Thursday, June 30, 2011
- Dancing to the Stooges, a brass band, at the Hi-Ho. Also, hearing a more traditional jazz band the night before (John spotted an actor from Treme and the Wire at the gig).
- Nick sharing his account of working as an extra in the upcoming Twilight film, as well as his double work for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
- Singing with some of Nick's cousin's friends in the apartment where we stayed.
- Making breakfast. John and Kristin are gastronomic victors.
- Seeing some sweet street art. (See Figure 1.)
- Dining like a family at a restaurant whose tag-line stated, "Ladies invited." (See Figure 2.)
Friday, June 24, 2011
1) Dick Dale, surf-guitar legend, was listed just below us on the marquee.
2) Free PBR for band members
3) An in-house meal for band members (which ended up being delicious veggie pizza)
4) Memphis Zoo located across the street from the venue
Having some extra leisure time before we had to sound check, we walked through the park that bordered the zoo. The rad poster of a polar bear giving a small child a high five only made us more excited. However, upon arriving we found out that it was 15 minutes past closing time. Not allowing this to stop them from getting their exotic animal fix, Dan and Ryan smoothly walked through the zoo's exit gate as a paying, Southern family left. Being too timid to slide through the gates as families exited, Kristin, Mark, and I were left behind to inspect the zoo's pseudo-Egyptian animal sculptures, which turned out to be pretty fun to climb on despite the disclaimer not to do so. After 30 minutes, the two delinquents came back bragging of Komodo Dragons, Pumas (not the shoes), and the famed Memphis Ligers. Ryan and Dan confirmed that Liger's lazer shooting capabilities were a myth, but they said that the animals presence gave them a really powerful and positive feeling. It was going to be a quality show.
Local folk-rock act, The Sultana, started the music off with some tight arrangements that included multiple people on percussion, a banjo, and a cello. I particularly liked one of their songs that had a fun spaghetti-western style to it. The growing crowd seemed really receptive.
We played second without many hitches. Accustomed to DIY shows where we have to set everything up ourselves, it was nice having monitors and a sound engineer to help mix and get good-sounding levels throughout the show.
Star & Micey, a band we hosted earlier this year at the Dead Birdhouse, closed out the night. They hadn't played as a full band for over 6 months and did a really nice job of channelling their excitement throughout their set. Their accordion player had some great moves and took off his shirt halfway through the set. Most of the people at the Hi-Tone including one of the band's biggest fans, a jovial southern gentleman named Pappy O'Daniels, were stomping, clapping, and having drunken, good time by the end of their set. Success.
Other highlights from the night included:
1) having bawdy conversations about the logistics of peeing in your own mouth
2) getting a CD purchase out of a woman, who was making eyes at Mark
3) a homeless saying to me: "You look like Ronald McDonald, no a McChicken…no wait…a quarter pounder with cheese."
4) an outrageously drunk representative for Sirius Satellite Radio who jokingly insisted that we were awful and then later said that we weren't actually "too bad."
Mad thanks to Nick for putting us up for the night!
John // The Low End
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
- bought gas at $3.23/galloon
- played at House Pride, a venue/collective in town
- held an adorable calico kitten while grilling hotdogs in the driveway of the aforementioned house
- learned of the best place to get quick tacos in Nashville, TN (San Antonio's Taco Company, which we confirmed the following day)
- received a donation of a complete set of state quarters and additional change (totaling at $35) while selling over $1oo in merch to seven people
The girl in the coffee-shop painted two large fronds on John's cheeks. Ryan received the marks of a Maori warrior. Kristin's face became covered in whimsical swirls. I took some dreamlike spirals to the chin and forehead. Ryan painted Mike (I mean, Mark) later.
We were waiting around at Rachel's café in Bloomington, Indiana, where we would be playing. While each of us received our markings, a lionlike young man started dancing around us, sometimes pretending to fight, sometimes attempting to massage our shoulders. "Is he drunk? High? Mentally deranged?" Ryan asked me. I shrugged.
Davy Long and David James (of Calumet Reel) arrived as we started unloading our gear. Davy and his crew (which I call the Mysterions) played a toned-down set. We played afterwards, followed by Ed Tom and Tuba. The facepainter and the crazy man danced vigorously throughout all three sets.
Later, David arranged for us to play an impromptu house show in town, making for the second gig of the day. Oddly enough, the party was themed around cowboys and Indians. Since we had our faces freshly painted and had a new song titled "Fake Natives" practiced for the tour, we were more than prepared to play there. (John and Kristin wore Cowboy Indian Bear shirts as well, making for more overwhelming coincidence.)
The porch to the house was covered with a mix of hip young folk and bros (reminiscent of Lawrence, Kansas peoples) dressed as either cowpersons or Native Americans. We loaded in through the basement after mingling. A garage-punk band, dressed in suits and ties, played before us. By the time we began our set, much of the crowd was trashed, and therefore receptive to anything loud. As we played, many of them began underdressing and rubbing their bodies together. When the last hip hop act performed, they were ready to procreate in our midst.
Later, on the porch, I spoke with a Kurt Vile lookalike. When I asked him what he had been listening to, he responded, "Kurt Vile, and this band War on Drugs, which Kurt Vile plays guitar in." He then showed me pictures of his Triumph motorcycle and clips from his videoblog/show (quite good).
After we left the party around 3:00, David played us some of his demos of the upcoming Calumet Reel album (impressive songs, recorded almost entirely live, sounding like a mix of the Band and Fleet Foxes). We proceeded to pass out on his couches.
Dan/the low end
Thanks to David James for the couches and gin & tonics. Also, thanks to my grandparents for the meal and the haircut.
A gold dog stepped by my head as I woke up. We stayed the night in the house of Maggie Gard (the badass pipes of the Bears the of Blue River). She and her roommate made us breakfast while we played with Charlie (the previously-mentioned golden hound) and fired squirt guns into their garden.
Shortly after breakfast, we drove to the Indianapolis Art Museum. After making our way through a European modern exhibit, I wandered through imperial Chinese art displays. Later, I walked around the contemporary art with John and Kristin, who provided some interesting insights, especially concerning Denmark and design.
Cincinnati and Newport were only a short drive from Indianapolis. At my Uncle Dan's house in Kentucky, we dined with some of my immediate and extended family. Around the corner loomed the Southgate House, where we would be playing later.
The Southgate House was the birthplace of the inventor of the tommygun. On any given night, the place hosts up to three shows. With the help of my kid brother and his friend (of the Varner family who kindly made the trip from Muncie to see the show), we loaded our gear up the steep steps to play in the parlor. While we waited for the other bands, John and I chatted with the legendary Steve Varner (whose mustache puts mine to absolute shame) about a blues venue in Indiana funded by lottery winnings. I later learned that, while we were talking, Kristin, Ryan, and Mark were a few blocks away, watching a street magician who took a ten-dollar bill from Ryan and pulled it from a lime.
Toboggan Race started things off with an energized set of Oh Sees-esque garage tunes (with sweet licks, I might add). We played shortly thereafter. Both my mother and my father were raised in Cincinnati; roughly 30 or 40 of my relatives, ranging from cousins to great-aunts and uncles, came out to the show. We played to a mix of family and some of the other bands' fans. I was touched by the turnout, and we had a blast playing in the crowded parlor. Animal Circles followed with some wild surf rock tunes. After the Animal Circles' set, I spoke with my cousin Kevin about music for a little while (he used to be involved in the Cinti music scene; he gave me burned copies of O.K. Computer, Jeff Buckley, Jellyfish, and XTC albums to listen to for the first time when I was twelve).
After re-loading, we retreated to my Aunt Kate's apartment, where we stayed up until four engaged in a semantic debate.
Dan/the low end
Thanks to all the friends and family who came out to the SGH show. Also, thanks to Maggie Gard, Uncle Dan, and Aunt Kate for their wonderful hospitalities. Much love to all the friends and family who came to the show; I really appreciate the support.
"Yeah, this is more expensive than we thought, so we're just gonna leave," John told the waiter of the Turkish restaurant as he brought us our waters. He looked disappointed as we walked away.
We found a taqueria named “TEX-MEX” and stepped inside. The building was half-convenience store, half restaurant. John, Ryan and I ate our tacos while watching a telenovela and staring at soccer posters. I paid out of a Hello Kitty lunchbox full of change which my girlfriend gave to me prior to our departure.
We pulled back into the parking lot of the Indy Jukebox. Two hours before, we had arrived after a long drive from Chicago. We met Dan Snodgrass (of the Bonesetters) and looked around the basement-bar, which was covered in posterized Rolling Stone magazine covers featuring Van Halen and Nirvana. While John, Kristin, and I made conversation, Ryan and Mark scaled the upper and outer wall of the building and snuck in an open window to check out the interior. They said it was awesome.
Songwriter Ryan P(R)uett started things off. We played between Davy Long and the Bonesetters, who both put on great shows beneath Saturday-Night-Fever disco lights. I was surpised to see friends from high school and grade school who made the trip from Muncie to Indianapolis.
Between songs of the Bonesetters' set, I made conversation with a guy I vaguely recognized. As we chatted, I remembered him from Muncie. He had played in a few bands I had known including the Bonesetters. We actually went to the same Catholic grade school back in the day.
Afterwards, we loaded our gear near the van. Mark, who had the keys, was nowhere to be found. We discovered his bag lying by the bushes. Twenty minutes later, he emerged again from the building. I can only guess what he was doing.
Dan/ the low end
Much love to the Bonesetters, Ryan Puett, and Davy Long for playing. Also, thanks to Courtland, Jill, Logan, Danner, Rachel, and Brianna for making the trip to the Jukebox.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
-trying on clothes at the Wal-Mart in Oskaloosa, Iowa (which shares a name with Kristin's hometown in Kansas)
-visiting the house that was featured in "American Gothic" by Grant Wood
-cooking hobo-style hotdogs in a trashcan lid
-playing at the Beauty Shop
-hearing civic theater performers sing a cappella tunes from Jesus Christ Superstar in a hokey bar
-John and Mark making out in a crazy rap video
Monday, June 13, 2011
"Are you related to anyone famous?" Ryan asked him randomly.
Uncle Dan proceeded to explain at length how his family was distantly related to Benjamin Franklin. We left shortly thereafter.
Ames was deserted when we arrived. We found a coffee shop that had fascistly bolted shut all of their outlets to prevent lingering. Inside, we spotted a ground squirrel edging along the wall, apparently searching for outlets. Ryan chased him out while we ordered coffees and found seats.
After looking for a place to buy some beer while Ryan pooped at the conspicuously named "Kum and Go" quick-shop, we headed to "The Space." We were booked to play between sections of an open-mic night. For a Sunday night, an open mic at least guaranteed a crowd on what could otherwise be a dead night.
A young man in a Blink 182 shirt let us in the building, where we unloaded while other acts and listeners arrived. Nate, the guy who booked us for the night, arrived a little later to set up sound. Once the mics and PA were ready, he started things off with a beautiful song that we later learned he wrote himself.
When I stepped out to load in the last of our gear, a large man with John Lennon spectacles and a tie-dye shirt approached me. He bought two CDs and we made conversation.
"We're part of the burgeoning Pagan folk seen. I'm also in a sci-fi band that plays exclusively at comic book conventions. I would have stepped inside to hear y'all, but my ears ring. I had to listen from the doorway."
Ryan and I went on a brief walk before returning to hear a guitarist shred over funky beats and loops.
We left with the young man in the Blink 182 shirt and crashed at his apartment, where we lied in a row on his floor in near Lincoln-log style.
Dan/ the low end
Thanks to both David and the Hackerotts for housing us. Also, thanks to Nate of the Ames Progressive for letting us play.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The sun-burned inventor walked us around the platform, which at this point only stood about eight feet off the ground. He explained the design. His crew had strategically tack-welded the platform to be taken down immediately after the set and turned into cattle-gates. We were not as assured by this as he expected, but he continued.
"So, when we get this thing started," the inventor told us, "you'll crouch down as the platform is slowly raised flush with the fence. Then, you'll start playing." We exchanged glances while he reached into his pocket, removing a koozie. I looked at the foam beer-can cover. Five stick figures hovered above the image of a fence. Two played guitars; one held a trumpet. The stick figure playing drums looked suspiciously like Ryan. While the doodle at the microphone had no mustache, I could only assume it was supposed to be me. The caption read, "On the wrong side of the fence." Beneath the fence was our band's name in a blazing race-car font.
Mark (guitarpumas), Kristin (trumpetechture), and our friend Meagan pulled up. I watched their faces (mild terror mixed with amusement) as they realized what the platform was for.
We unloaded our gear onto a forklift, then climbed a ladder and set up our PA, drums, and amps. The top was stable enough to support the hundreds of pounds of gear, but the sheet metal worked like a weak trampoline: a few steps in the middle sent the mics and speakers shivering at the corners. We set up regardless, realizing that if our amps were to break due to a technical difficulty, this was the place to do it.
After the gear was fixed (almost) firmly in place, the inventor gave us a tour while his family and various employees set up large cases of beer and bowls of snacks for the party. Last year, our host's family donated funds for our tour on our Kickstarter fund, where we promised a house show for donations of over $100. This concert would be a gesture in gratitude for his help. He had invited over 50 of his friends to listen to a dangerously-elevated band and hang out at the pool.
As we followed our host, I overheard a song presumably titled, "John Wayne, Johnny Cash, John Deere," projected through a set of acoustically optimal speakers positioned around the pool. Given our stylistic differences from the music being played, I was a little nervous about how we would go over.
A television screen played through a television screen-sized window into the garage. A counter sat lined with Crown Royal Reserve and Whoopee pies. We passed a table covered in large sandwiches and a 40 x 60 poster of our band taken from a facebook photo from last year's tour.
While we waited for the party to start, I grabbed a beer from a burly, tattooed man in a gazebo. He finished a push-up before asking for my ID and granting me one of his secured Bud Lights. If I had less self-respect, I would have pointed to the stick figure on the koozie.
I sipped my beer, talked to my girlfriend Amy, and met some of the early arrivals. Ryan, John, and Mark (guitar/pumas) were all conceived, born, and raised in Ellsworth County; many of their family friends came to the show. One kindly man told me that there would be at least ten millionaires there, and that they probably wouldn't look like millionaires. I nodded and thanked him for the information. I later learned that he was a millionaire.
We prepared to play and were introduced to our tech assistants. Blaze, the inventor's congenial son, Billy Ray (a large man from Detroit obviously named after the timeless country/pop icon), and Gustavo (a Brazilian cowboy) were to manage our rise and fall. We discussed hand signals, set length, use of the fog machine, and the management of the forty-foot light structure positioned on the other side of the house. After a few minutes of conversation, we were told to play. The band gathered on the forklift and gave Billy Ray the signal.
After the first song, we were told to step off. Our combined weight, with that of all our gear and the platform itself, was too much for the scissor-lifts. We walked onto the forklift and waited. They planned to lower the platform and re-raise it. Gustavo and Blaze each pulled a lever.
The reverb tanks in the guitar amps and the Bronze Age mixer made an otherworldly noise as the entirety of our gear ended a sudden three-foot drop. The band gave a collective sigh. Gustavo, Blaze, and Billy Ray tried again and smoothly raised the platform to its desired height.
We played the rest of our set without incident (and with significantly less movement on stage than usual). We had practiced for a few long sessions earlier in the week which helped us cope with the altitude lateral movement of our performance space. The crowd below, however, was sedate, not knowing what to make of the band playing 20 feet above them.
In the second set we reached our groove, and, at our host's request, later played a third set of less-practiced material for our increasingly intoxicated crowd. Being an increasingly intoxicated band aided this. During our second song of this last set, Amy bravely leapt into the pool. Blaze shortly followed (though I thought he was operating the lift), and subsequently ushered in hours of pool-partying. During this song, a dozen more partygoers cannonballed and corkscrewed into the water.
At this point, the crowd was loose and began partying in earnest. The pool filled as we closed our set. John's dad leapt into the pool with all of his clothes on. A young couple slow danced near the back of the deck. Some old-timers swayed on the slower numbers. A very drunk man with a handlebar mustache and a mandolin strummed along on the deck below.
We came down from the forklift and joined in the pool party. The Ellsworth faction of the band seemed happy with the performance. As I paddled around the pool, I was given high-fives from some of the younger folk who complimented the music as well as my mustache. I felt I was either in high school or a Jimmy Buffet music video as friends and strangers dunked each other around me. We left our gear waiting on the platform above as we swam and floated across the pool.
-Dan/the low end
Also, our tour shall be launched this Friday, beginning with a show at Auntie Mae's with Paleo. The new EP and shirts will be available. We want some of your love.