Common Grounds, Gainesville, FL April 28, 2001
by Brian Kruger
This was a gathering of old friends, in more ways than one. From trombonist Alyson Carrel distributing homemade PopCanon “temporary tattoos” to the faithful before the show to a lot of folks in the crowd seeing each other for the first time in a while, PopCanon’s last show was one of those rare gigs that everyone knew beforehand would qualify as an “event.”
Squeaky, PopCanon’s longtime partners in musical mayhem, had the unenviable task of opening. As usual, they were up to the task. Rejoining the band of Karl Bullock, Steven Bottom, and Harry Monkhorst was Gainesville’s own musical master, Shermy D, of course not in his hip-hop persona, starting out on drums, then switching to guitar for a few songs before returning to the kit. Karl announced, “Tonight we’re going to be just like The Crustaceans,” in reference to the instrument-switching band from whence Squeaky originated. Squeaky’s raucous, good-natured set was peppered with funny anecdotes about PopCanon, the usual alternate tunings, giving out trophies to PopCanon, and even a cover of ABBA’s “S.O.S,” which rocked up surprisingly nicely.
After a longish break – during which bubble-wrap was installed on the tiny dance floor and a couple of videographers set up – the original trio version of PopCanon, with Ned Davis on bass, David Hornbuckle on guitar, and Blue Lang on drums, took the stage to “Fight Song” (where the lyric spells out the band’s own name repeatedly), followed in rapid succession by early favorites “Astral Projection” and “Punk Rock Loser.”
Bassist Michael Murphy then joined to make the band a four piece, drummer Robby Copeland replaced Lang, and the horn section of Carrel and Don Undeen came on to bring the band to its full compliment for “Wanda Tinasky.” With the horn section standing on chairs in front of the tiny stage, PopCanon was briefly joined by its former violinist, Lorien Carsey. More favorites like “Valentine’s Day” and the seldom-heard “Manchester” followed, including a blistering fretless bass solo by Murphy on “Bloomsday.”
As I tuned a Telecaster Ned unexpectedly handed me between songs (woo-hoo, I can now add “official PopCanon guitar tech” to my resume!), Squeaky came back on stage for backing vocals on a song, as ritualized guitar destruction and more mayhem, like shaking up a beer and pouring it on Undeen’s behind (which usually makes a least a partial appearance at most PopCanon shows) during “Curse Of Clang,” followed.
I could note more songs, like “I’m So Squeaky,” “Things About Which,” and something with the lyric “You can punch my lights out (if you’re Irish),” that this madness went on into a second set, that David played some keyboards, that Balzac, a member of Pain (another band PopCanon has played many shows with) appeared for the intro to “Arthole,” inexplicably only wearing an open shirt and boxer shorts, and a lot more wacky hijinks. But it wouldn’t do the band and its finale justice.
Editor’s Note: A version of this review appears in the June issue of Gainesville’s Moon Magazine.