Friday, January 22, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Yesterday when we were at the art museum in Chicago, we were visiting the gift shop. One of the items is a "Pop Quiz Math Clock" which I couldn't help but pick up and point out that it has two mistakes on it. The counter girl overheard me and was really surprised. Just travelling cross-country and disturbing people, that's my job.
In other news, at some point in the last few days we caught part of "Walk the Line" (Johnny Cash movie) with commentary during the ad breaks. One of the breaks had a comment like, "These guys didn't start using speed for some 60's consciousness-building experiment... they did it because it's so hard to get out of a show at 1am and drive all night to the next city for another gig." Huh, you don't say.
So tonight we headlined a show at Chicago's Elbo Room. Immensely cool rock venue, great atmosphere, fantastic sound system, very cool staff, great sound guy, etc., etc. If I lived in the area I could see myself actually spending quite a bit of time there. We went after T-Bird Magera and Mike Mains and the Branches... very impressive acts, Mike & co. were apparently missing two members but still very powerful, great musicians. We played pretty well, Collin in particular was really psyched afterwards and we got a bunch of great comments. Also, we had this whole set recorded, maybe we'll post a track or two from the gig later when we get the chance.
Thanks to Jen & Adrienne for hanging out afterwards and putting us up again tonight. Photos by Aaron, multitalented sound guy at the Elbo Room.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I was sleeping most of yesterday, too. There was a big long slice of Superchunk followed by the latest Dead Stars record playing in the car.
Hey, how bout that whole Leno/ Conan thing, huh?
Monday, January 11, 2010
Show in St. Louis was a benefit for 10-year-old Tommy who needs multiple organ transplants. We like to help out where we can, so we opened this show that had 13 bands playing! I'm pretty sure the number of bands have been doubling each show, so by Friday night we should be on a bill with about 100 bands or so. (One band here did a half-set if you're checking my math.)
Great, big venue in St. Louis called Fubar. Lovely, big sound system, really a joy to play on. Performance space so big I couldn't even parse it as a stage when we first walked in (compare mentally to teeny-weeny NYC spaces).
People like to talk about a "scene", and I'll go out on a limb and say that St. Louis has one of the strongest actual music scenes that we've witnessed. Really great for us, a lot of younger kids into punk rock, as well as a bunch of old-schoolers, all mixing it up together in these shows that we get to take part in. That's something you don't see in many other places. A lot of thrash/metal influences, too. Ridiculously crazy drummers all through the Midwest, it's a PhD-level education every time we come here.
We really went kind of apeshit on this show, took out a couple songs for a quicker set time, completely tore through them and it felt very badass. All the kids in the (very large) space came up to the edge of the stage and were dancing by the end of the set. Collin completely took over this enormous space, running like a lunatic while playing guitar, across the stage, behind me, smashing into the kit and cymbals, leaping off the stage into the kids, rolling around on the floor, etc., etc. I think even with all these hardcore bands around we do some stuff that's fairly novel and I don't see other folks doing anywhere, like the instrmentalist hanging halfway off the stage and playing the guitar hanging out in space, etc.
Couple random thoughts. In the past we've seen how life on the road as an indie band (packing, driving for days, playing, finding a place to crash, etc.) can tax people and wear them down physically. With what we do there's also a fairly high chance of injury/ muscle or vocal strain that can happen in any show. But as we've done this more, nowadays I personally feel just stronger and stronger after every show. Today we got done and I felt like we could set up and play for a few more hours if we had to. (I think the martial arts I've been taking in the last year help, too.) This whole business is endlessly fascinating, we both love being on tour and exercising all the different muscles involved -- some of which are the mental presence and courage you need to go into all these radically different scenes and put your guts out there on a whistling precipice not knowing if the local crowd will like it or not. (See: Bob Mould's "Hoover Dam".)
Anyway, show sounded great to us. After that there was a legion of bands, raffles for the benefit, circus-of-the-damned zombie troupe of stiltwalker, evil clown, devil guy letting you staple money into his body, uh, slam dancing, guy trying to set a bassist on fire while he played... um... a lot of stuff. Staying with Moe from Scene of Irony, who is enormously generous with his time and energy, and makes a lot of the local scene happen through sheer force of personality. Give them a listen if you can. Thanks too to Shauna for taking photos tonight!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
So most of today's drive was chasing the sun as we drove west across Ohio and Indiana. Snow blowing as we drove into Chicago.
The show tonight was borderline impossible to describe. Great dive bar in Chicago called the Mutiny, for the annual birthday blowout for Heavy Kev of the band Donkey Punch. Kev and DP are themselves practically impossible to understand unless you see them live. Real, honest-to-god unhinged punk rock. Kind of amazing stuff, you really need to come prepared for stuff to get messed up right quick.
May I point out that this bar in Chicago decided to skip the idea of glasses and just hand each individual person a full pitcher of beer to walk around with when they get a drink? Yeah, just like that.
Anyway, it's an intense scene and most of the bands have been playing this event for 5 years running, we're told that lots of folks kind of beg and plead to get on this bill, so we're pretty psyched that Kev tapped us to join in. Lineup was the Burninators, The Natch!, Donkey Punch, Sons of Sanchez, and Fister. Some really fantastic players and instrumentation and intensity in all these bands. The ones we'll have to work hard to see again are the Burninators and Sons of Sanchez (the rest we'll definitely run into again). Then we wrapped up the show at the end. Honestly we're pretty jacked up on how we're playing at the moment. Some broken stuff and some blood on the drum kit (thanks, Andrew from B!), we're leaving everything we've got on stage these days.
The whole scene here in Chicago is just kind of mind-blowing, a "you had to be there" moment for us & everybody else. Big thanks to Trish Naudon Thomas for taking the pictures the last two shows.
Before we left town, Louie from Hot Ham and Cheese showed us around the West Cleveland area School of Rock. Very cool and glad we saw it - this is kind of a big deal in the Cleveland area, one sign of how dead seriously they take their rock-and-or-roll out here. While we poked around, there was a seminar of young teenagers watching and analyzing Guns 'N Roses "November Rain" quite seriously. Most excellent place.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
We've been here at the Symposium in Lakewood three times now, and this was by far our best show (we got a lot of comments to that effect, which is cool). One or two extra glitches that we didn't have at the gig in Boston, but still a pretty damn good show. Collin was thrashing all over the stage and threw in the extra-crazy spontaneous ending to Binge, which I was more prepared for tonight and did some stuff to go along with it. I got up and slammed the sticks so hard in the middle of MF that one of them shot out of my hand and hit the ceiling (I think). At the end, we got kind of desperate calls for more songs -- we almost never do encores (we're more in the "we'll tell you how many songs we're playing" camp), but this seemed really heartfelt so we threw in the old "Final Friend" at the end as a bonus. Pretty sweet.
In more in-the-car news (driving through snow-blanketed mountains of Pennsylvania today), Collin's got this simply genius playlist he put together on his iPod, that has me just expostulating "Niiice!" and "Brilliant!" over and over again all through the day when we're driving. We get to contrast and compare dozens of different guitar and drum sounds from all these great rock songs. Here's just one example that I hadn't heard in over 10 years and had me clapping with joy and playing it again: "Skydiver" from Schtum's 1995 album Grow. (This was a band from Northern Ireland helmed by Christian McNeill, whom I believe is now based in Boston). If you haven't heard it, listen to it now. THIS MEANS YOU! Seriously, I know you're reading this, I'm talking to you.
Tomorrow's a really big show in Chicago with Donkey Punch and more of The Natch! and like a half-dozen other bands. That's at the Mutiny on N. Western Avenue. Updates may be dicey, right after that we've got a drive to an early afternoon benefit show in St. Louis. Need to really jump off it tomorrow, ha!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thanks to Zac Clark of Rocker Tycoon for using his powers for good and not evil.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I think all of our daily lives are a bit too busy to ever sit down and just meditate on a piece of music -- our touring life sort of doubles as a graduate-school seminar on music theory, performance, and recording. Not sure if other bands get that (who knows, maybe with more people someone's always irritated at someone else's choices), but it's a nice double-down, so to speak.
The other thing folks may not know is that Collin's, like, psycho-addicted to driving, while I (Dan) am a complete sleepy snoozehound any time I'm in a moving vehicle. So he drives all day, I nap a good part of the day, works out surprisingly well.