Posts tagged rock the cause
It started out where all great weekends start- Hooters. I go to Hooters all the time because I love the taste of their wings! …ok, that’s not true. I don’t frequent Hooters, and the one time I ate there their food bit. However, Jason and I were downtown Minneapolis at the 7th Street Entry for a last minute show for the United Way and we were hungry. Jason claimed that the chili was good there… I didn’t buy that, we went in anyway. We ended up getting wings … they sucked.
Our server, Samantha, (Who was a little under dressed I might add) turned out to be a professional douchebag handler. …She didn’t tell me that persay. However, I told her I was going to call her “Sam” and requested that she get her picture taken with me for no reason, and she pleasantly agreed, so I knew something was odd. Normally I would expect that she would act all creeped out and then spit in my food, but, when I saw her move on to the next table I could tell she had been professionally trained. The men there were all much older, and much, much more out of shape than we were, making jokes and comments twelve time as lame as anything we said. And she pretended she enjoyed that as well. That’s the mark of a bonafid pro. Kind of America’s Geishas really. Geishas in hot pants.
So, anyway, then we went back to the 7th Street Entry for the United Way show. It was odd because it was a 5pm show. Rock The Cause had asked us to play, when the United Way asked them for help securing acts for their happy hour show. Also answering the call were The Notties. It was a pretty standard deal, we got up there and figuratively showed people a little bit of our butts poking out from our musical hot pants. The crowed figuratively leered at us. …or something like that. But, Maudlin was just getting starting on this fine Friday afternoon.
After we finished our set we raced across the metro to the mall in Minnetonka to the Hot Topic for the last in our series of Hot Topic shows we were playing all over the Twin Cities. If you’ve ever been in a clothing store, and if you’ve ever seen a band play, just put those two things together. All told, by 8pm we had played two different shows. This is earlier than we’ve ever been done playing one show on a Friday night, let alone two. We decided to celebrate.
We went to Scott’s place. …and I forget what we did. I think we went swimming there and listened to the douche from the spare room tell us his favorite vegetable was Cheetos. …I hear this weekend he left a saw on the ground by the pool and Scott stepped on it… Anyway, I’m sure we did some other fun things, and then moved on to the next day. On Saturday we went to Debuque for our third and final show of the weekend.
Dubuque is Jason’s home land. A vintage river town on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, she sports more idiots on water craft than imaginable, and we were three of them. Jason’s mom was also turning 60, and we participated in a surprise party. Our show was at The Silver Dollar Cantina. The manager, Michelle is a kindly spunky lady who was desperately in need of smokes when we arrived. I helped her out by running to the oke dokee- some kind of inbred gas station chain- I was instructed to by her menthols. She smokes them, even though they’re awful, because then no one wants to bum smokes from her. A wise woman.
Our pals in Little Man opened up the show while the staff laid gifts of fish tacos in front of us. …it was a brave move to put fish in tacos, combining two foods that have the same sexual innuendo attached to them… When it was our turn to play Jason got a little nervous because his mom was there, but she loves him unconditionally, so he lucked out. He also performed a few rare Jason Nelson originals as an encore to our performance.
The following day we went back out on the river. Given my track record with watercraft, you can guess that I nearly died. Fortunately you have to hit something harder than water to cause permanent damage. Also, urine washes out of swim trunks quite easily, so no irrevocable damage was done to anything other than my pride.
Then we drove home. That was two weeks ago I think… June 27th. And the next week Priscilla and I were scheduled to take a trip to the wild west, which we did, but I need to start a new blog for that…
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.
The RNC. This happened a while ago… but it was… what’s the word they kept using? “historic!” That’s it!
Imagine, if you will, it is a time of political upheaval and unrest. The quaint Midwestern metropolis of St. Paul is suddenly overrun and occupied by idiots of all political standings. The time was late August, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand and Eight. It was the eve of the Republican National Convention, and the drunken Irish town that could was in for a week of more frightful sights than a commercial for Valley Scare.
Our story begins on August 28th, it was a cool summer afternoon (I mean, probably, I don’t actually remember) when I left my stuffy desk job in search of noble charitable triumphs and creatures of the night. Rock the Cause was putting on a benefit to help children in communities in Africa devastated by the evil AIDs virus, and had asked us to come and help. The theme for the show was “ATTACK OF THE 50FT ROCKER IN 3D”
Maudlin arrived at the show in style in our gaudy, jewel-encrusted limo, ‘Samantha.’
Because it was a charity event, and we felt pity for the ‘little persons’, we commanded our driver, David (ironically, that’s my name too, but I can’t drive a limo legally…) to give rides to other people who didn’t have jewel-encrusted limos, so that they wouldn’t feel bad. We also commanded Pat O’Brian of howwastheshow.com to interview them, even though it would be far less newsworthy than the interview he did with us on the red carpet.
The red carpet itself was immaculate. It was sewn with the skins of baby seals, black rhinos, and democrats, and was graciously donated by the GOP for the event. We did many other fancy things on the red carpet, because we could.
Of course, after our glorious entrance, the masses demanded we perform. We explained that that’s why we were actually there in the first place, but they would not stop screaming for us to play until we took the stage with all the majesty befitting a band who used fancy cigarette filters. How did it go? Well, friends, we were amazing. Missed chords? Out of key vocals? …I don’t remember, probably not important. What was important was that we rock the place. Melted face parts were everywhere……………….
Then, in a historic moment, at the end of the show, as we violently flailed about, I ruthlessly smashed my bass as though it were a cheap used instrument I had bought from a pawn shop for $59.00 just for the purpose of smashing it. It was legendary. After us, some other bands that were ok played too. Some did before us as well.
Later on in the evening we went to the famed Weber Estate in Minneapolis, a place so insanely cool that my trying to exaggerate it here would probably hurt someone. But what I can tell you is that Priscilla and I both scored with aliens from the Twilight Zone. …and they have some freaky moves…
Of course, we’re workaholics (no punintended) so we also took an opportunity to snap a few promotional shots for one of Maudlin’s corporate sponsors, Sacre Bleu wine. Their wine is good, buy it. Eventually we went to sleep or something and it was all over…
…a few days later the Dreaded Republican National Convention (RNC) began. ”So What?” says you, “I once met a republican while walking alone in the woods. At first I was scared, but he seemed just as scared of me as I was of him.” Fair enough, but the Republicans did not come to St. Paul alone to hike in our scenic woodlands, they came with a bazillion armed guards, cameras, protesters, and likely many of the nobles of the thirteen bloodlines. There was probably a Reticulan or two as well.
So what did all this mean for Maudlin? Well, naturally when the most important delegates in the galaxy descend on a city for a convention, they will need entertainment. The City of Saint Paul foolishly asked a local college to find musicians and let them lose on the city. The school lazily passed the responsibly on to the student body because they clearly overestimate the education they provide. I was contacted by an informant within the school who suggested we play, so I reached out to the under qualified mass running the show and they leaped at the chance to have us. We were told we would be at an undisclosed location for security purposes, and that we would meet at the school where an orange wagon would take us to the area we would perform. We were also promised gyros.
……Upon arriving at the meeting point -an hour late, we were mortified to find out that the ‘wagon’ we were supposed to use to get to our performance area was a freaking radio flyer… A freaking radio flyer. The students were unaware that their conveyances were actually childrens’ toys.
Terrified of an impending riot that was predicted, they informed us that one of our sets had been cut and that we should rush to our spot and play for only a short time before running for our lives. They said that we could even take shelter in the school so that we wouldn’t die a horrible death at the hands of poop-flinging protesters. We, of course, informed them that we were Maudlin. No one was going to throw poop at us.
No one was going to throw poop at us. Then they informed us that we weren’t supposed to bring all the crap we brought, and that they had encouraged acoustic, unamplified performances. …We then informed them that we knew what they “recommended” but we weren’t a bunch of pussies. So like pirates, we captured several other radio flyers from lesser musicians who were sailing about the open seas of the RNC in order to carry all our stuff.
We got down to the area we were supposed to play, which was a block over from the Excel Center and adjacent to the Death Star. Naturally we plugged our crap and started blasting face parts all over and rolling around on the sidewalk. Of course the student weenies told us we were too loud, and that we should be more quit or we might disturb people. Priscilla got snippy with the lady and, I thought we were going to see blood, but then we just pretended to turn down like we always do in these situations.
Anyway, the crowd of people randomly walking by loved us. We had positive comments from both Republican’s and protestors. Emperor Palpatine gave us a nod when he was walking past, and Count Dracula actually asked for an autograph after the show. We were interviewed by MPR and a ton of people took pictures that I’ve never seen… I made lots of jokes about the Illuminati and Priscilla got nervous after we saw a delegate shapeshift and she told me to shut up. …I didn’t.
Anyway, we got done and had a good time, and then the nerdlingers of the college were whining about how we needed to leave, and if we stayed it would be at our own risk and the school would not be responsible for our broken bodies after the impending riots happened. I made sarcastic rude remarks under my breath about how I thought they were dumb and I didn’t like them because they were bossy and snotty. It was a stark contrast to the treatment we got at the 50ft rocker show.
Because we knew they were dumb, we stayed after the show for about five hours to prove we weren’t going to die or get hit by poop. We hung out with the SWAT team for a good long time. They were a hoot, and the once we were hanging out with were very much in support of peaceful protests. They were afraid of rumors that some protestors intended to throw HIV infected blood at them. I guess the poop and fermented pee they had been throwing could have been HIV infected too… but I didn’t mention that too them.
One of the hotcops there (yeah, there were even more than one… it was like afreakin robocop movie!) was totally crushing on me because of how rad I am. Priscilla didn’t really get any attention from anyone though, I think she got jealous of me and hotcop.
Anyway, then we went to hang out with the protestors too. We spent a longtime there, but all the pictures we took were on real film sitting right here on my desk… we’ll get it developed sometime… But, that was wildly interesting too. The Ron Paul delegates came out and were protesting with the crowds, demanding that the police let the protesters march downtown. The city was keeping them out of the downtown area because their permit for assembly had expired… I had thought the bill of rights was more or less a permit for assembly, but I guess there are some gray areas. Darth Vader came by and told one delegate, “I am altering the bill of rights, pray that I don’t alter it any further.” And after he had already arrested Han Solo, few argued. Eventually we left to go to the art store for screen printing supplies. The store closed at 8pm so we rushed over and made it just in time. Also at about 8pm police started tear gassing to break up the crowds.
Anyway, that’s about it… Comments? Questions?