like a cross between Devo and visitors from El Saturn. I only had the feeling that they thought their lyrics were important. If so, maybe it would help if next time around they brought Polish or English translations as not everybody here can speak Czech.

And then came the main attraction of the night. Well, yes! You've guessed correctly. Mike Watt and the Missingmen! Superprofessional amateurs. No delay, no fuss, they even appeared ten minutes before the scheduled time. That was cool and showing respect to us poor punks who have to rely on bloody public transport (which is not fully reliable and most club owners just don't give a damn).

Introducing their act, Mike promised to play a 45-minute song, only in 30 parts. And so they did. A wonderful set of great, uncompromising, colorful music. I hope nobody expected a typical hardcore blast. That would be as reasonable as expecting John Coltrane or Albert Ayler to play like a regular swing big band on a typical hotel date. No, never! And yet, some people demanded a Stooges number. Well, sure Iggy IS god but that's a different story. It's so sad that some people know Mike only as the Stooges' bass player. He's done so much more. And he comes from an era when hardcore meant individuality, uniqueness and freedom to create. Strict uniformity happened later. Think Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, Black Flag, MDC, TSOL, JFA, 7 Seconds, Bad Brains or Misfits and you'll know what I mean. Each band band sounded differently. So do not expect him to do Iggy Pop's covers or play the hardest and fastest hardcore punk imaginable. That would be sooo boring. Mike's too good an artist for that.

Instead, we got a smashing blend of various musical influences, of course including HC and punk as well. Jazz, funk, folk, pop and cartoon music. How the band's music can be nice, attractive, polished and remain raw at the same time remains a mystery. Apart from the towering monster of Mike Watt, I guess that might be due to complete understanding between him and the remaining two elements of the the trio and that is guitar player Tom Watson and drummer Raul Morales. Both of them have great musical past having played in Red Krayola, Slovenly and The Secondmen among others. All three constitute a very solid, heavy rocking rhythm machine.

After their set of the Missingmen material, they played some older stuff for an encore. It was a cool selection of about eight songs from What Makes a Man Start Fires? (a 1983 SST record, still with unforgettable D. Boon). I especially remember Fake Contest, but all were great. Near the end, some mysterious Macario joined in for one song. Without question it was one of the best gigs of the year in Krakow (if that means anything).















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