Pub show brings punk back to Fairbanks

Whiskey Tango finds their wardrobe backstage. From left to right; Herman Schmidtt, Michael Loftus, Sean Donavan, and Ian La Sage. Photo by Maurice Skinner/The Sun Star

By Maurice Skinner
Sun Star Contributor

It’s been almost eight years since Whiskey Tango left Fairbanks to test the waters of the Puget Sound punk music scene. Last weekend the band came back to town to show Fairbanks that it’s still what it always has been, punk.

On Feb. 19 and 20, the band returned for an all-ages show at the Hess Recreation Center and an over-21 show at The Pub. Whiskey Tango includes Michael Loftus (bass, vocals), Ian Le Sage (guitar, vocals), Sean Donavan (drum, vocals), and Herman Schmidt (guitarist, vocals). For these punk rocking, trash talking, head banging Alaskans, playing Fairbanks once again was a flashback to good times, a sentiment shared by the diehard Whiskey Tango fans that turned out for the event.

Le Sage and Loftus started the group in 1997, but the final finished band didn’t come together for years. “We went through three drummers before we found Sean, and Herman was last to join the band in late 2002 before we left to Seattle,” said Loftus. One of their favorite gigs to play was the Musher’s Hall, and they lovingly recall being banned from the Chena River Convention Center.

The decision to move down to Seattle came in 2002. “We thought we were the best thing ever and decided to move to Seattle,” said Loftus. “Everyone pretty much agreed and we left.” Soon after moving, the band had a “wake up call.” For five months it was difficult to book a show, and when they were finally booked, on a Wednesday night, at a club called the Lobo Saloon, no one showed up.

The band thanked Caleb Kuntz for bringing them back to their hometown to play punk rock music for UAF students and their friends. As punk rock shows go, the Pub show was spectacular.

After an opening set by Alt. Country Blues, Whiskey Tango came onstage wearing costumes they’d found in the Pub’s ‘green room.’ As the punk came out, Donavan stripped down to his boxers and played that way for the rest of the night.

People agreed that these cats still know how to put on a great punk show.

For Whiskey Tango this was one of its best shows in a long time, and the lads are happy that it happened here.

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