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Music After sunset 

A crawl through the San Antonio club scene

Morning Wood brings the self-deprecating sleaze to Sam's

Paul's brothers' band supposedly sucked. He always spoke of them with many disclaimers. But after I saw Morning Wood perform at Sam's Burger Joint and told Paul how much I'd enjoyed their show, he admitted that he actually liked them a lot, too, but was afraid I'd be offended by their lyrics, seemingly very crass and Beavis and Butthead-esque.

New Orleans ska band Fatter Than Albert, playing to a packed house at Sam's Burger Joint. The club also recently hosted raunchy local band Morning Wood. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)

It wasn't the lyrics I heard first (though I'll admit I find them to be clever and self-aware), but the music. On first listen, the music was seemingly coarse and simple, in the spirit of bands like Green Day. But I soon realized, under closer observation, that the sound was actually much more complex and interesting.

The first few chords of the opening song sounded poppy and predictable, but then it suddenly shifted into something funkier, with many changes. And I noticed that the band's sound also changed a lot from song to song. Their material was a blend of heavy minor chords with pop-punk choruses with funk bridges with indie melody lines with acoustic guitar strums with electric bass slaps.

And then the lyrics began to seep out, but, as a girl, I was never offended by the almost misogynistic-sounding lines, because they were always followed by something equally self-deprecating (example: "Well she's always on her period but I might be a hypocrite if I said I'm not a jerk."). I came to decide that, like Woody Allen, perhaps the guys in Morning Wood are not sexist assholes but rather honest neurotics, unashamed of the dirty realities of life.

And though most of the attendees were obviously friends with the band (or in Paul's case, siblings with), their social circle included several young perfectly attractive and fresh-faced girls who were not only not offended by Pap's lyrics (yes, the lead singer/acoustic-guitar player goes by Pap, perhaps a product of cervix envy loosely disguised as mockery), but seemed to revel in the opportunity to put on a show in his honor: In a swirl of glitter and bright colors, two pretty girls with tight red pants and studded belts bounced around the dance floor at an alarming velocity. Occasionally they would let loose completely and twirl each other around in circles, believing in the blind forces of gravity and faith to keep them afloat. Whenever they whirled past my table, I caught the momentum of their raw energy and confidence mixed with the happy scent of Pert Plus college samples.

My friend Nicole and I sat in the cushy black booth near the stage, cheerily eating nachos and Frito pie. When Morning Wood's set ended, Paul brought Pap over to our booth to introduce him to us; we'd already met Paul's two brothers, who play lead guitar and drums in the band. "I liked your show!" I said enthusiastically, trying to get a sense of him in the dark, up close, as opposed to when he was jumping up and down onstage with his bleach-blond spiky hair shimmering under the hot stage lights. "Thanks, I like your nachos," he replied, looking down at the large plates of junk food spread across our table.

Nicole offered him some and he eagerly obliged. Not sure what else to say, I myself returned to the food for awhile. Once he had sufficiently fed himself, Pap looked up at me and asked, "So, how old are you?" It seemed an odd question, unrelated to anything that had transpired up to that point. "How old do I look?" I replied, to which he responded, "Why do girls always say that when someone asks them how old they are? Is it easier to say that than to just answer the question?" Hmm. An argumentative type. "It's just sort of an odd question," I said.

"How old do I look?" he then asked, trying to dog me at my own game. I guessed correctly: "24?"

"Dammit! You're right."

"I'm 28," I then professed.

"You don't look 28. You look youthful." I guess 28 isn't youthful to a 24-year-old. But then again, a 24-year-old like him seemed sort of immature to a 28-year-old like me. "So you're into youthfulness?" I asked.

"Yeah, like 17," he said, and then suddenly got up and left our table and disappeared outside. So I cornered Morning Wood's very youthful bass player and requested a CD, which I have since listened to several times.

Though I could've walked past all the tables to the back bar to order myself a drink, I decided to step outside for a change of venue and visit the bar that serves the tiny courtyard and the restaurant patrons. I was having fun wandering around and talking to everyone. I liked the atmosphere of mingling that was happening that night, and I enjoyed seeing that all the rockers were out. The members of the second band, sitting at the outside bar finishing their beers before setting up on stage, looked like a collage of Elvis Costello and AC/DC.

Sam's Burger Joint

330 E. Grayson

Just when I realized I had left Nicole sitting alone inside, Pap reemerged from somewhere and sat next to me at the bar and immediately began jabbering something about being a slut. Since becoming familiar with some of their songs about strippers and porn chicks, I have looked back on that night and wondered about his proclamation.

The lyrics convey as much repulsion as admiration for such a lifestyle (the sex worker as well as the desperate guy who participates as a paying customer), and I realize now why my friend Paul, who is so bashful and innocent, was trying to shield me from what he imagined my perception of his brothers' band might be. But just as Pap claims to be hooked on sex, I'm now hooked on the Morning Wood CD, and I've found myself defending the ideas within the songs as authentic expressions of reality from the point of view of someone attracted to certain aspects of sleaziness.

Nonetheless, our conversation at that moment could only go so far, as I was not quite in the mood to talk about sex with some guy I'd just met, even one who musically inspired me. So I took my drink and re-entered the dark theatre where I found Nicole sitting quietly, watching the second band. She looked up at me with tired eyes, so I quickly finished my cocktail and took my Morning Wood CD and left Sam's Burger Joint for the night to ensure Nicole would make it safely home.

"So you really like my brothers' band?" Paul asks me every time we go somewhere in my car and their CD is playing. "I thought you'd think they were silly or something." For a silly little oversexed pop-punk band with roots in La Vernia, they've sure consumed a lot of my thoughts since I first heard them at Sam's Burger Joint.

By Brooke Palmer

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