For a certain zealous segment of our music-loving populace, the simple term "basement show" is an idealized notion with certain distinctive but intangible qualities: stuffy air, poor lighting, absence of a backstage.
Music doesn't get much more intimate than sweating it out with 50 or so strangers in what amounts to a giant hole in the ground.
Donny Kutzbach of Funtime Presents took a break Friday from booking some of the area's biggest venues to bring the founder of iconic hardcore punk band 7 Seconds to the subterranean performance space under Spiral Scratch Records.
Kevin Seconds' stripped-down set was great. The Sacramento native, who turned 50 in March, used a simple acoustic-electric to deliver his defiantly positive message.
But there seemed to be universal agreement in the room that our nontraditional venue was essential for creating the magic. Seconds' do-it-yourself ethos was a perfect match with owner Dave Anchovies' last bastion from big box sameness.
"This is the kind of store that Kevin is all about," said Kutzbach.
Beyond the occasional "in store" featuring local bands such as White Whale and Anchovies' own Plates, Spiral Scratch generally cedes the basement show business to other established spots around town.
A confluence of events set this one up. Seconds' agent contacted Kutzbach about booking a Buffalo gig following Seconds' appearances at Toronto's North By Northeast festival. Kutzbach suggested Spiral Scratch, which Seconds called "outside the box thinking."
So credit was shared among Kutzbach, Anchovies and Seconds for bringing the show to fruition. No one made a ton of money off it. Spiral Scratch stayed open late. Chris Malachowski of Buffalo's own Wolf Tickets opened with an excellent set of his own.
Meanwhile, Seconds' strum and harmonica wail (he had six, in different keys) emanated up the stairs and out the open door into the warm evening air.
On "Sunday Afternoon Bicycle Polo," Seconds warned against the jaded view that can accompany getting older.
In a nod to obvious influence Woody Guthrie, Seconds had "This machine trolls fascists" written on his guitar. Indeed, we heard Guthrie's "All You Fascists" midway through his set.
Seconds is like the American Billy Bragg. But if you're a fan of Bragg, Johnny Cash or Joe Strummer, then you'll like Seconds solo.
Before Seconds endearingly fumbled his way through a request -- 1985's 7 Seconds classic "Walk Together, Rock Together" -- as a closer, it was clear Seconds and his audience were in their element. "This is where I really feel most comfortable," he said.
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Friday night in Spiral Scratch Record, 291 Bryant St.