here to view a home video of the performance
and melee that followed.
Nobody expects their concerts to end
in blood. I’m not talking about orchestrated,
Gene Simmons, bullshit blood here. Rather,
the genuine article: wounds born out of
hate, or anger or (at very least) completely
unnecessary amounts of alcohol.
Perhaps blood is so captivating because
— despite all the drugs and partying and
insane egos — it’s rare that anything
genuinely conflagrate takes place. The
Gallagher boys of Oasis don’t seem to
like each other much, but that usually
results in drunken yelling and petulant
press statements. Jack White kicked the
shit out of the lead singer of the Von
Bondies a few years back, which took everyone
who’s ever seen Jack White by surprise.
The Vines like to brawl amongst themselves,
but they’re Australian, so that’s just
how they say hello.
But on Saturday, Jan. 7 at DG’s Taphouse
in Ames, 100 or so people were witness
to a Radio Moscow set that ended with
a spectacular, self-destructive and sanguine
After a phenomenal opening set by Des
Moines’ rockers Bright Giant, Griggs and
company took the stage and preceded to
set the air alight with tracks from their
newest album, “The Great Escape of Leslie
Magnafuzz.” Not much of a physical showman,
Griggs is mostly content to stand in front
of his mic and let overpowering ability
steal the show. Watching Griggs play guitar
is as close to watching art in motion
as any of us will get since Jimi died.
Seeing his hands work over the neck of
his Stratocaster with blinding dexterity,
listening to this wall of sound explode
outward, and to see it all come from someone
who doesn’t seem to be trying at all is
a marvel to behold.
But this singular talent may also be
the band’s undoing. Radio Moscow has always
been a one-man show masquerading as a
power trio. Griggs writes the music, produces
the albums and plays the in-studio drum
tracks. He’s the reason people pay their
money and walk in the door, and the other
two guys have always been fungible parts.
Concluding this night’s show, Griggs
grabbed the mic and announced, “This is
the last song with this lineup, ever.
So, fucking rock out.” Whether this decision
had been made before the show or right
that minute, by the band or by The Band
(Griggs), is anybody’s guess. What is
not a matter of debate is that a stoner
rock show featured an ending that was
As drummer Cory Berry slammed out the
last beats of the number, Griggs hoisted
his Strat over his head. It’s a common
thing for Griggs to toss his guitar after
a show, but on this night, for reasons
known only to him, Griggs turned upstage
and threw it directly at Berry’s drum
kit, where it landed with an audible clatter,
striking Berry in the chest. Berry jumped
up and slung the axe back at Griggs, striking
him in the head and opening a gash across
the front man’s forehead. People rushed
on stage to separate the two, while bassist
Zach Anderson walked off stage left.
Anderson and Berry quit the band that
night. Griggs was taken to the hospital
and walked out with 14 stitches in a crooked
line up his forehead. Undaunted and further
proving that he IS Radio Moscow, by the
very next night Griggs had recruited San
Diego bassist Billy Ellsworth and Lonnie
Blanton, a drummer from Salt Lake City.
The new lineup played their first show
in Chicago on Jan. 9, and Griggs was pleased
with the results.
Speaking to Griggs a week before the
Ames show, he said “I just want to play
what I like. I don’t think too much about
how anyone else is going to like it; I
just want to get up there and rock out.”
Well shine on, you crazy diamond. Nobody
who was in the Taphouse on Saturday will
say you’re not rock.