|Jef and Nikki Davis in happy times - photo credits unknown|
For those that don't know, Jef was a local Bay Area punk guitarist. He played in STFU and Voetsek and became a music engineer of some underground renown. I knew he and his wife Nikki from so many parties and shows. I quaintly associate them with my first smell of toxic printing plastics and punk rock economy. The first time I met them more than a decade ago, the pair were printing vinyl stickers in their apartment in San Francisco and I had an order to pick up. A few beers later, we were friends.
They were involved in an accident on their motorcycle on June 10 of this year, when Jef lost his life and Nikki suffered life-altering injuries.
Their friends, their loved ones, have come together in this time of need and done some amazing things. The vocalist for Voetsek, Aimee, organized the benefit show we played last Friday. It was an amazing show and an amazing turn out of charitable folks.
At my place of employ, posters for the show were printed gratis. Mauz, my boss and friend at Monolith Press, donated our time and money to the cause.
The line-up was amazing enough for a show under any circumstances. The still freshly reformed Autopsy and Noothgrush added some heavy weight contenders to the bill. Then there was upstarts Acephalix and I think our band is nothing to sneeze at either. Of course, this is only one of several benefit shows that have been organized. So many people in the Bay Area have turned out to help defray the costs associated with Jef's passing and Nikki's recovery.
Jef and Nikki were closely associated with the Metro Opera House, the venue of the event. For weeks now, they've had prayer candles lit emblazoned with images of Jef and Nikki. This night, they were donating the venue space. Banners of Jef and Nikki together were hung all over. It was sad and happy.
For a few weeks now and at several previous events, people had been donating items. I knew it must be a good amount of schwag, having donated some records and such myself to the pile. I really had no idea, though, how much had been collected. It was amazing... boxes and boxes of rare LPs, artwork, photographs, shirts, a guitar, a bass, and god damn drum set were up for raffle.
In between bands, Aimee called out tickets for the raffle drawing. It took SOOOOO long to get through all that stuff. Not that I'm complaining. It was nice to witness all the generosity.
Acephalix got the evening started with their brand of Bolt Thrower-esque heaviness. This band is solid as fuck and rips it up every time. Crushing guitar tone couples nicely with vocalist Dan's brazen foot pounding, gurgling, and crowd threatening. Seriously, I feel like I'm in danger when this guy is on stage. And you could never meet a more sweet man... just don't get in his fucking way on stage.
Next up was... well, actually, tequila shots around the back. I was surprised that friends from the Pyrate Punx crew had driven in from as far away as San Diego to come support the show.
It was a packed house by the time Noothgrush hit the stage. New vocalist Dino is true to the old material, and that's pretty much what they covered. I'm not sure how many people actually remember these songs from "back in the day," when our bands used to play shows together in the back of a record store to fifteen or so people. It doesn't really matter. They're crushing more heads than ever now.
On a technical side note, Gary from Noothgrush was rocking an Ampeg 1540HE cabinet with four 10" and one 15" speaker. It's the same type I'd written about before that I restored, but in great condition. After the show we spoke about how he wasn't too happy with his tone. He had an Ampeg SVT-4Pro to match the cab. I explained how he could bi-amp the set up to achieve a fuller sound. The SVT-4Pro has correspondingly named speaker outs to match the two sections of speakers in the 1540HE cabinet. With two speaker cables, the lows can be sent to the 15" speaker and the highs to the four 10"s and dialed in to match dB levels. I know it's the propensity of men to charge forward without reading instructions, especially musicians, but sometimes it pays to go over the literature. I'll be curious to see how it works for him the next time I see them play.
Our set was... well, it was fucking chaos. It's cute when a couple security guards on stage sit on the sides while I'm forced to push people off the stage, bass in hand. Ah well... those tigers really just hate the fuck out of Sean's mic stand. They want it DESTROYED. I would like to advise folks who want to jump on stage with us and actually grab a microphone: please learn the lyrics. It's really embarrassing for all involved when you just scream incoherently along with the beat.
On me and Sean's side of the stage, there was a piece of shit power strip plugged into an extension cord. That was power for our amps. Oi vey, I had no idea the problems it would cause. Sean sounded like he was coming out of a Marshall 900, sans gain, and I was losing a lot of oomph while my power light flickered. That power strip was more like a weakness strip. I was worried about our gear. Autopsy was borrowing this stuff, sight unseen, for their headlining stint. After we played, I had the club switch to a more robust power strip and the problem was solved. That's just one more thing for the pre-show checklist, I guess.
I first remember seeing these Autopsy when I was a scared young teenager going to death metal shows. I had few friends. I remember seeing Chris covered in green slime. I thought that was so fucking cool. Obviously. What an impact those shows had.
And what an impact this one had. Holy fuck balls, they are still so good. And they sounded great on our shit, if I do say so myself. And I think I just did. Autopsy was a great kicker to what was an awesome and fulfilling evening.
Even after the show was over, poor Aimee was still giving away prizes to the peeps who bought raffle tickets. Madness! I imagine the show was an extremely successful benefit, but little can defray the loss and suffering...
My one, my biggest piece of advice I can give here is to remember the loved ones around you. Give a hug, hold tight, give a kiss (if appropriate, natch). It's easy to forget in the humdrum day-to-day bullshit. All the folks who came out this night remembered to show the love... just like Nikki and Jef always did.
Nikki is still recovering and her medical costs will be enormous. So much has been done, but every little bit helps. If you haven't been able to, and can, please try and give so that her hard road to hoe is just a little bit less hard.
You can donate here: Nikki Davis - Caring Bridge Page