Archive for October, 2009

chasing gomez with alcohol

October 14, 2009

Who is your favorite band?  Has it changed over time?  Did the group you liked in elementary school shift when you got to high school, then in college, then later?  Or have you always been a fan of CCR from the beginning?  Even better question, did your taste change once you got married?  How about once you had some kids?  Is that enough questions for an opening paragraph?  I think so, let’s move on.

Gomez.  If you’ve never heard of them you’re not alone.  That’s not a slight on the band, it just stands to reason that no matter how popular a band is, there are some people who will say “who?” even when you talk about the Rolling Stones.  I was introduced to Gomez by a friend of mine back in 1999, after their first release, but before their second.  He gave me a cassette copy of their first disc along with some live tracks from Conan O’Brien and I just dug the stuff.  Five geeks from the UK?  We’d seen this before right?  Weren’t all the British bands a bunch of Nerds to us cool Americans at one point?  These guys seem to embrace the look as instead of getting some sort of makeover, they still appear in glasses, wearing cardigan sweaters (at least to start) and just plain rock.

April 1 (yes, I am aware of the irony) was the first chance I had to see them since the fall of 2003 and I still had to drive a distance.  You see, Rochester, NY does not seem to be the correct environment for this band.  I’m not sure why.  There were certainly a good number of us represented at this show in Ithaca, NY.  The venue was supposed to be the State Theatre, a grand facility where, believe it or not, I used to DJ for Punk and Heavy Metal nights while I was in college.  That was a stint that lasted an entire 3 weeks, much shorter than my gig at The Haunt spinning for Modern Rock night in 1995.  Well that Haunt had moved and due to low ticket sales, the show was almost cancelled before it was picked up by the now new Haunt location and moved there. 

You may have already read my review of Josh Ritter, the opening band.  He only stole the show for the people who came to see him.  Before he went on, a woman was walking through the audience asking who each person was there to see.  My friend and I promptly said “Gomez” as we stood one person away from the stage.  Everyone else around us said “Josh Ritter.”  Once Josh was done rocking, the crowd seemed to turn over.  The front moved to the back, the back moved to the front, and suddenly we were right at the stage.  Close enough to mess with Ian’s pedal board, or spit at Big Bennie (not that we would) or try to get Blackie to crack a smile or at least look like he was awake.

It was a great set.  A person that I assume to be Dan Smalls introduced the band and they climbed on the stage to applause with their customary “how are you all doing, you all right?” from Tom and a quick “hello” from Ben before launching into Shot Shot which was followed by Silence (the song not the sound).

A quick side note, my first concert ever was freshman year of college.  I was attending RIT on an Air Force ROTC scholarship.  The ROTC group played tackle football that Saturday afternoon and I had tackled the cadet commander so hard my white shirt looked green.  After sitting out the rest of the game and eating dinner, a number of my floor mates and I headed to the Rochester War Memorial to see RUSH on their Roll the Bones tour.  We were sitting almost as far from the stage as you could get at this show and yet I still got chills hearing the music I had been listening to on cassettes (yes, remember those) and CDs for years being played live, right in front of me. 

Many, many shows have passed since then including many that have had one or another band of mine on stage.  Yet, there we were, leaning up against the stage looking up at this band of dudes roughly my age, who I had seen once before and had listened to every disc they made over and over again, and I had chills.  There was something about being in a small venue like that, standing practically on top of the stage with people I didn’t know (except two) and moving along to tunes we all knew and feeling chills.

The band had released their latest disc the day before and were featuring a few songs off that.  Those were songs we didn’t know so we listened politely to Little Pieces, perked up for Nothing is Wrong and See the World before a trio of songs from the new disk: If I ask you nicely, Lost Track, and Airstream driver.  At some point, a funny thing happened.  Ben asked “is anyone watching the basketball? can we have that sh*t turned off? it’s really distracting…”  The bar in the back had some game going on the four or five TVs.  Admittedly, no one was watching it with the exception of the band. 

Many of us have this problem, if there is a screen with information or pictures or flashes or something on it, we gravitate toward that and it holds our gaze.  I’ve played many shows where I’ve watched entire movies, baseball games, college football, even an Alias marathon once in Buffalo while playing a show.  We’ve always turned off TVs on the stage, but never over the bar. 

Gomez continued the set with GirlShapedLoveDrug, We haven’t Turned Around and new tune Win Park Slope.  There were some tapers at the show and I downloaded the recording of this show.  At one point near the end, you can hear someone berating the rest of the audience to “wake up” and cheer for the band.  I’d venture that Josh Ritter wore most of them out with his long, long, long opening set.  Or perhaps they were there to watch basketball.

Ping One Down and Detroit Swing ’66 rounded out the set, the band said thanks, waited a short amount of time (the better to keep people from falling asleep to the sound of clapping hands) and then came out with an encore of Whipping Piccadily and How We Operate (a closing staple for them now according to other show reviews).  Tom told the audience he loved us all and wanted to lick every one of us if we would “form a queue outside after the show”.  I didn’t stick around long enough to see if he was serious since we needed to head back north and west.

A set that was half the length of the opener was still packed with tunes, well played and enjoyed by the fans.  The band seemed a bit tired and perhaps relaxed a bit that night due to the crowd and size of the establishment, but they were still appreciated.  Oh, and to the guitar tech working on Ian’s stuff, thanks for handing me the set list.  It’s hanging in the cube farm.

soothing sound of waves with a 20 MPH wind

October 13, 2009

Solitude is sort of manufactured when you have people living in the same house.  It’s not easy to focus on writing a paragraph of your own thoughts while being asked how to spell “band-aid, cover, and blood” for a children’s story getting written by a child.  I can only imagine what that story is going to be about.  The funny thing is when I turn my head slightly to the right, I can see the waves crashing against the rocks along Lake Ontario.  We borrowed a cottage for Columbus Day weekend and while it is way too cold this time of year to enjoy being in the water, it is still fun to watch it.  Waves are very soothing which is ironic considering that they really have an amount of force behind them and if I was out there in a canoe, I’d be scrambling for the life jacket.  But I’m sitting inside instead watching the waves and hearing the wind.  The white caps start as far out as I can see.  Plenty of turbulence out there makes the water look dark and angry yet is calms.  I really picked the wrong week to quit drinking.