Midway through Rocket from the Crypt's recent show at the Del Mar Racetrack, frontman John Reis, aka "Speedo," told an anecdote about watching a Don Ho concert. There was a mention of some strange mixing device with a telephone attached, but the message of the story was buried way at the end, about how much the Hawaiian performer hates having to play "Tiny Bubbles," even though that's the reason people come to hear him perform.
In an ideal situation, this would have transitioned into Rocket covering "Tiny Bubbles" (now that would be something). Instead, it gave Reis an opportunity to tell the audience about a song they'd grown tired of performing, even though it's one that everybody wants to hear. And in appreciation of their fans, they were going to play it anyway, because that's what entertainment is all about. A few ideas ran through my head of what it could be. "On a Rope"? No, they'd already played that one earlier. "Killy Kill"? Maybe. "Break it Up"? Eh, that wasn't even that big of a hit.
The song, it turns out, is "Ditch Digger," arguably one of the best songs they've ever written. In fairness to the band, it's 20 years old, and they've probably played it a thousand times. It's hard to begrudge them that. But when the band ripped through the song last weekend, they didn't half-ass it. In fact, it was the tightest they sounded all evening, even more so than the quartet of Scream, Dracula, Scream! highlights that opened the set.
It's not so uncommon for a band to grow weary of their own songs. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders isn't a fan of their big single, "Brass in Pocket." And Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmeister reportedly doesn't care much for "Ace of Spades." It's just one of the hazards of giving the people what they want, night after night, for years.
In October, Rocket will play another hometown show at House of Blues, on Halloween. And there's plenty of great tunes they can dust off if they so choose: "Ball Lightning," "Fat Lip," "Short Lip Fuser," "This Bad Check is Gonna Stick," "S.O.S." et al. All the same, we appreciate indulging us in a hit, even if for just the one time.