A Season of Songs, day 36: Jenna Rations

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today we have “Jenna Rations” by The Gotobeds, Pittsburgh local boys done good, off their “Poor People Are Revolting” LP from last year.

If i was the kind, to be so inclined
I’d see the blues I’d see the blacks as they fucked up the evening
in spite of mind, in spire i mind
i fade to blue i fade to black i wake up with spit on my chin in traffic BABY

I talked a bit about this the other day when I was talking about the Frantic Heart of It song on day 33, but one of the interesting things about being involved in a community for almost 20 years is you get to see people evolve, grow up and in various ways succeed and fail.  I’ve been involved in Pittsburgh’s music scene since 1996 and especially since we started Roboto in 1999, I’ve had the opportunity to watch lots of people go from high school kids to grown ups.  You get to watch them evolve as individuals and many you get to watch evolve as musicians and artists.  Today we get to talk about one of those bands.

The Gotobeds feature 4 guys that have been around the Pittsburgh punk scene for some time.  I don’t really know half the band, but Eli and TFP were guys who were hanging around Roboto pretty early in its day, played in a variety of bands and both lived right around the corner from me for awhile.  I first would have met Eli when he was playing in Forward Motion.  I’m pretty sure he was still in high school at that time.  Maybe early college.  I guess I would’ve really have first had the chance to know TFP when he was playing in Ice Capades and I assume that was his early college years.  Either way they were both just young goofballs with a zest for life and a drive to make music.

Both of these guys would go through a handful of bands.  Eli’s band Mary Celeste would probably be the one that would elevate the status of all the dudes in that band.  They would put out two really great CD’s and I see their name come up in the listings whenever someone on the local messageboard asks “What’s your favorite Pittsburgh bands, past or present?”   Ex members would go on to play in many more Pittsburgh bands, including Icon Gallery and Carousel.  Eli would go on to Kim Phuc, where he would be joined by TFP.

Kim Phuc would rip it up for a good number of years.  They were loud and had a great live presence.  That type of wall of sound that really feels like it is shaking your very being.  Always loved them lived but really didn’t take the opportunity to see them as much as I should have.  Despite not really seeming to play too often out of town or anything, they did create a bit of a buzz outside Pittsburgh city limits.  They would put out a couple 7″s and an LP, which were all adequate records but I always felt none of them really captured the sound and sensation of a live Kim Phuc show.

Even before Kim Phuc had called it quits, Eli and TFP had gotten involved in The Gotobeds.  I remember they played one of the early events in the new Roboto space during construction.  I was like, “Ehhh, this is ok.” but the live show at that point didn’t really strike me.  Fast forward a number of years and I picked up the LP shortly after it came out.  It’s a really great record that I think brings back a lot of the catchiness and danceability of the Mary Celeste records, but also shows some maturity of sound.  And while I haven’t seen The Gotobeds live recently, the record really seems like it actually does capture the vitality of what I imagine their performances to be like.

Recently The Gotobeds announced that they’ll be putting their next record out on Sub-Pop.  Really great news for them.  It’s really satisfying to see people you’ve watched work so hard to create their music and put the time in get acknowledged on that level.  I wish them all the best luck.


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