¡The Oxymorons!

On November 24, 2012, in Concert, Music, by mugen

I missed the Oxymorons. I was gone off to school in Bowling Green, Ohio, and never saw Dayton’s arguably most successful punk export of the 90s. I didn’t know much about them, even… until I ran into Ben Schelker one day by accident and he mentioned his “new band.” Ben had been a senior at Carroll High School when I was a freshman, and he and a few other kind but edgier sorts took my nerdy self in and basically just tolerated my presence and occasionally smirked when and if I spoke at all and happened to say something amusing. We were on the cross country team together, and if not for that, I’m sure I never would have even known who Ben was.

That year, Ben and some friends (mostly cross country guys) formed a band to play at the “sock hop” in the gym before the Homecoming dance. Underclassmen could go to sock hops, but did I? Of course not. So I never got to see The Squeeky Kleen Boys (formerly known as the Blo-Chunx) play. I had both fliers, though… in fact, I probably still have them somewhere in a box out in the shed.

So I feel a bit like a poser posting this entry on The Oxymorons. I never saw them live. I picked up a copy of Dancing On Billy’s Grave (their only full-length recording) somewhere far from home… maybe BG, maybe North Carolina, wherever I was living at the time. The point is — it’s great music. And lots of it was written by someone who, probably against his will or better judgment, mentored me in some things more important than school as I entered high school. The icing on that cake is that the “Billy” of the title is the Smashing Pumpkin’s frontman, who just keeps seeming to lose track of, oh, just about everything that seems reasonable and important.

Ben was weirdly connected to people I knew later in high school, from various other schools. He was a Dayton figure – part of a scene – in a place where I never could “find” the scene. I hadn’t realized it until about 2004, but we lost Ben 15 years ago. He’s missed by many, and he touched some people much more dearly and closely than my own interactions with him, but I still miss Ben, too. I think about him at the weirdest times, when I flash back to that ragged fringe of summer trailing off before high school really started, or when I’m driving on a cold morning so early it’s still dark, and some hair metal song comes on the radio, so I can mock it like Ben used to when I’d get a ride to school with him and his friends.

The remaining members of The Oxymorons will be reuniting tonight as ArtistPlaylist, and they’ll be playing most of Dancing on Billy’s Grave with guest singers joining them to fill in for Ben. I’m looking forward to seeing Kate sing with the band, and hoping to run into Dave, Jennie, Maggie, and others I haven’t seen in years.

Here’s an article from the Dayton Daily News about the show.

Here’s the Last.fm entry on The Oxymorons.

Free downloads of all the songs on Dancing on Billy’s Grave.

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