September 16, 2011
That Was The Show That Was: Walter Schreifels | Great Scott, Boston | 14 Sept.
We're surprised as you to say that, after all these years and all these bands, Wednesday night was the first time we had ever seen Walter Schreifels, who has been affiliated with more awesome bands than the average American owns records, perform live. Mr. Schreifels founded and has been the primary songwriter in New York Hardcore luminaries Gorilla Biscuits, as well as post-hardcore giants Quicksand and Rival Schools, among other things. After more than two decades in so-called alternative music, Schreifels finally released in 2010 a solo record under his own name. Titled An Open Letter To The Scene, the more rootsy collection was astonishingly good [review here], and we named it our second favorite record of 2010 right here. Needless to say, we were tremendously amped for Wednesday's solo show.
And we were not disappointed. With apologies to our favorite musicians, there likely is no more charming a man in indie rock than Schreifels, who delivered his set from atop a stool via single-pick-up Gibson hollow body and occasional harmonica. We expected him to simply stand and play and then stop playing. But the extremely affable Schreifels spent a fair amount of time speaking as well, occasionally in the middle of songs such as "Arthur Lee's Lullabye." He gave incredibly funny accounts of driving his "champagne"-colored Toyota Camry, watching pro wrestling and dreaming about meeting Sammy Hagar in a room entirely filled by an out-sized hot tub. It's not an overstatement to say the easy-going Schreifels -- who drove himself to the show and carried and set up his own gear and manned his own merch table and interacted graciously to fans-- likely could have entertained the eager crowd simply by telling stories all night. But as it was, he delivered a sonically spare but terrifically enjoyable set of old and new material wedged between the thrilling (and substantially louder) melodic hardcore of locals Daltonic and scene veterans Samiam.
From An Open Letter To The Scene, Schreifels played "She Is To Me" (which was apparently written in Boston, and about which he quipped "it's a fuckin' wicked awesome song"), "Arthur Lee's Lullabye" and the title track. It was particularly thrilling to hear him dip back into the his repertoire for a reinterpretation of Quicksand's absolutely crushing "Too Official" (from that band's 1993 collection Slip) and Gorilla Biscuits' "Forgotten." Interspered throughout were some covers and snippets, including a bit of Boston hardcore legends' DYS's "City By City." After a hysterical bit of musing about what Ian Mackaye must think of a new pro wrestler who affects a Straightedge persona, Schreifels churned out a folksy rendition of the Minor Threat shouter "In My Eyes."
It was refreshing to see Schreifels not taking things too seriously, not putting his songs up on the same pedestal as fans. Instead, he would change up vocal melodies and timing, play a song in a different tuning (leading to a very funny explanation of drop-D), occasionally tune in the middle of a song, or -- as was the case with "Arthur Lee's Lullabye" -- stop mid-song to insert the recollection of the dream about hanging out with Mr. Hagar. All of this was done without dampening the emotional punch of the material, from the wistful la-da-da-das of "She Is To Me" to the angst of "Too Official." "An Open Letter To The Scene," dedicated to deceased Warzone singer Raybeez (from whom some of the words of the chorus to "Open Letter" were borrowed), closed out the night. Bostonians won't be without Schreifels too long. He returns to Boston, in fact to the very same nightclub, with the post-hardcore foursome Rival Schools Oct. 24. We can't wait.
Walter Schreifels: Internerds | Tumblr | Facebook | YouTube
07 Arthur Lee's Lullaby by Dine Alone Records
Walter Schreifels - Open Letter To The Scene by bsmrocks
09.17 -- Otto Bar -- Baltimore, MD
09.18 -- Strange Matter -- Richmond, VA
09.20 -- Smiling Moose -- Pittsburgh, PA
09.21 -- Horseshoe Tavern -- Toronto, ON
09.22 -- Katacombes -- Montreal, PQ
09.23 -- Mohawk Place -- Buffalo, NY