LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY has had more than its share of out-of-nowhere bands following from the second big bang that was punk rock. The Babylon Dance Band, Circle X, Your Food, Squirrel Bait, Bastro…these are but some of the exceptional music acts originating in Louisville after 1977. Now it’s time for the great secret of the Louisville first-wave punk scene to be revealed: The Endtables.
The Endtables were the crazed brainchild of guitarist Alex Durig, brooding chess-master of the amplified freak-out, and singer Steve Rigot, a flamboyant transgender giant from the shores of southern Indiana who reinvented himself as a Warhol Factory superstar. Like Scarlett O’Hara wrapped in a green velvet curtain, Rigot crafted his own glamorous reality from what was available in the blasted cultural landscape of 1970’s Kentucky. Gold spray paint, duct tape, Ace bandages … a spectacularly other trailblazer who caused folks to toss their received ideas of beauty and go with the new thing instead.
The band first took the stage in late 1978 and was finished by the summer of 1980. In the fall of 1979 they recorded six tracks at a Louisville studio, four of which came out on a 7” EP on their own Tuesday Records. The two remaining tracks (“White Glove Test” and “Trick or Treat”) were issued as a single on Self Destruct records in 1991. Both records are among the rarest of any American punk release — more sought after than seen, passed on disintegrating cassette tapes and shouted over upon impact. The music of The Endtables is another chapter in pure American weirdness, as jaw-locking today as the day it was recorded. The scent of modern can be detected in Steve Rigot’s remote vocalese, set against Alex Durig’s guitar outbursts, while drummer Steven Jan Humphrey and bassist Albert Durig (age fifteen!) supply frenzied rhythm. The band rocks its fevered vision to a ferocious degree while Rigot grimly rhymes the truths that remained locked out of the public’s pop tastes in ’79–’80. Thirty years of rap and roll later, The Endtables seem inevitable.
Yes, it’s been a little over thirty years since the original EP’s release. The cover of The Endtables replicates the original Tuesday records 7” cover, with its early-wave punk glory intact. The vinyl version is a six-song blast, short and sweet, the complete studio recordings. The CD adds six previously-unreleased live tracks, and never-before-seen video footage of the band in performance. The studio tracks are mastered from the original tapes, recently discovered in a basement in Louisville’s South End. The package also includes previously unpublished photos that convey the seedy chaos that was the band’s métier, along with extensive liner notes and Steve Rigot’s lyrics. Sing along!