The flyer came in the mail.
Universal Order of Armageddon was playing with some band called Unwound in the basement of the 169 house on Friday, July 23rd, 1993.
Thanks to me signing up for the Vermin Scum Records/169 House mailing list, flyers like these made it from Arnold, Maryland to Dundalk, Maryland with regularity.
I was always down to see UOA. I searched my memory for anything about this touring band. Oh… yeah. Unwound. They had a track on the Kill Rock Stars compilation.
Well… I’m in.
I was 17 years old.
Thirty years later, we are no longer in a basement. I turn 47 next month.
Unwound’s two-night stand is the tail end of a US tour that will end back home in Olympia later this month. Philadelphia’s Union Transfer is packed. I have traveled out of state specifically to see a show for the first time since 2001, when I saw Moss Icon reunite at the More than Music festival.
Honestly, I am not great at traveling. I would have been a miserable touring musician.
But this is worth it. Having been involved with other band’s reuniting and playing shows, I know the point of all this. Sure, money is going to be made, a band’s profile raised, but the real reward for the musicians involved is seeing the songs you put so much time and effort into be performed again, and properly. No busted house PA. No Tuesday night shows in front of just the other bands on your way to a bigger show. What you did mattered, what you did is appreciated. Keep the scale of the tour correct, re-learn the parts and… away you go.
I mentioned to someone at the show in conversation the fact that this is the fifth time I have seen Unwound. This puts me in an odd position. This isn’t the first time that I get “punk points” for how long I have been going to shows, how many shows I have attended, and who I have seen live. FOMO is real. As Orin put it:
A season finale of Quantum Leap where I go back to freshman year of college and give myself an Unwound CD instead of a Trail of Dead one— Orin (@orinanne) August 15, 2022
Many folks are seeing Unwound for the first time on this tour, getting into it, starting most pits, crowd surfing, almost losing their keys. A friend and fellow early-Unwound-show-attender is here with their teenage daughter. If I want to, I can spend the night boasting to other people that I have been an appreciator of this band’s melancholy noisy music for thirty years, through peaks and valleys of the band’s popularity and drawing power. I don’t want to. That is annoying.
And it does not matter. The reformed five-piece Unwound ripped hard. Folks at their first ever Unwound show got their money’s worth. Any fears about whether someone could handle Vern Rumsey’s bass parts were unfounded. And what better person to play those parts than Jared Warren who, while serving as roadie for the band, sold me my first Unwound record thirty years ago? You can’t not remember that guy’s impressive hair. You shoulda heard them do “Broken E-Strings” that night! I tell ya…
Dangit! I am doing it again.
So let me stop here. Wherever you are in your journey through music and shows, please know that you haven’t “missed anything”. Old people like me sometimes take the position that things aren’t good or cool or as great anymore as they once were. This is always wrong. This is always false. Truth is, the leaves turn inside you; a person can very easily grow bitter and jaded if they are not careful and accept the journey that is the passing of time.
Stay aware of this memory trap and everything will be fine. I was told in 1993 via pervasive scene “wisdom” that I had missed everything, all the cool stuff had already happened; all the good bands had broken up.
I am here thirty years later to tell you they were wrong. Remember that thirty years from now.