Headstones Live!

Oct. 15 1997 at The Limit in Victoria, BC Canada
140 people

This is a day I have been looking forward to for weeks. The Headstones live, in a very small club in my town of Victoria, all for ten bucks. In case you don't know, the Headstones are a 4 piece from Ontario. They're loud, obnoxious, dope smoking, sons of b**ches who you don't want to f**k with. The lead singer, Hugh Dillon, has obviously had run-ins with the law and a paticularly nasty Heroin habit, which I hope he has kicked by now.
This band from Kingston has made quite a name for themselves, and with three albums under their belt, they've established themselves as heavyweights in the world of Canadian music. The Headstones have made it by not selling out, but by keeping the same kick-ass mentality throughout all their albums, a trait commonly not heard in a bands' latter records.

So I drag my friends to The Limit, where we show up just in time for SUPERgarage. A fun little band from god knows where. They finished off with renditions of favorites from the past. Jeez i'd love to go to one concert where AC/DC doesn't get covered. They promptly exit and I push forward for a better locale.
What I didn't realize is that every poser from the University was there. You know, the crowd-surfing, girl-kicking, drunk-off-his-ass f**kup who always gets tossed halfway across the mosh by a bouncer or by any rule-abiding mosher. Days of old, when respect, jumping and banging are gone. Now are the days of surfing, pushing, falling and bleeding. Yea. And to boot, the club is too cheap for adequate security. One bouncer, no more. Oh boy.

The guys come out. Hugh Dillon looks like, well, Hugh Dillon. The trademark lead singer dons his spiked hair, black clothes and boots. Tim White, bassist, already has no shirt on and is quite ripped. You know, muscles everywhere, big, big guy. Trent Carr the guitarist is normal everyday-joe type guy, doesn't move, just sits there, but he plays amazingly. The drummer, Mark Gibson, is nuts. 'nuff said. They start right in to "Heart Of Darkness", a favorite of mine from their first album and the place erupts. Posers are flying everywhere, and by the end of the first song, Hugh's pissed off. There's this idiot crushing girls, surfing and being a genral dumb-ass. Hugh takes his mic stand and almost smokes the guy in the head. He missed. Probably on purpose.

If you have never seen Headstones in concert, there is simply a level they hit that no other band I have ever seen has ever got to. It's a complete disdain, a hate, for the audience but still managing to entertain and inspire. Hugh Dillon spits on the audience, threatens to beat the crap out of anybody and makes eye contact with everybody up front. And when I mean eye contact, I mean that cold-peircing stare that freezes you. When Dillon sings something, you believe this is how it is. One of the greatest moment for me came when they played "Cut," another song off the first album. Dillon proudly proclaims "This songs for all our real friends (crowd roars), looks like they're not f**king here." Nobody knows this song, and nobody is even

really looking on stage. Most people are just trying to keep balance. I shove people out of the way and watch the stage and sing along. Then I realize I'm the only one singing and watching him. Everyone else is moshing. So of course Dillon looks me right in the eye and starts smiling. Like maybe I'm cool, like maybe I'm that real friend. Then he sneers and fingers me. I finger him back. Higher praise I have never attained.

The last time I saw the Headstones was at a concert called Fox Fest, a local umpteen band extravaganza. I was over 100 yards away then, but now I was so close I could smell the dope that Dillon was smoking. Dillon's antics have to be seen as well. Like during "Oh My God" (yet another song from their first album, "Picture of Health") Hugh yells "fixed if so my veins are numb, so I don't feel it when it comes" he pulled up his sleeve and slaps his forearm, strangely like a heroin addict. Thankfully, though ... no track marks.

They went on to play most of the first album ("Tweeter and the Monkey Man" being my favorite), only "Unsound" from the second, and the obligatory hits from the recent album, "Smile and Wave." The bassist seemed on the level of Dillon, but the guitarist kept to himself and just played. The drummer was in a place all his own.

In terms of political correctness, Headstones come up woefully short. They're brash, burly and mean, and they tell it to you like it is. But underneath all this is something far more dramatic than stage antics. First off all there's melody, and lots of it. It's punk, but not really. Second of all, it's mostly a show. I don't believe that Dillon lives like this anymore, and he's supposedly a really nice guy. He has an acting career as well, he's played in "Dance Me Outside," a very good Canadian movie about Native life on the "reserve," and also in "Hard Core Logo," another Canadian movie about an aging punk band on a last ditch tour of Canada. He also did a reading for Quintan Tarantino's new film, which he reportedly lost to a big name actor who hasn't been named yet. But Tarantino said he respected Dillon as a person and loved his music and acting. He might use him in another movie.
Dillon is a smart man. His music is smart and his antics are smart. They illicit a response and they make you think. The Headstones are not politically correct in their approach but I don't think they really give a damn. On my way out I tried to nab Hugh's roach. I was so close to getting it before the roadie stopped me, oh well. But I think the best moment came for me when I was on my way out with my "friends." I thought of The Headstones lyrics from "Three Angels," and I sorta connected (again) with the words:

"That's the thing about living, when you get there you're seldom forgiven. And all your best friends, are people you just met. Well you can take em or you can leave em, they're sitting in this barroom. I guess it beats the hell out of loneliness, sweet loneliness"

by John J. Albin
Email me-I'd love to hear what ya got to say.

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