Mike Hudson & The Pagans @ Blue Bag Records
Richard and I went to see Mike Hudson play at Blue Bag Records on Saturday night. He hadn’t played in ten years, and hadn’t played L.A. in….did he say ever? He sang and wrote songs in The Pagans in the 70’s, then 80’s, along with his brother Brian Hudson on drums, Mike Metoff on guitar and Tim Allee on bass. They are legendary, if not a bit less famous than their fellow Cleveland punks The Dead Boys and Pere Ubu.
Saturday night’s line-up, on which Hudson commented that they should have billed it “Mike & The Italians” was Tony Matteucci on drums, Lauren Molinare on guitar and Michael James D’Amico on bass. They just fucking killed it. Over and over again. If I hadn’t been leaning against thousands of dollars worth of vinyl with my plastic cup of wine, I would have been dancing.
Hudson opened the show with a story from his book of selected stories called Jetsam. His hands were so endearingly shaky I’m surprised he could focus on the searing text, which was an incredibly moving story about the death of his brother Brian, the fleeting nature of life, and the absurdity of being the one that’s left behind to live. Like Bukowski meets The Deviants, his prose is beautiful, ugly, perfect and horrific, a stomach churning emotional roller coaster. I can’t remember what he said at the end of that excerpt, but it was something dramatic and then he flung the book away and started the set. Fuck, yeah!
If there was any hangnail of doubt lingering about Hudson’s commitment to personal expression after hearing that story, it was clipped by the opening lines of the first song, and banished by the end of the ass-shaking set, which was full of heart-wrenching and sometimes hilarious lyrics about losing at love with all your guts and glory. At one point Hudson declared “All these songs are about her…,” which is something your average snot-nosed skinny-jean millennial punk would never admit to.