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Drag the River at Beerland

FRI., NOV. 21, 2003

If you really put some brain to it, this is probably your last weekend of normalcy before the shitstorm of holiday schmaltz blights the aesthetic landscape. By next Wednesday, you’ll have already begun the screaming descent into holiday hell, creeping along the slow road back to some faceless suburb in a doomed attempt to fulfill an outrageously outdated Rockwellian ideal. Even though the gun jumpers are already at work hanging lights, baking pies, knitting sweaters, and queuing up carols on the Muzak machine, there is still time for some happy commerce with the real world – one last chance to experience life that hasn’t been airbrushed to a cheesy, greeting-card gloss. If you’re looking for something real, try Beerland. There is a long list of adjectives that would describe Beerland, but gloss isn’t one of them. Situated somewhat anonymously between Elysium and Red Eyed Fly, Beerland offers cheap drinks, pool, video games, and, in their own words, “loud music” amplified to a certain extent by its cinderblock construction. What Beerland lacks in ambience, it makes up for in its bookings. Six nights a week Beerland books live music: lots of up-and-comers, first-rate punk bands, and an occasional roadshow score. This Friday is one such occasion as Beerland hosts Drag the River, a beer-soaked bar band from Fort Collins, Colo., featuring Armchair Martian songwriter Jon Snodgrass and All/Descendents frontman Chad Price. Although their roots are firmly in punk, Drag the River covers some of the same stylistic ground as current alt.country rock outfits like Wilco, Son Volt, and the Jayhawks, but with edgier lyrics and a crunchier sound. Filling out the bill are Austin punk band the Dirty Sweets, Minnesota’s the Switch, Chad Rex (who played guitar on a Drag the River CD), and local punk icon Spot. If you’re a little hesitant about a full evening of beer and punk/country, just remember that next weekend you’ll be glued to the sofa in a tryptophan coma watching “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

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