Last Crack @ Scatz Sports Bar and Nightclub – 11/14/2009
The original members of Last Crack reformed for a one-night stand at Scatz in Middleton on Saturday, November 14th. The venue was packed as the show was a sellout. That means 800+ people jammed Scatz at $15 to $18 a head.
While downtowners like to think all worthwhile music only takes place on the isthmus, the plain fact is that the clubs off the isthmus is where music fans gather in droves for local bands. Scatz has been pulling big crowds since it opened and other clubs are faring well. The Badger Bowl, the Dry Bean, the Club Tavern, the Hody, etc. have all been in existence for a long time now and these clubs are bigger than most downtown, save the Orpheum, Majestic and the like - clubs that don’t feature local-only shows that often. Only the High Noon Saloon and the Harmony Bar can rival the success of the outlying clubs for draw at local music shows. Granted, there are lots of cover bands that frequent the outlying establishments; but those bands and the hard rock bands are what draw the crowds. In the High Noon’s case, their biggest local draw is probably Gomeroke featuring the Gomers – who play covers.
The Last Crack show is a great case in point. An original group that plays stright-up hard rock the way it should be played. And Last Crack put on a clinic. Sporting a beefed-up light show and a film crew complete with a camera boom, Last Crack pulled no stops.
Their performance was excellent and no person not in the know would ever, ever guess that it has been eighteen years since this band played together. As Greg Martin of Next Level Productions put it, “If a couple of them had longer hair you would swear it was still 1991.”
Every facet of the show kicked ass, for lack of a better term. Guitarists Paul Schluter and Donny Bakken were nothing short of amazing, swapping highly technical leads and pulling off nifty unison phrases. They – and the rest of the band – appeared to be having so much fun that they made it look easy.
The rhythm section of bassist Todd Winger and drummer Phil Buerstatte (Philo) were solid as a rock, Philo not just playing the parts but adding every fill with precision and power, Buddo often accentuating in perfect sequence.
Last Crack’s music is not one-dimensional. It’s highly melodic, emotional and dynamic. Singer Buddo, who was in spectacular voice, occasionally uses spoken words as well. I’m sure lots of comparisons get made but I was reminded of Queensryche in style with a harder edge and tougher vocals. But then again, I believe Last Crack pre-dates Queensryche. No matter, comparisons are sometimes useless anyway.
Buddo absolutely commanded the stage and if there is a better rock singer to come out of the state, I have yet to hear him/her. The crowd that was packed into the area between the stage and soundboard were singing along to all the songs, pumping their fists at the climaxes and seemed to know every nuance of every selection. I cannot think of a time I’ve witnessed that for a local band. The closest thing I can come up with is Spooner and in their day there were few bands that could even afford to make recordings.
Last Crack found their success with Randy Green at the engineering helm and, in an emotional moment, the band presented him with a framed edition of Sinister Funkhouse #17, the group’s watershed album and the cause for celebrating as it was the 20th anniversary of its release. After that, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Maximum Ink‘s Rokker, who put the whole thing together and filled the MC role. Rokker has a long involvement with the band and, though one could easily tire of his endless promotion of Last Crack, to see the band live is know and appreciate his passion for their music.
Last Crack hit the stage around 10 PM, took a twenty-minute intermission and then played another set. Through the course of the evening they would perform the whole of Sinister Funkhouse #17 and many other songs. It had to be close to three hours of performance time. When was the last time you saw a downtown band work that hard?
Sactz has been drawing heat for making too much noise and the plain fact is that poor planning led to the establishment being far too close to two hotels. The music was audible from across the parking lot and let’s just say that the language used from the stage is not always Gentleman’s English. It’s a shame because this club has something going, finally bringing back some remnants of the heyday when the clubs had to be big enough to accomodate all the fans. To lose Scatz, would be disappointing to say the least.
Now, I’m not making a case here that the bands that habitate Madison’s downtown should go the cover band route. Just stating the facts as I see them. The real loss here is that Madison seems to be two cities and the outer ring doesn’t know what’s going on in downtown and vice versa. Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow the city could become one big scene? What a different world that would be.