A Season of Songs, day 42: Bears and Bricks

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 “Bears and Bricks” by Grand Buffet from their 2007 “The Haunted Fucking Gazebo” ep.

brown bears and building bricks
both symbolically classically masculine solid shit
very earthy, a dangerous marriage
a brown bear that could throw bricks would scare kids
but conversely, a civilized bear
with some masonry skills wouldn’t kill
(wouldn’t care!)
about outside affairs that don’t concern him
he’d be in his brick house – throwing, burning!
throwing secrets out for all to find
basically burning the eye of horus blind

The first time I saw or knew of Grand Buffet was when they played the Roboto Project’s first show, which was ADD Fest 2.  In their ten minutes they quickly became a new favorite band, dancing around, throwing out dollar bills, and generally putting on a short version of the energetic and ridiculous live shows they would become known for.  That would be the only time they officially played ADD Fest but they would come back a few times over the years to do some special guest appearances like the year they came in and did a 311 cover.  Grand Buffet and various side projects (The Four Seasons Boys, Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, etc) would play the original Roboto location with some frequency over the first 5-6 years of its existence.  They had some over the top release shows at Club Laga for their first couple CD’s “Sparkle Classic” and “Cigarette Beach”.

Things I love(d) about Grand Buffet:

1) While the members of Grand Buffet are Lord Grunge and Grape-A-Don, they also took on various other personalities over the years.  “Cigarette Beach” brought us Matt and Nate Kukla.  “Undercover Angels” gave us Fred Durts and Mr. Pennsylvania.

2) On stage the members of Grand Buffet weren’t beyond pushing some limits and pushing some buttons.  However, as performers they were always aware of the possibility that someone might take offense and didn’t get defensive about it.  I remember one show that I put them on and this radical puppet group from Philly also performed.  A woman with the group got a bit offended by some bit that Lord Grunge did, but he took the time to talk with her after the set, apologized and came to an understanding.  It’s real easy for someone trying to do this type of thing to take the stance of “I’m right, your wrong.  This is my art. Fuck you.” but these guys didn’t take that stance.  Ultimately they just wanted the folks at their shows to be having a good time.

3) They just threw a lot of shit out at shows – candy, cigarettes, money, etc. At one show Lord Grunge gave me this weird necklace/amulet thing.  I believe the story was that someday, someone would come looking for the amulet and would bring me good luck and riches…maybe lots of drugs too.  I forget.  The amulet is still worn by a stuffed animal at our house.  Grand Buffet were such great practitioners of audience interaction and story-telling.  I really can’t think of ever seeing a dull Grand Buffet show.

I must admit by the mid 2000’s, I wasn’t following Grand Buffet that closely. They weren’t playing as much locally and were doing a good bit of touring.  After having been pretty good about getting all of their earlier releases, I didn’t pick up a couple – “Five Years of Fireworks”, a compilation of “hits”, remixes, etc. and “The Haunted Gazebo”, a 5-song EP were skipped over by me at the time.  In 2008, they put out the “King Vision” album that I picked up when it came out.  Outside a few choice tracks, most notable “Cream Cheese Money”, I could never really get into that album

A few years back I stumbled upon “The Haunted Gazebo” EP at the library and brought it home.  Like I said, it’s a 5 song EP.  Similar to “King Vision”, I thought it was a decent listen but it never really grabbed me like their early releases.  But as I listen to “Bears and Bricks” right now, this is a pretty brilliant song.  The storytelling is there.  The absurdity is there.  This is pretty classic Grand Buffet.

Grand Buffet then were largely inactive for a couple years.  They did a couple “reunion” shows at Brillobox a year or so ago at this point and they were amazing.  A great mix of songs from over the course of their existence.  They still brought it live as good as they did when I first saw them.  So many great memories of seeing this band over the years.  At least 4 CD’s that I will fully endorse – “Sparkle Classic”, “Cigarette Beach”, “Undercover Angels” and “Pittsburgh Hearts”.  All of those are solid gold.  As I said, the later records have some choice cuts, but I think do tend to have a bit more ups and downs.

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