It's Will's Pub's anniversary month, which means all the musicians who regularly stomp pedals on that stage are getting all misty-eyed with memories. For this week's music feature, we interviewed bygone bands who are reuniting this week to celebrate 19 years of indie music invasion at the pub, in which they shared some of their favorite recollections of performing there. But the artists also reminisced about the best shows they've seen there, and since we couldn't wedge all that nostalgia into one feature, we isolated some of our favorite scenes below. See if it strikes a chord with you, longtime scenesters.
John Duvoisin, Backhand: "The best show I ever saw at Will's Pub to this day was the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, who were one of the highest energy rock & roll street punk type bands ever. All the ferocity of the Stooges with the aggressiveness of Motörhead. The singer/guitarist smashed bottles on the dance floor and rolled around in it during his guitar leads for the entire set, bleeding everywhere, truly did not give a fuck."
Tierney Tough, Vostok: "So many great shows at the old location! Engine Down, Denali, Aloha, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Cex, Q & Not U ... But, I'd have to say that the best is probably a tie between watching a whole room of people quietly sitting and entranced by Jonah Matranga (of Onelinedrawing) as he played all of his many band's hits on an acoustic guitar to a beatboxing mini R2D2 - AND - it's a little embarrassing now, but seeing Travis Morrison perform solo (right after the Dismemberment Plan broke up), and him jumping down on his knees right in front of me, fake-proposing at the end of his set, is something that I won't forget. Twenty-one-year-old me left that show elated."
Matt Caron, History: "The best - and one of only a handful official Will's shows with History was at a wonderful venue called Will's South. Wayne had to bring a PA system in. I think Will gave us the show there because he felt bad about not being able to do Will's for us, and we had our best band buddies Nakatomi Plaza coming into town from Brooklyn. There may or may not have been some folks doing blow off the A/C outside; there may or may not have been some pole dancing done after the show on the STRIPPER POLE that was in the bar. It was the most bizarre 'Will's' experience I have ever had."
Seth Duffala, Hurrah: "I’ve seen so many shows (at both locations) it’s hard to keep them all straight. In no particular order, I’d list Calexico (2004), the Decemberists (2003), and Rye Coalition (2002) as major contenders for best shows I’ve seen at Will’s."
Ryan Fleming, Peterbuilt: "I've always enjoyed playing Will's Pub as well as seeing shows there. The old location, on Mills, was pretty awesome. The backroom was a good size and had a door that damn-near eliminated any sound from leaving the room. So you could drink/party up front without losing your hearing. You could actually carry on a conversation without losing your voice."
Matt Caron, History: "One of my most memorable experiences and shows [I saw] at Will's was with Sound the Alarm. We had no drummer at the time and Jeff Kaplan called us up and asked us to open up a show. I said sure and we got our friend Omar from Agent Felix to play drums for us very last minute. I am sure, and not due to Omar, that we were terrible that night, but I hardly remember because the band we opened for was Engine Down. They were just about to release or had just released Demure and were absolutely flawless on stage. I was 100 percent blown away. I remember standing there with my jaw on the floor watching this band just kill it live and going up to them afterwards and verbally drooling all over Keeley Davis. He was super gracious and said, 'Yeah, you guys were real ... tight.' He didn't really need to say anything, but it was nice of him to respond in any form. That show goes down as one of my favorite Will's shows of all time, and there were many of them."
Tierney Tough, Vostok: "Vostok always had a great time playing at Will's, whether it was to no one or to a bunch of people. Thanks to Toby Brown and Will Walker for always being so welcoming, we were able to play with a ton of great bands like the Velvet Teen, the Mercury Program, Seldom, Nakatomi Plaza, Victory at Sea, and New Mexican Disaster Squad." ... "Although, I think the clearest show memory I have, is playing there a couple of weeks after we opened for Fall Out Boy at the Social (before they were the huge boy band that they are now), and seeing all of these young girls show up, standing right up front the whole set, tugging away at Clair's pants, and just ogling him that night. It was hilarious and I couldn't stop laughing."
Seth Duffala, Hurrah: "Easily, the standout Will’s show for Hurrah would be the Mary Timony/Medications show back in 2005. For most of the band, we were big Faraquet fans (note: two members would go on to form Medications), so this was a treat to share the stage with them. Another notable Will’s show was the 2004 show we played with Joan of Arc. Personally, this show was satisfying because of the band’s lineage. I liked some Joan of Arc stuff, sure, but Tim Kinsella had also been in Cap’n Jazz so it was exciting to play and interact with him."
John Duvoisin, Backhand: "I played with so many bands over the years, but the ones that stand out the most, other than all the awesome local bands of those days were Planes Mistaken for Stars when I played for Sound the Alarm. That and seeing Engine Down in their prime were my fondest memories of sharing a stage with touring bands at the original location." ... "At the current location, my favorite bands to catch that I never miss are Floor and Young Widows. They own that stage."