Posts tagged music
Psychics, stolen cars, lying receptionists, and Gold Bond- This is my account of 2012′s SXSW. If you’re in a band, work in the music industry, live near Austin, or watch the news a lot, you’ve probably heard of South By Southwest. If not, here’s a brief summery… every bar that has live music in the live musical capital of the world has live music all day and night for five days while every other imaginable space in town is turned into a temporary live music venue. Then hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians, and other weirdos descend on Austin to feast on the insanity that ensues. So, naturally, I show up as well. This is what I remember.
I had the distinct pleasure of riding down in a van with Savannah Smith and a new band called Enemy Planes. I’ll tell you more about them in another post… But, any intense event should begin with an equally intense journey. A two hour plane ride is not enough to transport you into the alternate universe that Austin becomes in March- a Twenty hour van ride on the other hand? With one lay over for a Radiohead concert? Perfect.
We arrived in the Lone Star State late Monday night and then first had to drop a few stragglers off at a ritzy subdivision of a swamp of some sort. We took a wrong turn down a gravel road, and didn’t know if we’d be able to back out or turn around with the trailer in tow. The headlights of the vehicle did a poor job of lighting the dark and foggy terrain that sloped unevenly down and out of site in front of us. We all sat motionless in the van while trying to decide what to do. Naturally, sleep deprived and delirious, I presumed this was the end and we were going to die here, so I volunteered to leave the safety of the van and scout ahead on foot. There are alligators in these parts of Texas, vicious nocturnal hunters that are hard to see during the day, let alone at night! …I mean, I presumed there were alligators anyway. It made sense at the time. There was a lake for sure, and where there’s lakes, there are alligators. Long story short- I didn’t get eaten. But I did find a spot for the van to turn around. …I guess this part of the story isn’t exciting at all… but pretend you think there were alligators too- then it sort of is. Anyway, I would soon find out that many more dangers awaited me in the heart of the city.
Tuesday morning we all rode into downtown Austin early. The city comes alive around noon with day parties, some sanctioned by SXSW, many more sanctioned by no one in particular, but all luring pedestrians in off the street with free food and drinks. My primary goal in going to SXSW is always to network. My secondary goal is to see how much free crap I can get- weather I need it or not. My first official stop of the day as at a Mexican restaurant called Casa Chapala where Savannah was playing. After eating some free things and watching Savannah play, I went to catch up with the rest of my troupe including Craig (if you’ve been following the last several years of posts you know him) at Club Deville. I like this place a lot only because it’s built like a fort into the side of a hill with steep rock faced walls surrounding it’s patio.
It was while I was photo bombing a group of individuals by this very wall that I met Mimi. After the snap of the flash her friends all scattered, but Mimi stayed, transfixed with the dashing and mysterious stranger who had just jumped into the photo and into her life. At first she seemed like an ordinary drunk who was likely unstable to start with. She stated that she also liked the wall, and that she could climb to the top, twenty feet up, with ease. Given her current unbalanced state, naturally I encouraged her to try. She got a foot off the ground before she realized this was a mistake. But, upon turning from the wall she looked at me as though seeing me for the first time, and grabbed my hand. Trembling she told me that she was a ‘Ren-rat’ and had special powers. Ren-rat is a slang term to describe the hordes or goths, larpers, and other unfortunates who participate in the Resistance Festival on an annual basis. She described growing up at the Renfest in Shakopee- which is a suburb of Minneapolis, because her parents were also dorks. She had gained acute psychic abilities while she grew up- more than likely in a vain effort to wish herself somewhere else.
It didn’t all add up to me- after all, she was dressed like a normal person- but she was intensely concerned for my safety, and I was intensely amused, so I heard her out. She proceeded to tell me that I had great powers myself. Perhaps this was why I was able to foresee I couldn’t climb a sheer rock cliff without trying. She grasped my hand and gazed at my palm and bit her trembling lower lip. I was in danger. I helped people, but I may soon help them so much that I hurt myself. My fortune line also didn’t follow my life line. She said that I would earn lots of money, but for other people, not myself… Stupid clients! I thought. Soon I grew bored with Mimi and made my departure. It was only a few hours later when we would meet again.
Bar close released mass of zombies on to the streets of Austin. Our van arrived out front and I got the call that it was now, or never if I wanted a ride to the hotel. As I exited the club some explainable force made me look to my right down the street. There was Mimi… sort of crawl-walking around. I went over to assist her. She was on the phone with someone.
“Hey Mimi, need some help?” Mimi just looked back at my with that all-knowing drunk stair. ”It’s David, the guy with super powers, remember?” I asked. Recognition crept into her eyes.
“Oh yeah, here, talk to him,” she said as she thrust her cell phone at me.
“Hello?” I asked.
“Damn it, is she loaded again? Is she just totally bombed?” a gentleman asked on the other line. I glanced at Mimi.
“Yes,” I answered, “she’s gone.”
After a few more expletives he asked if I could get her into a cab. Asking someone to get a cab at bar close in Austin during SXSW is sort of like asking someone to go find the Ark of the Covenant real quick for you. But, it appears I have special powers- so I actually did find one quickly. But my powers were no match for Mimi’s. The Cabby refused to drive her anywhere in here inebriated state. I took her back to our van to freak out the boys. We offered to give Mimi a ride to where ever it was she comes from, but she wisely refused a ride from five weird looking dudes in a large nondescript white van. I left her peacefully curled up on the sidewalk, and I have no notion of what may have become of her. God speed Mimi, God speed!
With knowledge of the future and what Austin had in store for me looming ominously in the back of my powerful mind, I headed back to the hotel room for much needed rest. Soon the morningafternoonish time would be here, and we’d need to wake up and head back into the belly of the beast.
To Be Continued…
Day one free items collected: Taco platter, four shots of tequila, psychic encounter, two dozen vitamin waters, and two boxes of cereal.
By now you’ve all heard about the ancient Mayan calendar that predicts that Jerry Bruckheimer’s movies will all be so bad by December of 2012 that even just seeing a billboard for one will kill you. (Amazing information to glean from a calendar written by people who have been dead for over a millennium!) But, maybe you haven’t heard about some of the other dumb ways people think our planet may plummet into a bizarre Mad Max sequel. Solar flares. These could come and wipe out all the electricity globally. How about the super volcano? It’s right underneath YOU Wyoming. Good luck with that. Or, what about the next animal flu? Birds and pigs are one thing, but what the hell will we do when we get something REALLY bad, like Shark Flu?
Now, I agree with all the naysayers- I’m going to die. I even agree that the world will end sometime. AND, I’m not even worried about that one. I know some dead people already, it will be nice to catch up. Plus, if we all die, I’ll know a lot more dead people. Also all the people who have had near death experiences say really nice things about being dead. …Except for the ones who say they went to hell… So, what AM I concerned with here? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve seen some of these movies. The Road?! …thanks for that one Cormic- what a great combination of boring and morbidly depressing. The Happening?! Sometimes when I see M Night Shyamalan’s flicks I think he puts crap out, sits back, waits, and then says “What, people still came out to see this one? Really? Ok, ok, I can still do worse.” (Rather than link you to what ‘The Happening’ really is, I’ve embedded a video by the same name that you will enjoy more.)
Folks, what scares me more than anything is being trapped in a boring post apocalyptic world, watching the world blandly expire. Barf.
So, what’s the solution? How can you stop the inevitable? Can we really launch Bruce Willis into space with a nuclear warhead every time an asteroid comes by? Not realistic. But maybe, just maybe, if we’re all going to die anyway, we can have a little bit of fun with it. Eh? So, I’m sure you all know what I’m thinking of- Zombies AND Dinosaurs. Duh. Can the Gub-ment stop the massive tidal wave of destruction? The guys who try to fix a leak of harmful oil in the ocean by dumping more harmful chemicals in on top of it? Ask any of the guys who helped clean up the Exon Valdez spill- oh wait, they’re all dead now… Nope, not likely. But, as always, I’m sure they’ll know all about it before some terrible, terribly boring disaster takes place. So, all I’m asking for, is for them to implement my simple Zombie/Dinosaur plan of action about… lets say, one year before things get really crappy.
Where will they get Zombies and Dinosaurs? Well, I would like to think that first we would try Zombie viruses, and Jurassic Park style DNA experiments. But, if all else fails, we could always go animatronic. Once they’ve figured out the ‘how’ they just need to mass produce both, and then release the Zombies and Dinosaurs into the unsuspecting populous. Now granted, some people won’t like this. Maybe some people don’t even know how to kill a zombie or out smart a velociraptor, but I think we can all agree they would be the minority. They would also be the very first to die, leaving behind a wealth of firearms and canned goods for the rest of us.
Now, of course, none of us would be able to survive forever with millions of zombies swarming and a hundred deadly species of dinosaurs roaming around, thirsty for blood. However, the fast paced thrill ride would be just the shot of adrenalin we need. And the colorful sights and sounds produced by the new monsters would keep our imaginations preoccupied and, dare I say, enchant us, up until the quick-ish painful end- Eaten alive in an entertaining, honorable, and fulfilling death, long before boring natural disasters ravage our already lifeless planet. I guess it would suck to be the Dinosaurs in that scenario though… back on top… for a second, and then boom! Another boring asteroid extinction.
I know what you’re thinking- WTF?! Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this yet? I have no idea. I can only hope that Uncle Sam already has and they’re just waiting for the right time to surprise us! Lets all keep our fingers crossed!
Ok, so my last blog was about Priscilla and I getting attacked by bears in South Dakota- AND LOVING IT! …that was about six months ago. …or eight. And, it seems as though I’ve gotten pretty bad at updating this blog. I promise to try and do better… but, in the mean time, he’s what I’ve done the last- I don’t know, year or so.
In September we went down to Winona for the fifth annual Zombie Pub Crawl. Unlike some more normal cities zombie crawls, in Winona you get a good feeling for what a real zombie attack would look like. People stop traffic, climb on cars, projectile vomit all over, and even chase unsuspecting college kids who don’t know what’s going on. One high schooler tried to start a fight when his daddy’s Chrysler 300 got a little bit of puke and blood on it… what a wuss. The only zombie he attacked was a girl, and his opening line was, ‘you can’t hit me, I’m a minor.’ Then he promptly tried to strangle a girl zombie before the rest of the angry mob of drunken undead gently removed him and told him to go home. This boy will be a huge douche bag one day…
Also, Priscilla launched Pirk, a soap and beauty company. All natural, organic when possible, soap and face scrubs and bath bubbly salt junk, all that sort of crap. People have been liking it so far!
In October, Maudlin and our agency Green Room Music Source, went to New York City again for the CMJ music festival. I was very disappointed by the fact that we didn’t steal any mannequin body parts this time. We did eat a lot of food, and get a better understanding of how the Russian Mafia operates.
Then, in November, Maudlin welcomed a new band member into our wacky fold. You may remember Nick from last years St. Patrick’s Day adventure.
December was a time for holiday magic! Maudlin hosted our second, kind of annual ‘The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever’ at the Hexagon in Minneapolis. Discribing this event isn’t as much fun and just listening…
January was cold. We don’t do anything in January here because it’s just too cold. When the New year is over we turn in to primordial cave people. …We also make ice sculptures though.
February has Valentines day in it… Weak. I got Priscilla a pan for Valentines day. Yup, a nice pan. I thought this was probably not the greatest gift I’d ever come up with for Priscilla. However, after seeing her reaction to getting a very nice pan, I’ve decided that she only gets pans for gifts from now on. That’s your relationship advice for the year- Pans, chicks dig them. Or, at least, Priscilla does…
That’s about it… Oh, and George Clooney, STOP making movies. Please. The glory days or over my friend. Speaking of people who should stop doing what they do, I found this website recently. What a beautiful charity! www.killlilwayne.org Hopefully someone will make a similar site for Weezer soon. They must be stopped!
Until next time…
Some of you stalkers may remember the recent trip Priscilla and I took to Denver Colorado for UMS. After getting in the car at about 10PM, Priscilla and I drove out of Denver, and didn’t stop until we’d reached home, sweet home, St. Paul, MN. I was getting out of the car, and decided we’d better get the guitars before we went inside to collapse and sleep for a day. I opened up the back of the Element and there was only one guitar. “Oh, we don’t have my bass…”
Priscilla broke down crying, which was very sweet of her. My Rickenbacker, 4003 bass is my most prized possession. Aside from the fact that, that’s just an awesome bass, mine was made more awesome by Frank Black when he signed it. He was a complete dick the entire time I interacted with him. I approached him as he was clearing some things off the stage at a small show at The Warehouse in LaCrosse when I was still in high school.
Me: Um, Frank?
Frank: *sighs* Yeees?
Me: Can you sign my bass?
Frank: I’d need a marker
Me: *waves hand already holding out marker*
This was probably the most pleasant of the three brief conversations I had with him that night. Despite him being a jerk, AND his musical downward spiral (I was quite found the the FIRST six solo albums. Now he’s got, like, forty or something- each progressively worse from what I could tell. This was on the ‘Frank Black and the Catholics’ album tour. That was a SWEET album.) it is still my favorite memento. But as Priscilla cried, I was far to delirious from driving 15 hours to care about anything at all, and I stumbled inside.
Grief stricken, but determined, Priscilla went online to try and find what might have happened. As luck would have it, a local Denver band found it and had already sent us an email. When I woke up, we had to figure out how we were going to get this bass back. I couldn’t ship it, because it was just in a gig bag, and I wouldn’t trust shipping it anyway. There was only one thing to do- journey back west.
Our good friend Steph went and got the Rick from the Denver band and took it home for safe keeping. Then, on one fateful morning in September, we both set off, from opposite ends of the Earth, on a mission to reunite me and my bass! Where should a historic reunion like this take place? In the place the Natives believed was the sacred center of the Earth, and the white man marked as his territory with four famous severed heads, like some overly artistic dog peeing on a fence. That’s right, Mount Rushmore!
Actually, that’s a lie. We did go there because Steph brought her friend Brittany along, and she’d never seen Mount Rushmore. But, we actually met beforehand at the hotel where we were staying ten miles away… Which is where I got my bass back. After that though, we did go to Mount Rushmore. And once I had my bass back, what more could I ask for? More bears please. That’s right, back to Bear Country USA!
So, it just so happens that we hit a ton of bugs with our car on the way to South Dakota. It also happens that bears actually like to eat bugs. …I didn’t ask them why. But this combination turned out to be interesting. We might as well have strapped a dead deer to our car as far as one hungry bear was concerned. After he was done picking the grill of our car clean, he got up on his hind legs and plopped himself on top of the hood of the Element and began chewing on our windshield wiper. It was probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me… THEN, Bear Country USA came to our rescue by sending a scrawny teenage worker to chase the bear away from our car by clapping his hands and saying, “Shew!” They apologized to us, and gave us out money back because there were scratches on our car. …I didn’t tell them I would have paid extra to have a bear chew on my car…
People have asked me if I was afraid after seeing these photos. …seriously? As if! I’m not afraid of this little guy- it’s not like its a maneater like… oh say, a killer whale! *drum roll* But, what happened next scared the crap out of me. After the ride through the park we got out and walked through baby land. (The part of the park with all the baby bears and other little critters) When, out of nowhere I felt something hit my chest hard, like some punk five year old whipped a pebble at me. …but it wasn’t a pebble, it was the scariest bee I’ve ever seen. If you can identify this thing then I owe you a beer. Remember when I was getting attacked by horse flies that I thought were bees? This was like some sick joke by mother nature.
I grabbed my shirt and pulled it away from my frail human body, and out of range of the massive stinger on its butt. Then I worked up the courage to try and flick it off of me. Just when I was about to make my move, Priscilla freaked out and told me not to- clearly afraid of what this thing would do to retaliate. Just when we thought all hope was lost and the bee would have to ride home with us we heard, “Oh for Pete’s sake…” Some small children’s mother walked over and fearlessly shewed the bee away. I was surprised when it didn’t kill her. I went up to the little boy she was with and told him, ‘Your mommy just saved my life, isn’t she brave?’ And he looked at me like I was a freak. After that adrenaline rush it was time to go to Deadwood and ‘heckle’ pedestrians. At least that’s the ‘official’ story of what happened…
Anyway, it was a weekend of triumph and knowledge. I got my base back- that was great, but I also learned some things. Some hotels charge by the person. But when someone asks you why you need three keys when there are only two people staying in the room, keeping a cool head can save the day. …that and using the back door the entire time you’re there. I also learned that you can blow out your rotors really quickly in the black hills. What I haven’t learned is what in the hell landed on my shirt.
All for now!
Well, only if you wait for someone else to throw you one! So, when I found out I was turning thirty, I decided to do just that- throw myself a funeral. Once again, facilitating the event fell on the muscley shoulders of Scott Weber- because I don’t know anyone else with a 35 room themed mansion well enough to throw a party there. He was happy to help. Then, I shamelessly requested friends of mine to write “eulogies” in the form of a roast. Everyone was told to wear black. …and this is totally one of those ‘had to be there’ stories. But, it was amazing! I’ve never felt so loved while being made fun of!
Barb Abney (transplanted hillbilly) was called on to MC, but she couldn’t find it in her heart to say anything mean about me. …which was too bad, because in my retort I had written several things about her… Laurel Ogren had some choice words for me- but I’m mostly mentioning her full name in here because someone keeps googling her and finding my site. …so there you go whoever you are… Then the infamous Scotty Herold roasted me with a blow up doll. Nick of The Icy Shores recounted our St. Patrick’s Day adventure (which is also a blog) And, finally, my lovely Priscilla came up to roast me while doing her best Courtney Love imitation. It was all hilarious.
There was a cake too. It was great. Thanks for the great time everyone!!!!
As some of you devoted blog reader(s) might remember, we have a good friend in Denver, and we like to visit her. We also like playing rock and roll and viewing bear attacks. So, when the oppertunity came for Maudlin (That’s my, quote un-quote -cool band) to play at UMS we said, “yes please, and some bears with that!”
There are two ways for people who haven’t discovered planes yet to get to Denver: the evil, endless farmyard known as “Nebraska” or South Dakota. Now, some people might not like all things to see in South Dakota, but we can all agree that there is nothing to see in Nebraska. (I hate you Nebraska! I hate you more than bad whale analogies!) …Anyway, there’s this place called Bear Country USA in South Dakota, next to Deadwood. There are bears there. You can pay fifteen dollars and the let you drive around in a big back yard with sixty bears- it’s basically like swimming with sharks. …except the sharks are furry. So… we did that.
(There are lots off really bad family videos of Priscilla and I driving around here that rival the Blair Witch Project, but I decided not to include them.)
After Bear Country USA, we headed on to Wyoming! …Not much had changed there since the last time we passed through. We did meet a gas station attendant who had never been pulled over by the man before. Never. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been pulled over. I must just look like trouble- trouble with a burnt out headlight.
So, just when I had made up my mind that the only way I would ever get out of the car was to veer off the road into a tree- when ever I saw one- we reached the mile high city. We showed up at Steph’s several hours late- which surprised no one, and promptly went to sleep. In the morning we presented Steph with a traditional travelers gift: a wolf hat.
The next day we performed the first of our two showcases at UMS. In our haste to get to the bear yard, we forgot Jason back in Minnesota, so our agent, Craig Grossman, was kind enough to sit in with us. Big thanks to all of our new friends in Denver! We had a blast playing!
And then I forgot my bass… my Frank Black autographed Rickenbacker… I am an idiot. But, the good people of Denver didn’t steal it, and arrangements have been made to meet at Bear Country USA again and get it back… Good fun, lots of forgotten things, and lots of bears… That’s about all I’ve got for this blog. FAIL. Le sigh…
In Brief: I hate to keep ragging on Ben Stiller… but did anyone see Greenberg? It’s the dramatic tail of a suicidal washed up musician, who sexually assaults his brothers barely legal housekeeper. It’s ok though, because after he assaults her, then verbally berates her, she realizes that she’s actually in love with him, and he’s not such a bad guy. He finds out that being a douche bag always gets you chicks, even if you’re a complete loser. I hope everyone who routinely takes all of their social cues from poorly dramatized realism is paying careful attention to this film.
This picture kind of sums things up. New Yorkers are the nicest people in the world, they didn’t even kick us out! We were invited to play the CMJ Music Marathon, and braved the long bore of the Ohio Turnpike to see what the Big Apple had in store for Maudlin. Well, it had great food, kidnapings, vandalism, and grand theft mannequin, that’s what it had in store.
This is where it all started. Downtown Manhattan, in some club somewhere, they had created a ‘musicians lounge.’ This lounge had free booze, free food, free haircuts, free massages, and free interviews with Walter from Stabbing Westward. …So we ended up hanging out there most of the time.
While all the New Yorkers we met on the street were fantastic, we soon found out that most of the 1200 bands from all over the world who came to New York were made up of boring people. As we tried to live it up, they mostly stood in tightly nit groups talking to their own bandmates. Then one really stupid chick I was talking to tried to argue with me about the size and danger of moose. WTF?!?!?!
I was telling a story, I could tell she really wanted to hear, about my family camping trip to Superior National Forest, and I mentioned that a big moose walked out on to the road. It was huge! We were driving a little Focus, and I said the thing was nearly three times as tall as we were. Then she was all like saying this really stupid crap about how moose aren’t that big, and I was full of it, and that they were like big deer and couldn’t hurt anything.
Well, I had never punched a girl before, and I didn’t think now would be a good time to start, but I really wanted to. Instead I found the first woodsy looking guy I could- some dude in a wolf mural sweatshirt. It was ugly as sin, and clearly a joke, but something told me- this guy knows his animals. Turns out he used to give wildlife tours in Alaska. They would scare off black bears that had come on to the resort with golf carts, because, as we all know, black bears are the nancys of the large predator world. He told me they received special training on what to do if you ran into a grizzly while hiking- but if you ran in to a moose up close… you’re just screwed. I lost track of that chick… but someday she’ll get hers…
Anyway, then Jason drank way too much and took over an entire sofa by himself after a lunch stop in Little Itally where he managed to smash a framed picture of James Gandolfini in his inebriation.
Eventually, we found a band that was not boring to chat with, Robotanists. They hailed from LA, and had a bizarre fetish for mannequin hands. Now, I have to give credit where credit is due- they were the first to steal a body part off the mannequin. But Maudlin is not a band to be outdone. Who would be stupid enough to put a bunch of designer clothes on a mannequin and then leave it in a room with musicians and unlimited free alcohol? Yeah, exactly. We plundered the mannequin for clothes and limbs like it was 1725!
As an after thought to all the shenanigans, Maudlin also played a showcase at the Lit Lounge which was great…
Bars in New York stay open until four, and music only went until one. The Lit neglected to let us know that the “green room” became the “smoking lounge” after two… So we had all over our gear spread out when hooligans began to flood in all over everything. Poor Jason ended up getting stuck watching things and was whiteness to several prostitutes haggling with people about ‘jobs.’ Eventually we had to make an escape before Jason was thrown into a deal as a bargaining chip.
We got back to the lovely Wendy’s place where we were staying in the East Village, and I realized I had forgotten the Green Room banner. Green Room Music Source is our booking agency, which I also now work for. I was entrusted with the safety of the banner, and I wasn’t about to lose it, so I told Jason and Priscilla I would be right back and I darted out to hail a cab. It was 3:30 am and I had half an hour to get back to Lit Lounge, but it was only ten blocks, so I wasn’t worried.
I got into a cab and said ‘Take me to 93 2nd Ave” I think the guy said ‘ok’ in some language, but I’m really not sure. Pretty soon he turned onto the freeway, and I quickly tried to explain that I was only trying to go to 93 2nd Ave, which was only a few blocks away. The driver reassured me he know where he was going. Then he told me he was trying to avoid bar traffic because it was dangerous… (as he did 90 on the freeway, slamming on the breaks several times, very nearly rear ending other cars…) When the drive continued I began to argue with him. ”I’m trying to get to 93 2nd, it’s ten blocks from where you picked me up, this is not the right way!” He finally exited onto 93 street and told me that 2nd ave was just a few blocks away. This is important. In New York they use intersections as opposed to street addresses. 93 2nd Ave is in the East Village, 93 AND 2nd ave is in East Harlem. He pulled over and tried to kick me out… What a d-bag.
Finally, after a shouting match with this guy, we were back on the way to the East Village, and my four dollar cab ride turned into a thirty dollar cab ride. I was able to get the sign though, so it wasn’t all bad. It was no surprise to us when we hailed a cab the next morning to take us to Seth’s place in North Arlington, NJ that this cab driver was also retarded.
Driver: Where are you going?
Maudlin: North Arlington, NJ
Driver: Ok, fifty five bucks plus tolls
Maudlin: Ok (we load in and start driving)
Driver: Where is North Arlington
Maudlin: *le sigh*
Later we realized he had pee bottles in the front seat …if only we had seen them sooner… But, all and all, it was a fantastic blast of a time! The locals were all great, and far better looking than the locals anywhere else- and therefor better. We can’t wait to go back!
See you guys later!
I hate how you can’t really advertise your true feelings anymore. The internet turns even the most mild blogger into a gossip whore. I can’t even talk about how I hate my day job and I want a new one because it’s likely that someone I work with will read this, and let me boss know, and then all the work pot lucks will be awkward. Not to mention, that dude I called a douche is probably going sneak up on me and say something designed to intimidate me. The world is more dangerous than ever.
So I try to keep things positive. These guys do that too. If they mention you, they like you. If they don’t, they probably just wont mention you. That’s a sound, friendly approach. But what about everyone else? Should we never be able to talk about things that we think suck? Should we be afraid to let people in our vicinity know that we don’t like their work? Should people even get upset if someone doesn’t like what they do in the first place? Who knows, but I do hate my job. I don’t hate The Alarmists though, so lets talk about them.
I don’t know Eric Lavold super well, but I do know him and his cohorts Drummer Boy Schwandt and Bassist Brian who are also in the bands White Light Riot and So It Goes respectively. All great guys. So, when I was told that the City Pages peed on them, I wondered what was up. A friend alleged they had recently called them poop heads, and ass clowns who couldn’t play instruments. …or something like that. It’s sparked a huge debate about whether or not The Alarmists suck and/or whether or not the City Pages sucked. Also how in the hell do you spell the Star Tribunes music guys name? I had to know the truth, so I decided to investigate.
Like all important people in the Twin Cities, I had an advance copy of The Alarmists new album, The Over-head Left to listen to. I also went to the release show, and then I read all these articles AND all the blog comments on the City Pages site. Then I read Chris Rachmaninovschneider’s interview in the Star Tribune. I’m pretty much an expert about now, so, I will tell you all the truth. But before I act like I know everything, let me first drag out this story by adding in personal experiences that are unrelated.
As I mentioned, the entire cast of Maudlin showed up to the show. The first bit of evidence that I collected came when I saw the Rock The Cause table in the Varsity Theater. As you may or may not know, Priscilla and I sit on the board of directors for Rock the Cause. If you’re not familiar with how we help the community and music scene, please take a look.
Eric Lavold approached Rock the Cause with an offer. Bands approach us with offers all the time. Some of them are good ones, some are a little self serving. Some would be really difficult and some more realistic to do. Eric’s offer was both generous and easy. At a time when our org could really use some extra cash, he offered to let us accept donations for digital downloads of the new album on our site and keep 100% of the proceeds.
This might not seem like a huge deal to you, but the amount of work, money, and liability that goes into RTC putting on an event to raise money is huge. This required nothing of us other than we upload the song.
The comment was made that The Alarmists drama may have over shadowed their music. Why can’t someones generosity and good nature over shadow the drama surrounding their band? I guess because People magazine would go broke, with the City Pages along with it.
The crowd at the show was great, and the bands selected where right on too. Maudlin had a great time running around and mingling. I let my agent buy me a drink, and Eric’s dad tried to buy Priscilla a drink because she adjusts his glasses at work, but Craig beat him to it and bought her a drink too. Primarily we like Craig as our agent because of the drinks. Anyway, Jason bought himself one too many drinks and then ran around taking pictures for posterity.
The Alarmist show was actually really good. The new line up is great. Someone on a blog made a comment that all the new musicians couldn’t stack up to the old ones, and made special citation of the drummer being included. Their old drummer was very good, but complaining about Mark Schwandt’s drumming is pretty retarded. Aside from being a solid show, it was more raw than the album and had a more personal feel to it. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It actually made a few songs I was a little luke on from the album really grow on me.
The Album itself is certainly nothing at all to scoff at. I can see how it differs from previous releases with less edge, but it adds a more haunting feel- actually reminds me a bit of Chris Isaac on some tunes. (course I was just watching True Blood so…[At least, when I first wrote this pharagraph I thought that Chris Isaac wrote that song, but today Barb Abney *cough cough name drop* corrected me. Some random hillbilly wrote that song. ]) The vocals are more stripped and personal. They bring out a great contrast against synths soaked in reverb. There are some dark sounding melodies and hooks, but the album still feels hopeful even if melancholy. Something for a rainy day if you’re not the kind of person that gets super depressed and hates rainy days. I definitely favor the first half of the album with tracks like, “Rhyme and Reason,” ”Car Crashing,” ”Flutter and Fly,” and “Hollywood’s Not My Home.” Not feeling songs like “The Country” or” We Belong” as much, and I flat out do not like “The Elusive Mr Albright.” …not sure what the motivation is on that one.
Over all it sounds very much like a liberation or a rebirth than a swing and a miss. These guys knew exactly what they were going for, and while it’s not going to thrill everyone, I think it will win a lot of people over. As to whether or not The Alarmists will take over the world, who knows- and who cares. They’ve already carved out a place for themselves, they’re making music that’s rewarding to themselves and still have an audience to listen. That is what success is.
I believe in real criticism though, real honesty. If there isn’t anything bad, then, of course, nothing is really good. It’s just all double plus ungood. We don’t want that. I’ve met Andrea from the City Pages before, and even if she hadn’t been talking with me about my band being good, I still would have thought she was really nice. Not at all the kind of person who seems out for a vendetta. The City Pages article is pretty scathing, but, if it’s honest, then it’s not meriting retaliation.
Chris Rumpelstiltskinschneider said that The Amarmists are big enough to take a hit. They are. His own article in the Strib praises the album and gives a great inside look at what’s going on with the band and what’s transpired. It’s hard for me to not take a step back and see the two biggest papers in town arguing about a band and think, “Any press is good press.” Ultimately the controversy made listening to the album more fun for me. …Although, if it was my album getting shredded I would release angry bees into the office of the offending party. Not killer bees, just kind of having a bad day bees.
My biggest complaint with local press has always been what they miss, not what they criticize. There’s so much music here in Minneapolis, and way too much for everyone to go out and see what every band has going on. A scathing review here and there is a service. Just like letting people know about a new great band, and keeping up with what the bands we’ve all heard of have been up too. The more reviews the better, good ones and bad.
So what are my conclusions? People may have differing opinions about whether The Alarmists new album is good, just like people have many different opinions on how to spell Chris Rasputinschnieder’s name- and that’s ok. Because, in the end, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. And, if that conclusion offends you, blame this guy.
It started out like any Maudlin adventure; something went wrong. Priscilla gave me a call on Thursday at work and she was having an asthma attack. I’m sure that normally sucks, but it was a little extra sucky/odd because Priscilla didn’t have asthma. I got worried and decided to leave work and go check on her. Well, apparently, now ahe does have asthma… So she wasn’t very excited about that, but she was ok. To make things worse, we were out of cat food. Both of our cats had already given us verbal warnings about the issue, and we decided that we couldn’t go out of town without getting more food. Jason’s girlfriend of seven years had also just dumped him a few nights before. (This didn’t really have anything to do with our departure time, but it’s a recent event that I thought should be added ) All and all, we got on the road for Chicago a little late.
We got off the road at about 1:00 AM in Dubuque, IA. Jason’s folks have a house boat there and we climbed aboard and watched that horrible train wreck of a film about cheerleaders with Kirstin Dunst. This is kind of a traditional houseboat film. …if you’re not familiar with houseboats. In addition, it is also unrelated to the story at large, which has to do with us going to Chicago to play a show.
Chicago is a big city. Some people seem to think that this also means that it has strange and evil powers, like traffic the likes of which, no mortal has ever lived tell!! …but, mostly, it’s a big city… so it has more cars. Minneapolis sports fewer cars, but also fewer competent drivers, so we are able to create similar drive times with half the people. No one striped our vehicle while we were inside a gas station and liquidated the parts in mere seconds while we tried to pay for gas… this is another urban legend.
But that doesn’t mean Chicago was free of crime- Not one bit. They actually charge you to go up in the Sears tower to look around. I kid you not. They charge you to look out of their tall building’s windows… We didn’t figure this out until we were half way through the 45 minute wait to get to the elevator. Once we were that far, we decided we’d better go all the way.
So we waited… and waited… and waited. …and finally we got crammed into an elevator like sardines with about fifty other tourists and rocketed to the top. …which wasn’t really the top… it was the 99th of 127 floors, which was as high as they would let us go.
When we got out there were windows. From the windows you could see the whole city, all fifteen dollars worth! There was also a gift shop where you could buy a card board cut outs of Obama? …my guess is they based their selections for the gifts for the 99th floor after seeing the affects of high altitudes and depleted oxygen on the human brain; no healthy person would have bought anything there. And then, just when I thought our lack luster journey couldn’t lack less luster, something awful happened- I had to crap.
Now, we all know the value of the “home thrown advantage,” but, when you can’t be at home, you usually try to find a low traffic, a safe looking spot. …this was not that spot. Here, at the top of the western hemisphere, in a small bathroom where countless touring hoards had shat before me, I relieved myself. Not much is known about the long term effects of high altitude deification, so I can only hope for the best.
Also, in Chicago, we played a show. I’m pretty sure that I plugged this website more times in one interview, than anyone has ever plugged any website in any interview. So, I’m really hoping that when they put the video up there’s something good on my front page. Anyway, we sounded like ass I’m pretty sure. Naturally people still said that it was great, and we took the praise, but it was a little sub par. My friend Craig came to see us, and he said that we sounded good… but he’s a pastor, so I’m pretty sure that’s all he’s allowed to say. I blame Jason’s girlfriend for dumping him and putting a kink in our normally rigorous practice schedule. Normally when we’re feeling like pouty rock stars we like to throw TV sets out hotel windows, but we were staying with friends, and they did very specifically say we were not allowed to do that.
So, after Chicago, we were off to Green Bay- or rather, De Pere, a suburb of Green Bay. After driving for seven hours in Chicago traffic we’d finally reached the outskirts of the metro area, where the McDonalds City is over the tollway. I think it’s five miles from downtown. We ate at KFC in the overpass land, because a recent news article had dared us to temp fate.
When we got to Green Bay we were welcomed by a kindly man with a jackknife tattooed on his neck. He showed us to the complimentary green room foods where we awaited our performance. This place was a riot. I’ve never seen so many people who wanted a good time. It was a great show, and, of course, we killed it. (Like in a good way. Not like we actaully killed anyone or the event itself; like we played well.) They made Chicago look pretty unhip; it was very ironic. Scantily clad women attacked me while I was playing, which was a rock star first for me. …didn’t look like it was a first for them. Anyway, great show. Don’t underestimate the cheaderheads people. After we were done our pals the Melismatics played and I showed Pony how to kill a man with my Tae Kwon Do prowess when the show was over.
Naturally, after we left, we were pulled over by the police for suspected drunk driving. Now, even though Jason was taking us down a one way in the not-so-right direction, one look at him should have reassured them that he was not a raging alcoholic. Wisconsin cops are all total d-bags when you’re from Minnesota though. It’s an unwritten code. So Jason had to do a field sobriety test. …which he failed. Sure that they had their man, they followed up with a breathalyzer. Jason scored a 0.0, which, for this game is high score. Baffled by his lack of coordination, the police let him go. …but not before harassing Priscilla for taking picture and trying to tell her that it was illegal to do so. …It’s not.
COP: “Those better not show up one of those internet youtube sites!”
Anyway. after that we went to a Super 8 motel. We did this because Little Man’s wife had told us that this Super 8 was voted best in the country and had an awesome breakfast and such. Well, with a build up like that we should have known something was wrong. Super 8 doesn’t even track which of it’s motels are best, the actually just track least number of fatalities from the poison waffle mix. It was awful. Also, the guy didn’t haggle with me. Hotels all haggle. When you roll in at 3:30 in the morning, you don’t pay full price for a hotel room, that would be dumb. You always say something like, “hey, it’s already 3:30, what could you do on a room till morning?” If I learned nothing else from William Shatner, I know you can bargain with hotels. Usually we get about 40% off with a line like that. …this dude was like, “no.” Then he later upgraded us to a six dollar discount which he seemed to think was pretty generous. He looked like sloth.
Anyway, so after we left in the morning and found food that was edible, we returned to the land o lakes and then went to sleep. Casualties? One. Priscilla’s green hoodie that had little ears sewn into it from when she tried to be Battle Cat ne Halloween. Where it went, no one knows. …but I think Sloth did it.
Someone needs to tell her that for me, cause, if someone got dragged down to the bottom of a tank by a killer whale, and had both their lungs and a leg eaten… I think they’d have good reason to be surprised. …because killer whales DON’T eat people… that’s why they don’t use things like hammerhead sharks and giant squid in the shows at Seaworld. They pick animals that wouldn’t eat anyone. …like killer whales.
But, really, the song wouldn’t really be any better if it went “they call them giant squid…” It would still probably suck.