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Dharma Bums @ McMenamins Crystal Ballroom

February 22, 2010

The Dharma Bums - by Cash Money - 2/20/2010

…when the time comes. I guess I will know exactly when. And how electric it will be, like its a breeze. I will go Haywire.

Lyrics from the opening song “Haywire” by the Dharma Bums Saturday night.  I guess they finally knew when, playing their first show together in eighteen years at the Crystal Ballroom. It was electric  and we went haywire.

I first saw the Dharma Bums in 1989 opening for The Replacements at the Roseland Theater in Portland, OR.  I was new to college radio, and had not experienced the local music scene yet.  I was blown away.   The Bums were electric, exciting, and fresh, far outplaying the legendary Replacements.  To put it simply, they rocked.  I left wondering why it took me so long to realize that there was such great music from young bands just across the river (from Vancouver, WA).  Three or so weeks later, I dragged my high school buddies out to see them headline at the Pine Street Theater, and for me it was all over, they became, and will always be my favorite band.

If you’ve never heard of the Dharma Bums I wouldn’t be too surprised. (and you’re missing out) Although, they made quiet a name for themselves back in the late 80’s and early 90’s in the Northwest, and especially Portland music scene, they never made it into the mainstream. What Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Screaming Trees, and Mudhoney were to Seattle, the Dharma Bums were to Portland.    Their high energy live shows were something special and wonderful. They didn’t need any high budget antics, or pyrotechnics. They came out and gave 120% every show and left you wanting more.

Sadly, on the verge of breaking it big, they decided to call it quits in October 1992.  Their last show in Portland remains the best I’ve ever seen. Emotions in the building were running on extra high, and the Bums were in epic form.  There were many teary eyes on stage and in the audience during “Farmyard” when lead singer Jeremy Wilson introduced the band for last time. They did play one more time after that, in Seattle, but that show just wasn’t the same.

When I found out a couple of weeks ago that my beloved Dharma Bums were playing a reunion show, I was so excited.  Miraculously, it was on a night that there was really no reason I could not make it. A weekend before, or after and I would not have been able to attend.  I would have been bummed to say the least.   To make it even better, it was going to be night where I reconnected with my High School buddies, whom I introduced to the Dharma Bums so many years ago. To top it off, the show was at the Crystal Ballroom, which is home to a McMenamins Brewery, melding my love for the Dharma Bums with my love for beer.  If this wasn’t going to be a Good Beer Trip, nothing could be.

Bo Dangles, Cash Money, DraughtE, Croz and Stretch before the Dharma Bums Set - 2/20/2010

Everything about the evening was amazing. (Except for the lousy dinner in Vancouver before hand). The Crystal Ballroom was a great venue for the occasion.  It has been beautifully restored, McMenamins style, down to its historical mechanical floating dance floor. (Which is super bouncy and great for pogo’n) The Hammerhead Ale was as fine as it always is.  The opening act, Derby, was pretty darn good, and the Young Fresh Fellows were great. Unfortunately, I was too excited to see the Dharma Bums that I couldn’t pay much attention to either.

Just after 10pm, after years of hoping that I would once again see them play live again, the Dharma Bums took the stage, opening with “Haywire”.  They sounded like they always did, and the energy, the energy was still there.  For nearly two hours they played all the songs I love, a couple off their new (old) album Dumb, and a few I didn’t recognize.  I wish they had played “Mutiny” but I can’t complain. Once again, just like 18 years ago, the emotions were high.  However, this time if there were tears, they were for joy. Nobody in the building wanted the night to end.  I was in Bliss.

Jeremy, shaking his fist - by Cash Money - 2/20/2010

Near the end of the show, to my surprise and delight, guitarist Eric Lovre proclaimed that we wouldn’t have to wait as long to see them again.  When someone yelled “are you going to come to Seattle?” Jeremy Wilson said “yes”. (At least that’s what I thought was said) Sounds like a verbal contract to me. They are welcome to play in my adopted hometown any time, and I will be there.

Thanks to Stretch, for finding out about the show, and letting us all know.  Thanks to Cash Money for getting the tickets and letting me crash.  Thanks to Croz, for carpooling down to Portland.  Thanks to Bo Dangles for being Bo Dangles.  Thanks to Music Millennium for talking the Dharma Bums into playing.  Thanks to McMenamins for the Crystal Ballroom, and the Hammerhead Ale. Thanks to Lush C for staying home with the dogs. Last, but not least, thanks to the Dharma Bums for 20+ years of fond memories, awesome music,  and for playing live one more time.



They rocked so hard it was hard to get a stable shot - by Cash Money - 2-20-201

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FTC Information: Alltough I feel they are a part of me, GoodBeerTrips is not affiliated with the Dharma Bums. Nor is GoodBeertrips affiliated with McMenamins.  Nothing was received for free, I waited 18 years for this moment.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. urbanbeerhikes permalink
    February 23, 2010 4:03 pm

    Did you get laid?

  2. Jeremy Dharma permalink
    February 25, 2010 1:15 am

    Thanks my friend for the kind words and good vibes. Hopefully we can keep that verbal contract! peace, jw

    • DraughtE permalink*
      February 25, 2010 6:16 am

      Your’re welcome. I hope so too.

  3. Croz permalink
    May 2, 2010 9:12 pm


    Who let those two short guys in the picture? Anyway, I found the 22 year old lyrics sheet to Haywire. I will get a copy to you so you can finally know for sure what the hell Jeremy is singing, not that knowing would have made any difference in one of the best evenings I have had this year, maybe longer. Thanks to you, our long time buddies and, of course, the bums.


    • DraughtE permalink*
      May 2, 2010 9:33 pm

      Hey Croz,

      Cool, I’d like to get a copy of that. Jeremy and I conversed on Facebook, so I was able to get the correct lyrics for Haywire. It was a great night, and we’ll get to do it again fairly soon. They will be playing Seattle in September or October, releasing a 45 with two new songs! (darn, I may need to find a record player) I’ll keep you posted.



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