Me Vs. Everybody Vs. Liquid 8
Viva hosts the last days of Matt Christ.
Thursday, July 4, 2002
Photo by Aaron S. Birk
Photo: Goner or Gomer? Graphic artist and punk rock screamer Matt Christ bid bitter farewell to Monterey last week.
The Punk vs. Metal show last Thursday at Viva was an event that will only happen once-not just because punk rock and metal don''t always seem to attract the same crowd- but because it was to be the last time anyone may ever see Christ again. Matt Christ that is.
With a critical eye cast toward everything trite, worthless, and tourist-driven, Matt Christ was a prism of character in a bland sea of musical and graphical mediocrity. He arrived at Viva one week ago in a bleach-blond mullet wig and a black hat. His Robert De Niro features spread in a grin that testified to his enjoyment of his last moments amongst his local friends. The band he would sing with that night was calling themselves Me vs. Everybody-which played punk rock in the style of Johnny Cash or Tom Waits, not Sex Pistols or Bad Religion. The band could have been playing polka and still held relevance.
"I''m leaving because this town is too small and boring, " Christ said before the show. "I''m going back to school and am going to make music somewhere else."
With that he disappeared into Viva''s already crowded bar, his blond wig flapping behind him. His bandmates sat around, local musicians of interest in themselves. Guitarist Roger Mead-front man for crazed swing/rock group Psycho Lounge, sat by the waitress station. He watched the room, waiting to walk up and play his guitar like an animal for Me vs. Everybody. Outside stood Rob Claiborne, a bass player who has filled the pocket in punk groups since he was a kid. Somewhere in all this wandered second guitar player Robert Ruiz and a drummer named Toby.
"Well I guess there goes another one off to Texas," said a girl in a tight black dress. "Everyone is leaving." She drifted by while the entire scope of the event sunk in.
Not too long ago the Darktown Rounders took off to Austin to seek adventure outside the area. With them they took a form of music that was original for the area, exciting and passionate. Among them they dragged Cole Holiday-a legendary harmonica player who performed with the band Lovers & Strangers, which owned this scene a decade ago.
Matt Christ, also known as Eight-Ball, made graphics like no other. The inspiration for his posters came from Mexican porn books and the pulp novella covers of the 1900s. For weeks, brilliantly colored pieces had been taped and stapled to every open space in Monterey. The poster reflected the attitude of the groups he played with over the years that he was here (like the one dubbed Jean Benet Strangle Hold)-it was shocking, strange, disturbing.
That night Christ awaited his last show, where Me vs. Everybody would duke it out with metal kings Liquid 8.
Don Frank, Liquid 8''s bass player, sat on Viva''s small stage earlier that evening with guitar player Josh Gonzalez. They reverently hunched over their instruments like monks-practicing minutes before the show. Don stood up and singer Paul Hastey walked up and turned on a small hidden fog machine behind him, engulfing Frank in a thick gray layer of vapor. Hastey didn''t notice, but his bass player was standing there coughing and muttering obscenities in a layer of fog that wouldn''t leave the room that night for another six hours.
When Liquid 8 began playing it was like watching a wicked Disney Light Parade. Bright colored beams and pulsing strobes shot out from behind the band with amplifiers roaring. The battle had begun.
Anyone with enough sense to stay in the bar and out of the small main room picked up a vibe that felt strangely relaxing, but violently askew to anything else happening.
After Liquid 8 was finished and they hauled their sweaty bodies offstage, it was time for Matt Christ to say his final farewell. The red tubes hidden within a guitar amp glowed briefly on his face, a face lined in a sort of tragic importance. Christ jumped up before the crowd of people last Thursday and instead of making a long speech he screamed out in musical defiance.