fIREHOSE

by William Brents

Snagilwet has a healthy tradition for bringing in noteworthy bands on Derby Eve and with this year's irresistible lineup the tradition lived on. Sharing the musical marathon bill was Del Mundo, the Something Brothers (two bands that I unfortunately missed), Atlantic recording artists Eleventh Dream Day and Columbia recording artists fIREHOSE.

I showed up just in time to see Eleventh Dream Day begin a ferocious hour-long set that sounded much better than their February performance at Snagilwet.

Vocalist-guitarist Rick Rizzo energetically bounced around while second guitarist Wink O'Bannon stood still and projected jarring feedback. EDD mostly played material off their Beet LP and new Lived to Tell LP, including arousing rendition of one of my favorite songs, "Rose of Jericho."

The combination of EDD's. fuming guitar attack and an overflowing crowd forced me to leave the sauna-like conditions for several minutes. On my return I found fIREHOSE in the midst of their opening song, "Losers, Boozers and Heroes," a new song off their brand new LP, Flying the Flannel

FIREHOSE consists of vocalist-guitarist Ed Crawford, bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley. Before forming fIREHOSE several years ago Watt and Hurley, along with D. Boon, played in a band known as The Minutemen. The Minutemen were a potent political punk band that captured a loyal following on the underground scene.

Tragically, D. Boon lost his life in a car accident and the Minutemen were no more.

Due to Crawford's persistence, Watt and Hurley agreed to form fIREHOSE.and start from scratch, recording an EP and then two strong LPs, 1987's if'n and 1989's fromottio on the SST label. They recently inked a deal with Columbia records and recorded their major label debut Flyin' the Flannel.

Now that we're caught up historically, back to the show. Bassist Mike Watt was sporting his usual no-nonsense flannel shirt. and strapped across his barrel chest was, of course, his poor bass. I use the word poor because I have sympathy for it; Watt simply abuses the instrument by vigorously pounding and shaking it about. Watt and Hurley create such a tight groove that it's fair to say they're among the best rhythm sections around.

The animated crowd roared with approval on every selection, but it seemed they got more excited about the older material from if'n. "Operation Solitaire," "Me and You, Remembering," "Backroads" and "For the Singer of R.E.M." all did the job, even if Watt was annoyed with the sound system.

"You people pay good money to hear these songs and I wouldn't mind hearing them myself," he said, sending an evil glare toward the sound people. But the mix wasn't that bad; I could decipher Crawford's workmanlike guitar playing and understand his vocals rather clearly.

FIREHOSE played their folk, punk, jazz music with such controlled and precise fury that it occurred to me with all their talent they should be recognized more often. And maybe with their great new LP they will.