Old Thrashers Reunion: When goodbye sounds like Oi! Oi! Oi!

Old Thrasher
This will be the eighth and final Old Thrashers Reunion. illustration by Joseph Heuermann

Old Thrashers VIII The Final Chapter! w. Human Error, Soviet Dissonance and Stiff Legged Sheep

10 S. Gilbert St. — Saturday, June 13 at 8 p.m.

Iowa City is of course a transient town, a place people in their teens find themselves while attending the University of Iowa. Then most of them find themselves somewhere else, as far from Iowa as they can manage. But something strange and wonderful happened here in the 1980s in the local rock scene: A bunch of bands were started with a strong local contingent; kids from Iowa City, West Branch and Coralville got fired up to join the international DIY punk/metal/hardcore revolution.

The Old Thrashers Reunion, for the past eight years, has been a reunion for the old school bands from that period. Started initially as a celebration of Kylie Buddin’s birthday, it has grown into a yearly event celebrating the good old loud days of yore. Kylie was in a long string of bands (Human Error, Stickman, Stickman), but also has worked for years at United Action for Youth, a local non-profit that works with teenagers. As with previous Reunions, proceeds will go to UAY.

Saturday’s event will take place at 10 S. Gilbert (the 107-year-old Unitarian Universalist Church), which back in the day hosted many local punk and hardcore shows, including the legendary 1983 Hüsker Dü performance, about which tongues are still wagging and ears ringing.

Reuniting for the event are Human Error, Soviet Dissonance and Stiff Legged Sheep. Human Error was Kylie Buddin’s first band, including Ed Nehring (who later founded HOTT with Buddin) and Tim Kennels on drums. They were a hardcore/thrash band playing fast, short, screamy songs, and they once opened up for Sonic Youth at Gabes.

Soviet Dissonance formed in the early ‘80s and included David Murray (Wax Cannon), John Murry (on bass) and Simon Melroy on vocals. Their cassette Highway To Hills is preserved on line by Ben Smasher’s 319dude archive project.

David Murray also plays drums with Stiff Legged Sheep which featured Paul Neff (Iowa Beef Experience), Matt Hall and Paul McCue. Though they only recorded one 7” record, a live recording from 1986 is in the 319dude’s archive.

Many of the members of these bands still live in and around Iowa City and are still active in the music scene. People who lived here during their heyday in the 1980s have spread around the globe and still speak in awed tones of the great shows they attended while here. Thanks to the internet and the passionate archiving of David Wilkins and Smasher one can still access the echoes of the chaos, creativity and fun of that decade, when punk kids made their own fun. If you attend Saturday night you can meet the guys, a bit older and greyer but no less angry and willing to damage your hearing for art’s sake.

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