Some Of Your Friends Are Probably Also This Sick
As I mentioned in the last post, we had a show this past Saturday at Cole's, a newer bar that has opened up in that stretch of Milwaukee Ave between California and Kedzie where new shit's popping up like crazy. I've been hitting up Cole's somewhat regularly since I heard about it a few months ago, because it's within stumbling distance of where I live, and they have good, reasonably priced beers and a small cheap pool table. I was stoked when we were offered the show by Mat from Builder/Destroyer (because Bear Claw couldn't play--I'm not gonna lie, we get a lot of shows this way), since I was interested to see what this place was like as a music venue. Also we hadn't played a show since August, so we were due for another.
There were many things popping up over the last few weeks that conspired to burst my bubble about this show, however. First of all, Rich and I both got sick with the same thing at the same time--some nasty sinus infection/sore throat/cough thing that we suspect we both picked up at the Jesus Lizard show the day after Thanksgiving. This fucker is tenacious. It will not go away, and we're going on more than two and a half weeks since that Jesus Lizard show. Also Uli had a bunch of papers and tests and stuff for the end of the semester. This all sort of limited our quantity and quality of rehearsals in the last couple of weeks, and I'm not sure if this would have happened anyway, but definitely we couldn't finish those recordings by overdubbing any vocals. Also I'm going to pretend that it contributed to us not having any shirts or anything for sale yet at the show, but really, we probably just sorta dropped the ball on that.
The day of the show came up and we were feeling in good spirits, if not altogether in good health. This was the first show we've played since we moved to our new rehearsal space way out on the Northwest side, complete with loading dock and elevator. Also, one key benefit of sharing a band member with Bear Claw is that they let us use their van. I really would like to thank Scott and Rob for that. Thanks dudes! We owe you.
So we ran through a couple songs to warm up and tighten up some sloppiness, then loaded up and headed to Cole's. Things were going pretty well, and various home and store-bought remedies kept the sickness at arms length. Then, upon arriving, it started raining and sleeting and I nearly crumpled several fixed gear bicycles chained to a pole directly in front of the venue while brazenly attempting to parallel park the enormous Bear Claw van using the side mirror and some context clues for the large blind spot. Luckily I was alerted by Rich a split second before disaster, when he poked his head out of the window and told me about this fact. I then parked somewhat awkwardly without damaging any bicycles and we began to load in.
I immediately wished I had crumpled all of the bicycles and possibly taken a dump on the seats as soon as we reached the back room with the first handfuls of our heavy equipment. Here, we encountered the likely owners of the bicycles, who were inebriated to an excessive degree for the early hour of 7pm, and were shouting nonsense into a microphone on the stage for some reason, guffawing and shouting inside jokes, wrestling each other and spilling beer all over the place while simultaneously managing to get completely in our way and not give a fuck that we had really heavy and expensive shit we were trying to unload around them. In fact I think a couple dudes openly mocked us, unintelligibly, for performing manual labor. I didn't respond because I had no idea what they were talking about, but I could feel my fists tightening up with rage every second I was in that back room, and knew that Rich was most certainly in danger of boiling over and strangling a dude or two. He's like 125lbs soaking wet and six foot something tall, but he makes up for it with his intangible weapon: intense, bottled up rage. I was worried something bad would happen either to our equipment or to those drunken douchebags. As we were finishing loading up, some friends began to trickle in and I warned them not to enter into the back room if they didn't want to feel the murderous rage that they could read on my face. After finally convincing the owner to get those assholes out of our way and away from any live microphones, we finished arranging our stuff on the stage and hooking up our amps, and I retreated to a nearby Mexican restaurant with my friend Andy K (who probably wanted to murder everyone moreso than me) to chill out and get a bite to eat. It wasn't the best pair of tacos I've ever had, but it magically filled me up for like five bucks, so that problem was solved efficiently. Luckily the douchey drunks were completely out of the back room when I got back, and Rich had kept his cool without strangling any dudes at all. I got a drink and finished setting my shit up.
Eventually we decided to get the show started. Of course the one thing I didn't bring a spare for, a short patch cable between pedals, decides to get fucked in transit to the gig, and no sound came out of one of my amps. Slight stumbling block. After a few minutes of troubleshooting, we fixed the problem and began playing. Except for Rich's thunderous bass amplification (comprising exactly 17 of our 21 speakers) shaking the stage so violently that something was vibrating horribly and making a weird sound, things sounded pretty good. We get into it, people seem to be having a good time and getting rocked sufficiently. Some weird and totally wasted dude in a sport coat and shirt and tie is *really* into it. I love it when there's a totally harmless drunk guy just making an ass of himself, not giving a fuck, rocking out and making weird motions with his arms. Love it. I can't speak for Rich or Uli but I think that guy helped melt my previously highly annoyance factor with the drunks and the broken cable. That and having the room full of a bunch of my friends that were awesome enough to show up and go "woo!" after our songs a lot. Both helped. I think we played decently, albeit not the best we've played. Definitely had some fun.
Builder/Destroyer and Bully Pulpit followed, and enjoyably bought the rock. Either the drunk guy had spent all of his energy gesticulating to our set, or perhaps they just didn't move him to rock out as much, because he just kind of stood off to the side, occasionally moving his arms and nodding "yes" as if to approve of the rocking. Drunk guy advantage: Mayor For Life. I enjoyed them thoroughly however.
Not very surprisingly since it was a free show in a small room full of our small crowd of mainly friends, we played for $10 in free drinks per band member, used only by me, the only drinking band member. I used my $10 to get a couple beers for my friends. We didn't even bother to ask Cole for a little gas money for helping pack his bar with drinkers, not expecting to receive any. Suffice it to say, Quencher's is still our favorite place to play to a small room full of our friends, and Cole's will probably just be the place that I go to have a few drinks somewhat regularly.
On the way out, after we loaded up and were saying our goodbyes to the other bands, the singer of Bully Pulpit offered up an almost embarrassing amount of praise and, confusingly, a pair of white boxes that we thought (hoped) might be delicious cakes. I think he said it was a gift to bribe us to finally have some stuff recorded for him to listen to, but we were kinda confused and out of it so we thanked him profusely and got out of dodge. We opened the boxes up in the van and found a pair of really nice headphones. Whoa, thanks dude! That guy's awesome.
Thanks to everyone that came out, and to everyone who just read this little insight into what it's like to be in a small local band that plays shows mainly to their friends. I'm sure this will be humorous to read after we've sold out Budokan and sold a million copies of our debut album that was self released netting us 100% profit that we donate completely to a charity that cures cancer for good.