GROWING UP, BLOWING UP
Toys That Kill carries on where teen-punk champions F.Y.P left off.
Recess Records proudly boasts of "Contributing to the delinquency of minors since 1990." Todd Congelliere started the San Pedro, Calif., label when he was a 15-year-old with an ax to grind and a band to propagate. Congelliere's band F.Y.P Darby-crashed the lame party that was '90s pop-punk, breathing authentic adolescent energy into a genre obsessed with teen ennui.
In 1994, the Offspring's Dexter Holland became the Jason Priestley of rock when he sang, "If you're under 18, you won't be doing any time." Had Holland, then 28, come out and played, they would have locked him up and thrown away the key. That same year, Recess released F.Y.P's landmark album, Dance My Dunce. With songs like "Vacation Bible School" and "Kids That Play Dead," F.Y.P showed up its wanna-be contemporaries and exposed them as pretenders. They played the fresh-faced Brian Austin Green--not in a musical sense--to the pop-punk oligarchy's Priestley, Perry, Doherty, et al.
But Congelliere's 27 now, and he long ago moved on to subject matter more relevant to his life.
"A lot of people have said Toys That Kill is a more mature F.Y.P," he says of his new band. "I guess that word 'mature' sort of stings, but they mean it as a compliment. I'm not in high school anymore, so why would I want to write songs about being in high school? It'd seem kind of phony."
F.Y.P, characterized by Congelliere's snottier-than-Johnny Rotten voice, maintained a Holden Caulfield-like obsession with keeping it real. The band lashed out at reunionists like the Circle Jerks, who cashed in on nostalgia but turned their signature song, "Live Fast, Die Young," into the punk equivalent of Roger Daltrey's endlessly repeated (but, mysteriously, never granted) wish to die before he gets old.
True to that ethos of insistent progress, Toys That Kill will disappoint F.Y.P fans hoping to hear the defunct band's songs.
"I think people who come to the shows to hear F.Y.P songs want to hear shit off Dance My Dunce, and we're definitely not going to play that," he says. "I'd rather go see a band playing the songs that they really want to play than a band that's just going through the motions."
Sadly, tragedy also played a hand. F.Y.P bassist Joe Ciauri's tragic 1998 suicide made it impossible for the band to continue. A year after Ciauri's passing, Congelliere and drummer-turned-guitarist Sean Cole renamed the band Toys That Kill, after F.Y.P's last album.
Last year, the new formation released its first album, The Citizen Abortion. If F.Y.P was the '90s answer to the Germs, the band has anachronistically progressed to loud, snotty and big-rawk Dead Boys territory.
"We've been playing these Toys That Kill songs for the last two years straight, and we're still not sick of them," says Congelliere. "I think that's a good sign. We'd get sick of F.Y.P songs in six months."
San Pedro, of course, is best known in rock circles as the home of Mike Watt, the Minutemen super-bassist who formed fIREHOSE after Minutemen guitarist D. Boon died in 1985. Does Congelliere seek out the advice on the subject of carrying on after tragedy from the indie-rock godfather? Not really.
"I used to see Watt around a lot more when he was drinking," says Congelliere. "But I don't think he drinks anymore." Godfre Leung
Toys that Kill plays Wednesday, Aug. 7, at Meow Meow, 527 SE Pine St., 230-2111. Dillinger Four, Lawrence Arms and the Arrivals also appear. 9 pm. $8+ advance (Fastixx). All ages.
SHAMELESSLY SELF-PROMOTIONAL SPECIAL EDITION
HISS AND VINEGAR
MUSICFEST: TONIGHT! TONIGHT! TONIGHT!
WW's second annual Musicfest Northwest is still more than a month off (Sept. 12-14, specifically), but the red, red-hot action begins TODAY, when Music Millennium's Northwest PDX outpost hosts the MusicfestNW Wristband Kick-Off Party. Here's the deal: Wristbands good for admission to all 17 Musicfest venues will be a stone bargain at their regular price of $20. Tonight, at Music Mill, wristbands get the bulk-discount treatment--you can snag two (2) of these suckers for $30. In addition! Wristbandees will receive FREE Tri-Met adventure passes good for festival transit, which will be especially handy after that third Cuervo body shot. Free food and drinks add further inducement to Wednesday's show.
That $30-for-a-pair deal? Let's do some math. There will be three nights of music--that figures out to $5 per night. Fugazi would approve, jawohl. Seventeen venues--why, by our long division that makes for about $.88 per venue! And since those 17 venues figure to host about 180 bands during la festa, give or take, you'll be paying about $.08 per band if you seize upon the Kick-Off Party super-bargain. And, zounds, it's all for good causes. Like last year, Musicfest profits will be split between First Octave, which funds music education in Portland Public Schools, a musicians' health-care fund and participating bands. Not since the last clearance sale on FREE TIBET bumper stickers and prayer flags has good karma come at such rock-bottom prices.
To sweeten the deal, the Kick-Off Party features performances by mega-popular Northwest acts Floater, Stuart Wylen Trio and Jeff Trott. The festivities commence at 5 pm TONIGHT (did we mention?), Wednesday, Aug. 7, at Music Millennium-Northwest, 801 NW 23rd Ave., 248-0163. Go FREE, buy wristbands CHEAP. What could be better?