The Beer Patrice Bids Farewell to St. John’s
In all my years of watching acts come and go through this vibrant city, I’ve had the fortune of catching many artists develop and grow within the music scene as a means of finding out where it is they fit into the grander scheme of things. Bands tweak their sound during their earliest shows, trying new styles and often adding or dropping members as a means of finding the right balance for their sound or time restrictions. I’ve seen folk groups become indie pop groups and I’ve watched some of my favorite solo artists in St. John’s find the right collection of people to make their sounds come alive. The result is an ever-changing climate that ensures you will rarely see the same act twice.
The Beer Patrice, a band based out of St. John’s, fulfills this with each and every show they play. Self-described as a combination of punk/funk/gunk, this group has evolved their performances and sound with each passing week to reach the darkest places their music and lyrics can explore. One of my favorite things to do is take a completely unexposed and unaware friend to catch one of their sets, usually closing out a show and draining any remnants of energy a show-goer will have left in their system by the closing notes.
The first thing anyone will notice is the attire. I’m hesitating to use the word costume, as it implies that they are simply pretending to be something for an evening. And then, it begins to dawn on you as they plug in their instruments and lead vocalist Nathan Day (known locally as YAR Record’s beloved Badger) begins to speak as though he were tapping into some grand voice speaking from within him: this is no band. What you are about to see tonight is a performance, a play in its own right, a collection of everything eclectic and manic and romper that five men can offer a crowd elbowing their way to the stage.
These people are playing no character this evening. They are Harris O’Scumwater, Dr. VonRompenstien, The Infamous Don Pickles, Rufus Preroll, & Ugg Gurg. They are The Beer Patrice.
What you’re hearing as the distorted amps begin to kick in, as the bass begins its soundcheck, is the moment that the genie is let forth from the bottle: it is no longer Nathan Day leading us into the depths of the weirdness. The crowd, as with all Beer Patrice shows, is introduced through the stream-of-consciousness voice of Harris O’Scumwater, one of the many personalities this band has unleashed across the province and the country.
What happens next is an onslaught of some of the heaviest and catchiest music you can find on the Eastern Seaboard. From their set staples like “Big As Mine” (a song written about the size of a man’s Harris that challenges anyone not to sing along with its chorus hook) or “Zombie Pt. II” (a doo-wop inspired song about zombie life and love, reminding us that “an undead heart is a fragile thing”) to the thrashy punk influence on “Can’t Talk To Fish” or a humorous test of tastes with “Beastiality”, it’s impossible not to find yourself caught up in the moment, or diving into a crowd of flying elbows and torsos.
In an unfortunate turn of events for the local music scene, The Beer Patrice sadly announced that their show at The Levee on Saturday, January 31st would be their last for the foreseeable future. This, however, does not spell the end of the mayhem. We spoke with the current line-up about the band’s past and their open-ended future.
On the members of the group:
“Over the years we have gone from starting with no real members to speak of – more of a interchanging group of bored kids writing and singing songs about whatever crazy shit we could think up – if it made us laugh it was fair game. Most of the writing was done by Josh Young (Tex Q Bareback) in the lyrics department and Chris Kennedy (Dr. Von Romp.) with the melodies. I was primarily responsible for recording the noise for future generations and people as lame as ourselves. Over the years we’ve had Allison Parill (Queen LaQueefa) on vocals, Mike Penny (Dave Walsh) rapping, Matthew English (Count Dragula) on bass, and Stephen Wilcott (Fonez) all record, write, whatever. It really wasn’t much of a band as it was an excuse to write fucked up music.”
On the band’s conception:
“We only really starting performing the songs in a live capacity when we were unable to jam with our other band Quilt. Instead of calling off a practice, we would just get drunk and switch instruments and keep adding to our catalogue of romper songs. One day we booked a show and Badger (Harris O’ Scumwater) was basically forced to be the front man as he couldn’t play any other instrument than the drums – we insisted on everyone play non-dominant instruments to make ourselves sound shittier. The original idea was to form a band that would show up, drunk as all hell, play the most offensive music they could, and leave, without anyone knowing who, or what just happened.
The fact that it ever became more than an excuse to drunk on weeknights is really icing on the cake. I think that’s why we are so adverse to any kind of praise – the whole thing kind of caught on despite itself.”
On The Beer Patrice’s future plans:
“That remains up in the air. If Kennedy ever sets foot back in the province, we will be sure to play some kind of show somewhere. We have some live footage that we want to compile in a music video, and a few songs we would like to record lest we lose them in the void… Other than that it may have to sit as it is – a deadly time.”
The Beer Patrice were joined by local legends Jigger, and The Satans at The Levee on Saturday, January 31st to say so long to the monikers that captivated stages and living rooms throughout this city.
Check out The Beer Patrice on bandcamp.
All Photography by Mike Heffernan, 2015.