Gordon at The Side Door Lounge, Jan. 26, 2013
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
I figured the easiest way to finally catch a set by Gordon was to drop in at their show at The Side Door Lounge Friday night. It’d also be a chance to see what the club, located on Leavenworth just a couple blocks from my old apartment (The St. Regis), was all about. The Side Door has become a sort of go-to spot for singer songwriters, at least it appears to be based on the number of shows they book, acts I’ve never heard nor seen before that rarely play at the usual indie music clubs. So there was that… and the fact that the show was free — I had nothing to lose.
I was surprised when I was able to park my shit-car in the club’s adjacent parking lot. I’m not sure where I would have parked otherwise. The neighborhood has a seedy reputation these days, just like it did back when I lived there twenty-some years ago. Once inside the long, narrow, concrete box of a building I almost turned around and left. The place was belly-to-butt. Every table was filled and people were crowded all the way to the bar.
I’ll say this up front: It’s a helluva nice place, well designed, clean, a giant leap from the dinge-holes I’m used to. In fact, it was downright romantic, warmly lit with dim track lighting pointed at tasteful black-and-white art photos along one wall and large ironic pastel drawings of cars along the other. I made a mental note to come back sometime just to drink.
But as a music venue, The Side Door has its share of challenges, mostly due to the layout. The room is filled with short tables that crowd right up to the “stage” in the back. An exit off stage right leads to the beer garden, but forget about going outside to burn one — you’ll never make it through the maze of tables, at least on this night. With no space in front of the stage there’s nowhere for people to stand and watch the band, and if they did, they’d block out everyone sitting down since there’s no stage riser. This likely isn’t a problem during one of club’s many open-mic nights, but for a punk show…
Gordon had posted on Facebook that they would play at “10 sharp,” but it was well past 10:30 before the opener — a duo called I Am the Navigator — finally packed up and left. Then it took another 20 minutes before members of Gordon began skulking out of the back room with their instrument cases and pieces of drum set.
With nowhere to sit, I found the least conspicuous place to stand against the far wall and aimlessly flipped through my iPhone to kill time. The crowd of young hipsters gave me more than my share of ‘who-the-fuck-are-you’ looks.
Finally at around 11:30, the Men of Gordon assembled in the cramped spot it the back of the room between a couple pair of speakers that make up the club’s PA. Before they started, the frontman — a tall drink of water with a big ol’ head of hair — asked the sound guy to turn off all the lights except for the bar lights, which he quickly did, leaving the room lit only by the tiny electric candles on the tables and the penlight attached to lead singer’s microphone, which didn’t last long.
Gordon’s music was as grinding and abrasive as what you’ll hear on their Soundcloud page — a slop-mire of drums and guitar and lead guy’s slurred vocals made raw by a cheap condenser microphone. The sound is pure slacker, a bastard child of Pavement and Galaxy 500 and whatever dark-light indie rock band you can remember from the ’90, which is probably why I like it so much.
The frontman’s mic light still burned brightly as he introduced the first cover of the night. “This next song’s by Nirvana,” he said. “Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994. Good riddance.” And with that the band launched into a scuzzy cover of “Territorial Pissing” recognizable by the guitar chords rather than his screeching.
Between songs a short, weathered-looking woman wearing layers of coats pushed through the crowd right up to the stage. “Hello pretty lady,” said the frontman as she shuffled right past him and into the back room, only to emerge halfway through the next song carrying a couple loaded plastic bags.
At about that time, the microphone broke — along with the penlight and the breaker that powered the left side of the stage. Frontguy stood shirtless in the dark asking the audience to touch his nipples as the band tore into a wasted version of their own “No Masters, No War.” By the end of the set he was laying flat on his back barking out a cover of The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” plagued by the backup mic’s drop outs.
It was a lovely train wreck the likes of which I haven’t seen since The Shanks farewell two-night stand at O’Leaver’s a year or so ago. In a lot of ways Gordon reminds me of The Shanks, albeit a cute furry animal version without the blood and gore. Just like them, Gordon contains unmeasurable raw talent that has a habit of spinning gloriously out of control on stage, or at least it did last Saturday night…
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By the way, Gordon has been named to open for powerhouse Brooklyn post-hardcore band The Men when they play at Slowdown April 27. If you can’t wait that long, you catch them Feb. 7 at the Grant Curtz Benefit show at Slowdown with Video Ranger and Brigadiers.
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Speaking of The Shanks, top Shank Todd VonStup wrote to say that The Shanks “Complete Discography” is available from their Bandcamp page as a free download, at least for the next week. After that, the download will cost you 7 bones. Run on over there and get it while it’s hot.
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Finally, word leaked out Sunday that Morrissey has been diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer, which will sideline him for the next couple weeks including the Feb. 6 Lincoln/Rococo show, which has been postponed (and not cancelled) again. Hold on to your tickets folks and stand by for the rescheduled date, which (if it happens) won’t be at least until mid-March…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.