Friday, Feb. 6: IfIHadAHiFi/Year of the Scavenger/Begin By Gathering Supplies at Quenchers
Some quick bullet points about Friday's show in Chicago:
-Quenchers is probably now our favorite venue in Chicago. Beat Kitchen has always treated us well, and the fact that we haven't played Union Rock Yards since the Touch & Go 25 afterparty necessitates the "probably," but it's hard to go wrong with a venue with a pretty decent sound system, what looks to be 100+ kinds of beers available, an automatic crowd, and a $5 "recommended donation" combined with a payout from the bar.
-Shit, that wasn't a very quick bullet point.
-After 8 years of playing shows in Chicago, we FINALLY have something resembling a draw in Chicago.
We arrived at the venue at nearly the same time as Year of the Scavenger, our road buddies for the weekend and the current project of our hetero rocker lifemates Cody and Chuck. Nearly as soon as we walked in we were greeted by a ton of Chicago pals, and by the end of the night, it was hard to keep track of everyone: loads of EA Forum folks; Dan from Latest Flame and Matt from the Gunshy; our pal AJ; our other pal K; now ex-Lustie Michael and Joie Superstarcastic, with a posse of about four others; the illustrious Ellie Maybe. How do you establish a draw in a foreign city? Make friends over a period of 8 years.
Begin By Gathering Supplies started the night off with a killer set of what i'd best describe as 80s-influenced noise-pop played with a guitar, a live sequencer/synth, and a new drummer. At times the live drumming clashed with the sequenced drums, but when it did, it was minimal and didn't last long before things got solid again. Best part of the set was actually when the sequenced drums dropped out, giving the new drummer the ability to just bash with no regard for syncing with the machine. But whenever he did bash, he wouldn't get out of time and the sequenced drums would come back in right on time. Solid debut for the new guy.
It's stupid to a degree to say i waited for YotS to set up like an expectant parent or something like that, since we've been playing with Chuck and Cody's bands for years, but this was their latest ensemble's first trip out of town and we were the ones that got them the show, so i stood there confident that they'd bring it but hoping that all my pals in the audience would dig it. Within one and a half songs Michael ex-Lustie walked past me and said "I already fucking love 'em." Consider it brought! They sounded great on the Quenchers stage and had the crowd won over pretty much immediately--not too much of a surprise in retrospect since their brand of 90s Dischord-via-70s arena rock is really tailor made for an audience weaned on Albini/Yow badassery.
Notable events during the YotS set: 1) Woman asks for the microphone and says some disparaging remark about whoever left a tampon in the ladies' toilet, or something; 2) either that woman or a second, slightly weirder one (i forget which) leaned over to me and said "i think one of these guys should get naked. I think it should be the drummer." 3) Second girl later leans over to me and asks, "can i cut off one of your curls?" She then motions that she wants to put said curl in *her* hair, like some sort of weird Native American trophy. I diplomatically explain "um, i think my girlfriend has final say over all my curls," and then politely say "i'll think about it," successfully avoiding her for the rest of the night. At our last Quenchers show, i signed a boob; at this one, a girl was asking me for a lock of my hair. What the hell is the deal with this venue?
Our set was a barnburner by every possible measurement. I started off working the cheap heel heat by saying "this is weird; i normally get up here and start ragging on your sports teams, but there's no football or baseball right now, so who cares?" K immediately yelled "It's hockey season, motherfucker!" and a couple others people (i.e. a very loaded Scott from the Chrome Robes) immediately started yelling at us to "Go back to North Dakota!" and "Go Canadiens!" and such ridiculousness. So good! Yale responded with cracks about the parking and toll booths that got some cheap boos as well--all good-natured kayfabe storyline booing, of course.
Yes, i'll be using wrestling slang all throughout this entry, thanks.
We tore through eight songs and had the ladies dancing and singing along up front while Yale gave the soundguy fits. He first asked "please don't do that" while Yale ran his guitar neck up and down the ceiling ductwork, then got *really* pissy when Yale ran out the door behind the stage onto the sidewalk. (It was later explained to the Wizard that they've had issues with their licensing due to the noise.) While the soundguy was having an aneurysm, the audience was cracking the hell up (so i'm told, as i was not wearing my glasses in order to achieve maximum ruckus).
Final door take: $170 from donations and an extra $100 from the bar--$90 per band. The extra from the bar is what makes Quenchers a classy fucking joint.
After the show we bid adieu to YotS as they spent the night at AJ's (well, Brian and Chuck did--Cody had friends at the show and drunkenly tried to get the rest of the band to hit a bar with his friends, leading to a hilarious standoff where Brian and Chuck got into the van and said, "Cody, we're leaving," to which Cody said, "no, we're going to the bar! Fuck it, i'll take a cab to AJ's! Go then!" As Chuck and Brian drove away, Cody suddenly exclaimed, "they really left! Fuck, i don't know where AJ lives!" Or something like that. I assured him that since we were all planning to meet up at Kuma's at 11:30 the next morning, he could just meet us all there), and headed to our friend Randall's pad for after-bar beers and VH1 Classic. Highlights apparently included Yale punching Mat from Builder/Destroyer in the nuts, a two-hour quest to achieve a pizza order, and a hilarious running joke where we would loudly plan to grab the car belonging to one of our drunk female friends (who was alone in the next room trying to pass out), causing her to continually yell "NOOOO!" and fling open the door to yell about how we weren't taking her car, falling out of her dress all the while. Amazing. Eventually pizza was achieved and we attempted to get some sleep on the floor at around 6:30. Random drunk conversations kept me up until around 7 or 7:30, and i had a very interrupted 2 or 2 1/2 hours of sleep before i had to rouse the gang to rally for Kuma's at their opening time of 11:30 AM.
YotS got to Kuma's just before us and were the third party in line our of at least eight parties when we got their and stood with them as part of their group. We were seated and Rev.Ever and i immediately ordered a pair of deliciously spicy bloody marys in order to get the nutrients flowing again.
The following will be the only photo of this entry:
This is the AXEHANDLE, February's special at Kuma's. According to Google, Axehandle are an Alabama Thunderpussy side project with two drummers, so the name now sort of makes sense, as the photo you just saw consists of the following: a bed of waffle fries, a 10 oz. Kuma's burger, an egg, sausage gravy, and two biscuits. And it was AMAZING. The Wizard wins the award for polishing his Axehandle off and completely cleaning the plate, fries, gravy, and all; i didn't have his stamina (nor did i have Yale's, who took down his entire Mastodon [BBQ Sauce, Cheddar, Bacon, Frizzled Onions]). Brian from YotS sung the praises of his High On Fire [Siracha Hot Chili Sauce, Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Grilled Pineapple, Sweet Chili Paste] all the way to Bloomington, Indiana...where we were headed next!
Saturday, Feb. 7: Waxeater/IfIHadAHiFi/Beati Paoli/Found Objects/Year of the Scavenger at a Bloomington Basement
We arrived in Bloomington with enough time to chill out at the pad of our pal Rob (of Waxeater and Tremendous Fucking fame), which gave us time to get to know the Beati Paoli guys and hang with Rob and TremFu drummer Ed. But before long it was time to head to a liquor store and then the venue, a ridiculously large basement set up better than any basement currently operating in Milwaukee, i promise you that.
This basement was big enough to have a back room for gear storage, a makeshift bar where cans of Pabst (and later Beast and Bud Light Ice or whatever bullshit Rob and i bought for the house when they ran out) were provided, and still provide standing room for at least 100 kids while another 150 or so milled about the rest of the house. Kids flowed in and out of the basement like they were the house's circulatory system, always pumping, pumping.
YotS opened this show (which was jam packed full by the time they started at about 10:45) and once again slammed. Brian eventually attracted a group of young ladies he dubbed his "biddies" while Rob and i checked out one particular brunette in a white dress, then looked at each other and shook our heads. "Man, i'm ten years younger than you, and *i* feel dirty," Rob remarked. True that. Underage drinking, capacity issues, and statutory rape fantasies--how more rock 'n' roll could a party get? (OK, not really statutory rape--she was probably 19 or 20, and hell, it's Indiana. What's their age of consent, 12?)
Once again, our set was complete chaos in the best way. When we set up someone (i think maybe Rob) started yelling at us to play our Mclusky cover (which we played twice live in 2007 and haven't touched since). Brian immediately picked up on it and yelled "yeah! 'To Hell With Good Intentions!'", not realizing that that's our Mclusky cover. We started sort of playing it as a joke, and by the third verse we were slamming through it with abandon, which was just silly and led into another totally blazing set, complete with party numbers to get the kids dancing (including our Go-Gos and Burma covers, as well as classic HiFi No More Music-era jams like "Potential Energy," "Chance-Medly" and "Doubting Thomas Telescope." Kids danced and slammed into us and our pals playfully fucked with Yale up front. So awesome.
After our set Waxeater tore shit UP with some crazy Jesus Lizard-inspired noise rock that had the mosh pit flowing with a madness. I watched about half the set and then made my way back to our merch, where i saw some dumbass kid trying to steal a Found Objects t-shirt. As he stuffed it down his pants i walked right up to him and asked, "are you gonna pay for that?" He gave me this nervous "busted" grin, pulled the shirt out and threw it back onto their merch pile. Two kids standing near me looked at me and asked, "who the hell steals a local band's t-shirt at a basement show?" A selfish fucking idiot, that's who. I hope you stumble across this, asshole, because i call you out on the internet as a piece of shit! OooooOOOOOOooooo.
After the show i stood outside talking to a rather drunk Chuck, asking him if he had enjoyed his weekend. "It got us wondering why we bother playing shows in Milwaukee." I nodded knowingly.
It really was a rewarding experience being able to bring our pals along on these shows. First, it's really nice to be able to use our years of networking to help our friends get in front of some appreciative crowds outside of Wisconsin (and it's not every trip where each show is in front of a shit-ton of people, like this weekend). Plus, on a selfish note, it's nice to be able to show off to our pals and show them how we do it in front of a non-Wisconsin crowd. For years while we were treated to indifference in Milwaukee (not like we're any hot shit now, but at least our Cactus shows are well-attended these days), we'd tell people how it was a different story when we hit the road, how we'd routinely blow some people away in another town and leave them freaking out about our live show. It was nice to go out and back it up and show off in front of our friends. Heh heh.
Waxeater will be heading up to Chicago and Milwaukee and playing shows with us in March. Chicago's all set at Union Rock Yards (the Payless basement where we rocked the T&G25 afterparty), and Milwaukee's still in progress. But do come out and see them, because they fucking bring the NOISE.