Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have been a fan of Shudder To Think for many, many years. I first heard them in 1996. My punk rock perspective went right out the window. My first experience with this band was their legendary Dischord records album "Get Your Goat" and i have been an obsessed fan ever since, rapidly grapping everything that was available from them. A few posts ago, I did a huge band biography, and I encourage you guys to go back to that and read it if you haven't already, because it gives you a real understanding of the magic that is Shudder To Think. Considering that, I wil spare band history details. 

During the band's height, I only had one chance to see them that was aware to me at the time, and the date landed on the same day my band was playing a show. This was 1997, when the band was touring with Pavement. Back then it was important to skip good shows to play your own. Who would have thought that they were on their way out eh? Man, have I regretted that decision on so many levels because in 1998, Shudder To Think broke up, and I missed them. Fast forward a decade. I was in and out of bands. Managed to put together a pretty successful one, one that was filled with influence from this amazing band, a band i would never see again. That is, until the fateful day I heard that most of the guys from the last album's line up were reuniting for a short tour with a few select dates, and one of those very few dates was actually around here!!!! I stopped breathing!!! 

So, my wife Sara and I, along with our good friend Rick (who shares with me, the sad history of gigging and missing STT) went to Philly for the day to see the sights of South Street, and maybe get a glimpse of the band early on. A few hours before the show, we walked past the TLA (Theater Of Living Arts) where the band was going to play, and actually heard them doing a sound check, hearing the 2nd half of the song "Love Catastrophe"! We were going nuts. It was so exciting to hear it through the door. Later on, we managed to spot Nathan Larson, who actually walked right past us, about 1 hour before show time. We were nervous (I know, its silly) so we didn't approach him. We decided to just stand in the front of the TLA and just wait for the doors to open. Suddenly Craig Wedren walked right past us and went right into the venue. Rick and I were pointing to each other in blame saying "You should have said something" again, very silly. Finally Craig came back outside and Rick walked up to him to start a conversation. We quickly followed. Craig was easily the friendliest rock star I EVER met. Completely humble, cordial, down to earth, and incredibly easy to talk to. He spoke to us with enthusiasm and really seemed to care about what we were saying to him. He asked us questions about music, and what were do, where we are from, etc, etc. It was really a great experience. So many times I have admired artists and have gained so much inspiration in what they do or have done. And then you meet your "heroes" and they end up making you feel like crap. In this case, it was completely the opposite. He talked roller derby with my wife, and seemed interested when we answered his question of "Do you guys make music?" My only regret was not getting my Ten Spot LP autographed. I had it in my bag, but was too into the conversation to pull out the autograph stuff. 

We did, however, manage to get some pictures together.

So, anyway, onto the show. There is this amazing band from Philly called Pattern Is Movement. They opened for STT. This band is crazy. They looked like 2 chubby lumberjacks who played this free form style drum/organ insanity. I really can't describe this band to you at all but HIGHLY recommend it. The vocals were awesome too. The guy sang like he was in church. It was just an odd mix and I was so excited watching these 2 guys. 

Once Shudder To Think took the stage, our nostalgia meter went into the red. The band sounded amazing. The original bassist Stuart Hill was missing in action, which i will admit put a damper on this for me. That said, the addition of Mark Watrous on 2nd guitar, and Jesse Krakow on bass sounded amazing. Im not sure who these 2 dudes are, but they filled out the sound perfectly. Nathan Larson wailed as usual, and Craig sang his ass off, as well as playing a 3rd guitar on stage. Kevin March, who played in the band on the band's final album was the drummer of the evening, and in my opinion was the only "not so great" part of the band's line up. Guys, give us Adam Wade, he kicked so much ass on Pony Express Record. Anyway, there was plenty of the punk energy from the early days, but at the same time this IS 2008 and the band knew this was a "greatest hits" concert. And in saying that, they played EVERYTHING i needed to hear. There are certain songs from the bands discography that I felt was imperative to play, and they didn't miss one from my list of absolutes. Sara wanted to hear Red House,which I knew they were going to play. Oddly enough they opened with it.The show lasted about an hour and a half give or take, and we all sang along to every song. The band was clearly having a lot of fun, and the crowd seemed to be waiting as long as I was to sing along too. The experience was honestly, surreal. What else can I say? I got what i wanted.

Nathan Larson in full rock action

All in all, we got to experience a moment we thought was long gone, and we felt like we were 10 years younger. We finally got to hear those guys live, even if it was only most of them. Sure, it didn't feel like a rebirth, but it certainly was a tight loud set of some of the most important music we ever had in the punk rock/alternative scene. And who knows, maybe this new incarnation of Shudder To Think will prove to the world they can still ride that sexy horse!!


Red House
Shake Your Halo Down
Hit Liquor
Love Catastrophe
Lies About The Sky
Jade Dust Eyes
The Man Who Rolls
Gang Of $
She Wears He Harem 
9 Fingers On You
No Rm.9,Kentucky
Call Of The Playground
X-French Tee Shirt
About Three Dreams
The Ballad Of Maxwell Demon
Day Ditty


Matt DeBenedictis said...

You are a lucky lucky bastard for getting this moment.

Stephen Mark Sarro said...

Yes, i am, and i am humble and thankful about it!!!
My hope is that they continue the tour and add some dates, or just do it again in the soon future. It was great fun. As soon as i get the pictures, i am posting about the Residents concert.

- S