Guttermouth are a band of ill repute. Mark “ADD” Atkins has been banned from Canada in the past on charges of indecency in Saskatoon. They left the Warped Tour halfway through their stint in 2004 after their onstage badgering of fellow bands turned ugly. Their whole existence has thrived on being obnoxious, saying the wrong things at the wrong times, and being lovably belligerent. Their names have been repeatedly uttered in the same sentence as SoCal snot-punk brass like NOFX, Pennywise, Vandals and Rancid. They hit a stride in the mid-90s touring with the Offspring and landing on the lead singer Dexter Holland’s label to create a bulk of their finest albums. Succeeding as the abscess of the scene continued for years Guttermouth joined Epitaph Records, found themselves in video game soundtracks such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and even playing on Jimmy Kimmel’s show within the first month, spitting on everyone.
Their juvenile, unpredictability has always been a charming point—a fun, ridiculous release of odd, clever satire and cynicism. I’ve enjoyed them at early Warped Tours as a teen, and finally catching a club show of theirs in Montreal at Les Foufones Electrique in 2009 remains one of my top five favorite shows ever.
As a result of this admiration from half of my years, I am sworn to see them if they come through my city. So when Guttermouth was booked at my favorite venue, the Middle East Club, I immediately got my tickets. Unfortunately, the show quickly devolved into a scene of mighty, fallen heroes. Before the band hit the stage, red signals were glaring. Bandmates swarmed the bar like bloated flies trying to score booger sugar from anyone with ears. It seemed as vital to get through the night as air.
Speaking with MidEast manager, Clay Fernald, he said similarly, “I knew this would still be a cool show, but those dudes are super sketchy. They seemed a bit off and caught us by surprise demanding a backline (basically saying they needed all gear provided to play). Thankfully (openers) Rebuilder came through to help them. Guttermouth showed up late, and were asking for ‘extracurricular’ party favors.” However, those moonbounce shoes can be fun only until they fuck with your show.
Once they hit the stage, disheveled and out of tune, fans were hassling Mark to turn up the vocals. He snidely barked back, “I’m a punk singer. This is how I sound … always have!” This is a cheeky response, but a cop-out for sure, as it seemed clear his larynx has given up on him after years of James Hetfield-esque growling.
I’m unsure if the guitars and mic were not theirs either, but that might help explain the consistent reverb droning through the upstairs of the club. It was similar to listening to a Guttermouth cover band. Mark wiggled and writhed on stage with giddy delight, but without his signature voice the performance felt like a withered gimmick.
While I enjoyed hearing half-hearted versions of the classics such as “1-2-3 Slam,” “Lipstick” and “Perfect World,” it was depressing to watch Mark waddle about with no voice or clarity. Drugs are a part of many music scenes, which is totally fine (aside from 70s-infused disco) but when it seems to create a shell of previous greatness, it just blows. Hopefully this was an off-night and they’ll be able to bounce back.