Shortbus at Rosie's

In a time when the music scene in Mystic was starting to take shape in the late 80’s with shows, bands, audiences, and style – goth had yet to be pigeon holed, alterna-rock was still considered “college music,” emo wasn’t even a sub-genre, and punk rock was still scary – a group of childhood friends took up instruments to subvert the subversion. Borrowing drums, P.A. and an amp from an older brother, bass amp from a marching band friend, and space in said older brother’s bedroom (when he wasn’t around) Shortbus was founded. Original members Andrew Benker, Matthew Curtiss, and John Chorlton flirted with the sounds of The Clash, U2, and whatever jams they could congeal. Earliest sessions took place in the mid-eighties, but the band didn’t actually have a set until around 1990 when they were invited to play a party. The prospect of looking like idiots forced the tight-knight crew into learning how to play songs and entertain people beyond the bedroom walls.

In a massive leap in rockstardom, Shortbus left the confines of the bedroom and into the palatial expanses of the Sow’s Ear barn. With Jim Hewitt taking to vocals, their own instruments, and a fire in their loins, the band started to churn out their own sounds. Influenced by a mix of The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, The Cure, Sonic Youth, The Ramones, Fugazi, and a healthy dose of youthful angst, Shortbus put their playlists together and set to rocking whoever was fool-hearty enough to invite them to make music in their presence. 

Though the Mystic music scene was growing and becoming something unto itself, Shortbus would remain on the outskirts. More Bukowski than Burroughs. Tom Sawyer painting fences to the Bauhaus architecture of the emerging scene. Watching the development of the existing scene pushed Shortbus into their own beer-soaked corner. While band photos of pensive, sensitive, thoughtful, intellectual musicians made their way into the mix, Shortbus found solace in chasing girls, drinking too much, and laughing at themselves for their behavior. A drunken, shirtless, high-speed mess of youthful energy and dreams of Wingeresque stardom, Shortbus put on a good show but never realized their potential as musicians. For those who witnessed the awkward humor and swing of these friends making music there was an indelible mark left on their memories – kind of like a stain on a new shirt. Whether it was a jam session with legs dangling from the loft of the barn, or a miserable attempt at bridging the gap from garage band to stage performers, Shortbus was all heart and soul.