Played a pretty cool show last night. Not much turnout, but I think the few that showed up got their money’s worth of cool stuff. I had the option of playing this show or doing an opening set in tomorrow night’s New Radiant Storm King show with Why Make Clocks, Nuclear Rodeo, and Jacob Tyler Wolfgang, but I picked this one because it was a weirder lineup that I thought my solo stuff would fit in with better, and I wouldn’t have to do two sets in one night. What’s happened to me? I used to sometimes play in three bands in one night. I suppose I’m getting old.
As I arrived at the Mews, I met some of the folks from Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch. They’re an interesting crew, definitely not your typical rock hipsters. Part way through my set I started to worry that I had lined up too many depressing/creepy/slow songs in a row. But then again maybe that’s my element. It seemed to go over well with at least a few people. I did one of my new songs, “Eternal September,” and a cover I’ve never tried before, “The Spy In The Cab” by Bauhaus. This one was a bit of a challenge because during the ending I had to take the microphone off the stand so I could hold it and sing into it while stooping down to mess with the knobs on the delay pedal.
Callen’s Mudmen were excellent, playing sort of a fast old-school hardcore sound with a lot of changes and some start-stops, and throwing in covers of Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” and Shellac’s “The Guy Who Invented Fire.” I hung out with them some a little bit later on, just shooting the shit, as it were. The drummer, Chris, liked the way I use my drum machine. That’s rather a compliment coming from a drummer, I think. Forgot to mention how much I liked the way he uses drums.
A big highlight of the night was definitely Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch’s set, which was just bizarre. They seemed to have more amps – mostly small ones – than people, along with two keyboards and piles of effects pedals. This made the stage very crowded for them, and also meant that it took them forever to set up, and then longer still to iron out technical issues with things not being plugged in right or having forgotten to tune beforehand. They played the first song before realizing the bass amp wasn’t turned on. The lead singer/shouter-guitarist kept getting electric shocks from the microphones which he made sure to complain about. Given the sheer mass of ramshackle electric/electronic instrumentation on stage, it was bound to happen. Heavily flanged amp hum and feedback was oozing from everywhere. They had one of those psychedelic light-projectors with the colored oil blobs in it projected on them from the balcony. The sound was a big crazy mess of psychedelic/shoegazer noise that was actually pretty enjoyable as such, with some pretty epic slow riffs and pounding sections. The lead guy appeared to be pulling off some pretty tasty guitar solos, but it was hard to hear them in all the sonic confusion. Somehow I think fewer effects pedals between his SG and his Orange Tiny Terror amp would have helped his tone considerably. One of the keyboardists picked up a smoke machine off the floor and aimed it around her for a few moments as if it was her planned part for the song – to the extent she was able to move around at all, that is; she was barely able to reach half her keyboard. The other keyboardist appeared to play a Nintendo DS as an instrument during one song. Oh, and they had a gong. All in all, it was a compelling combination of awesome and disaster. I think they have some potential if they can allow themselves to simplify things a bit – instead of bringing the kitchen sink on stage with them, concentrate on making the songs and the mood come across with a trimmed-down set of gear made up of the stuff that works properly.
Davila 666 had actually been at the venue all along and nobody realized it. Musicians kept asking if they had showed up yet and nobody thought they had. Then six theretofore unassuming Puerto Rican guys suddenly assembled, took the stage with some of RIADB’s equipment, and played a high-energy set of garage-punk tunes with lots of raucous backup vocal harmonies. Somehow a bit of a crowd had actually started to build up by this point, and they were obviously into it. Davila’s drummer struck the gong a couple times between songs for absurdity’s sake.
Come out to the Mews tomorrow night at 8pm for the New Radiant Storm King show. Bob Nastanovich is going to be spinning records between bands. It’s going to be a great time.