This new year, 2003, marks the ten-year anniversary of Jay’s Upstairs as the venue in town for the music that no one else wants. It was late summer of 1993, actually, when a local metal band called Shades of Reality started inviting other local acts—bands playing original music that didn’t fall into the metal category—to provide support for its regular gigs in the half-open upstairs. Shades of Reality shows were usually jungle-juice parties, where the cover charge got you in and set you up with a cup for dipping into a big plastic trashcan filled with fruit juice and a peculiar mix of liquors.
There goes the neighborhood. The sun had yet to set on the grunge empire in 1993, and hesher-friendly metal was still losing market share to bands with crappy guitars and comparatively lackadaisical attitudes about the finer points of rock showmanship—like tuning. The running joke has always been something like this: buy a guitar on Wednesday, form a band on Thursday, play at Jay’s on Friday. Metal opened the door at Jay’s Upstairs, and self-taught local rock has been tracking mud inside ever since.
One thing that can always be said for the place is that once your band has played there a few (dozen) times, you’re practically family and you always have a place to go. Reunion shows are something of a holiday tradition at Jay’s, when members of bands who called it quits for college or other move-away reasons suddenly all find themselves back in town for a few days or a week and feeling the wild hots to get on stage together again. And Jay’s can generally accommodate them. There’s usually at least one of these reunion shows every year, and this year it’s One Point Plan.
Members of this trio—the oldest now in his early twenties—have been coming to Jay’s since long before they turned legal drinking age. Bassist Christopher Baumann, in fact, has played in a string of Jay’s bands at least since he was 15, starting with punk parvenus Absolut, whose first shows actually had to be supervised by parent/guardians of each band member. (Incidentally, the term “Jay’s band,” though it falls somewhat short of describing the complete musical experience, has been current in Missoula parlance for probably eight years. It’s both shorthand and shibboleth, a convenient way for local arts writers to pigeonhole anything loud and noisy, but also a distinguishing feature by which so many bands from so many genres unwanted anyplace else in town can identify (with) one another. Some have rankled at being pegged “Jay’s bands,” but most, when they even think about it, accept the appellation with good humor. To be a Jay’s band, after all, is to belong somewhere.)
One Point Plan guitarist Chris Pickolick first stepped on the boxy little Jay’s stage as a teenager in the Paul Bunyan Band, a group devoted solely to playing themes (and their own variations thereon) from vintage video games, and later in Firehawk. Drummer Max Allyn has also been in numerous bands whose life-spans have unfolded around Jay’s and the Boys and Girls Club, making the One Point Plan show a reunion of veterans from what we old farts like to call the second (and even third) waves.
The music? Not easily described, but basically a One Point Plan song is made up of several short movements, often open-ended passages with Baumann and Allyn working and re-working a particularly groovy riff on bass and drums with guitarist Pickolick improvising around it. The songs definitely progress, no doubt about it, with unison riffs and syncopated parts holding the different sections together. Some of these passages have a downright pastoral feel to them. The various sections of the average One Point Plan song will appeal variously to fans of prog and math rock, the Champ, Focus and Helmet.
During their relatively short existence, One Point Plan played out a few times and released a CD with a seven-part, 45-minute suite titled “Eudaimonea,” a shorter (although 15:07 is still pretty long by Jay’s standards!) composition called “It Was Earth All Along,” and a 3:17 oddment called “The Sound of Fury.” The CD (look for the flapping bat on the cover) might still be available in record shops around Missoula, but you can be fairly sure they’ll have some copies for sale at the reunion. And what a reunion it’s looking to be!
One Point Plan take the stage again this Friday, Jan. 3, at Jay’s Upstairs, with support from Casual Drama. Show starts at 10 PM. Cover TBA.