Jake and the Stiffs have always been aglow with Wilmington pride. During the glory days of the mid 1990's, they took a little ribbing, not usually to their faces, from the more snooty and perhaps overall more successful West Chester located bands. Though their outstanding "Love Bomb" graced the best Creep Records compilation "Dad I Can't Breathe" (available on 12" pink vinyl with sides A and B switched), they were subject to weird condescention. Not from me of course. I think people dissed them because of their refusal to do anything hard-core (they are STRICT power-pop style punk rock), towards which the winds of change were blowing, and they were like five years older than the rest of the scene (and I was five years younger). What that means really, is that they were before the rest. In my objective eyes, that wasn't enough to be, shall we say "better" than Plow United (who I never heard dissin' the Stiffs - it was more Arik Creep, Tom Martin, and non-band affiliated West Chester scenesters) at the time. But here's the thing... last night on September 12, 2008, Jake and the Stiffs took the stage at Mojo 13. It was a show to celebrate the release of the Stiffs' iconic bassist, Vince Algy Belial Suicide, from the slammer. The boys took the stage unashamed and unworried about reputation, as they always have, something we could not say about Plow even if they decided to play, which they will never do. What's more the Stiffs did not miss a beat, rocking through everybody's favorite numbers to the delight of punks, skinheads, and underage high school girls. The Stiffs have had a million line-ups, even including the great Wild Bill Kate on rhythm guitar at one point, but the heart is Vince on bass and Randy America on lead guitar and vocals. They played with my old band Ninja Attak when the horrible canadian perverted pop-punk (not sexually perverted, perverted what I like about pop-punk) band Gob came through town, and they played with Tit Patrol and the Endless Mike Jambox when the Queers came through last year. In fact the first show I played ever at the Barn Door in Wilmington was given to us by Bill Kate at a Stiffs/Explosive Kate show, and 1993's "Steal This Record" 7" was the first local vinyl I owned, just prior to Plow United's first LP. They were there for all the major punk rock moments in Delaware, quietly doing it right and getting shit for not fitting in just right. Last night was spectacular, I actually thought I was seventeen again, and the Stiffs played with that twenty-something abandon that is going extinct.
Ari Wallach (TEAM HUMAN)
7 months ago