The longer this band lasts, the more the realization sinks in that time
travels fast. San Francisco has always been a really great place for us to
play, but is it possible that for some reason we hadn’t played the Bay Area,
home to our American label, since 1999? That we hadn’t played there to
support our last record "Rosie"? That we hadn’t yet visited the "new"
Lookout offices? Outrageous! Unacceptable! Pathetic!
Finally, on the last weekend of July 2003, The Smugglers made it back to
the Bay Area to play the Lookout Records 15th anniversary party.
Thu July 24, Old Ironsides, Sacramento CA (w/ the Groovie Ghoulies, the
Since we were going to be in the Bay Area, we thought it a good
opportunity to squeeze in another show, a "warm up" so to speak, before the
big Lookout gig. What better place to play than Old Ironsides, Sacramento’s
awesome, supposedly haunted rock ‘n’roll bar? Add to the fact that our dear
friends the Groovie Ghoulies happened to be in town and a great artist named
Adam Miller made an awesome poster, and voila: a rock’n’roll party.
The opening band was the Mallrats, featuring the aforementioned Adam, and
they were a classic example of the high-quality Sacto mod-pop-rock’n’roll
band that this town seems to churn out with ease year after year (E-Types,
Decibels, Troublemakers, X-Teens etc). They set the mood with sexy
We were up next and shook the rust off not performing in California since
2000 (when we played LA with the Donnas). We were able to blaze through lots
of songs from the new album for the first time, like "Billy Billy" and "Love
At First Fight" to a wonderful reception. We had a great time, and I
introduced the latest Smugglers dance, a very respectable move for girls and
boys alike called "The Diaper".
Sacramento’s biggest pop-punk export took the stage next, and it meant a
hell of a lot to us to play with the Ghoulies again. A band like the Groovie
Ghoulies is an inspiration for the Smugglers simply because of their
work-ethic and their distinct understanding of what rock ‘n’ roll is about.
It was especially important for us to play with them on this trip because
they have unfortunately had a major falling out with Lookout, and so were
not taking part in the anniversary celebration. As usual, the Ghoulies were
awesome, taking requests, playing a string of Stones songs, and having a
party jam on the final number "Highwayman", one of their greatest songs.
An awesome night.
Fri July 25, Lookout Party, The Parkside Lounge, San Francisco CA (Dr.
We were awoken at Nick’s ass-crack of dawn by a lady we met the night
before at Old Ironsides. At one point during our show, I was lamenting the
fact that the gig was on a Thursday and I was therefore missing one of my
favourite shows, "The Amazing Race". Before this pathetic verbiage was
barely out of my face corn-hole, this lady, who we later met and found out
was named "Sacramento Sandra", shrieked out to say that she had taped the
very program I doth bitched about! After the show the lady not only vowed to
deliver a tape to Kepi Ghoulies’ place (where we were staying) but would
also include on the tape several episodes of the new hit series (but not
available in Canada) "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy"!! What a fantastic
Sure enough, at about 8:00AM on that very hot and steamy Sacramento
summer morning, the door was violently kicked open and in pounced Sacramento
Sandra, VHS tape in hand, only to bear witness to five Canadian men strewn
about the living room in various positions of sweat-soaked, hung over
nudity. A noisy pair of shit-flaps here, a dripping head of peeping cock
there, a clump of matted hair over there, and oh! Lookout! A morning boner!
The was air heavy with the stench of shit, booze ‘n’ "B.O." (Beez-odor).
After intricately surveying the scene for ten minutes, she dropped the tape,
pivoted, and lady-ladied on out of there.
Amazingly, this was not the last we would see of Sacramento Sandra.
After a lovely breakfast with Kepi and Roach, away we sped back to San
Francisco for the big Lookout welcoming party, being held at the Parkside
Lounge. The event was essentially a beer bash, much like the one Lookout
held five years ago at CinderBlock – a big booze up where Lookout graciously
picks up the cheque.
Immediately we were reminded of how many friends we have in this part of
the world, seeing such folks as the entire staff of Lookout Records past and
present, Mike LaVella from Gearhead, and the members of the Mr T Experience,
Green Day, the Pattern, Bratmobile, the Phantom Surfers, "the Oranges Band",
and many others.
Dr. Frank took the stage to do a lovely solo show of requests; songs old
and new, preaching to a converted congregation. He had a hilarious bit of
banter about how odd it must seem to those unaware to walk into a room full
of people yelling "HITLER!! HITLER!!" at this nice little singer-songwriter
fellow with an acoustic guitar ("Hitler" of course being an abbreviation of
one of Frank’s best songs ever, nay, one of THEE best songs ever "Even
Hitler Had A Girlfriend") .
Dr. Frank packed up we thought the party was pretty much over but lo and
behold, by complete coincidence a rock ‘n’ roll band called the Finks set up
on stage, featuring none other than old Smugglers pal Russell Qwan, drummer
of the Mummies, Phantom Surfers and Bobby Teens!
The Finks totally and utterly fucking rocked the joint and so the
Smugglers took it upon ourselves to turn the shamefully quiet n tiny dance
floor of the Parkside into sexy, frothy out of control dance party. As the
Finks blasted away hit after hit, soon all five Smugglers, several hot
Lookout ladies, Andy from the Pattern and Frank and Heather from NYC were
all dry humping fiercely in a conga line, wet crotches pumping to the manic
It was Cathy Bauer’s birthday tonight (a hot Lookout lady) so after the
dancing was done we all shipped out to the strange industrial island of
Alameda, back in the East Bay, which is also home to Cathy and her long-time
fiancé Mike "Gearhead" Lavella.
a wild ride across the bridges we arrived to find the party in full swing,
with Mike and his little delinquent cousin Paulie pouring ultra-stiff tiki
cocktails faster than Nick could swallow them. Almost. After a few of these
wildly colourful and potent knock-backs, a few certain Smugglers were
starting to feel the effects, most especially perpetually horny Smuggler
Nick. Looking for some nice soft tits to squeeze, suckle n soil, in his
drunken haze he unfortunately mistook New York City’s Frank Leone for a hot
slut. Nick lunged towards Frank, grabbing with both hands Frank’s expansive
rock-hard pectorals. Frank was outraged and flattered at the same time, and
allowed Nick a full and complete inspection. Nick said it was like geology
Saturday July 26, Great American Music Hall, San Francisco CA (w/ the Mr
T Experience, the Enemies)
Over the course of this weekend, Lookout Records president Christopher
Appelgren was incredibly kind enough to hand over the keys to his lovely
apartment for the Smugglers to camp in. Amazing. Thank you.
Unfortunately, when he popped in early Saturday morning to check in on
us, he found certain aspects of his swank pad seriously amiss.
When we finally got back to Chris’ place the night before, Nick was right
good and SMASHED. In his fully inebriated state, he rampaged through the
darkened apartment like a blind lesbian at a folk festival upon hearing the
opening chords of an Ani Defranco set. For some reason, Nick went into the
kitchen and proceeded to bat an entire tray of drying dishes into the sink
and onto the floor with a thundering crash. Later on, he just could not
figure out that the bedroom door opened inwards instead of out, and, like a
drugged chimpanzee negotiating a puzzle, he proceeded to rip the antique
glass door knob right out of the frame of the door with brute, drunken
Eventually, Nick seemed to quiet down, allowing Dave to poke his head out
of his sleeping bag with the thought "Ok finally it’s safe to get up and
take a massive dump". As he entered the inky black bathroom and felt for the
light switch, he heard a voice from within the darkness.
Startled, Dave flicked on the light to find Nick squatting on the toilet,
naked, squeezing out the ripest shit since Rae Dong Chong in "Quest For
Needless to say, on this morning Chris was none too impressed that such
seasoned veterans of gracious touring would run so amuck in the… LABEL
PRESIDENT’S HOME, and we were rightfully aghast at our behavior. We all
looked to point a groggy finger at Nick, but true to his "bounce back"
nature, he was already long out the door into the fresh, sunny California
morning, catching some rays with a quick 10k shirtless jog through the
surrounding Oakland ghetto.
Thankfully Chris is an extremely good natured, kind man and accepted our
apologies, most likely because he simply had bigger problems that day than
12 broken dishes and one missing knob.
Turns out he had two missing knobs to deal with.
The Queers, the Saturday night headliner of the Lookout 15th
anniversary weekend, were threatening to cancel. To be more specific, Joe
Queer was threatening to cancel. While details were extremely sketchy and
hard to pin together, it appears that Lookout sent Joe some money to get
himself a plane ticket from Boston to San Francisco where he would meet the
two other Queers and get in some practicing before the show. By one reason
or another, tickets were cancelled and repurchased, and then cancelled and
repurchased again on Lookout’s tab – only to come down to the very day of
the gig, with Lookout still being in the dark as to whether Joe would
actually show up. The rumour goin’ ‘round was that Joe actually made it to
San Francisco that morning of Saturday July 26, but upon arrival immediately
turned around to "Go Back Home". It was very sad, but as of 4:00PM on
Saturday, it was official: no Queers.
We hadn’t seen Joe since he hopped up on stage with us at SxSW in 1999
and we were looking forward to seeing the Queers rock again. Nope.
left the Mr. T Experience, the Enemies, and your Smugglers to take care of
the evening ourselves. There was slight concern as to how the Queers
cancellation would affect the night, but those fears were soon erased with
an excellent, supportive crowd that made us kick ourselves for not playing
the Bay Area for so long. We roared through a longer set than usual, playing
several songs from our new record including "Pirate Ships", "Larry Where Are
You?", "The Get Up Syndrome" and others. Beez was the star of the show as
usual – taking centre stage for many a bass solo. Dr. Frank joined us for
"Coffee, Tea Or Me?", Nick did his flip in "Kings Of The Party" and we
generally had one of the best times playing together as the Smugglers.
The Mr. T Experience followed with a set of hits
could be expected and the crowd loved every minute of it. Backstage, a full
on party was brewing throughout the night and revving up higher and higher
with each band. Luckily, our old pal Luis from Pansy Division works at the
GAMH and so he kept the booze flowing fast, furious and free.
By the end of the night, after the group photos were taken and the
merchandise money counted and the faces kissed and Dr.Frank’s hot new wife
inspected and friends hugged, it was once again time to crash at Chris’,
this time for a much, much quieter night.
Or so I had hoped.
Sunday July 27, Day 3, Lookout Party weekend
When Chris apprehensively showed up this morning, ready to survey further
damage, he was delighted to find everything as he had left it – or so it
seemed. See, Chris has, um… a LOT of high tech, state of the art electronic
gadgets. Like, the gizmos that fill his apartment makes the entire empire of
Japan look a little behind the times. And so during the night, as I finally
tried to get some sleep to recover from the hellfire that was the night
before, I prepared to get some serious fucking zzzzs when… of all the
sudden, something in the night went BEEEEEEEP. Then silence for two minutes.
Then BEEEEEEEP-BEEEEEEEP. And silence. And BEEEEEEP. Of course all the other
boozed up Smugglers slept through it without issue but it quickly started
driving me insane. Up out of the sleeping bag, naked, I started to hunt
through the apartment, unplugging silvery electronic device after device.
BEEEEEEEEP. I kept searching, yanking chords out of walls, batteries out of
light sabres, and cards out of sockets. Switch after switch, plug after
plug, stereo after stereo, gameboy after gameboy; it went on and on.
BEEEEEEP-BEEEEEP. Near delirium, I was certain everything that needed power
in the apartment was in some way disabled, but I must have missed something,
somewhere, hiding from me. Hidden. Somewhere. An electric shaver, a blender,
a clapper, a lamp, a strap-on chin dildo, a cell phone recharger, something.
But they were all unplugged. I was sure of it!
Later, when Dave got up to take a massive dump, he found me on the floor
of the bathroom, curled up in a ball rocking slowly back and forth, crying,
naked, sweat-soaked and bleary-eyed.
The next morning, Chris explained that he had been meaning to get new
batteries for the fire alarm on
hall ceiling, and that it lets off a slight beeping noise when the batteries
become low. To this simple explanation, I collapsed face-down on the
To somehow bring me back down to normal relaxation levels, Chris led us
out of the ghetto, high into the hills to a beautiful little lake where we
all swam. Naked. Later, we motored into San Francisco, engulfing ourselves
in a cold summer fog. We saw the famous Cliff House, the decaying bathhouses
and the gigantic waves that crash upon the cliffs. A great afternoon.
It was time to wrap up the Lookout festivities with one more show at the
GAMH, this time with Communique (Dave’s new favourite Lookout band), "the
Oranges Band", and Chris’ own supreme rock ‘n’ roll group, the Pattern. The
Pattern shimmied and shook and did rock ‘n’ roll proud – the highlight of
the set probably being when Chris took a leap and dove into the crowd,
landing on his head in the front row, but didn’t miss a line of the song.
The band rocked hard – and the new bassist looks just like Owen Wilson!
Ted Leo is the new Lookout star- sort of a brainy version of Joe Queer
with the albility to play a lot more chords and pen songs without using the
words "cunt" or "motherfucker". Teddy and his Pharmacists closed the show
with a long set of hits
both his brilliant records. It’s a funny thing that I’ve never heard it
mentioned anywhere else, but I find it very uncanny how much Ted Leo looks
like Lookout founder Larry Livermore (who, by the way, was nowhere to be
seen or found this weekend – Larry Where Are You?).
Backstage the party raged once again, but imagine our surprise when we
noticed, in each dressing room, extra large overstuffed bags from Levi’s,
packed to the brim for each and every band member playing the night, with
their exact measurements on the side of the sacks for brand new jeans,
shirts, jackets and wrist-bands!! Were these bundles of free clothes
available to the "old-timer" bands from the night before? NO! Do the
Smugglers like free American clothing no matter what the age of the child
that sewed them? YES!
And so being the opportunist socialist Canadians that we are, we simply
helped ourselves to what ever bags we came across and between the five
Smugglers, we ended up wearing more brand new Levi’s gear that all four of
the other bands (the rightful owners of the clothing) put together.
After more group photos and a round of goodbyes, The Smugglers decided we
weren’t quite done with the San Francisco party just yet so a few folks from
the Pattern and "the Oranges Band", along with some Lookout staffers, Luis,
and Frank and Heather from NYC all went up to a bar for a last round of
Little did we know that performing at this little bar on this night was a
morbidly obese, disgusting creature known as "Extreme Elvis". Picture a
cross between the fat Elvis at his drug-addled worst, John Belushi at his
drug-addled worst , Chris Farley at his drug addled-worst, then throw in
East Coast Canadian singing star Rita MacNeil, add John Candy on his
deathbed, plus Jabba the Hut, then please add sweat, shit and piss, all
wrapped up in fully unzipped rhinestone pantsuit, and you’ve got this guy.
When we arrived he was slumped against the jukebox, a metaphor of
rock’n’roll excess. Underneath the human sludge pile, a large puddle of what
we assumed was… beer? Apparently Extreme Elvis’ shtick is to mix the antics
of GG Allin (shitting and pissing on stage) with the gospel of Elvis
we noticed Extreme Elvis was starting to move a little, unzipping his
pantsuit further to pull out his miniscule penis to play with it a little.
He then slipped it back inside the soiled polyester and lumbered to his
feet. We dared ask for a photo. That happened without incident, and as we
moved away, a young lady approached EE and began chatting. Unbeknownst to
the woman, EE flopped out his cock again, dwarfed and hidden by his massive
gut, and WHILE CHATTING WITH THE WOMAN, simultaneously began PISSING ON HER.
It took her a few moments to feel it, and when she did she lurched back in
shocked disgust, as EE chuckled and continued to spray his piss her way. The
arch of urine caused a minor stampede in the bar, but the looky-loos (us
included) didn’t want to get too far to miss what might come next. The
shocked urine victim stormed back to throw a drink in his face, which barely
altered his smashed state. Sensing things were getting a little out of
control, the bartender kicked us all out and that was the last we saw of
Mon July 28, home!
A special thanks to everyone who made this weekend such a blast, most
especially Chris Appelgren, Molly Neuman, Cathy Bauer and everyone at
Lookout for having us, all of our friends we reacquainted with, the bands,
all the people at the shows, and especially to all of our great, kind fans
and friends in Sacramento and the Bay Area. We’re sorry we have neglected
you for so long.
And so until next time,
See you in the front row,