this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Exclusive Thoughts on Escapes day 3

...and so we continue. Again writing from the starbucks in Athens at College and Broad. Played my first quiet hooves show last night! I didnt really know the notes, or like, the keys or the song names, just kinda how the songs go, so it was a little rough musically, but I did my best to make up for it with pure rocking out. I was on congas for a few songs, so that is easy to rock out on. I think I've got a good look right now, mid-fro and mid-beard, makes the crowd think they are looking at something besides a lackey boy. I am looking forward to knowing the material well enough to sync in with what the band is actually playing...3 more days of practice left. I went to 5 Star and ate the Meatloaf because I want my brain to function at a high level, and think it needs nutrients right now. After Escapes I felt like my mind was a total blank slate, like I had just smashed it into oblivion. Being here for 4 days I kinda feel the same way I never totally recovered and also I have been doing like 3-a-days which is a spring football workout term for completely busting ass trying to learn a retarded amount of music in a very short time. I got a solid does of amateur's glory in and then this morning Mercer brought me back to earth...I need to stay in the woodshed until the last possible moment. Noone said it was gonna be easy. The Hooves are really helping me learn the songs, and because of some stuff they have showed me in practice I am able to listen to the recordings (which have no guitar on them, basically) and pick out what the parts are supposed to be. Javier the usual guitar player is not in town right now, so I can't just pick up the parts off of him, but it is working out, I just need to get back in there. But first some procrastination / mind focusing.

Alright, the greek plates had been smashed, everything that could go wrong had gone wrong, and we had had 2 nice nights already. Would the momentum hold? I was pretty sure it would on the 3rd night, Sunday. R Stevie Moore was the headliner, and Austin is an "R. Stevie Moore town," that's what I told them at least, it was true.

SUNDAY March 11th
The show got off to a rolling start. I forget what I did during the day, but I feel like i was glad that the show didn't start until 7 PM, cause I was still a little stunned from the break in. I think we started at 7:20 and Albert (Ferdinand Rising) played first in the big room. Artificial Earth Machine is an Austin guy who I had never met or seen perform but had gotten in touch via email, so when we were booking it we just kept adding bands at the beginning of the show and he was one of those. He was great! Good music and a cool light show. He gave out free CDs people eagerly grabbed them. The music was in a consistant vibe, it felt like a long build, everyone knew what was coming later in the night and for the most part the artists that we stuck on this day were folks who had some connection or were inspired by R Stevie's music, so I think that led to the sound being a little more focused. I dont remember Dude Magnets maybe i was setting up. Hooded Fang and Odonis Odonis were 2 Toronto bands that Jordan Michael had booked and seemed to know each other. The music was excellent, the guitarist for Hooded Fang was a little bit like jittery, like the guitarist in Christmas. And they had a really charismatic female lead singer. Odonis Odonis's vibe was a little nortern hard rock, a little artier than a band like Northern Liberties, but that same kind of north urban hard rock vibe. They were loud and heavy and well melded, you could tell they were tour tight. They probably were wearing some black clothes, I donno, the singer was good and had some skater vibes, I think he was prob a real young guy, 23 or so if I had to guess. I dont think you could call that band bright eyed and bushy tailed tho, it seemed like they were railing against a society that did not speak for them (<---dry humor). Oh yeah, Sunday was the day that Gangi and Mercer got in. They were supposed to get in before the show started, but were late starting in from Marfa, and also didn't catch the turnoff from I-10, so they went all the way to San Antonio before hopping on I-35 and that set them back another hour +. So I was running the show. It was running a little behind, but there were slots later for Man's Trash (mercer solo). They were running a little extra late on his account, so we wanted to make sure everything was gonna be cool with Gangi's set. Actually, something really cool happened with that. But yeah, back to 9 PMish. Roo played the small room and were sweet. Those guys have good consistency and always play that room well. Its hard for me to remember which I Love You set was which, but I think this is the one that Justin played in the big room and there were girls dancing. Maybe they were on drugs, there were a couple chicks all dressed up and one of their butts came out at one point, dang! I think his set benefits from a little aggressive flair like that...he is out of a Chicago warehouse scene and its nice to have some cultural signifiers harken back to the origin headspace (dancing chicks on drugs with their butts coming out.) La Panza played, that was cool for me. Those guys are good man. They are originally from Lubbock, had moved to New York, and now I think they are gonna try and find the right sized pond in Austin, so I'm gonna try and grab em for a bill or 2 with my band before they get too big :). They said that the dominant cultural institutions of Lubbock went after the college radio station there and it just decimated the scene. We played last summer on tour with Naked Pictures, one of those dudes's bands and they were great. They used to play shows with Tuxedo Killers way back in the day, that's how I first came across those guys, and I think its cool how both those groups of musicians were maybe naively focused on creating output, like a label etc. Naivety is really important in rock, if you went around and told every 16 year old kid that they weren't going to turn into Jimi Hendrix until they believed you it would probably have a very negative effect. And yet, the culture exists, rock culture. I admire them for the fruits of their labor and its cool how it has aftershocks, like how I picked up a used Dan Doyle record from 2006 recently on vinyl. Glad noone ever told him he was never going to sell enough of those to financially make getting them printed up worth it (I donno, maybe he did.)

Whereas the first 2 nights had a crowd of 50+ by 9 or 9:30, the crowd for this one picked up a little later, I think because people were planning on sticking around for the headliner, as opposed to the previous 2 days where folks were mostly filtered out by 1:30 AM (the first 2 nights went until 2:15 or 2:30). The crowd was probably around 35 at 9:30 for this show...will they come? But they did, I would say 10:30 / 11 PM was the real turning point as far as crowd size. Slugbug and Attic Ted were next. Slugbug was great all festival, dang how many times did those guys play? 2 weeks later it's mushing together for me, especially all the bands that played a number of times, how their sets went from day to day. Attic Ted was Grady solo in the small room. I was still running the show at this time.

Ok so probably around 11:30 Rayon Beach plays, on the ground in the big room. It was my first time seeing them, despite knowing Mike from college and having picked up a record and hearing their band that way. It was loud, a tinge of noisiness with underlying pop in a Times New Viking kind of way. Really high energy, really a dude smacking the drums. It was a solid show, that is a touring rock band right there. I love all the bands, but really I like the rock bands. Weirdo pop too, but if a band rocks they don't have to do much else for me, it can be stupid or fucked up or anything, I'll be satisfied. I think Rayon Beach is probably on the brainier side, somehow, but they still rocked, so their intellectualism is forgiven. I got to talk to the main dude about R Stevie Moore for a while. He is a big fan and we discussed creative styles as it pertains to recording. For example, we assumed that RSM used all his tape and was a completest, which has merits, but on the other hand, I do tape recording too and use alot of the space for demoing that makes the final product sound different. Actually if I can get 9 good minutes off a 25 minute reel of tape I would say that is really good for me. If I get 6 I will feel like I am flogging along at a satisfactory rate, and the rest of the space where there is demoing, alot of the time it will be full demos, bass and drums and everything. But its just a different process, I could experiment with the other way if I thought it would enlighten me to some new ideas, but I think I am going to wait until my solo album is done before losing focus and getting away from whats working for me, albeit slowly. So those were the lines of our intellectual conversation. The Lead Pipe set I basically missed because I was setting up, but I avoided making the mistake of running them too early to "get the show back on time" or something...Justin was gonna dub them out and was working until 11 PM or something, so I think they went on more like 11:20 PM. Probably this is about the time Reverse X Rays played. It was my favorite set we have ever done, with a great confluence of playing well and having a receptive audience. Everyone in the band felt the fire on the ass of wanting to play a good show, and that is when we really listen to each other, which pays some good dividends musically. We had gotten out our first show jitters, and it was my turn to veto certain songs in certain places in the set order that hadn't gone well at our first set. I am glad everyone went along for that show, we played great. Thanks to Slugbug and Andy from Quiet Hooves especially and everyone else who let us borrow gear for this set, Joey's bass head had broken and we were completely unprepared as far as having quarter inch cables / power adapters / power cables / all the things professional bands never fuck up. That's the way that band goes, but man we did it! And with all new material, that was the most exciting part. We hadn't proven to ourselves that the music we had been working on for the past ~7 months was any good in a live setting yet. I love that band because we really have an original sound, we never sound like the other bands on the bill. Its kind of a dorky sound a little bit, maybe, cerebral space rock with surf overtones. Maybe its "destined for the late night shift on KVRX" if we ever get it over there, but who gives a fuck, the shows are really fun to play when they go right. The only other RXR show I can remember being that good, and it was for about 1/5 the amount of people was the Sunset 7" release show at the Salvage Vanguard Theatre. Man, that was a great show, remember that one? Memory lane, memory lane....

Tropical Ooze would set up on the big stage right after us, and RSM would play on it too, same gear. There was a really interesting Overevo set that night. They did almost an identical set as I had seen them at 1808 maybe a few months back. Its very theatrical....masks and dancing and fake blood, and then a roll in the dirt and an S&M routine. What was so interesting is how different it was based on the crowd. The first time it seemed very intimate to me, like there were like 10 people in the room and somehow 1808 was a safe space to do art of this kind, at the intersection where no one would go. I think their set comments artistically on intimacy, so to me it had a totally different connotation to see the same routine in the same room, but this time at much more of a show that they were a small part of, with people they didn't really know, and also oh yeah the S&M part was a little different for me having an ex-gf in the room / maybe some other girls I liked, etc. Different energy in the air per se, but I think it was cool to see how differently the set was, even tho it was exactly the same. Their set was short, maybe 10 minutes, and when Reverse X Rays was playing Gangi got set up. There was a good crowd, but they were a little zonked from the travelling and the show was running late and I think they didn't want to play their set as their set. What happened was super cool, Me, Mercer and those 2 guys just jammed it out improv style. Eric played drums, Matt keys and background vox, Mercer some high energy bass, and I was just making noises in a microphone. High pitched bird noises, wah wah noises, falsetto half steps back and forth. I think there was delay on it, there must have been. We jammed out a long set some sweet territory, and I felt free, and slightly rock star-ish. When it was done it was time for R Stevie Moore, I guess we must have done that after Tropical Ooze or during.

Alright, well about 1:30 R Stevie started his set. Once Mercer had shown up and I wasn't running the show anymore I started to get drunk. It was a big load off, I was excited to get drunk. I did it via a double whiskey and coke, the quick train to lets-get-drunk. The R Stevie Moore show was good. Not as good acoustically as when I saw them at Emos outside last year, but the energy was raw. I'm not sure if he was instantly in the mood, but you could tell by at least a few songs into it the band was taking the show seriously. I think I already wrote this but I really like the song where it is like "play myself some music" back and forth. I was watching the show from on top of a chair in the back row with some friends from Athens. I think it must have been around 2 AM, but the set ended and R Stevie went and sat on a bench outside. Mercer took the reigns controlling the crowd "hey yall ill bet if you make some noise he'll come back" or whatever and I got the sweet honor of going outside and convincing him to come back in. He did and they played until 2:30 AM. The crowd stuck around. Part of me felt that the gates of time had opened up in a way, like, I had seen the name R Stevie Moore on our spreadsheet for months, but it wasn't going to feel real until it was actually happening. Like I wasn't gonna get my hopes up. Always best to assume all your headliners are going to cancel at the last second right? No actually, when they first showed up I had to go on patrol. I'm not sure they knew they were playing a show on the corner, and the band was a little wtf about the situation ("is there a green room? its a serious question!") Its a point of pride that if you come play our show for sxsw out of all the ones you play it will be the one with 1. the most high soundman, by a significant margin 2. the most chaotic and 3. if something actually needs to be accommodated, 110% we will make it happen. There was a moment where they were deciding whether to load in or not and I had to suggest that it was a good idea. It would have been really shitty if they came and left! That might have been where i told them that Austin was an R Stevie town, and really the show was filled with die-hards as an artist you can't ask for more than to play for that. It might have been 150-200 people that saw their set instead of 800 at Emos, but 1808 has a way of trimming the fat as far as audience members are concerned, so I think its cool to set up a really appreciative audience like that. And it was a special environment. That was the end of day 3.

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