How many times have I laughed myself pissing while watching Birdie Jo? I don't really know, but when I saw them play again on Saturday night, I was definitely laughing with all the glee of a 26 year-old, self-pissing geezer instead of a 36 year-old one. Long live Birdie Jo! I have been seeing this band for ten fucking years now and I am still awed and inspired every time I see them play. Pedro, Michael and ScottK and Amy - I idolize you all. I don't know what it is you do, but you must do it good because I keep coming back.
The first time I saw Birdie Jo was the first time I had ever been inside Sam Bond's Garage in early 1996; the experience was good. I was introduced to two of my favorite things in Eugene in one night. Birdie Jo were just a three-piece band then and they sounded nothing like I thought they would. I had already met ScottK at the health food store he used to work at. I thought he was the kind of guy who would have a raging punk band. Birdie Jo was not that kind of a band. They were punk in attitude, but they played a weird brand of clanky, working-class folk-punk.
Quietly, the band rumbled along with a dis-jointed yet compelling sound. The lyrics were great - they sounded like they could have been written by either Charles Manson or Woodie Guthrie or possibly by both. And then there was Pedro; the matinee idol of the Eugene underworld.
Pedro was playing sitting down that night and had also lost his voice. He kept yelling, "I'm a twelve-year-old boy! I'm a twelve-year-old boy!", and it sounded like he meant it. He was strumming spastically at a bass with both of his hands and fingers covered with duct tape - why, I'll never know(or care) but it was funny as hell to see him strum and yell. Pedro was a spaz, but he played and sang with all of his heart and somehow that heart-felt feeling came through in his forceful, spasmoditic performances. It was often both hilarious and moving to watch at times.
Over time, many of my own bands ended up playing shows with Birdie Jo. One night in the Fall of 1996, Birdie Jo and a band I had called "Seat" or something played a show at the old John Henry's along with a bunch of other local bands for a KWVA birthday show or something. ScottK, Amy and Michael were playing, sitting down, without Pedro - just drums, guitar and cello, no bass - and this huge frat guy was very drunk and aggressive with the band. He showed his dislike of the music by standing menacingly on the stage, staring down at the band and trying to challenge ScottK to a fight.
Scott turned him down and this guy ended up being drunk, violent and belligerent
all night long, much to everyone's dismay. But I always admired ScottK's ability to send the guy on his way without provocation or hard words. He was under the power of Birdie Jo.
The other night was their annual Thanksgiving reunion show. Seeing Pedro walk in with his mohawk cracked me up. I just about pissed myself.
If you ever come and see them, wear adult undergarments.
Birdie Jo rocks! They are unique freaks of nature and prime examples of all the goodness that humanity has to offer.