Sunday, July 23, 2006

And the winner is...

A few weeks ago, I played in Tacoma with the Lunds at an outdoor arts and crafts fair. They had four stage pieces arranged into a 15' x 15' or so stage, with a four post canopy overhead. A PA rounded things out and there you go. Given the circumstances (about 80-85, sunny), we were thankful for having that stage.

Fast forward to Saturday. I showed up at Qwest Field (ok, the parking lot) at 10:45 as requested. I soon found out that we were "way early" and that they weren't ready for us yet. I wasn't sure what to expect stage-wise. I was fully prepared to see a stage like what we used in Tacoma. I was pleasantly surprised to see this as I came around the corner.



Pardon the crappy phone pic. You can't really see the size of the stage, but it was pretty freaking big. They had some Saturn cars parked all about as the event was sponsored by them. They had free water and soft drinks for the bands and crews. It was pretty well put together.

Altogether, there were five bands. We drew fourth. Before we started, we figured that was the cherry spot as that put us on about 4:00pm. An added bonus was that the Red Sox were in town next door at Safeco and they had a 1:00 start. Baseball goes 3 hrs or so, so that meant we'd have a ton of walk up traffic at 4.

Well, as it turns out, the event started an hour later than anticipated, so unfortunately, we didn't get the mega walk up. But I'll get to that later.

First up was a band called the Fiasco. Three guys. Two on acoustic guitar, one guy on djembe drum and percussion. Going in, I was a bit confused as I figured an acoustic act wouldn't do so hot opening for Bon Jovi. Once they started playing, I still thought that, but they were great. Their lead guitarist played his acoustic like an electric and overall, was probably the best guitarist at the show. They kicked things off with a bang and set the bar high. Plus, they had not only the most people for their set, but definitely the hottest women.

Up next was a heavy rock band called Trepan. Apparently it's pronounced TREH-pen, but they were ok with TREE-pen or treh-PAN or even Tree Porn. We spent some time talking to their guitarist Eric and lead singer (didn't catch his name). It turns out that their drummer entered them in this contest then had to go out of town this week. Then they found out that they had made it to the final 5. Their drummer was still out of town and wouldn't make it back until after the show so they found a friend to fill in. They basically had a three hour rehearsal and 6 songs for this gig. Overall, they did ok. It was really loud, lots of screaming and not much else. Had they played better, they still wouldn't have won as it was not Bon Jovi-ish or complementary at all, but they were nice guys to us.

Third up was Peepshow, my pick to win the competition. They looked the part, from the bald drummer with the cowboy hat to the guitar player with the faux-hawk. I was surprised to see 6 dudes on stage. 3 guitars! Who needs 3 guitars anymore?? Anyway, they played very well though their music didn't do a whole lot for me. Album-oriented rock, definitely. Not terribly boring, but nothing terribly special about it either. But, they've been around for awhile and definitely had their thing down. They also had the benefit of the walk up from the M's game. They got to play to 100 people or so at any given time. Not so for the next band.

We (Static Radio) played fourth. Like I mentioned, by the time we got on stage, we were about 4 hours into the event and the only people still there were either bands or people who happened to come by. As it was, we had maybe 10-15 people there, 3 of which were my family, and they only made it for the last 4 songs.

We played ok. I went for style over substance. Because the stage was so freakin large (note to self: invest in some 20' cables for these kinds of shows. Short cables and big stages are LAME!), I had plenty of room to boogie, so I did. Luckily, Emilio's songs are quite basic (one song does the 1-4-5 (think Louie, Louie) progression for the ENTIRE SONG) and gave me room to do so. I'm not sure how everyone else did. I couldn't hear Rob, the lead guitar. About all I could hear was Emilio as his amp was aimed right at my ear. I just went up and had a good time.

Finally was a chick named Trish Shallest. She got up and did some rockin' tunes (think Ann Wilson from Heart). Then her and her guitarist did some awful acoustic number for some reason. Luckily, they followed it up with some more rockin' tunes. Bon Jovi opener material? Nah. Don't think so.

Shortly after the last set, then announced the winner of the Bon Jovi opening slot to be, surprise, surprise...

Peepshow.

For a second there, just before the band was announced, I was excited. I mean, we had a 1 in 5 chance of playing for 15,000+ people. How cool would that have been? As it turns out, Peepshow definitely deserved the gig. Their experience, look, sound and overall package will mix perfectly with the BJ crew. And, they were nice dudes as well.

So that was my big rock experience for the summer. I have 2 more gigs in August and both are at clubs. We'll draw more than we did at Qwest, but we'll be on tiny stages, just like before.

Ah, the life of a rock star.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Surprise, surprise!

I rehearsed with the guys today. There actually was a rhythm guitarist as well; I thought it was gonna be a trio.

Anyway, we all piled into the drummer's rehearsal studio, a Shurgard storage space, and set up. Lucky for us the temperature hadn't hit the 90s yet like it will tomorrow and the space was actually kinda cool. That changed after we finished setting up.

I had dusted off Emilio's CD last night and worked on some of his tunes. Luckily the songs are pretty easy. I didn't have a hard time with them. I mentioned in the previous blog that I was concerned about a certain drummer. Well, we ended up getting him, so I had to make the best of it.

As it turns out, Chris' drumming was quite good. I'm not a fan of his particular style of playing (lots of jazz type stuff), but overall, he did fine. Rather than be picky and stuck up about it, I decided just to play and enjoy myself.

We knocked out 8 songs for a 30-35 minute set. I'm a little concerned about the between song moments as both Emilio and Chris seem to not want to start the songs without making sure it's ok with the other. I did mention to E that he needed to just start the songs and be the rock star. Chris is quite mellow and, in fact, I think he wants E to be more in charge as well.

Later on, Rob, the rhythm guitar, showed up. He really added some fullness to the band. Plus, it helped that the three of them used to play these songs way back when. We ran through the set once or twice with Rob and it felt pretty good. I'm singing some backs on a few songs and everything sounded pleasant.

I looked on the radio station website tonight and saw that the other 4 bands have been posted. One is a chick singer/songwriter with a 'tude. I thought it was gonna be kind of wimpy, but she has a few rocking tracks (think Garbage). There's another band that's a three piece acoustic thing. Can they open for Bon Jovi?? The other two bands are more guitar-oriented rock. One of them, Peepshow, has been around the Seattle scene for a few years. They should be quite tight and I'd consider them the favorites at this point.

Details have been few and far between at this point. I don't know how the bands will be judged. On one person's site, she put that audience participation is a factor. If that's the case, we'll need to do some serious pimping.

Anyway, we're gonna hook up for a few more runs tomorrow, then the big show on Saturday. Let's see what happens...

**UPDATE**

Just heard from Emilio. I guess we play 4th out of 5 bands. That's pretty cool, but we can't count on people staying to hear us play so we'll have to bring our own people. Also, the Mariners will be playing at Safeco across the street. That game starts at 1:00 and it's against the BoSox, so it'll be quite busy down there. But, if we go 4th, that puts us on at about 4-5 or so, and the ball game will get out around then, which could mean a ton of walk up traffic... Hmm.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

An interesting development

An old ex-bandmate of mine called tonight. Asked me if I'd play with him at Qwest Field (home to the SuperBowl XL losing Seahawks) this Saturday. Apparently he won a contest in which his "band" (currently just him) plays with four other bands and if his band wins, he and the band go to Boston next Friday to open for Bon Jovi.

That's all well and good, but there are a few things that make me scratch my head/nervous/on the fence/whatever.

1. I haven't played with him for 2 years.

Last time I played with him was at an outdoor festival. It went pretty well, I suppose. Since then, I've been in two gigging bands and he's been building a career. Just recently he's decided to get back in the scene and is looking to put a band together.

2. I've heard of some of the bands in other cities and they are great.

I think some of these bands are a bit rockin' and I'm afraid my pal's material is a little less than. It's kind of singer-songwriter-y. Good music, but needs a producer kind of stuff. I'd be playing songs that he recorded 3-4 years ago, and basically playing them as he recorded them. We wouldn't have time to embellish or change arrangements this late in the game. We'd have to really bring it so we don't look like chumps up there.

3. Spontaneity may be lacking as these are songs that I have to think about to play.

I'm bummed that I didn't know about this contest earlier. It'd be a blast to play it with my current band. The fact that my current band has been gigging and has some history would make taking the stage much easier. With my ex-bandmate, going on stage would really require concentrating on not screwing up the songs rather than just going up and playing.

4. He doesn't have a drummer lined up yet.

I've called two drummers; both have commitments they can't cancel. He's got a drummer, but hasn't heard from him yet. The last gig I played with this guy, he had a drummer who was probably the Lamest Drummer Ever. Should've been playing coffee houses. I HOPE he doesn't get this guy. The other guy is currently in a heavy rock band so it should be adequate (provided he can do it *crosses fingers*).

So I've told him that I'd do it. I have no idea who else is playing (apparently they'll be posted tomorrow), if they'll have a backline, how long the sets will be, etc. I do know it goes on at 2:00pm on Saturday in or around Qwest Field. I know it won't be a train wreck; I just hope it'll be a good show.

Wish me luck.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Garage Sale Grinch

A few years ago, just before Riley was born, we had a garage sale. Marci was pregnant and we spent a week getting ready and prepping for the weekend. Come the weekend, it was pretty slow. Not a lot of action. At lunch, I headed for Subway and noticed some of our signs were missing. I figured wind knocked 'em down or something.

A few weeks after that, we had a second sale, this time combined with some friends up the street. We put an ad in the paper and made more signs and attached them to utility poles and stop signs. This time we had lots of people (more from the ad than anything else). Once again, I headed out for lunch and coming down the hill, I saw this old man taking our signs off the stop sign. I stomped on it.

"Excuse me!"

No response.

"SIR. Excuse me! Those are our signs!"

He continued walking to his car, signs in hand. He got in his car, but not before I blocked it in with mine. I approached his window and asked him what was up, but before he could answer, I put a cap in his ass.

Actually, he came out and started going on about how utility poles and stop signs aren't public property, therefore no private signs should be on them. I told him he was ruining peoples' weekends and really being an a-hole. He had a stack of signs on his front seat. He claimed he was a volunteer for the city and for each sign he turned in, a fine was sent out to the sign creator.

He finally did give me back my signs and we parted ways, but not before I memorized his license plate (662-RVD).

I called the city a few days later and relayed my story, especially about the part of him being a city "volunteer". Turns out, we didn't have any volunteers in my neighborhood, so the city guy was quite concerned about it. He ran the guy's plate to be sure about names and stuff. He even got the police involved a few days later as the guy taking our signs was taking property that wasn't his. Apparently I could've pressed charges, but I decided not to.

So today, in preparation for our garage sale tomorrow, Marci and her 8.5 month pregnant friend Erin went around the 'hood putting up signs. One hour later I get a call saying that of the 7 or 8 signs they put up, 6 are gone. Boy were they pissed. I was pretty upset too. Trouble is, we don't know who's doing it this time, if it's the same old man or someone else (we live in a neighborhood populated with oldsters, most of which are cool, but some of which are PRICKS).

Anyway, I made up more signs tonight and will put them up at 7:30 or so tomorrow morning. I also made up notes attached to each sign basically telling the culprit to back off and that we'll remove them by the end of the day. I guess we'll see what happens. Hopefully I'll catch him in the act again...

WWJBD?? What would Jack Bauer do???

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Office and some ramblings...

I'd never watched this show before. I didn't get the humor involved (I'm talking about the NBC Office). Apparently it's something called "cringe" humor. The type of humor where the viewer is left a bit uncomfortable (or in The Office's case, sometimes very uncomfortable). That being said, I caught a few minutes of an episode a few weeks ago.

Fast forward a few weeks to today and I'm happy to say that I am HOOKED on this show. I haven't laughed so hard at TV in a long time. I found myself all the episodes on the web and have been watching 2-3 at a time. I'm such a geek.

We're prepping for a garage sale this weekend. One of Marci's friends is coming over to help us. Should be profitable. Well, as profitable as a garage sale can actually be, since we're taking a loss on almost everything we sell...

My brother bought a device that allows you to copy all videos directly to DVD. I've had my video camera hooked up to it for about a week now and have copied over about 20 videos. I still have about 20 or so to go. What a cool little toy. What I used to do was dump my video into the computer and edit. Most vids I shot were music related so it was about 40-60 minutes worth of music. Edit out the talking and crap and add some titles and chapter stops. Done. Now it's just raw footage from tape to disc.

In doing the copying, I've been watching a lot of performances from my current band (Lund Bros.), to previous bands (Starchief and Ethyl), and even a band I was in 7 years ago (While Away).

Well, needless to say, there are some ghastly videos there. Neil Peart once compared early recordings he did with Rush to drawings a kindergartener might do. They're inspired, but a mess. Well, I must concur. Many of my early videos with each band (save Starchief, since that band was essentially Ethyl lite) were a bit rough. With While Away, my brother shot us playing our first show with our new singer. She was someone we found after months and months of auditions. I wish I'd kept a journal about those auditions; I'd be a best-selling author today.

Anyway, this girl had no band experience. She'd sung in some choirs in high school and college and wanted to branch out. She was quite cool, and easy on the eyes, and we all got along famously. She learned some of our songs and eventually we booked a show at the legendary (sort of) Central in Pioneer Square.

I watched bits and pieces of this video the other night. I just couldn't bear to watch any more. I remember at the time thinking how good we were. Tight. Musical. Vital. We couldn't be any further from those things. Call it first gig jitters or just plain suckiness, but we were bad. Loose and all over the place, visually uncohesive. Just awkward. Add that the singer had had one too many rum and Cokes and, well, let's just say at one point in a song, she took a complete header off the stage. Luckily she landed on a table, or she would've taken a 2-3 foot freefall. To her credit, she picked herself back up and finished the song, but not before audibly bonking the mic off of her front teeth as she raised the mic stand. Ouch.

Sadly, my brother (filming that night) was in the middle of panning away from her *just* as she fell off the stage. You see her topple forward, then you see me pulling her back up. Quite the spectacle.

Welp, it's off to do some laundry. Peace.