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

Friday, March 23, 2012

Extensive thoughts on Escapes day 1 and 2

yo yeah, so i think rather than write the perfect masterpiece Im gonna go more stream of flow of consciousness style. Completely Incomplete, including (most definitely including) the lists, best bands etc.

Writing from Athens GA!!! Next stop in life is Quiet Hooves / Sean Nicholas Savage tour, maybe Im sticking around for a west coast tour with Each Other and Iji, it kinda sounds too good to pass on and I dont think my job for the state will be open yet. I am playing guitar in QH and bass in SNS and learning 2 sets worth of material as close to note for note as I can in a week. Its more work than it sounds, but the music is great!!!! Sean Savage is a real brilliant guy, he keeps playing the ii-V which is pretty funny to me, but I think i get his understanding of music theory. Its really cool because he is always throwing in some saucy changes for the middle part that are really fun to play, and idea the bass rhythms is real like "hey this has gotta keep it moving, keep it funky!" His style is really intricate actually, but in a way where you can play the song over and over again and pick up on an extra rhythm detail like every time, but the music sounds effortless because its all these little things adding up. I guess you would call that understated, or a smooth style, or having a good touch, but it effects the sructure and momentum of the song thats whats really interesting. I love it when little rhythms effect the momentum of the song, keeping the structure going where it wouldnt have enough just off the harmonies and melodies to pull it off. It takes the load off.

Everyone here has so much to do to get ready for this tour, Quiet Hooves played in Atlanta yesterday, I heard it was real fun, but actually I stayed home and practiced for an extra 4 hours then just passed out.

Anyways, lets do the timewarp again and talk some ESCAPES recap. I just wanted to make sure and do it by day

Escapes was 6 days long, Friday preceding SXSW music until the Wednesday of.

Friday and Saturday Zac from Zorch did a lot of booking for, those were sort of his days. More on Zac later, ha :). He had done 1 day of booking last year, and this year we bumped him up to 2 cause he's such a sweetheart. Its cool to have him help out because his taste is basically a good enough combination of fun party bands and bands that draw so that makes the club owner happy. If I had my way none of the bands would draw :). Orthodoxy as far as booking is a pretty central tenement of Escapes, pretty much we try and only book the best bands based on how they sound, but I've been a little out of it on the local scene lately, which I think naturally happens to some degree if you hit a point where you are concentrating on your own shit maybe. But all that community shit is real important to me, I wish there were more hours in the day, cause I would still be on that like white on rice. All the stalwarts, people who put a lot of energy into the scene, like say I donno, maybe you book free shows of weird bands once a month, we try and hook those bands up and these days are pretty primly positioned to create some hook up slots, just cause the crowd is good. Zac did a great job, both of these shows, I think they had good energy, like Friday we were the first ones doing big SXSW shows this year, and it had a great opening night feel. Then Saturday, afternoon i dont really know, cause I had gotten broken into and was dealing with insurance shit, but the crowd was basically as good the second night too. Bangaar played last, speaking of stalwarts, that band is ex-Those Peabodys, who of course have been in about 11dy billion bands. This iteration is great!!! I loved it. They did to. Actually by the time their set ended there were probably only 15 people left, most folks went home around 1 AM to save their energy of get laid I guess. They didnt care, actually I asked Adam if they wanted to pick up a show later in the week "i dont know if yall have work or whatever...." trailing off, but he said "I dont give a fuck!!!" meaning, "rock on, party, balls to the wall!!!" They ended up not being able to do it, but it was so awesome!!!! They should be under the awesome bands-in-situations-involving-material-consequences list, just for that. And they slayed. I told them they reminded me of Wounded Lion, a California band also of kinda-older-dudes, also a 5 or 6 piece, I cant remember. The music wasn't exactly the same, but just the timbre of the energy reminded me of that band. I told them that about the kinda-older-dudes thing which they took as a compliment, which it was, somehow.

I dont know if I mentioned it already but Best Fwiends set that day was great too. They were in the small room, but the crowd when they started was over by the bar, so they were really playing to the bar, which is unusual for that room. One of those guys swooped under the drum mat and started wearing it like a cape, which I wasn't even sure what he was doing until it was over. Those guys are goofballs par excellance, and to me that speaks to something fundamental about the purpose of rock and roll. Also I loved loved loved playing in Bill Bairds impromptu group, which was Bill reading poetry over the impromptu group of me and Jon Horne on guitar skronks, and I think Bradford Kinney and maybe one of the guys from Gangi, or Mercer? No, I think the 4th guy was another local, but my apologies, 2 weeks later I cant remember exactly who it was. Anyways it was special, Bill was rapping at one point about the idea of a music career, with all that trademark droll wit.

Later that evening I got to play drums in The Foolies. The best gotcha of the festival occurred here, here, I'll explain. The existence of The Foolies was Chris Reed's idea. He came down from NYC a week early to chill with friends and put this band together with Esteban being the front man and doing soul covers. At Esteban's birthday party me and Chris Wig had gotten into a tiff (we wont go into details, sorry) which led to Chris W. recusing himself from Spiked Punch. Anyways, I had been trying to buy him a steak dinner for a while to get him to be back in SP in general and also for the Escapes shows. Well, The Foolies practiced at my house for 2 days, but it was a random smattering of members, and Chris was never there but I was told he was playing. Both Chris's had had a practice at Wig's house besides the 2 at my house. Well we had practiced alot, but I had no idea what the band would even sound like when we got on stage. Esteban had stage presence and Reed had learned the bass and it didnt really matter to me, all I had to do was play drums and not give a fuck anyways, I could do that. So Wig's shows up on stage and he is about to play guitar in this soul band and he plays one note, and what is the sound but his trademark steel drum guitar sound which would have no place in a traditional soul band and was basically Spiked Punch's trademark sound of the era he was in the band. I donno maybe he is still in the band, I have to ask him when I get back from tour. The nerve!!! The gall!!! The set ended up sounding like William Shatner doing soul covers with DNA being his backing band, it was glorious, I think we impressed a lot of people before we cleared the room. I really liked when Elizabeth sang These Boots Were Made for Walking, that was an awesome one. And La Bamba was fuckin sweet! The Foolies version of La Bamba would go on to spawn another band, actually, Ill post the video in a sec.

The X Rays set this night was our first in about 9 months. Some folks felt good about it ("a Solid B" -Owen) but I felt like we were capable of much more and was a little frustrated. That's how it goes with RXR, but we would avenge ourselves in all of our minds a few days later opening for R. Stevie Moore in what was objectively in my mind our finest moment ever.

DAY 2: SATURDAY AKA WITCHAPALOOZA

There was no witch shit for witchapalooza, it turned out to be only a clever marketing gimmick. I unfortunately have to skip in my recap to 7 PM, because i was dealing with aftermath of getting broken into.

The mood when I arrived was pretty good. Forever Overhead was the first band I remember seeing, on the big stage. They were good, I'm not sure the sound in that room did them justice, it was a bit heavy on the treble, and we fucked up running their sound because I had just gotten there and we were trading off who was running the show during their set, so there was a little feedback until I could get to the sound booth. I kinda want to compile a babes of rock category at the end, I don't know how tacky that is, but the singer for that band would be in it. IBNUBO played on the floor in the same room and their set was sick. The same acoustics that didnt really work for F.O. worked for them, just because of the style of the band. I think people forget sometimes not to judge a band on one show, because most folks dont see a band and say "oh that sounded mediocre, I need to see that band again in case they are really much better than that." That to me is one of the fun parts of seeing bands, because remember, these are living breathing organisms. Maybe if the set wasn't perfect it was "nobodys fault" kinda like when your parents got divorced. Overall I think 1808 plays much better as a venue when the Outside is available. We are gonna work on that more next year, the issue is you only could get a 4 day sound permit for outside this year, and while the owner gave it to us for Wednesday, he also got it for Thursday-Saturday in the hopes of renting the outside out. The open air acoustics back there are great, so between that and both inside rooms it becomes easier to place bands where you think they might sound the best.

Enter Jack Topht from Buffalo. This guy ended up being a real cool guy. He played in the small room to not much of a crowd for this show. I dont know how the bar took it, just on the grounds of him being a white rapper rapping about whatever to not much of a crowd. They would like Cadence Weapon tho. This guy kinda got booked last minute, and he wins the snowball award for turning one show into like 7, we rolled with Jack all week, he was a cool guy. We got coffee at Karibu, that story is coming later.

I was running around during his set, so i didnt really catch it but i dont remember being particularly impressed at the time, going back to that seeing a band in different contexts thing. The next sets I really remember on the schedule were Popular Culture, which is Henry of Max and Henry aka You and Me's solo project and The Cockerspaniels performing a non-solo show for the first time. Both sets were really cool. Popular Culture, he just had a good look and good stage presence and energetic vocals n' stuff. There was something kinda humorous about it to me. I forget what was on his jacket, but it was a big patch on the back of a blue jean jacket for something, it seemed like an insider reference.

The Cockerspaniels it was glorious!!! Really folks were rooting for Sean. That dude has played solo for so long, but like dude, why aren't you playing with a band! Lets hear the music!!! He records with a full band worth of instrumentation and it really did make the difference live. He performed in a trio, the other dudes I think they were both in Zest of Yore. One of those guys might have played 3 sets that day. Joey did, Reverse X Rays, Spiked Punch, and Slugbug. I played 3 sets the first night, The Foolies, Bill Baird, and RXR. I think to have individuals play 3 sets adds something cool to the show, for one it means there are certain folks who are sticking around and catching a good chunk of it. Bear witness and testify, oh yea. It was great just to hear the harmonies and the low end and both the backing guys were good musicians and could do it justice, I hope they continue to write music as a band, Sean writes great songs.

Holy Waves set I thought it sounded good and was underattended. That band would really benefit from playing outside. They had some great projections with them. They are all switching instrument these days, but I wish they would leave the guy who plays drums like a bat back there. Whatever, those guys are going to keep growing as a band and doing their thing and I feel confident they will get great results just from sticking with it and doing what they are doing. I think noone was watching them because Pataphysics was playing in the other room, maybe we timed it a little off. Pataphysics played a great set. Do those guys always close with Policeman? I love that song, but not as much as I like "Weirdo" which I think they did not play. They are basically off the material of their old album, playing newer shit these days. I didn't catch their whole set, but I have heard "Weirdo" live before really slide into the pocket in an intense way. That's Chef baby, oh yeah. Slugbug was consistently great at Escapes, I think we almost always ran them in the small room, I know that night we did. That was mainly because they have so much gear to set up, we slot bands once an hour in the small room, so it makes more sense from a bookers perspective as far as running the show is concerned. Weird Weeds set was great as always, I was zoning out, prob pretty baked at this point. The Spiked Punch set was pretty hilarious this night. Chris played with us and was partying his ass off real drunk. He had leeway to do whatever he wanted, just cause we wanted him to play with us, and he took it to the max. He was talking to these 2 girls the whole time, before during and after the set. Playing guitar was pretty much an afterthought as far as making sure the band sounded good, but he made sure and played nice and loud. At the beginning of the set he told me "tell me if im too loud or anything." I tried to communicate that message and at one point turned his amp down. After that he turned it back up, wayyy up past where he was earlier, but maybe he turned it down on his guitar at the same time because he wasnt any louder than the initial too loud volume even tho it looked like he should have been even twice as loud. Ill never figure that one out. The conversation with the chicks never ended, actually it was awesome, although I was mildly annoyed at the time, it was hard to take any details of how the Spiked Punch set too seriously, just given I was concentrated on the enormity of the festival as a whole.

Zorch this night I thought played the best of the 3 times I saw them over sxsw. The intensity level was way up. I think Sam is actually playing a little less notey, and Zach is picking up the slack with rolling organ sounds a la The Soft Machine or Quintron. I thought they played exceptionally well this night. No wait, Im confused, the set Im describing was from the first night. The crowd was a bit thinner for them the 2nd night, I'm guessing because a lot of folks came both nights and had just seen them.

And that's the tale of the tape for the first 2 days, more to come.....

2 comments:

  1. FYI, I played three sets on Saturday: the full-band C.Spaniels set + bass w/ the Bell Riots + bass w/ the Zest of Yore. I joking referred to that day of Escapes as "Sean By Sean P" :-)

    I'm glad that you enjoyed the full-band C.Spaniels set: it was the best half-hour of my 2012 so far. There will be more full-band shows in the future, and I'll also try to incorporate my new rhythm section into the next batch of recordings I make.

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