A swift kick in the Astro Fang

Dayton rockers reunite for two shows

By Josher Lumpkin

Photo: Astro Fang will perform on Aug. 1 at Hole in the Wall;

photo: Jordan Frei

Anyone who has been involved in the downtown Dayton underground music community will surely remember Astro Fang with great fondness. The band, whose founding members – Brian Baker, Christian Roerig and Bryan Saunders – were, at one point, the darlings of the Dayton scene, and enjoyed great popularity filling bars with beer-chugging patrons there to see the show.

The band’s unique style of hard-hitting indie rock struck just about everyone’s fancy, and Astro Fang played all over the Midwest. They released a single on local label Rad Girlfriend Records and sold tons of T-shirts (“I saw Astro Fang and all I got was this lousy boner,” was emblazoned on the back of one of their designs).

And then, with no real warning, Astro Fang just dissolved. Frontman Brian Baker moved to Columbus, he and bass player Roerig became involved in other projects and there just weren’t any new shows booked.

Until now.

Astro Fang has decided to get back together to play two shows this summer – one in Dayton, one in Columbus – to give their fans a much-needed taste of the sound they have been longing for. 

Friday, Aug. 1, Astro Fang will be performing at The Hole in the Wall in Dayton’s Oregon District. For many, this venue choice will seem odd, as for a while Astro Fang was practically the Blind Bob’s house band.

“I wouldn’t say ‘house band,’” Roerig said. “That’s silly.” 

“Yeah, we were,” Baker countered. “You’ll have to ask Christian why he booked it at Hole in the Wall. I figured we were going to play at Bob’s, too.”

 “I like how small the Hole is, and I think it will be an intimate vibe that will match the ‘VH1 Storytellers’ style of the show,” Roerig explained. “It’ll be awesome when we’re at skull-crushing volume and there’s nowhere to go but closer to Brian Baker, because he hates that.” 

So, why did one of the most popular bands in Dayton stop playing shows anyway?

“We’re probably still the most popular Dayton band, ever,” Roerig boasted.

 “Christian was spiraling out of control; he was drinking like a six-pack every night,” Baker added. “Bryan [Saunders] was smoking like ten cigarettes a day.”

“We stopped playing shows like three years ago because Brian Baker hated Astro Fang,” Roerig said.

 “I guess it was just the long distance, really,” Baker retorted. “After I moved to Columbus, it was hard for us all to get together to practice and shit. We all had so much other shit going on. Christian is in Nightbeast, and all of that.”

Both Roerig and Baker have their own projects keeping them busy. Roerig plays bass in Nightbeast, Dayton’s popular rap-rock outfit. Baker also fronts Brat Curse, and plays in Dayton band Smug Brothers.

Fans have been fiending hard for a dose of the Fang for a while. Some might wonder why now is the time to bring them the rock medicine they crave.

“When Jeremy [Frederick] died, we did a benefit for his daughter, and then when our friend Max died we did a benefit for him,” Baker said. “These are the first two shows that we’re just kind of doing for fun. Chris [Mengerink, drums] was basically like, ‘We should play a show,’ and it sounded like a lot of fun to all of us.”

“Everyone was individually sad,” Roerig added, “so I booked an Astro Fang show so they could focus their energy on hating me for making them do this instead. We’re doing this show to give back to our loyal fans who gave up on us so easily.”

Those loyal fans hoping to hear new material by Astro Fang shouldn’t hold their breath.

 “We’re gonna probably be doing all old stuff because I don’t think we’re going to get a chance to practice that much,” Baker said. “We had talked about maybe writing a new song or something, and maybe we will, but I don’t know. And we might as well do all old stuff, because I think Colin [Croom, the band’s original drummer] and John Lakes are going to play with us, too. Like all of our drummers are going to do a song.”

Will this be the last we hear from Astro Fang for several years to come, or does the band have a future beyond these two shows?

“I’d like to do something with Captain of Industry and Nightbeast maybe in the fall, so hopefully these shows go better than the last four years of Astro Fang, which is doubtful,” Roerig said. “We’ll see. It seems unlikely Brian will want to continue singing lyrics he wrote when he was 21, especially since Brat Curse has a better name and they’re way less egotistical than me and Bryan ever were.”

Also on the bill will be The Washington Beach Bums from Columbus and Dayton punk band The Raging Nathans.

 “We’re really excited to play with Astro Fang,” Josh Goldman, frontman for The Raging Nathans said. “We can’t wait to blow them out of the water.”

Astro Fang will perform on Friday, Aug. 1 at Hole in the Wall, 423 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill are The Washington Beach Bums and The Raging Nathans. Doors are at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for patrons 21 and up. For more information, please visit astrofang.bandcamp.com. 

Reach DCP freelance writer Josher Lumpkin at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Josher Lumpkin is a nursing student and aspiring historian who enjoys writing about music and geekdom of all kinds. He is especially fond of punk rock, tabletop gaming, sci-fi/fantasy and camping with his wife, Jenner, and their dogs, Katie and Sophie. Reach him at JosherLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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