“You can’t help but rock out when you listen to this shit,” yells Brent Allman, singer/bass player for The ReJX, as he shakes his fest in the air to Iron Maiden screeching in the background.
The garage was filled with the usual smell of incense and cigarette smoke that has become frequent during the summer of 2000. The air was comfortably warm, and a 12-pack of Busch light sat on the cold concrete. The cans were slowly sweating yet remaining cold. Brent and his girl Amber were in the area for the weekend and stopped by for a night of punk rock and beers. They were recently evicted from a house that became legendary in the underground punk rock scene in Pittsburgh, PA and have lived to tell the story of the house known as 3-Double ‘O’.
I’m sure we’ve all had one in our town. That incredibly cool house, where someone would have shows, band practice and insanely fun parties. 300 Orchard Place, Pittsburgh, PA was one of those places.
This Old House
“The house was probably built in the early 1800s, built well before electricity,” Brent recalled. “It was dilapidated. Imagine walking down the stairs and seeing a crack this big” Brent says, stretching his arms out. “And seeing the first floor, through the third floor stairs. Our plumbing (just the word plumbing brings laughter out of Amber) was bad, all of the sinks would leak onto the floors. We had rotted spots through all the floors.”
“The house smelled like a freakin’ brewery, armpit and buttholes,” Brent said. “But, we didn’t notice, we lived there, ya know?” “It’s like going to your friends house when you were like 10, your house smells normal, his house stinks like fucking macaroni and cheese. It’s just how it is, everyone has a funny smelling house. No one would say anything, but you know they knew it stunk.”
“We furnished the place with furniture people threw out,” Brent said. “Every other week, we’d go get new furniture from around the city. If our couch smelled like cat piss, we’d deal with it until the following week rolled around, and we’d get a better one. Then we’d throw the other one out in the backyard, stomp on it, burn it, then throw it back to the curb. We were the last recycling point for people’s old shit in our neighborhood.
“The real 300 Orchard experience only lasted about 3-4 months. You’d come home from work or school and there would be new people there. I lived there, but I didn’t have to go out to meet people, or try and find out what was going on that weekend, it was all done for me.”
“It did suck trying to get any sleep around there; I mean, I’d have to work around 6 a.m. and it was really hard to sleep when people were outside throwing trash cans in the tree and yelling at the neighbors,” Brent said laughing. “It’s kind of hard to sleep with all of the commotion going on.”
“It got to the point the last two months where it was a constant party. We’d have parties where we’d book like 6 or 7 bands A lot of times, the bands would amp out the power. We figured everyone would leave, but they all would stay and party until 2 a.m. in the pitch black. The electric was bad. The wires were all chewed up and frayed and hadn’t been touched since 1946.”
Besides the wildness, this also became the place that housed the great punk rock band “The ReJX” and was the arena for close to 50 bands throughout its history. “The idea of bands playing in the basement started on a whim,” Brent said.
“Our first show there was Halloween in 1998. When Pete (ex guitarist/singer for the ReJX) moved in, we started practicing there (as the ReJX). The basement was trashed, full of shit. We cleaned it all out and decided to invite some bands out.”
“We first called it The Mudhole, then it was changed to The Butthole,” Brent said laughing. “We thought it’d be funny to hear people ask “What’s going on at the Butthole?” “Eventually it just became known as Three Double ‘O’.
“I wake up about 7 a.m. and go to school,” Brent said. “My class gets out at 12 p.m. About 11:30 a.m. I had to take a shit and I didn’t want to take a shit at school, so I started walking home. I go across the bridge to where my car was parked, and BOOM, I shit my pants. I’m like, aww man, I just shit my pants!” “So I stand up, and I’m thinking, I can either jump in my car and go home or I can walk over to The Grand Concourse (which is a fancy ass joint) to go to the bathroom, clean up my pants and finish shitting. I decided on The Grand Concourse. I make it there, finish shitting and wipe my ass for an hour because there’s poop all over it.”
“I make it back to the car, stinking like stank ass shit, throw some notebook paper down on the seat, hop in and head for home. I pull up to our house and see a fire truck and a few City of Pittsburgh vans. I look over and notice there are all of these fire marshalls,” Brent said. “My first thought was that our house caught fire. I walk up and ask what’s going on. My friends walk up to me and tell me that they are condemning the house.” “I’m like, you’ll never believe this, but I just shit myself.”
“The housing inspectors were on one side of the porch talking about when and how they were going to shut the house down,” Brent said. “We’re all on teh other side talking about my pants shitting experience.”
“I finally walked up to the housing inspector to get some answers and he was giving me this funny look. I knew he was thinking ‘this kid smells like shit!’ They gave us until the next day to get out.”
The Final Party
“We got on the phone and called everyone we knew,” Brent said. “We hauled all of our equipment upstairs out of the basement and set up. When we started playing around 30 people were there and as we played a ton more people came. About halfway through our set, we saw clouds of dust roll in from the other room. We go in there and people were going nuts on the place. They were ripping the banister down and bashing the walls with them. They were going nuts throwing bottles across the room and breaking windows.”
I sat slouched in my chair with a horrible tasting German beer in my hand. Brent and I had blasted through all the beer in the garage and had gone into the emergency backups I had in the depths of the refrigerator. Right about this time, Brent looks up at the clock puzzled. The clock read only 11 p.m. I laughed, because I had just returned from a trip to Hawaii and thought it would be cool to set my garage clock to Hawaii time, which was 5 hours behind our time. After explaining this to Brent, he lunged out of his seat (realizing it was really 4 a.m.). “Storytime is over dude, I gotta go!”
So the story ends like this. They get booted, help clean up a bit, pay a fine and go their separate ways. The memories live on in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to have been touched by 300 Orchard Place.