PHOTOS/WORDS: Mike Watt and the Missingmen

Raul and Mike Watt, Mikala Taylor/

“I’m not even sure how you describe that,” said Dave, aka Uncle Weed, after Mike Watt had ripped through one of his songs so quickly we were certain his fingers had turned to butter and his bass strings melted along with ’em. And that’s sayin’ something. Uncle Weed is a MAHOOSIVE Watt fan.

So, Mike Watt an’ his Missingmen (who are drummer Raul Morales and guitar wizard Tom Watson – last seen also backing up a solo Lou Barlow) were in town. They played at lightnin’ fast speeds through the third part of Watt’s life opera (and latest album) Hyphenated Man, thanked the city of Vancouver fer comin’ out on a weeknight during a tense Game 7 of a hawkey game (‘Nucks v. Hawks), and made a poignant dedication to Poly Styrene who passed away the other day.

Thing is, I am also unsure how to describe Watt-from-San-Pedro live. Avant-punk? Post-post-jazz? Southern-fried mental? Punktry and western? Supersonic Nick Cave of the Backwoods? Yeah.

The former Minutemen/fIREHOSEr is a legend, regardless, with his low-slung bass, flannel and movements so radical up and down and side to side, you kinda have to see it to believe it. THWACK went the bass…across the pickups, up the neck, on just one string, or all at once…it was, just…woah. And in between there were stories and Mike’s drawl.

And with the Missingmen? Tom and Raul might be the nicest sidemen in rock (and I do mean NICEST), but they’re fucking mean players. Tom snarled, lip curled, and attacked his guitar like it had run over his dog and Raul was sweating buckets across his kit two seconds in. Nothing less than buckets to keep up with Watt, man. Insane good. But the best bit? No, not the three-song Minutemen encore (I think “Toadies” was in there, maybe “Black Sheep” too), but the way the three of ’em fed each other – nodding at each other, making serious eye contact, hitting all those beats perfectly – during every high-speed chase. It was tight chaos. Impressive.

Afterwards, fans clamoured, and helped the southern gentleman – with a knee brace over his baggy jeans – off the stage. Then Watt headed off to the bar, bass slung on his back, while the Missingmen packed it all up. I STILL have no idea what really transpired during that set, but it was COOL. \m/

Tom Watson and Raul Morales, Mikala Taylor/

Mike Watt, Mikala Taylor/

Raul Morales and Mike Watt, Mikala Taylor/

Tom Watson, Mikala Taylor/

Mike Watt, Mikala Taylor/

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