A Show Report by John H.
We had our second-ever show last week and it was a vast improvement over the first.
In fact, if they keep getting better at this expediential rate, our fourth show is sure to involve opening for a reunited Fugazi at a reopened Lounge Ax with sound by Bob Weston, posters by Jay Ryan, and the rapt attention (and wild applause) of everybody in the room...
Of course, we’d probably still play everything way too fast and I’d still remember only half the lyrics. We were invited to play this show through the good graces of Santanu Rahman, a friend from back in the old Champaign days who is now the guitarist for Triple Whip – one of my favorite bands of late. He needed a last-minute replacement for a band from Oakland – Replicator - who had to cancel a big part of their tour for some reason.
We jumped at the chance (I’d been hoping a show with Triple Whip would be among our first).
I was really excited for a bunch of reasons...
- I really, really like playing shows despite the terror and self-loathing usually associated therewith.
- I used to play in a band and go to tons of shows in Champaign in the early 90s and tend to romanticize the rock scene there in a nigh-unhealthy, nostalgic kind of way.
- We were to be among the first bands to play a new all-ages venue in Champaign (something that has been sorely needed in Champaign —as in most places—for quite a while).
- Triple Whip
So, after a less-than-perfect run-through of our set, we loaded up the stuff in the super-tuff minivan – somehow getting everything (including the three of us) in one vehicle—and, after a slight scare when the van wouldn’t start right away, headed down south with the windows open and radio at a level just too- quiet in the front and just-too-loud in back... The three of us said “what?” a lot.
In our dorky eagerness we were the first to arrive at the venue: BONEYARD POTTERY, which –as the name would seem to indicate- is actually a working
pottery studio near downtown Champaign.
I repeat... a working pottery studio... filled with amazing and fragile work into which talented artists had poured their hearts and souls and kiln-induced sweat. There was beautiful, breakable stuff everywhere...
...and THIS is where we were to play an all-ages punk rock show. We were pretty sure that after the show there was a good chanced that the place would look less like this...
... and more like this:
But oddly enough, the owner/operator of the place, Michael...
... (on the left), was far less worried than we were. He had wanted to host all-ages shows in his space for a while and was trusting that the attendees would be respectful of what he was doing for the scene. I’m pleased to report he wasn’t disappointed... VERY cool cat!
We sound checked with soundman Jimmy...
... and went off to the nearest packaged goods store for some liquid nerves.
We played first and (as usual) the performance itself would have been a complete and hazy blur were it not for photo documentation and the lo-fi recording that Robert did using archaic walkman technology.
Here is what I’ve been able to piece together:
- There were about 25 people there when we started (all hail the on-timers!!!). They were a handsome crew who smiled obligingly when I whipped out the camera between songs:
- The woman in the white t-shirt and the boys to her left actually moved in indie-rock, dance-like fashion while we played. Even though it made me worry for the pottery behind them, it was much appreciated!
- Taped evidence proves that we played everything WAY too fast. That, in conjunction with the fact that I had my amp volume set too low and couldn ’t hear myself on stage, resulted in the fact that...
- I messed up a lot. I think that there were 4 or 5 whole seconds in one of our songs where I just pounded on open strings while trying to figure out where we were.
- The lights and sound were reportedly excellent.
- We don’t look half-bad when we’re blurry.
- I jumped around and sweated... a lot.
- We made too many jokes about our age.
- I unknowingly hit a switch on my guitar that made the last song sound horrible.
- It was sooooooooo much fun!!!!
- We got tons of positive reinforcement from folks, especially Santanu, young-Josh, and Holly (aka Triple Whip), and that really nice guy that said, “Thanks for rocking, sir.”
Other stuff I remember:
- Triple Whip was brilliant and played a whole mess of new songs. If you don’t listen to them, you should.
- At one point during their set Santanu gave us props (eliciting cheap applause for us) and said some very nice things about me from the stage. I interrupted him. “ Santanu,” I said. “Smile!”...
- We had a hilarious conversation with young-Josh in which we discussed forming a band that would do songs consisting completely of sampled bathroom sounds (both mechanical and biological)... You had to be there.
- My friend Paul West (former bookselling business partner and the current owner of Café Kopi in downtown Champaign) came to the show despite having significant excuses to miss it. Here he is (on the left) with Robert and Tony:
- The Idle Hours remembered to bring all of their po-mo atmosphereproviding, thrift-store televisions from Chicago, but seemingly forgot to bring some of the musical equipment that would have allowed them to play a few of the songs on their set list.
- Their set was short but interesting and they played one song (“Ice Lands Forming”) that got stuck in my head for a big part of the drive back home. They were invited by some of their enthusiastic fans to play an after-party at a house in town after the show. We were not invited to even attend the party, let alone play.
- Santanu surprised us with a small handful of cash from the door. Totally unexpected and generous. The best thing about it was that, since it was a $3 all ages show, much of it was in change!
- Many sweaty and heartfelt hugs and thanks were exchanged (along with some stickers) on our way out of the parking lot.
- On the ride back home Tony, breaking the tired silence, would occasionally say, “That was great.”