Our Weekend With Arks: 11/2 MKE and 11/3 St. Paul

I am getting awfully bad about updating this shit on time, especially considering all the free time i have lately. Fortunately, i have a Statement of Purpose to put off writing, so...hai!

What will never cease to bring me epic degrees of warm fuzzies is this one truly beautiful aspect of being in a rock band: as a vehicle for meeting wonderful new people, it is second to none. After years of building up a literally nationwide cache of awesome rocker pals, from Replicator and eastward through Bang! Bang! and the Sump Pumps all the way to Ho-Ag, it blows my mind that as we enter our 8th year as a band, we have once again struck New Rocker Buddy Gold in the awesome guys that comprise Chicago's Arks. Paul, Lanny, Glennome and Mat are some rad and hilarious dudes, and we couldn't have had a better time playing two shows with them over the first weekend of this month.

The first of these shows happened at a newish Milwaukee gallery/all-ages space called the Borg Ward, which may now be one of my favorite places to play a show in the town. A basement-sized space in a room behind the gallery portion of the Borg Ward, the room basically puts forth the vibe of a basement show with the added benefit of being above ground in a legit venue with a decent PA. Astounding. This show was our first with every other band on the bill, all of whom were fantastic. elusive Parallelograms played a ramshackle set of Shoegazer-flavored psychedelia (Think Thurston and Lee playing with the 13th Floor Elevators) featuring a drunk-off-his-ass drummer who was probably more entertaining than he bargained for. Burbank Cartel play a great shoegazey (there's that genre twice now!) brand of indie rock with electronically-flavored drumming and great songwriting. And Arks! Oh, Arks. I hate to reference their Pitchfork review, but Girls Against Boys is really a good touchpoint for them, especially with Paul's vocals reminding me so much of Scott McCloud or Mark E. Smith. All three are truly fantastic. Arks' set in particular was hilarious thanks to some drunk heckling provided by that aforementioned eP drummer, the completely sauced Corey.

Also, The Borg Ward has a kitty:

Our set was worlds better than our last show, at Cactus Club. Lots of fun slamming into crowd members, playing guitars on ceilings, the lot. The best part was that other than a few of our regulars (Dixie, Thom, etc.), the gallery crowd at the show was filled with people who i think hadn't seen us before, and they were eating it up. On top of that, after the non-Mat Arks guys gushed about how much they enjoyed us, Mat got to inform them that we were playing with them the next night in St. Paul, a fact they somehow remained ignorant of until after we played on Friday! High-larious.

After the show, we loaded up and made our way to the Church of Murray for beers and hangout hilarity. Then, a night's rest, a morning's breakfast at Ma Fischer's, and we were on our way to St. Paul, Minnesotee.

We hadn't been expecting much from the Station 4 show in St. Paul. First of all, Mat and the guys from our Edina buddies Mise en Place went through just about every Twin Cities club in the area before settling on Station 4. Triple Rock--booked. Big V's--booked. Turf Club--yup, booked. And this was back in July and August! Also, we started hearing from friends in the area that Station 4 is a metal bar that no one goes to because it's out of the way of just about everything else that a self-respecting Twin Cities indie rocker goes to. Well, shit. That's too bad because Station 4 is actually a pretty nice place. Lots of space, HUGE stage (drum riser! DRUM! RISER!), and great sound thanks to a very metal but very polite and knowledgeable sound guy. I cannot say enough nice things about the venue, despite the fact that no one was there.

Seriously--Mise en Place brought along a handful of about 5 people, and we actually pulled in three thanks to the fortunate coincidence of my new Milwaukee friend Betsy being in town for a family wedding and wanting to get away with a couple pals to see us. Unfortunately, they got there as we were playing our last song, which is too bad because we brought it pretty solidly on this night. About 80% of the set was completely different from the night before, and we made full use of the ridiculous stage. Before we started playing, i walked over to the Wizard and said, "ok, when we're noising out, i want you to take the first cymbal i pull out of my kit and place it on the floor for me." So, as we were making our usual end-of-set cacophony, he complied with my request and i followed suit by taking another cymbal and placing it on the stage in front of the riser, enabling me to complete an awesome sequence where i jumped off the riser and crashed the first cymbal, then immediately jumped off stage and crashed the second one on the floor. Ah, theatrics.

The Arks set was even more hilarious the second night because i got the brilliant idea (after a few beers and a shot) to start yelling stuff like "If you guys were a pirate band, you be YAAAAAAARKS!" "If you guys were grassy, you'd be PARKS!" "If you guys thought pro wresting was real, you'd be MARKS!" Etc. Of course, Rev.Ever chose his moment perfectly, shouting near the end of the set, "If Fonzie jumped over you, you'd be SHARKS!" And of course, they were tremendous once again, as were our pals Mise en Place, busting out their fairly unique brand of noise-pop which we enjoy very very muchly.

Let it also be known that Mise en Place are excellent hosts. We made our way to their guitarist Michael's place for Domino's Pizza, beers, and Hi-Def boxing, while we got to say hello to his dog, Juno:

You'd think that now that i have a camera with a phone, you'd see more photos of the bands we play with. Nope, nope. To further illustrate the direction this journal is probably going in, here's a photo of the canine companion of Mise en Place's drummer, Shaun. This is Paul Stanley:

We awoke the next morning at Shaun's pad and met the Arks boys and the Mise en Place dudes for lunch before bidding them good journey on their way to Omaha. We then left for Milwaukee, finally managing to tune in the Packer game as soon as we crossed the border back into our home state (dirty pool, Vikings Country--although i suppose our team took care of that with a 34-0 shutout this weekend, did they not?), just in time to hear the Pack pull one out on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. As of this writing, our boys in Green and Gold are 8-1. GO PACK GO!