The band launches into something anthemic. My friend-we'll call him "Jeremy"-leaps onstage just long enough to leap off again, coasting effortlessly over a phalanx of outstretched hands that brush him toward the back of the crowd like so many cilia. Then he runs out of crowd. Jeremy, the human hovercraft, does an abrupt swan dive over the outer perimeter of the tightly-packed throng of show-goers and lands squarely on his head. Bonk.
I can still see it like it was yesterday, although at this point it's closer to 10 years ago than five. But which show was it? Skin Yard? Hammerbox? Poster Children? The suspects all match the vague profile, but no one remembers for sure. The general consensus is that it was Hammerbox, but I'm holding out for the Poster Children.
Why? Because Hammerbox and Skin Yard and almost every band we saw back then have long since called it quits, but not the Poster Children. After 12 years, this Champaign, Illinois, foursome are still pounding out the same solid, meat-and-potatoes rock that won us over in 1991, a bunch of hair-farming kids gasping for action in the relatively rockless backwaters of the Garden City.
| Hang with the Poster Children this Wednesday at the Cowboy
You've got to remember when that was. Kids would (and did) stagedive to anything that came to town, but more out of a sense of duty than anything else. The Boston Pops could have touched off a mosh in 1991 Missoula; anything would do, as long as it gave the youth a chance to exorcise their demons in an atavistic orgy of running into each other and jumping off tall things. Grunge-remember that word?-was king, and if something sounded like Black Flag playing Sabbath covers and came with blurry Charles Peterson photos on the album, it got plenty of play in Missoula rides.
In light of all that grunge fever lowering our collective rock standards, it's exceptional that a band like the Poster Children actually got through to us. Mostly because they were "tight," in the vernacular of the day, with their repetitive, endlessly catchy blocks of curt math chords and furious tribal drumming. Menacing and big they were, to be sure, but also exuberant and unabashedly nerdish in a way that, in retrospect, makes it no surprise at all that the Poster Children would outlast the armies of fey grunge usurpers.
The past 12 years have had their ups and downs for the Poster Children. Having recently abandoned a mutually disastrous relationship with Reprise Records, the band is back in the indie fold with its sixth LP, New World Record, on New York-based spinART Records. A sense of relief shows in the music, which is still as big and brash as ever; listening to the Poster Children now is like getting in touch with an old friend after years of watching them get kicked around.
Poster Children will play with special guests Hiperlopro at the Cowboy Bar on Wednesday, May 12. $6; Advance tickets available from Big Dipper Ice Cream, Ear Candy and Le Petit Outre Breads.
By ANDREA THOMPSON
It all started innocently enough. At first, just a friendly usher through the buffet line. Caterers offer drinks and check back to make sure I'm having a good time. Then the music picks up and soon I'm invited to dance. And if I won't dance, it's time to drink. A shot with the bride's brother, a round with the caterers and the photographer, and slowly the reception gets louder and the conflicts that have been accumulating through the night start to get more vicious and frequent. Suddenly, without expecting it, I've become involved in the wedding party from hell.
But the shots are just water and this is only the rehearsal for Tony N Tina's Wedding, a Young Rep production benefiting the Missoula AIDS Council. In this dry run of the performance, the cast's commitment to involving the audience is obvious, even dealing with an unprepared and somewhat reluctant participant. And when an expected 140 audience members are thrown in, the cast's already enviable energy is sure to hit new heights of riotous behavior.
The concept is fairly simple-to stage a fully interactive wedding from ceremony to reception, including a catered dinner, wedding cake, champagne and a cash bar. Ticket holders will be treated as long-lost relatives or friends from the moment they enter the First United Methodist Church, and ushers decide whether they belong to the bride's family (the Vitales) or the groom's (the Nunzios).
| Bobby Gutierrez and Jenn Hunter are a match made on stage in Tony 'N Tina's
After the ceremony joining Tina (Jenn Hunter) and Tony (Bobby Gutierrez) in holy matrimony, the entire production moves over to the Missoula Children's Theater for a dinner provided by Mammyth Catering and a reception celebrated Italian-style with lots of fierce fighting and even fiercer rituals of forgiveness. Ranging from screaming matches to physical tussles, the clashes expose the intricacies of extended family relationships.
Operating on detailed character descriptions and a time-line of events rather than a strict script, the production consists mostly of improv and demands a full-scale engagement of audience members. Since the plot is minimal, building conflict after conflict to the final question of the couple's future, the audience's involvement fills in the emotional commitment normally built by dialogue and action.
And it's just more fun to jump in with the cast. While being the only audience member at rehearsal was a little too much pressure for me, I still had a pretty good time pretending to be Mary the birthday girl and taking shots with drunks. Fill in a few more guests and real food and drink and it would all be perfect. So dress nice-it's a wedding after all-and go dance. #
Tony N Tina's Wedding takes place May 7 and 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church, 300 E. Main St. Tickets are $45 per person, or $80 a couple, available at Catalyst Espresso, Rockin' Rudy's and the Missoula AIDS Council office.