Here’s the web only promotional video we made for “Propaganda” from The Berlin Tapes.
Here’s another vid from the same session also recorded by Pat on his insane HD camera.
58 minutes of KTF jam… live & uncut from the studio. Kudos to Pat for taking the video & uploading it somewhere. Here tis:
Halloween. Scaaaaary. Last night at Abuelita’s in Topanga Cyn CA, the seasonal ghouls and goblins took the form of ghosts in the machine. No not the xlint latter era Police joint, but instead as glitches running rampant in my pedal board. I spent the first 1/3 of the show crouching over my rig, disconnecting gizmos, reconnoitering the patch cords, bypassing loopers, warily wondering if wah wah weirdness was wild or wrong.
Eventually, I isolated the issues:
1) BOSS OC2 (Octave pedal, for when I play “bass” during Newtron’s excursions into the sonic beyond) crapped out internally
2) Pre/Post fx loop (post preamp send/return to the Boomerang looper) was busted at the input level – not sure if its the cords or the jacks
3) TMC Wah switch was out of wack causing cut outs
4) bridge pickup kept cutting out for a while.
Once I finally got everything working the bugaboos moved over to newtrons pedal board, zapping his looper… then moved over to the PA system which worked for a while then stopped then worked then stopped again.
Since this was a real last minute gig situation, we didn’t really announce it all that much, nor did we rehearse. This was pretty much a “cold reading” of improvisations peppered with a stew of song bits and between song excuses. Certainly not the best show we’ve played, but not the worst either. The highlight for me was a new song Newtron had written, which he showed us how to play right there on stage for the first time. His vision was some kind of country thing, but it ended up sounding more like Exile on Main Street era Stones. That segued into a blip filled loop fest of the 8-bit Pong variety, on into a majestically Sonic Youthian 6/8 fuzz fest with a codetta closing of Destination Imagination.
For those keeping score at home, the “Setlist” would be something sorta like this:
KTF @ Abuelita’s / Topanga CA / Fri Oct 24 2008 11:30pm-2am
Broken Pedalboard Jam >
Destination Imagination >
Broken Pedalboard Jam
Newtron’s New Tune >
Sonic Pong At The Gates Of Hades (with Lethur) Jam >
Destination Imagination (Reprise)
The first half really stunk, the last third was exceptional. For the first time out in 3 years or so, I’d say it was great success.
Pat recorded it on his mega bitchin camera so with any luck, you’ll get to see our Suckage & Redemption in HD.
i’m gonna be late. shit. i’ve got all my stuff packed to go to the show, but i can’t find the
power plug for the theremin. this wouldn’t be a big deal but mr. smolin asked me to guest on his track “Casper” on theremin. I’ve turned my entire studio upside down… no luck. Every musician will tell you that they have a “cord box” that is filled with nothing but different cords, adapters, plugs, and miscellaneous connectors… mine is currently spilled out onto the floor, a tangled web of multiple colored snakes writhing for my attention… unfortunately with every minute that passes, i’m becoming more tangled than it. Five passes through the snake pit yeild nothing… i open up my road case and dump its contents on top of the pile… nothing. Rifle through the pile of papers on the studio table… oops i forgot to pay the dentist, and that parking ticket. Shit. I dive behind my record cabinet in search of this lost piece of equipment… hrm… Celtic Frost – “To Mega Therion”, “1984″, Dio – “Sacred Heart”, John Davidson’s Greatest Hits (the guy from “That’s Incredible” – did he have
any hits?), Steeler’s self-titled album… Steeler? Yep. Which reminds me… I saw that
Yngwie is coming to Los Angeles in April.
Things are looking bleak here. I can’t find this damn thing and there is no jerry-rigging it. I’ve
begun to rehearse my speech to Mr. Smolin. Here goes:
“Barry, i turned my place upside down and couldn’t find
the theremin plug. But i’ll play some Whammy guitar in its stead.”
“Charles… you are endlessly irresponsible… you have earned yourself 5 days detention and
i want this note signed by your parents and returned to me on monday.”
Mr. Smolin then grabs me by the ear and makes me sit in the corner.
I continue looking and looking and looking… back to the tour case, behind the couch, in all my gig bags and guitar cases, back to the snake pit of cords, in the drawers, toolboxes. Eventually, i fell to my knees in at the base of the snake pile in a hunched pile, hands over my face. I can hear my mothers voice clear as a bell saying “Charlie, you are very smart, but you don’t apply yourself. You should start applying yourself by cleaning up your room.” I peer out from my hands over the snake pile towards the “beginning HTML” book on a shelf below the studio desk. Upon it and a bunch of other unused computer ‘how to’ books i see a black wall wart with a midi-cable looking power cord hanging off it.
Thanks Mom. I learned my lesson.
By this time its 7:34… the show starts at 8 and i live about 20-25 minutes away from the venue. I make a final pass at all the stuff i’ve got to bring and drag it down the stairs, throw it into the car and speed away to the show.
Now, my girlfriend gave me this paintball gun the other day. I’ve been wanting to do a little drive by paintballing ever since this delightful little mischief gizmo entered our home. So we’re driving down the street towards the freeway entrance… i pulled the gun out and planted a purple paint splat on the “101 North” freeway sign just as we get on the freeway. Little did I know that there was an L.A.P.D car right behind us. The lights go on… we pull over. Shit… i learned my lesson right? The officer’s silver name plate says “Rodriguez”… badge number 4235. He peers into the window… can i have your license and registration please. In a flash, my girlfriend (who’s driving) grabs the paintball that i’ve poorly concealed under a sweater on my lap, and plants a big green paint splat on Rodriguez’ forehead, hits the accelerator and we’re gone. We blast by a coupla
exits on the freeway then duck off and take the surface streets to the show.1
We arrive at the Riv and find a parking space out back. The clock in the car says 8:12… but its 25 minutes fast. I grab my shit and haul it into the club… i’m met at the door by Mr. Smolin. I immediately begin to recite my rehearsed speech, till i realize that i actually found the adaptor and all is well. He smiles and says that he’s more worried that his six string foil Harvey Canter (Ph.D.) is M.I.A.. We chit chat for a bit, then i drag my shit inside and find a place to set up the
theremin for his set. I’m also hoping to set up my laptop so i can record the show.
Eventually all the gear get set up, and i decide to set myself up with a drink from the bar. As I wandered over there, i bumped into Josh Baldwin, phenominal former drummer for numerous L.A. indie stalwarts including Stew/The Negro Problem, Third Grade Teacher and more. Josh is also a jam music freak… loves the PH guys from VT as well as all the jammy jammers. I’ve been wanting to put a project together with Josh since i first heard him play. He introduces me to : “This is Mike, my new guitarist.” I asked Mike how long ago Josh took the cellophane of him, and if he still had that “new guitarist smell.” We rapped about all manner of gear and music and whatnot, most notably about loops and the boomerang loop sampler that newtron and i use. Just at that precise moment, the one and only Andre LaFosse – loop genius extrordinaire walks up and into the club. I begin to sing Andre’s praises (in C# major) to which he humbly walks away embarrassed. I love doing this to Andre…. he’s such a great musician but when people compliment him, he shrivels all shyly like a middle school kid. Funny. Dre bolts as i describe what he does to Mike, Josh and Chad (?) Mike’s roommate. Josh tells me he’s looking for a bassist and a keyboardist… i tell him i’m gonna hook him up with the great Bernman… (note to self: email those cats tomorrow) A coupla seconds later, head Negro with the Problem, Stew walks by, we punch fists and say “yo” then go back to our dranks.
It looks like Mr. Smolin is starting up his set so i head back to my laptop to get the recording started. It seems that Harvey has arrived… VOX amp, boutique stocked pedal board and shiny hollow bodied Gretch in tow. The big hollow round sound of the Gretch sounds fabulous with Shmo tonight. The last coupla times i’ve seen them, Harv played a buncha different Strats… the hollowbody sounds like the missing piece to the puzzle. Shmo and Harv roll through a coupla Mr. Smolin nugs including the ode to giving oral sex to Mary Tyler Moore (yes!) then I get called up to the stage to play some theremin over At Apogee‘s “Casper”. As the song began, i started to rattle my amp back and forth, shaking the reverb chamber – making “thunder” sounds… i added a coupla bits and pieces of theremin whoops and cries, attempting to paint the horror that really is Casper the “friendly” ghost. Tune ends, i step offstage then drink a buncha beer.
I stepped outside to get some air and michelle appel drove up to the curb and beamed her smiley face from the window of her auto. I haven’t seen michelle in a year or so maybe… old friend from way back – i met her on my birthday on a bench outside of 14 below sometime in the mid-FOOD era. We chit chatted about various stuff… she asked me if there was anyway she could get in free. I told her that i didn’t have any ‘guest list’ and she’d have to pay. She said she only had $3, (cover was $5)
i gave her $2 and in she went.
by this time Mr. Smo had just about finished, and Michael Simmons’s set was in full swing. Simmons sounded especially great this evening. Throughout his set he was heckled by some drunk dude… at first he handled it stellarly, but after 13 hecklebursts you could see Simmons begin to grow tired of the annoying interruptions. Still Simmons put on a great show and tore the place down.
After Simmons, i retreated to the bar once again and double fisted a scotch on the rocks and a third Newcastle Ale. Country-rock dudes “I See Hawks In L.A.” set up their stuff and played a fine set of their Byrds/Burritos honky tonk trail hymns. I downed another round of drinks, then stepped outside again to find the one and only Carol of the Forest hanging outside. Carol is awesome. [ insert book-length bio of Carol here ] Shortly thereafter, Pete and his friend John Baltic arrive, with Newtron quickly behind. It seems that Newtron had a ‘classical gig’ out in Ventura (about 30 miles up the coast from L.A.) tonight… we were hoping he was gonna show up in his Tuxedo tonight. No tux. Oh well. We joked around a bunch and loaded the gear to the front of the club… the booker came out to say that “I See Hawks” were doing their last song and to get our stuff ready to roll into the club.
Last time we played at Que’s Mr. Smolin kinda acted like the evenings MC… he emailed me the day after the show to give me his honest opinion on the show… he dug it and thought we wailed… but he said that i needed to possibly pare down my massive rig because set up took way too long. he was right on the money, plus i got a little bombed on the scotch before playing (so what else is new eh?) So i kinda thought that this time i’d just bring my “guitar rig” and leave the synth, theremin and other gadgets at home.
- black sabbath
theres been a drastic change in my listening habits evolving through the last year or so. i went to see the first metal show i’ve seen since 1989. since that time i’ve been catching up on the current metal bands out there (the best of em being: meshuggah, opeth, mastodon, lamb of god, and dillinger escape plan – watch spacefuzz.com for a detailed dissertation on the current state of headbanging.) so with the onslaught of metal back into my psyche (and the slow steady removal of all “jamband” music) i’ve gotten a bit more in touch with the visceral aspects of music and the sheer physicality of playing the guitar. the guitar is a pretty amazing instrument… in the right hands it can bring you to tears, blow your brains out and all the spaces in between. (check out opeth’s great disc “damnation” for a perfect example of this kind of range) so i kinda thought about the whole thing here… what would happen if there were a band that grooved like metallica/meshuggah/megadeth but jammed like sun ra? a crazy intersection of the extreme tightness that only metal has and the extreme freedom of expressionist sound-paintings.
in response to this i came up with a different type of game plan for this show. usually we have two or maybe three “rehearsals” before a show or run of shows… both to re-examine and refresh some older material and to work up a coupla new ideas and possibly a cover song or two. for this show i brought in three new “tunes” one of which would sorta function as a “cover song.” the first thing we rehearsed became the opening jam from tonights show “1985″ – a simplish echo delay groove played on a metalized E string (detuned to D – giving it a bit of a growl) the riff is played by alternating tapping the fretboard with both hands – not in the eddie van halen way, more in the ‘andre lafosse – turntablist guitar way.’ the right hand taps in certain parts of the neck causing different parts of the fundamental pitch to come out (called ‘tap harmonics’) the delay box sets up a little tempo kinda like U2 or floyd used to do… i move the tap harmonics up and around the neck, changing the pitch and giving the sludgy drone jam a bit of architecture. the other tune i brought in is called ‘virus’ which is sort of a variation on ‘the trojan horse’ but amped up, freaked out and surely metallized. its a pretty complex tune, the lack of rehearsal time added the precise amount of rawness that i had envisioned when i wrote the riffs. unfortunately, we didn’t play ‘virus’ that night. its gonna have to wait until
the next show before we pull it out… sadly. the last tune i brought in was something that i had actually scored out on paper for the band to read off of. this tune “the entire ozzy-era black sabbath catalog done in :40″ is a graphic score based on a frequency analysis i did of the entire black sabbath catalog after compressing their studio albums into :40 seconds using a computer audio editing program.2 in these days of 24 hour cable news, reality tv, jingles, instant messaging, and the compressed lingua electronica of text messaging, why not take a stab at compressing the mighty sabbath into “mc nugget” form? now, i’m not saying that you’re gonna hear “into the void” or “paranoid” or “hand of doom” in there, but trust me… it is.
additionally i’ve kinda grown a little confused that all of our tunes end up being 15-45 minutes long. i love improvising, but sometimes concision really is the best hammer for a nail. i don’t mind that in the time it takes us to warm into a groove, most bands have reached the 3rd chorus of the 4th tune of the set, but i kinda do. i wanted to interject a little ‘turn on a dime’ orchestration into the proceedings. plus play some sabbath. \m/_
so the long and the short of it is that metal has kinda changed my life again. last november’s ktf shows were very very electronica influenced, (amon tobin, boards of canada, cornelius and squarepusher – please take a bow) and this show was definitely thrash metal influenced. the times of our lives are quite circular… metal has changed my life in much the same way that iron maiden’s “number of the beast” and “powerslave” caused me to put my beloved beatles records into the
record cabinet for a good coupla years… (opeth, meshuggah, lamb of god, mastodon – take a bow) it has happened again but now my funk and jam rock collection is in the cabinet (i still cant seem to shake this Frank Sinatra kick i’ve been on lately – awesome). i still love the groove, but that whole jammy style of music has become quite staid, gentrified and generic. the thing that attracted me to that scene to begin with was the feeling that anything could happen… now its evolved to “anything can happen within a certain set of paramaters that will get college kids dancing anddrinking.”
i hereby submit my resignation to the Jamrock Institute Board of Directors. I want to thank each and every person who has come to see me pretend to be a psychedelic guitar hero impersonator over the past forever… i’ve enjoyed entertaining you, but the time has come for me to venture out on a different path, one which i’m not sure as to what it is, but i do know that
it will be my own.
so what does that mean? it means a coupla things. one is that i hereby promise to follow my true artistic vision (wherever it may lead) to create challenging music that defies convention, that is beholden to no trends or genres (metal, jamrock, jazz, electronica or otherwise) and communicates using any and all available tools, sounds, materials and emotions to convey universal truths, expose untruths or find the grey ares in between.
does this mean that i am quitting kiss the frog? no. but i means that i must find within kiss the frog and my space in it the avenues to express myself uncompromisingly within the framework of a collaborative collective.
ok… now that i got all that hoo-har off my chest lets get back to the show… end of cathartic confessional
so we set up all our stuff… and for the first time ever, i was the first one done setting up. pete even commented to that while he was screwing something on his hi-hat stand together. it took newtron another 5 minutes after i was done to get his stuff plugged in (and 5 minutes into ’1985′ to sort out all the bugs and settle in) Normally, i would be the one twiddling knobs into the 4th song of a show. Tonight we welcomed the great Barry Smolin to the KTF stage. Shmo and I have been talking of collaborating onstage for a near eternity and now we’re going to have the opportunity to cut the rug together. He asked me via email what tunes we might be playing and if i could email him a coupla
chords to sort of road map some things out for him. I thought long and hard about it… i really had no idea what we would be playing, but i had a general idea what we probably wouldn’t play (based mostly on the above rant) i knew it was probably going to be a louder and heavier kinda show so i sent him some outlines of 4 or 5 tunes and a demo mp3 of “virus” in case we pulled it out. basically i left it with shmo “just let it fly and everything will work out.” i think that shmo was possibly more worried about sitting in with us than we were having him sit in with us. he has some massive ears (anyone who listens to his radio program will concour – he hears everything and truly deciphers sounds to their cultural and artistic meaning – he’s the real deal music junkie) and he can play his pi-ana real good too (as anyone who’s heard his buff rekkid “at apogee” can attest to) plus i jammed with him at a negro problem show a few years back… he let out some really roaring organ
underneath a guitar solo i took… the kind of roar that puts the history of the hammond organ into one brush stroke.
it looks like newtron has his shit going, pete’s chomping and i’m ready to roll… i leaned over to shmo and told him that there was a glass of scotch on the rocks for him on the monitor speaker behind him. he grabbed it, we toasted, agreed on the key of D as a good starting point, turned the key, hit the gas and away we went.
i started by making a loop of the 1985 riff which i faded in… pete started grooving on it, shmo made some great electronic squeals, newtron plunked out some angular bass riffs and next thing we know we’re in the thick of a jam, a loud thick sludgy distorted dub metal meltdown. about 5 or so minutes in… michael simmons starts ‘rebel yelling’ from his seat at the front table. he’s belting out this massive Tom Araya styled howl… i’m finding this kinda odd because simmons sings with the gentility of George Jones, without all the ornamentation. simmons leaves his scotch at the table and makes his way to the stage… howling. he grabs the mic from the stand in front of me and lays out a coupla sheets of full bodied yelps as the band grinds away behind him. he puts the mic back and looks at me sorta drunkenly… ok not sorta, just drunkenly. he wanders over to the side of the stage behind newtron (forcing newtron out of his little cubby area behind his laptop/looper contraption) he emerges with is electro/acoustic guitar with no plug and no strap, peering out into the darkness towards the sound man… hoping to get his axe patched into the p.a. system for a bit of a jam. no such luck, the soundman is now outside smoking dope… simmons grabs the mic again and lets off some more Tom G. Warrior yells (google that yo!) i’ve settled into a really chunky low-D groove… very megadeth-like. simmons gets off the mic and wanders back behind newtron for a while, again displacing newtronic… who obliges simmons patiently by moving to the front of the stage and jamming out with us. simmons putters around looking for a direct box to hook into… in his absence, i build up a pretty nice guitar onslaught… we’re raging now. simmons comes back out… holding the cordless input jack to his strapless guitar up for me to see. i’m wondering now what he’s trying to ask me. am i supposed to bail mid solo to go dig behind newtrons rig for a cord and a direct box? am i supposed to stop the band and go get the soundman to sort this out? what am i to do? simmons grabs the mic and howls a bunch more… all the while looking at me. i love this guy i really do… i don’t want to make it seem like i’m dissing him, i find this whole thing to be incredibly amusing. simmons then puts the mic back on the stand and walks off stage… but before he does that he manages to step on the “bypass” switch on my boomerang looper. the bypass switch essentially turns everything off except the loop. funny thing is that at exactly the same time he did
that i turned on my wah wah pedal… everything on my rig cuts out except the loop. simmons then goes back to his table with his guitar and sits down. he howls a bunch while he’s there and i’m left there onstage with newtron, pete and shmo whooping it up in the vacuum space where my very loud and full guitar once was. it was a pretty drastic change, and surely jarred the crowd, and violated the flow of the music. so i get down on my hands and knees to see if a cord came loose or if the power went out or something… a good 3 minutes into doing a diagnostic (the band was still playing) i flicked the bypass button and voila… elvis has re-entered the building. by that time the jam had pretty much turned into an abortion and i was a little frazzled and had lost all the momentum of the previous week building up to the show. we settled back into something kinda similar to the trojan horse… simmons started howling again. he got out of his seat and came back to the stage. i maneuvered the mic to where i wanted it (i was about to sing the words) and simmons went to reach for it… our eyes met. i shook my head and he backed off. while i was waiting for the riff to come around again he again reached for the mic, i again shook my head and missed my cue. i started singing anyways and we were instantly off into “the trojan horse.” this is already shaping up to be an odd show.
in addition to my guitar refusing to stay in tune, i’m beginning to wonder whats going to happen next. maybe the cops will come. we thundered through the “horse” and jammed it out pretty hard… it took a coupla really nice left turns and ended up at a big burst of good feedback… newtron and i conducted each others feedback for a second then we jumped into “The Entire Ozzy-era Black Sabbath Catalog Done in :40″ it took about 55 seconds to play it, and we hit the big rock chord at the end and everybody cheered. total time for that big segue: 32 minutes.
when that was over i rapped to the crowd about just getting out of rehab and this was my first show back (lie) and that i was in rehab because I was hooked on Phonics. nyuk nyuk… three people laughed. my horoscope said that i was going to have a difficult time communicating today and that i should try a different approach. of course i didn’t and all my jokes went over like a led zeppelin reunion without bonzo – forgettable. i also anounced the website url and mentioned that i write this very blog after each show where i detail all the zany shit that happened at the show… to which simmons said “uh oh” and the crowd of people there laughed. hi michael! i love you – kiss! kiss!
we hoofed from the horse into “propaganda” – which rocked out… we sorta botched the crazy breakdown riff, but the jam was something special… a long looping noise fest that went on and on… it was magical (even if the folks in the crowd didn’t exactly ‘get it’) shmo was an all-star on the keys. he played some perfectly placed plang noises and some excuisitely dubby keyboard glissandi while newtron and i bleeped and blipped over petes huge wash of drum madness. somewhere in there newtron segued into the funk number “Avalanche” which we got down and nutty with. the “heads” in the crowd grooved in their seats at the presence of something stylisticallly familiar. the ol 4/4 funk jam just works… sad but true… too bad it gets so boring to play so quickly. is that tune even in 4/4? anybody know? i don’t. either way we worked it more than a discount hooker at a shoe salesman convention… during the jam one of the bartenders (the one who steve ‘ishottha’ sherriff thinks is actually a man beneath her valley plaza robinsons may blouse and skirt) handed shmo a note that says “will be.. the last song” shmo hands it to me and i read it. we finish ‘er out rather quickly… rock n roll ending. i hop on the mic ‘thank you, we had a great time, we’re kiss the frog.’ bam. amps off
we’re outta there. i’m not sure if they either a) hate us b) want to go home c) both. i dunno, and i didn’t really want to stick around to find out. Propaganda->Avalanche segue: 25 minutes
newtron (or was it pete) motioned to me to look out towards the bar… slouched backwards on a bar seat, facing the stage, cradling his guitar, seemingly passed out was one michael simmons. very very funny.
a coupla nice people came up to the band stand to say hello, including Amy Hiatt who gave me her email address to put on the list, Dre LaFosse, Josh Baldwin and some other folks. I also got a nice hug from Mr. Smolin… who, thrown in the deepend, was a complete and total pro. I don’t think that his many radioland fans have any idea what a gifted musician he is in his own right. Thanks shmo for gracing us with your twinkling, you looked great in the KTF t-shirt!!!
We quickly began to tear our stuff down, ended up outside bullshitting about all manner of whatever then said our good nights as the lights on the bar went off and bailed home. End of show… end of adventure… but beginning of a new one.
Thanks for coming to the show, and thanks for taking the time to read all this stuff…
1: This didn’t happen.
2: This didn’t happen either.
Pete and I decided to load up the van and hit the road. We blow down the 101 to the 154 shortcut that Trev suggested. Very beautiful scenic drive… sometime in thar i rolled pete a cigarette… i’m not a very good bone roller, but i got the job done. We arrived in Santa Barbara around 5:30pm, parked the car in the club’s parking lot then headed out for some grub. We ended up at a Thai food joint which had a huge painting of John Lennon on the wall, they also played nothing but beatles on the radio thar. Good food, good music. We wandered back to the club, set our stuff up and had a beer. The lights weren’t on in the club portion of the venue… and i had to use the john… i rolled in thar and took a leak by lighter. When i walked out of the rest room the bartender said to me “Pissing in the dark again?.” Heh heh. Barry and Kevin (DJ Spacelab) arrived about an hour later and set all their stuff up. I managed to have enough time to set up my recording equipment so we could get a tape of the show. A majority of our shows get recorded by other peeps, but it’s been our experience that the tapes arrive about 8 months after the gig.
After a short sound check we fired up the jets and started playing… there were about 8 people in the club at that time… and it pretty much stayed the same throughout the evening although there were always a different 8 people every 10 minutes. It became apparrent to me at the outset that we were basically playing for the tape and not the crowd. Despite the low turnout the people who were there were extremely enthusiastic about our playing… asking what the names of the songs were, screaming and yelling and participating. It was pretty damn awesome. Trevor’s friend brought a bunch of hula-hoops with her. She hulahooped and danced all over the entire dance floor, very cool. Here’s the setlist:
Thursday September 26th, 2003 – Absinthe – Santa Barbara, CA
(w/ DJ Spacelab, Turntables)
Zither Loop (The Offenburg Jam)
The Trojan Horse
To Your Head *
Wrong Said Fred * ->
The Optimist Song
Gimmie Some Money * #
Third Stone From The Sun ##
* first time
# Spinal Tap
## Jimi Hendrix
Kevin really went to work on the turntables during “The Trojan Horse”… and i didn’t get electrocuted, which is awesome. In fact nothing really went wrong at this show, and i didnt run my mouth off from the bandstand either. We pretty much put our heads down and played our asses off. We played “Gimme Some Money” by Spinal Tap too. I really wanted to play “Dimples” by John Lee Hooker, but I couldn’t remember the words. Weve never played that song before… first time, no rehearsal either. Third Stone from the Sun magically arose from the Taker jam… “No Surprises” by Radiohead was echoing in my imagination during the last part. “To Your Head” is another of the new batch of tunes that Jesse and I have written, its all quiet and spooky style… this one is gonna be nice after a couple of performances, too bad i botched the lyrics since they’re so amazing (jesse rules!)
after the show we packed up our stuff, drank a bunch more beers, chatted with the soundmen (rob used to go to the food shows at the yucatan back in the day) trevor gave me some mushroom chocolates for the drive home. thanks trevor! i guess the word from absinthe and the frog and peach is that both of them would love to have us back very soon… which is bitchin. hopefully well get back thar before christmas.
all in all a fun trip… not too insane (it was the middle of the week after all) but we played our little froggy hearts out and made a bunch of new friends in the process. see y’all soon. send emails here: fuzz @ spacefuzz.com
the rest of this stuff is in chronological order starting on november 9th 2002. dig it.
welcome to my little online diary. its been a long time since i’ve updated this thing (like… november 2002 – its may 11th as i type this) and a bunch of shows have happened that contained episodes of weirdness so unbelievable i couldn’t write about them. sheesh… maybe some day. lets see what got skipped over… uh… the gig at calarts (weird) the gig in san francisco (very weird and pretty frustrating) and the cancellation of the spring east coast tour (extremely frustrating.) hopefully in the next month or so i’ll get the time together to write about all of these non events in great detail, but let me first say that you didn’t miss anything. really now, i’m not copping out here. yes there were all sorts of insane episodes of debauchery and public drunkeness, vulgar displays of nudity and bad taste, and at least a couple of pretty mind bending jams… you’ll just have to use your imagination n shiat. word up.
Pete Trevor and I decided that we’d just roll to Trevs mom’s place and raid the liquor cabinet there. We drive about 30 minutes south to Santa Maria, and pile into our crash pad. Trevor shows us around, and pete and i gather around the liquor cabinet looking for some goodies.
Sherry. Sherry. Harvey’s Bristol Creme. Sweet Vermouth. Baileys Irish Creme. Dry Vermouth. Rum.
Rats. Strike three.
we’re jonesing for some brown booze… scotch, whiskey… anything. I really started to dig there… i pulled every bottle out and spread them on the floor… way in the back i found this crystal decanter with a cork and an inch of dust on the top… i pulled it out, marked on the front on a silver metallic thing attached by a chain was the word “BOURBON.” Houston, the Eagle has landed. By this time trevor had bailed to go get his dog and his beer from his flat and bring em back to our pad. Pete and I grabbed a coupla coffee mugs, poured ourselves some “BOURBON” (aged!) plopped in the living room and watched Arianna Huffington, Arnold Schwantzenegger and the rest of them make a mockery of the California Governorship. Assholes… all of em. We should really be recalling George W. Bush. Trevor comes back, we suck down more bourbon and assorted beers (including a fucking Moosehead!!) Pete eventually crashed, and trevor and i stayed up watching the Mossstock video tape that Abe-O-Vision made (nice work abe!) and bullshit about everything under the sun until the sun came up. I threw in the towel at some point and headed off to bed… and I slept like a rock despite the ringing in my ears.
next up… Santa Barbara…
Thursday September 25, 2003 – Santa Maria, CA
Theres a three-foot tall black cat sitting on the floor next to me flexing its fangs at the window right above it. Whuh? Fortunately for me, this cat is stuffed, and appears to be perched against the window to discourage thugs from invading the house. Spooky. The digital clock says its 11:23… i’ve been sleeping for about 6 hours. I got out of bed, wandered about, found pete… trevor came in, we hopped in Pete’s van in search of some grub. We end up at this place called “Jacks”… walk in and sit down… a nice gentleman gives us menu’s and cracks a coupla jokes. I ask him “Are you Jack?” He says “Yes I am… i figured it would be cheaper to change my name to Jack than change the sign out front.” Nyuk nyuk. We three all order the same thing… French Toast. It arrives, thickly sliced with liquid sugar goo on it. After a coupla bites i realize that i might need to make a dentist appointment. ZZZZing! We plow through breakfast, talking about music, last nights show, Arnold Schwantzenegger and other bits and pieces. We hop back into the van and head back to Trev’s place… Trev splits to go take care of some buisness, Pete grabs a book and crashes out for another coupla hours… I plopped on the couch and watched Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt have a little argey bargey on the cable tv. I really like Howard Dean’s fake smile… i’m almost thinking of making it a new “dance” like the twist or something… “OK everybody now… do the Howard Dean Fake Smile!!!” I’d probably do it but i don’t think anybody would get the joke. Right.
Pete and i drive and drive and drive and drive… we make great time – 3 hours to SLO. On the way we saw an overturned motorhome, a pea soup restaurant in buellton, and talked about religous experiences to be had while eating psilocybin fungus. We find the club pretty easily, we went there and got hammered after our gig at the SLO Brew Co last time we were up here. We scored a parking spot right out front then headed out to find some grub. On the way I walked by this “homeless dude” in a wheelchair… he said to me “Dude I love your T-shirt, I want that poster!” (i was wearing an Iron Maiden Killers album t-shirt) then he asked us for some change and asked me if I had heard the new Maiden CD. Now… ok… if this dude is ‘homeless’ what is he gonna do with an Iron Maiden poster? Dosen’t one need a wall to put a poster upon? Regardless, this dude was dressed better than Pete and I so we opted off on giving him some change. We wandered around the town a coupla times then settled on “McClintocks” a bbq kinda joint. Pete ordered the Shrimp Scampi and an ale and I had the Chicken Sandwich and a root beer (my first beer of the night). After taking the first bite of his salad… Pete said “this salad is amazing.” I was too busy staring at the giant Moose Head mounted on the wall to be enthralled by the salad. We gorged through our food then headed off to the club were we bellied up to the bar for a round of Newcastles served to us by Basil the bartender. Basil told us that his name is really Peter, but theres three other guys named Peter who work at the bar so he changed it. Basil gave us the SportsCenter play by play while we sat there… he tried to engage us in talk about baseball but neither Pete nor I really follow sports so it didnt exactly work out very well. As we were sitting there the opening band “Trolls Cottage” (from Seattle area) rolled in and set up their stuff on the stage.
Ahhh the stage. The “stage” at the F&P is about 5 feet deep and 15 feet wide. The trolls have 5 guys in their band – drumset, percussion, two guitars and bass. They’re all sortsa crowded up thar… thank goodness they don’t have any effects pedals n shiat or they’d litterally be standing on them while they play. Its gonna be a tight fit on the stage tonight with our ever expanding arsenal of instruments and effects. Jeebus.
Looking at the cramped stage area made me feel claustrophobic so I stepped outside for a minute. Immediately newtron phoned and said he was in town looking for the club… i gave him directions, saved him a just vacated parking space by laying down in the street. Newtron rolled up, got out and said… “i’m hungry… lets go eat.” “I ate already” i said. “Where did you go?” “This place down the street…” Newtron and I headed back to McClintocks walked inside and sat down. The waitress came up to me and said “Still hungry?” to which i said “I liked it so much that i brought him here.” Newtron ordered the Pork Ribs and I got an apple crisp and some coffee. I must’ve drank about 9 refills. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
We headed back towards the club were we met up with Trevor and Pete walking down the street. Tourblog followers know Trevor as the psychedelic swiss army knife and main conspiritors of the mosstock insanity. Trevor, is all decked out in a loud green silk shirt with a KTF tee under it and a psychedelic fishing cap and an ear to ear grin. Trevor is mostly responsible for these shows… he and Grant (Mosstock guru and phenominal bass player of the sadly de-funked band Glider) hooked up the F&P show and Trev organized the SB show. These guys are the bomb. Straight up music loving freaks… who are professional to the extreme and bizarre to the absurdest degree. Grant and Trevor are a wrecking crew. Straight up wrecking crew. We decided to wander back to the club to see what was what… on the way we bumped into Abe-O-Vision 3D Guy Perlstein, videographer, 3d photographer, drummer, and all around weirdo. I think this is Abe’s third KTF show… he whipped out this bitchin little ViewFinder thingy and showed us some of his rad 3D photos… Abe seems to be interested in doing a 3D project with Kiss The Frog supplying sonic freakouts. Also bumped into SeAnDi aka Sean Day – an old-school Santa Barbara FOOD freak who moved to Colorado a few years ago and has recently returned. Fucking awesome to see him… he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure to know… every coupla months he sends me some truly mind bending poetry that is pretty much indescribable.
Back at the club this dude wanders by us and says in a completely Ozzy kinda way “Do you know how to get to San Luis Obispo?” SeAnDi tells him to walk a 1/2 a block, take the next four lefts and walk another 1/2 a block. Genius. “Ozzy” muddles around for a while bugging people with his drunk schtick. I decided to go look at the pretty colored surfboards in the shop window a coupla yards away.
Trolls Cottage plays rootsy reggae with some country influence to it. Reggae isn’t easy to play… one has to turn the beat over (bass drum on 2 & 4 instead of 1 & 3) for it to really work. These guys got it pretty good… they need some dub though… or at least fake dub. By this time the bar is about 1/3 full with college kids from CalPoly, local beer hounds and a handful of bonafide Rastas. Nice. The Trolls play a nice compact set, not much improvisation but lots of groove.
Trolls Cottage finishes up and tears down their stuff. We load our stuff onto the postage stamp sized stage, plug in our 10 billion cables and cords, set up our laptops, theremins, drumsets, guitars, basses, synthesizers and other electronic gizmos, test a coupla sounds and away we go. I realized that between the three of us, we have a rediculous amount of gear. I think im going to buy pete a giant gong with a propane attachment to it so we can do some “flaming gong tarzan” jams at some point. Y’know… kinda like how Dio would do it or something. Maybe i can talk pete into growing a Carmine Appice moustache. Hee hee hee.
We kicked the show off with a coupla chords from the old FOOD chestnut “Math”… and settled into a groovy yet laid back vibe. “If you’ve got mushrooms… now’s the time to eat em” I said to the cheering bunch of punters at the pub. I also rambled about dub reggae icons peter tosh, king tubby and lee perry as well… then i realized that i should shut up and play. Math slowly churned grumbled and grooved its way to something special… a bunch of very attractive ladies in the front of the stage dancing, people drinking beers, and some guy heckling us about something or another. We built a nice house on Math, my amp was all heated up and pumping… i played a pretty rad guitar solo too, building it and building… as it came to its peak my excited foot stomping flicked off the power strip that was running my rig and my guitar cut out. Everbody in the place started laughing (at least they were laughing with us and not at us) … eeerg… another case of “Guitar Solous Interruptus” I wish I had a 3D photo of Abe-O-Vision’s grin at my electronic mishap.
I decided that i want to start a letterwriting campaign… to the vatican… to get them to change Jesus name… to Cheetos. Cheetos Tap Dancing Christ! nyuk nyuk nyuk…
We slid quickly into Riders On The Storm, which was ace. A very smooth and jazzy version that had people shimmying and grooving along with our slippery latin recomposition of the Doors classic. “his prey is squirming like a toad…” a fitting lyric for a Kiss The Frog show at a venue named The Frog and Peach.
After Riders concluded, some dudes in the crowd started yelling out all sorts of stuff about Iron Maiden. It seems to me that ever male in the universe between the age of 22 and 38 has some kind of relationship with Iron Maiden. I cant explain it. One of the bartenders yells “Play Powerslave!!” to which I busted out the first coupla riffs. He seemed suitably satisfied then served us up around of drinks (awesome!) We decided to go with “Hard” our headbanging bullshit tune we improvised in Germany during “The Berlin Tapes” recording sessions. I must admit it makes me very happy to see hippies headbanging. Hard went on for a good 25 minutes, including a Theremin freakout, a laptop excursion and an electronica type jam… that all came back around into the grunge fest that Hard is. On the last heroic chord of Hard, my guitar strap broke off the peg and my guitar nearly crashed to the floor to the delight (?) and laughter of the crowd. Its becoming apparent to me that i’m having technical problems this evening.
In case you haven’t heard, i’m going to be on the Oprah Winfrey show in December, as part of the “Does one of your friends need a make-over?” Ok… so I’m not going to be on Oprah, but i told this to the crowd at the F&P… i only wish i could’ve taken a photo of all the bugged out eyeballs staring in disbelief at the prospect of yours truly getting a makeover on Oprah.
Next we drove through a pretty short version of Destination Imagination… then debuted a brand new tune: The Trojan Horse. Before we wheeled out the horse, this dude at the bar bought us three beers and brought em up to the stage for us… spilling about an inch of one of them directly onto my pedalboard. YIKES!!! It aint a party till someone spills a beer… Trojan horse is a kinda freaked out Santana-ish latin thingy that has a weird beat subdivision… 7/8 + 7/8 + 7/8 + 7/8 + 4/8. To me it feels like its in 4/4 cause it adds up to 4/4 in the macrostructure, but i guess the basslines’ oddmeteredness gets folks counting. About 30 seconds into the song i looked out into the crowd and saw 8 people counting the beats to try and figure out what time signature its in. Abe-O-Vision was counting on his finger tips as was the dude whos been hecking us all drunkstyle for the balance of the show, as were two hippies dudes wearing phish t-shirts, and a coupla old guard dead heads. I pointed the counters out to newtron who sorta smirked at me… newtron was obviously trying his damnedest to keep the bass part together and any smile greater than a sorta smirk would thrown a wrench into the machine. About a minute or so into the song, i bellied up to the mic to start singing the lyrics, leaned into the microphone, opened my mouth in anticipation of singing the first line “Carve it up and roll it in…” my lips touched the microphone and BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAM! A huge blue spark shot out from the connection of my lips to the microphone, blowing me backwards about two feet and nearly setting my face on fire. I looked around in literally shocked disbelief… newtron and pete were still hammering the groove, the didnt notice anything… folks in the crowd were laughing at me yet again. Frankly, I’m starting to feel like Nigel Tufnel. We proceeded to pummel through the juggernaut that is The Trojan Horse and finish it out in fine style. A flock of “the counting people” came up to the band stand and asked what meter it was in and started counting it to us again… very cool. We wrapped up the show with another old FOOD chestnut “Bob Lemon’s Blues” with Trevor providing some Ricky Ricardo Rhythms on his djembe. Were a little drunk and its time to get outta here.
By the time we were done playing we each had about two full beers on the bandstand that peeps had bought us (nice!) and had made a bunch of friends with the weirdoes in the crowd. I like weirdoes. Here’s the setlist:
Wednesday September 25th, 2003
Frog and Peach – San Luis Obispo, ca
opener Trolls Cottage
Riders On The Storm
The Trojan Horse *
Bob Lemon’s Blues
After we packed up the stuff, Newtron bolted home (he loves to drive himself crazy) and Pete and Trevor and I were gonna head out to Santa Maria to crash at trevor’s mom’s place. I ran back into the bar and asked the head dude there “Hank” if he’d hook us up with a six pack of beer so we could have some beers when we get to our destination. He said “sorry… we don’t have that kind of license.” Eeeeergh, cmon man do a bro a solid yo! Trevor and I decide to blast over to the 7-11 to grab a sixer before it turns 2AM… its 1:51 right now. We run over to the 7-11, burst through the door as the attendant is walking over to lock the beer coolers… he gets there just before we do and refuses to open it… i look at the everpresent 7-11 LED clock, which changes from 1:59 to 2:00 as I glance over. I begged. I really begged. I told the dude that id give him $5 to sell us beer. He wouldn’t budge. Strike two.
Oh boy. Tourblog time again. Its been about 8 months since anything tourblog worthy has taken place. So what have we been doing in this time? Mr. & Mrs. Newtron had a baby… Pete and I mixed the “Riders On The Storm” sessions and i’ve been writing songs with Jesse. Hopefully well get to premiere an bunch of these news jams at these gigs (SLO and SB) We’re also going to be joined by DJ Spacelab at the SB show. Hopefully I’ll get to drink a bunch of booze too. Uh… right. And make some new friends as well.
The driving timetable on the Mapquest website said it was gonna take 4 hours to get from LA to San Luis Obispo. Pete and I are rolling up together in his van… filled to the gills with gear and grins. I got an email from “Hank” at the club were playing at tonight (The Frog & Peach) that there is an opening band tonight… i guess we don’t have to rush up thar as we had thought earlier. While driving through Hollywood en route to the 101 freeway Pete said “i wonder what Barry is up to.” I whipped out my mobile and gave him a ringle on his mobile… C: “Newtron!” B: “Sup duuude.” C: “I got Hillman and we’re rolling through Hollywood on the way out of town… where are you?” B: “I’m in Ventura… uh.” C: “Cool… what chu doing?” B: “I’m uh… (rustling noises)” C: “You at the Carls Jr.?” B: “Awwwww man, nah.” C: “No?” B: “I’m just about to pull into a Wendys?” Barry isn’t typically predictable, but I do know that he loves a good burger on occasion. Back about 4-5 years ago, Bare and I were headed up to Petes for a jam sesh and on the way we stopped at some fast food joint (Jack In the Box i think) and we both ordered a Double Cheese Double Bacon Double Burger – super sized. I never felt so horrible in my entire life after eating that thing… one of the reasons why i gave up eating that stuff a few years ago (now if i could only give up the booze and other vices i’d be all set to join the mormon tabernacle choir.) Newtron then said that he was gonna take a nap somewhere in his car and meet us at the Frog and Peach.
Can I really write a “tourblog” if the gig is only 25 minutes from my house? I guess we’ll find out eh?
The joint we’re playing at “Que’s Riverbottom” is a little hole-in-the-wall out in the Valley. For folks who don’t know L.A… ‘the valley’ is an area north of Los Angeles proper… mostly suburban, square houses, nicely tracted, and an easy to understand grid of streets running east west and north-south. Usually folks who live in the valley don’t really come “over the hill” (the hollywood hills) to the city and people who live in the city don’t really “go over the hill” to the valley. Theres a bit of bi-directional snobbery inherent in this situation. I used to live in the valley… North Hollywood to be exact, about 5 minutes away from this club, then i got sick of the heat (its noticably warmer in the valley) and sick of the suburban vibe, and sick of the smog (its noticably smoggier in the valley) so i moved to the beach. then i moved from the beach to Silverlake/Los Feliz which is kinda like the hills just east of hollywood… i think. (There will be a Los Angeles geography test at the end of this entry so study up!!!)
So one of the problems with playing “in the valley” is this: only folks who live in the valley or north of the valley or east of the valley (pasadena) thereabouts will come to the show. Honestly. There is some kind of dividing line that peeps wont cross. I don’t see it but its there. Que’s is located in Burbank, in a “‘Burb” directly next to a “Bank” of America. Hahhahah… get it… Burb-bank…. eh. Right. Ok… newtron and I used to play at this place all the time with FOOD and we used to draw a pretty nice crowd… we’d play for 4 hours, everybody would get tanked and the roof would blow off the joint. Que’s is owned by this lovely Thai woman named… “Que” (not Que as in Que Pasa? but Que like cue ball) Then and now Que has in her employ a bevy of beautiful young Thai women who are there to service your every needs. No, it isn’t a brothel, but it probably could be, and very well may be… i don’t know. One evening during the FOOD show, real late – 1AM or so… we’re tearing it up and i looked up to see three of these waitresses in miniskirts dancing on top of the bar and the patrons (most of whom are grips and other movie crew employees from the Warner Brothers Studios which is directly accross the street) are all sitting on their barstools raising their drinks to the sky and looking up the womens short skirts. Needless to say i found this to be an interesting experience… and i was proud to be part of this party even if it wasn’t occouring in my pants at that given moment. So historically Ques has been an interesting weird place, tucked in a crevace in the Hollywood Hills, just over the imaginary Valley borderline.
I haven’t been back to this place in a coupla years… since FOOD retired in September 2001. Its gonna be interesting to say the least.
On the bill tonight is Michael Simmons, musician/journalist/eccentric/visionary and self described “menace.” I’ve known Michael for a good three years and never found him to be a menace, but he does love the booze as much me. (We had a coupla drinks together a week or so ago at the Mr. Smolin/Gwendolyn/Anus show at Taix Lounge.) He’s a real character to say the least. Evidently, Michael used to front the band Michael Simmons and Slewfoot back in the 70s who were the originators of what has become “cow punk” – they played hard core country with punk attitude. Awesome. He also had The Michael Simmons Band after Slewfoot got glued, and he’s put out numerous albums and singles over the years till eventually he retired from the music business and became a rock journalist. He’s written for every magazine out there, but mostly writes for The L.A. Weekly – i think (L.A.s Village Voice type dealie). Tonight is Simmons’ first gig in about 10 years… and its gonna be an event… i’m psyched to be sharing the bill with him.
Miss Monkay and I rolled into the joint at 7 or so, early enough so i could case the joint out and set up my recording equipment to get tapes of the whole evenings’ festivities. Monkay found a table towards the back by the soundboard, i plugged in my taping apparatus and got it all primed to roll… Simmons came by and we chit chatted a bit, evidently he’s got the flu. Shortly thereafter a shitload of people started rolling into the club, till it was pretty much packed. I ordered some food from the bar and had some beers (Newcastle and Cream Cheese filled Wontons – good stuff!) Shortly after setting up, every Deadhead’s imaginary friend Barry Smolin (dosen’t live in the valley), host of KPFK’s “The Music Never Stops” radio show and genius musician in his own right stopped by and said hello. He’s been playing a bunch of KTF stuff on his radio show in the past few months… anyone with the guts to play our 14 minute freak outs on the FM dial is a total ACE in my book. He’s truly is a sweet and kind fellow, and we’re all totally psyched and honored that he came out to see us.
Eventually I got a little antsy and wandered outside a bit and bumped into genius looptronic guitar phenomenon Andre LaFosse (lives in the valley) then Spinning Mike came by (lives in the valley thats on fire beyond the valley beyond the valley) and Barb Johns rolled up in her amazing car… the whole thing is covered in little Teletype keys of many colors… arranged into a matrix of designs. The hood of the car had Homer Simpson, the roof, yin yang, the rear passenger door Bob Marley, the whole thing just covered. She told us that they were affixed with Silicone Caulk. I havent seen Barb in years and I barely recognized her… she was glowing and looking radiant and gleeful, i didn’t get a chance to really talk with her so i want to send a big “THANKS FOR COMING BARB – I LOVE YOU!” (fyi – lives in the valley east of the valley.) Next to roll up was Aaron Dubois (phenominal drummer of an unnamed band project that ive been working with for a year or so – more details to come in the next coupla months), his friend Chaz(all live in the Valley) then some more of Aarons friends – Melissa and a couple of other folks (Valley). Then Andy Tenn, guitarist with the unnamed project and his friend Dave roll up in a white mustang convertible (Valley) then Bernman and his girlfriend Sylvia (berns is the bass player of the unnamed project – Valley) Then Newtron rolls up, and Pete and his wife Leslie, then Henry (who’s gonna sit in with us – dosen’t live in the valley anymore) then Mrs Newtron rolls up, then DJ Spacelab (Valley beyond the Valley). Then this guy Dave who used to go see FOOD walks up and asks me “Hey man can I get some FOOD tapes?” I politely declined and told him that FOOD is dead, sorry no tapes. He seemed a bit upset. Sorry dude. Do you live in the Valley?
I walked back inside and bumped into John (No Valley) who also used to come see FOOD… i used to hang with John and his ladyfriend Gail at the old Deadhead Night at 14below. i used to go there all the time when i was living by the club they did it at, but since i moved accross town i don’t really go there anymore. Plus i’m lazy. And i don’t really listen to the Grateful Dead all that much anymore either (HORRRORS!) I also got to see Steve Sherriff (no valley) who’s started to do some booking for KTF here in LA. Steve is a great guy and if you do manage to wring a word out of him they’re always on the money. He makes Pete look like Al Sharpton. He likes to keep a low profile… good man. Thanks STEVE! A whole slew of other people showed up as well but i’m not really sure who they were (at least not yet – but ive got some of your email addresses in our book BWAHAHAHAHA!!!) and didn’t really go around asking what area code they live in. Gwendolyn also was at the show… she said to me “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” to which i replied “I was at your show the other night!!!” She’s great… check out her stuff if you get the chance.
By this time Simmons was in full swing of his set… he hit the stage and completely destroyed the place. A Man and his guitar… singing songs, telling stories… at the end of the set he said “I’m back!” The near capacity crowd cheered. He wrapped it up and the second band loaded their stuff onto the stage… including the largest bass amplifier ive ever seen in my life. The band was called “Empty Scenery” and some folks who were there kinda said the name was fitting. I missed most of their set though, i was outside corraling Newtron and Pete and the guys to get their gear over to the door for load in. I did catch one tune which was “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond. I like Neil Diamond. I saw Mr. Diamond at Madison Square Garden about 12 years ago… he had the best laser show i’ve ever seen… even better than Rush. No kidding.
Not better than Radiohead though… they win the lightshow award hands down.
Empty Scenery finished their set and emptied the stage. We rolled in our crap and started to plug it in. For some reason i was having an incredibly difficult time figuring out what cord goes into what, and i left some powerstrips at home and some cords and had to jerry rig my set up so it would work. For those of you who’ve seen my rig, you know how much shit i’ve got. I’ve got to figure out an easier way… and the only way to figure out an easier way is to buy more shit. Right? I almost feel like I am part owner of Guitar Center these days.
Eventually i got all my shit sorta set up and kinda working, i figured that i’d iron out some of the details during the show. By this time the band were getting antsy and started to space jam… Barry Smolin walked up to the mic and said:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen
ladies and gentlemen
ladies and gentlemen
you thought it was just a dream
but i’m here to tell you its real…
it’s very real
it’s very here
and it’s happening right now
put your lips together… and…
kiss the frog.
sabbath candles indeed.
with shmo’s introduction we slid into a spacy intro drone, very Raga meets NASA kinda vibe… Hank rolled up to the stage and started singing about “blue sky… right now”… gorgeous. the opening oddball latin groove of “The Trojan Horse” rose out of it… pete snakily swinging and playing the whole groove on his whole kit… newtron and i holding down the riff, dj spacelab giving up some wicki-wicki on the turntables, and hank with his guitar playing some muted wacka chickas. we rode the horse right into the fort then took shit over. i noted that since i was wearing my red star trek shirt that i was probably going to die by the end of the set. nyuk nyuk nyuk. surprisingly my silly star trek joke got a pretty good response.
trojan horse segued directly into “hard.” now…. you cant tell from the tape, but during hard i was miming all these heavy metal mannerisms – headbanging, fist-pumping, 6 6 6 chants, the whole shebang… acting as if the mic was off but i didn’t know it. folks were looking around at the sound man (who was outside smoking) and mouthing to me “We can’t hear you”. I guess those lessons at the Andy Kaufman Institute of the Arts are starting to pay off… hahahahaha. At one point i started doing a silent audience participation fist pumping extravaganza… to which the crowd started pumping their fists silently… it was quite funny, and to all of you who participated… thanks for not making me look like more of an ass than i already do. the cheering on the download of the show is when all those shenanigans kinda ended. i picked the guitar back up and took a big rockin solo over the massive headbanging groove that pete and barry laid out for me… and unlike the frog and peach i didn’t kick the plug out of the wall. towards the end of hard i started singing “neon lights” by kraftwerk over the groove… ive been listening to kraftwerk a ton lately. i know its always trendy to say you listen to kraftwerk, but i really do and i fucking love em. it is my way of trying to pay tribute to the great country of german that we wrote “hard” in. did i just type “hard in”? i gotta switch to decaf or go download some Porn.
charles: “we’re having a coupla minor sound difficulties here on stage…”
newtron: “yah… theres no beer up here.”
after hard we played “to your head” and i destroyed the second verse of lyrics yet again. i fucking practiced it for three hours before the show because i didn’t want to embarass jesse by destroying his lyrics yet again. oh well…. next time. after “to your head” i gave the obligatory cocaine speech and we fell into “avalanche” complete with theremin solo and some sax weirdness from DJ Spacelab. After “avalanche” newtron broke out the old Miles Davis tune “Honky Tonk” and Hank came back up to the stage to play it with us. Henry got all up on the mic talking about the myriad functions of his panic button and the horrors and difficulties he has with the people who push his extensively described panic button. Henry is an always creative guy you can never predict what he’s gonna do and that is why i love the man. After “Honky Tonk” we broke into the FOOD chestnut “Math” with Hank playin guitar on it… the middle of it featured this total bebop freak out that got the crowd screaming. This show is getting weirder by the second… we blasted right into another old FOOD number – the Newtron penned “My Mama Was Abducted By An Alien” which we took at breakneck speeds. Henry sang it and wen’t crazy. The whole thing eventually exploded into a ska-deathmetal-bluegrass-on-45 freak out. Nuts.
We closed out the show with a chill rendition of “Destination Imagination” Newtron and I took off our instruments and let our loops go while i sang the last verse. We quietly faded it away… the crowd cheered and we said good night. One set of music – 1 hour and 47 minutes long. John “Fartpenis” said “Thats the best $5 bucks i’ve ever spent in my life.” Thanks John… and thanks for the glass of scotch you bought me at the beginning of the show.. too bad i spilled it on the floor before i got a chance to take a sip.
The crowd filed out smiling… we packed up our sit, said some goodbyes to the nice folks who came and called it a night.
Here’s the setlist:
Friday October 24th 2003 – Que’s Riverbottom – Burbank, CA
Introduction by Barry Smolin
The Trojan Horse * ->
Neon Lights # ->
To Your Head
Honky Tonk % *
Math * ->
My Mama Was Abducted By An Alien *
whole show w/DJ Spacelab – Turntable/Saxophone
* w/ Henry Benjamin – guitar/vocals (FOOD)
% Miles Davis
Pete and Barry and I stuck around a chatted about stuff for a while, then Newtron bolted home before his babysitter sold his daughter on eBay. Pete and I then talked about when we should start recording our next record.
Kiss The Frog “The Trojan Horse” coming to a record store near you sometime in 2004.
Until next time…. -c
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