Friday, January 30, 2009

Lighting it Up at Lit

Hello, woooooo am I tired. But it is definitely "good tired." Last night we played Lit Lounge on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. This is one of the coolest clubs in the city. Dan and I have both wanted to play there for a long time, but we were patiently waiting for the right opportunity. Our new friend Abby, who manages the incredible band Imaginary Friends and is putting a whole bunch of great rock shows together these days, gave us that opportunity by inviting us to play with Imaginary Friends last night at Lit.

When I got the e-mail from Max, the house booker at Lit, confirming us on the bill, the instructions were for all bands to load in with their gear at 7:15 PM. The music was to start at 9:00PM, 4 bands, with us going on last. Now, some of you know this, but both Dan and I are originally from Maine, and sometimes we can't escape certain things we learned growing up there. Some of these things are not especially helpful navigating life in New York City. One thing about people in Maine is that most of them like to get to things early. I don't know if this comes from the old days of farming when everyone was up at 4AM to milk the cows, or what originally caused it. But I have a nasty habit of arriving at things ridiculously early. I once went to a rock show in Maine with my sister. We got there at the published start time, and the show was already over. I am not making that up.

So when I saw 7:15PM load-in, I had a voice in my head that said, "This is a rock club in New York City. No one will be there that early." But of course I got there around 7:30 - pretty late by Maine standards. And of course I was the only musician there for what seemed like several hours. Dan was meeting me there later because he had to teach class at his day gig. Luckily for me, my girlfriend and Victor Bravo SuperFan Sarah got her signals crossed with Dan's girlfriend and Victor Bravo SuperFan Isabelle, trying to meet her for an artistic co-adventure. So she came to Lit, and we just sat on the couch for a long time, chatting and having a little private date while the other bands showed up and started loading their stuff in.

Sarah got hungry, so she went to get herself a slice of pizza and while she did the first band began playing. They were called Broccoli Destroyer and I thought they were fantastic. They were a 2-piece like us, 2 guys, one on guitar and the other on drums, but no vocals. They played a short set that was fun from start to finish. When they were done, Sarah came back and Dan and Isabelle showed up. The next band, Birthing of Millions, went on, and blew me away as well. They were a 4-piece, again all guys (it was an all-male performer evening): bass, 2 guitars and drums, and again no vocals. All instrumental, which I really enjoyed.

Then it was time for our pals in Imaginary Friends to go on, and man did they kill it. We played with them once before at a party in Bushwick, Brooklyn and they really amazed me then. It was so great to see them play again. Really original music all around - bass, drums, lead guitar and a rhythm guitarist/singer. Good, solid rock.

Some people disagree with me but I find that most bands in New York are pretty darn good, but occasionally we do get booked in with bands we don't know who just don't do much for me musically. This was such a great night to me because all 3 of the other bands really impressed me and put on one hell of a great show. In our earlier days of shows such a line-up might have intimidated me a bit, but today it's more like a great challenge, like, "Hey they all did great sets! Let's do a great set, too!" Okay, I used two exclamation points there and that's not very rocker-cool of me. Apologies. I know as a rock frontman I need to be very cool. I meant: "Hey man, they really rocked. Let's do this." Yeah, that's better. Way more cool.

So we got up there and at first it felt like some of the people who might not have seen us before didn't exactly know what to make of us. But it was a show where we just seemed to build a connection with audience more and more with each song. The cheers and yells got louder after every one. After "Alien Homeland," I had a bit of a gaffe when I switched guitars. First I couldn't find my guitar cable to hook up the new guitar, then I found the cable but I had flipped some switch somewhere so my amp wasn't making any noise. Eventually I figured it all out and told the crowd, "Just so you know, I am a complete f***ing idiot, which you would know if you saw what just happenned." Someone I did not recognize shouted back loud and clear: "Hello, f***ing idiot!" And I think that's when I knew the crowd and us were on the same page.

We launched into "Transparent" and suddenly the crowd seemed to triple in size and everybody started jumping around and hurling themselves at each other with wild abandon. It was so cool. I felt like the show wasn't about us playing for people anymore, the audience and the band were like one crazy ball of energy flailing around together. We finished up with "Motherfucker" as always, and things got even crazier. We finished the song, I took my Fender into the brick wall a few times, and that was that. The set list:

1. Jagged Cross
2. Binge
3. Better Lives
4. Alien Homeland
5. Transparent
6. Motherfucker

After the show we hung out with friends new and old for a while, then dropped off the gear at The Music Building, and then finally headed back to Brooklyn. I got home around 2:30AM, hence my present state of fatigue.

We had a really good time playing last night, and we just want to thank Max and Lit Lounge, Abby and Imaginary Friends, Broccoli Destroyer and Birthing of Millions, Pete from Ruby Bullet, our former bassist Dani now from the new band The Bad Nights, Corynne from Afterdawn, and everyone who came out and stayed to see our set. None of what we do would be possible without all sorts of people doing what they do to make it possible. Thanks to you all, you are the best.

We are playing again Wednesday, February 11 at Trash Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, again with Imaginary Friends, and this time also with Dead Stars and Gulf of Michigan. That should be an unbelievably great night of rock music. We'd love to have you come and share it with us.

And I am getting back on track with tour booking, so you folks outside New York City - who we love - stay tuned, we may be coming somewhere near you soon.

Oh, a few last things - if you're looking for more great live music this weekend, our friends in Afterdawn are playing what is being billed as their last show tonight at Bowery Poetry Club at 10:30. This is one of my favorite bands of all time, we've played with them several times and I am sad to see this amazing musical entity come to an end.

At the other end of the lifecycle-of-a-band, Victor Bravo SuperFan Mr. Scott Holcomb leads his new kickass country-rock band The Bulletproof Lincolns tonight at 8:00 in what I think is their third show ever at Mehanata Ice Cage (new venue, don't ask me, Google it). I saw their last show at FatBaby and they are terrific. And aforementioned SuperFan and my girlfriend Sarah will be performing with both her bands, Kate Matt Ben & Sarah and Snazz Mammoth, at the Return to Roccoco night at Teneleven Saturday night beginning at 8:30. That show will also include period costume, fire dancers, burlesque, free pastries, and all sorts of crazy s**t. All those shows are in Manhattan, and we wish all our fellow musician friends wonderful shows.

Okay, be well. I've gotta go take a nap now.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another Top 50 and Don Pedro Show Recap

Hey hey.

Our song "Drain on Me" off Sky Full of Messages was picked for the Top 50 Songs by Airplay by Westcott Radio. Ends up that we actually tied Sugar (Bob Mould's band) song "If I Can't Change Your Mind" from the 1990's. Pretty cool. The whole list is presented as the Jan-4 podcast you can access HERE.

Friday night we played a great show at Don Pedro in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The night was kicked off by Genan, who we sadly missed (we were late showing up) but we heard she played an amazing set. Then we did actually get there in time to see the second band, Big, a great all-female rock trio from Brooklyn. I had heard about this band but this was my first time seeing them live, and they really blew me away. The drummer Carrie and guitarist Monica traded off lead and back-up vocals with each other to create a great mix. And bassist Terry had really creative, kickin basslines. Really glad I caught them. After them was an awesome duo called Prison Pretty, who played crazed indie rock. Singer/guitarist Shen shredded on rapid, unique riffs, alternatively singing sweetly and screaming his head off. Meanwhile drummer Mary was smiling throughout, which did not disguise the fact that she was pounding the hell out of her kit with fury and abandon. It was pretty awesome to see such two amazing bands I had never seen before back-to-back like that. They set up the whole evening very well.

After Prison Pretty, one of my all-time favorite bands, The Whores, took the stage, and proceeded to play one of the best sets I've ever seen them play. Drummer Juline was slamming out the beats, guitarist Greg was on fire, and bassist Matt was holding it all down. I was in the front jumping up and down and head-bopping for the whole thing. They were just awesome.

Then came Runny. A few seconds before they were to go on, singer/guitarist/sometimes-male- stripper Lemon Cookie ran up to me and told me to jump up on stage and introduce them. So I did. Then LC, singer DJ Phlegm, drummer/singer Colonel Creem and masked bassist Cracker Dap proceeded to lurch into the music and mayhem. They played a blazing, we-don't-give-a-fuck-what-you-think, but we-want-everyone-to-join-in-our-fun-god-dammit! set, as usual. But about half-way through, LC - who used to get pretty naked when I first began seeing Runny live, but who had not gotten even slightly unclothed in quite a while as far as I knew - began to auction off his disrobing. A few souls banded together to raise $5 for him to take off his shirt I think. But he wanted $10 for the pants. I ran up and gave him a 20, which allowed everyone to see him once again in only a rainbow thong. He played most of the rest of the set thus attired, much of that rolling around on the floor amidst the audience. Nice.

When Runny was done messing with everyone, we took the stage. The set list for those interested:

1. Jagged Cross
2. Binge
3. Night Scales
4. Better Lives
5. Name Today
6. Make the Escape
7. Alien Homeland
8. Transparent
9. Motherfucker

We had good fun and I got pretty worked up by the end, took my guitar into the brick wall that backs the stage there a few times, then into my amp. My amp is now missing some pieces. But it still works.

After we finished, East-West Quintet closed out the night. These 6 guys (yeah, I said six) are really amazing. Individually they're each some of the most skilled musicians I've ever seen play, and together they are just a force. Their music starts out as cool, toe-tapping jazz and then rockets straight into full-out rocking. I have yet to see another band like them. It was the second time I've seen them live and they were just as incredible this time around.

All in all it was a fantastic night of great people and great music.

Our next show is Thursday, January 29 at Lit Lounge in Manhattan. We're playing with a great band, Imaginary Friends, who go on right before us I think.

More later...

Friday, January 9, 2009

SFOM in Top 5 CDs of 2008 and Open Mic Night

Hey-llo. Collin here.

I mentioned recently that we got picked for the Top 50 artists of 2008 by Radio Crystal Blue internet radio in Brooklyn, we just found out that our CD Sky Full of Messages, which we released this year, got picked as their #4 CD of the year. Thanks again to Dan Herman and RCB for the nod, we really appreciate it. You can see the whole chart HERE.

I did a 3-song acoustic set at Lilly Coogan's in Manhattan last night, sorry I didn't tell anyone before-hand, it was kind of a last-minute thing. If I do it again I'll try and let people know. It went pretty well I thought, I played 'Final Friend' off SFOM and two new ones, 'Night Scales' and 'The Door,' first time those two have been played live, and both will probably be on our new LP.

I saw and met some other great musicians there as well. I went with my girlfriend Sarah, who's in the bands Kate, Matt, Ben & Sarah and Snazz Mammoth, and who also wrote the lyrics to 'Night Scales.' Trish from America's Sweetheart was there, it was great to see her again. I've been listening to their two CDs, Firecracker and Rainbow Party, a lot these days and really digging them. They just got back from an awesome mini-tour to the midwest so it was great to hear all about that.

I also got to chat with Minnie from the band Swoon, who I have yet to see live but I hear are awesome. They're playing Crash Mansion in Manhattan on Jan. 15.

The open mic was kicked off by JC Cassis, who plays with a band normally but was doing her solo thing. She had a hilarious song 'Texas Boys' to start it off that had me on the floor laughing. She's playing Jan. 30 at Public Assembly in Brooklyn.

Next was Natalie Gelman, who I had actually seen in Battery Park this past summer. She's a great singer-songwriter, beautiful voice and wonderfully-crafted songs. It was nice to see her perform again. She's playing a free show tonight at 6pm at the American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd Street in Manhattan.

Following Natalie was Jeneen Terrana, another wonderful singer-songwriter with heartfelt tunes. I am especially grateful to Jeneen because she let me borrow her guitar to play my set. It was great to meet her, she seems like a sweet person in addition to being a great musician. Jeneen is playing this Sunday (Jan. 11) at 8:30pm at Lucky Mojo's, 514 51st Avenue in Long Island City, Queens.

After those three great folks, I got up there and did my thing. Thanks also to Jakki the bartender at Lilly Coogan's, for hosting and setting the whole night up. Trish and I were sad she didn't play a set, she's an amazing singer/songwriter herself.

All right, I've got to get off here and put some new strings on my Strat for the show tonight at Don Pedro in Brooklyn. Maybe I'll see you there.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another Best of 2008/Show/Tour/Recording

Hey hey.

Thanks to Radio Crystal Blue internet radio in Brooklyn for putting us in their Top 50 of 2008. This is the second Top 50 list we've made for the past year, on this one we're #16. You can see the full list HERE.

We just confirmed another Manhattan show coming up. We'll be playing Lit Lounge on 2nd Avenue on Thursday, January 29. We're playing with two other awesome bands, Imaginary Friends and Redbeard. Should be a great show.

We are continuing to work on booking a tour back to the midwest in late February. No definites yet but we'll keep you posted.

Also, we decided we are going to record an LP for release later this year. The timeline is not set yet, but we're shooting for some time in 2009. We finished 4 songs last month and want to add some more to end up with 10-12 total.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year/VB in Top 50 Songs of 2008

Hey happy new year to you.

WCH Radio has put our song "Alien Homeland" in their Top 50 Songs of 2008. You can read the whole list HERE. Thanks to everyone at WCH Radio for the nod. We appreciate it.

Reminder, we're playing Don Pedro in Brooklyn this Friday.