Snipe City is a weekly hockey column by 36 Crazyfists vocalist Brock Lindow and PUCKHCKY founder Matt Marini.
Where to start? How to sum it all up. Plain and simple 2015 was a mean nasty motherfucker! Now that isn’t to say that there weren’t some of the best moments of my life tangled in there as well but I have a new found respect for how life can turn on a dime and you better be prepared to sink or swim. Our album Time and Trauma came out in February and everything leading up to its release felt great on the music side of things, we had new management, new label, new publicists etc. So all parties were ready to roll and excitement was high.
We started the album cycle in Europe and as usual the people were incredible, we brought our buddies All Hail the Yeti with us and they just make anything better in my book. So the year went on and we played countless shows across Europe/US/Canada/Mexico/South Africa/ South America and the connection with our people was so rich and full of love that it erased the many breakdowns that we endured during a couple of the runs. We ended the year with a show in Santiago , Chile and it ranks up there with one of the best crowds we have ever played for, I’m still reeling from the high of it all. But I would be leaving out a major chunk of the adventure if I didn’t go into more detail of the entire trip to South America. I’ll be honest, it was a bit of a shit show on many accounts and I had heard the stories before but without witnessing it all first hand you don’t really know how to prepare. Let me fill you in.
It all started when we played our last US show of the year in San Francisco and had to leave right away that night to drive 15 hours back to Portland to catch a noon flight to Lima, Peru. Pretty tight, even if we had zero issues, but of course we hit snow and ice and we ultimately missed our flight. I went to the airlines counter at the airport and pleaded our case. To their credit they were awesome and helpful, booked us another flight for the AM and we were back on track. We got up early and flew from Portland to LA and onto Lima , Peru where we eventually touched down and basically the shitshow began. Lima is a beauty of a place located right on the ocean and we were all pretty excited to be down there. The first show was what I’d like to call a first class train wreck, from the opening note of electricity, there was this low frequency hum overpowering the entire mix that incorporated with the monitors feeding back each time you stepped toward them. That and the monitor guy not speaking a lick of English combined for one helluva set. Playing on rented gear is always a challenge, and by all accounts the gear provided was what was orderedm for the most part so things were decent in that dept.
After the show was over we had to go immediately to the airport because since we missed that originally booked flight our flights that continued once we were in Peru were also cancelled. At this point it was around midnight, and our flight was to leave at 5am, so we dealt with the flight issue and survived the airport boredom. We arrived in Arica, Chile next and it brought more of the same, little English spoken and lots of issues. The show itself was great, with a lot less technical difficulties, but after another immediate trip to the airport after the gig, we found out that the airlines went on strike and there were no flights in or out of Arica. Good times!!! So the two handlers of us all , Tomas and Unai, made some moves and the next thing you know we are on a chartered bus driving 5 hours to Tacna to try and see about flying out of there to Santiago. We were all pretty shot and I think I downed about three bottles of red wine and for the most part of the bus ride I was the group cheerleader, singing songs and trying to keep morale up, I think I did a decent job;).
We make it to Tacna and got a flight, six hours after we arrived, but that was better than nothing. We headed straight to the bar and do what we do, drink! Time went by at a snail’s pace and finally our boarding time approached, we headed to our gate and our flight was delayed two hours – the fun continues! At this point we are all pretty fried and patience has been tested like none other, so I’m sitting at the gate waiting on news of our flight to arrive and Tomas comes up to me and says,”Have you heard the bad news?” I’m looking at him like ‘if you say anything worse you may come up missing, bud!’ “The show in Santiago has been cancelled,” he says. At this point I’m waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of a tree and punk us all but no such luck, this shit was really happening due to some permit issues the promoters were having.
Fast forward to the plane arriving and landing in Santiago, a big city filled with tall buildings and lots of people who do not speak a lick of English and my Spanish is crappy at best. I thought many times of my high school Spanish teacher Mrs Henniger. She was a rad lady who I didn’t pay enough attention to and was now relying on my limited language skills. It’s funny though, in most of these countries I have traveled over the years I usually know how to order a beer! Priorities! We actually had the day off so it gave the promoters a lil time to scramble and try and find a new venue, it took them until 7pm the next night to lock one in and then try and get the word out, but this is what I came to find out about the South American fans: they don’t ever let you down and they sold the place out in minutes. We eventually played the show and I am not kidding when I say that Santiago may be the front runner for the best crowd we have ever jammed for, they sang every word loud as their lungs would allow and moshed, danced, jumped and smiled the entire set. I’ve never seen such beautiful smiles and louder voices and I couldn’t be more grateful to all of them for turning a trying situation into one of the most special shows of our career! So I’ll end it on this note, thank you to all the wonderful people who came to the gigs and made my 30+ hour nightmare of a journey to get back home in time for Christmas soooo worth it.Happy New Year to all of you!!!
Alright let’s drop the puck on ya…
The winter classic was a bit of a snore fest but there were a couple scraps to keep it interesting enough, the Bruins looked half asleep for most of the game and the Habs are just rolling even without Carey Price in net. Boston embarrassed themselves in front of their hometown fans, and it didn’t help that the lil pest Brad Marchand was serving a 3 game suspension for his cheap ass low hit on Ottawa’s Mark Boroweicki.
I’m personally loving this skid the Rangers are on and the fact the Flyers have beat them in each meeting so far this season makes it all the better! The best news for us Alaskans is native son sniper Nate Thompson is back from his long recovery and jumped into a deflated Ducks line up only to right their ship and get those boys rollin, Anaheim is tough to beat right now. The bad news is Alaskan legend and St. Louis Blues Center Scott Gomez was place on waivers and it’s not just my homerisms about the veteran playmaker that continue to make me scratch my head at his dismissals, I just hope he gets picked up with a team struggling at a 3rd line center position or a team that needs help On the PP, he is still one of the deadliest passers in the game, not biased it’s plain truth!!
Did anyone see the Donnybrook between Evansville Icemen and the Greenville Road Warriors, you don’t see full on line brawls that often anymore but this was a good ol fashioned knuckle up.
The world juniors are wrapping up in Helsinki and our boys on Team USA fell short of a shot at gold hardware when they lost to Russia 2-1 in the semis and will have to settle with a potential bronze as they face Sweden in the consolation game while Finland and Russia will go for the gold. Our boys looked pretty good for most of the tourney and continue on the right path for USA hockey, special thanks to NHL Network for the tourney coverage and it’s always good to stick it to my Canadian brothers when Team USA woops up on them in any tournaments!!!
Matts gritty details:
Lets hit on a few tasty topics this week. First of all, is anyone paying attention to the Florida Panthers besides us? Don’t look now, but they are very close to taking over first place in the Atlantic division. How close you ask? Well, by the time you are reading this, they may actually be in first place, as the Panthers and Canadiens play(ed) on Tuesday the 29th. The question to ask is how are they doing this? The key word here is BALANCE. The Panthers have a very balanced forward attack with nearly everyone on the top 3 lines contributing on a regular basis. Led by the never-aging Jaromir Jagr, the fine crop Panther youth is really starting to fulfill all that initial promise. While Jonathan Huberdeau isn’t filling the net with pucks, he is racking up the assists and playing an awesome two-way game. Guaranteed he will hit 60 points this season even with his terrible start. Other names to watch include: Trocheck, Barkov, Smith, Pirri & Bjugstad – and of course Jagr! Another point on Florida is one you may overlook…DEFENSE. The Panthers have only allowed 83 goals in 36 games. Only a few teams in the entire league have allowed less. The goaltending duo of Luongo and Montoya has been fantastic with each guy sporting a .920+ save percentage. Dare I say that if the Panthers can add a legit sniper to their already deep forward lines, they will become a serious threat in the East come playoff time.
How about those Washington Caps and Dallas Stars?? Both teams are very, very impressive and have big leads while sitting atop of their respective conferences. It sure would be interesting to see a playoff series between these teams as they pretty much play in total opposite styles. The Stars are winning with stunning offensive talent and depth, while the Caps are being led by the stellar play of their defense and of course the Vezina-caliber play thus far of Braden Holtby. For the record, Holtby is flaunting a 23-4 win-loss record, with a .935 save percentage and a 1.85 GAA (crazy numbers!!). It will be interesting to see if either (or both) teams make any moves at or prior to the trade deadline. For now, they are both really fun teams to watch, so make sure to catch a game!
Taking a quick peek around the rest of the league, there are a bunch of other guys you should definitely keep an eye on: Justin Faulk (Carolina) absolute star on the blueline, leads the team in scoring too, Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary) Johnny Hcky is tearing it up this season and already has 40 points, Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton) 31 points in just 28 games, and second on the team in scoring, Tyler Toffoli (LA Kings) 18 goals so far and seems to be heating up and also leads team in scoring, Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey) 16 goals already. This is a guy the Ducks should have kept, Mike Hoffman (Ottawa) 34 points so far, including 18 goals and second in team scoring, Ryan Spooner (Boston) turning it up lately and becoming an offensive force on a more consistent basis, Rasmus Ristolainen & Ryan O’Reilly (Buffalo) wow, watch both of these guys play! O’Reilly is an awesome two-way talent, while Risto is going to be a star defenseman for a long time. Aand finally make sure you watch Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia) This guy is a pure offensive-defenseman.Watch him skate, pass, score… and score. He has only played in about 20 games, so just wait until he gets more experience at the NHL level. So if you get a chance to tune in to a game featuring any of these teams, do yourself a favor and check these guys out.
OK, tune in next week for more hockey news!!
Dont forget that a bunch of new 36 Crazyfists x PUCK HCKY merch is now available at www.puckhcky.com
Keep your head up,
Brock & Matt