I've asked before.) Maybe they were really on (or desperately off), maybe I was in the correct place to have rock and roll grace bestowed upon me. Maybe it was a random, twenty-something aligning of the stars. Luck. I was amazed and surprised at how good the Oysters were that night. One image stands out: the bass player J.R. leaping and landing on the band's crashing note at the end of some sloppy song—or was it the ragged opening?—a sloppy grin on his face, we pulled it off! He looked like a kid who'd made a half-court shot, or a younger brother who'd begged the band to let him play just tonight, I promise! When I later picked up their one and only album (Green Eggs And Ham, released on Taang! in 1985) there J.R. was in a group shot, wearing his guitar more or less the same expression. I was happy to see that.
The album, alas, disappointed me—it had to, after that night. The drums sounded smaller, the guitars quieter, the indefinable and unpredictable maelstrom of a show—sweat and girls and beer and a night without end and the surprise of being surprised by a great band—culdn't possibly be reproduced. But that's OK. I have the memories, kind of. I did write a review of the show for the late great Washington DC punk zine The Period, but my copy of the issue is long gone. (Anyone got one?) That's OK, too: all I need is the fact of what I saw, a young band of reckless kids hitting a stage, plugging in, and taking everyone and themselves down a shockingly steep steep hill that bottom of which is both blessed and regretted. What a night.
"Headhunter" comes the closest to reproducing something of that night, though really what provided the ear-splitting score was youth and chance. Turn it up.
UPDATE: I tracked down the Oysters' follow-up single, "Mine Caroline," released in 1986. This Bo Diddley amphetamine stomp is more like it. Jump around and bang into things.