The Toonine Eyes swarmed like wasps on the D’ollaire’s stage. They hadn’t been booked en masse, but there they were. Bandleader Stefan Staph had been told he could open the local stop on the Red Flesh tour, but only as a solo act since the stage would already be set with several bands’ worth of drum kit, not to mention house-sized speakers and a dragon’s head.
But Stefan Staph is a Socialist, and devil-may-care, and some would say willfully self-destructive. So his “solo” show involved a cadre of sidemen ten times the size of the band he usually plays with.
The boys (and two girls) ran wildly about the stage, banging on anything handy while Stefan and his oldest friends Flash and Bambo strummed mad power chords on acoustic guitars. Some of the songs were vaguely recognizable as 2-9-I tunes, but really it was just a relentless thunder of thumps.
Ten minutes in, the crowd was cheering. Fifteen minutes in, the headliners’ roadies had expressed worry about the gear. Sixteen minutes in, lights were dimmed and mics turned off. There was an insistence on retuning and rebalancing everything. It was an hour and a half before the next band played.
There were the usual rounds of “You’ll never play here again” and “I’ll sue,” but the Tooniner’s popular annual Metal High School Holiday Festival continues to be listed on the schedule, though it’s still two months away.
Was it worth the trouble to bring one’s pals onstage with you rather than simply moshing a couple feet away in the pit? “I know where I stand,” quoth Stef quizzically.
Tonight: Basement Show with nonagenarian troubadour Johnny Seed and five other singer-songwriters in the “Music Room” of the Senior Center. Don’t you all be jumping onstage at once now… A cooking demo at the Bullfinch? No, just popcorn-hurling malcontent Randolph Q. Mertz… At Hamilton’s: The Tribulanterns, playing “hits from the ‘40s,” with the son of a guy who in a big band once on sax… D’ollaire’s? Who cares?…