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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 29, 2009: Madison, WI: The Majestic

Madison Show Thoughts

For being such a tiny theater, the Majestic is a nice place to see a show with its high ceilings, more than adequate p.a., and close proximity from audience to stage; sure, we were unable to set up the entire show production (sorry!), and we were crammed like sardines on stage; however, the energy of the show was high and motivating. The night in Madison came with an extra challenge for me personally in that I was cornered off in the back a bit, and I had some extra keyboard duties we were testing out for the upcoming flight date to Austin City Limits Festival. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and memorable.

The one disappointment of the night had to deal with an audience member. Unfortunately, up towards the front of the stage, a young man kept pushing and elbowing a couple of young ladies. Eventually, he stopped (with a little personal intervention), and everyone was okay (I talked to the “victims” afterwards, but not the culprit, unfortunately, since I would have liked to ask him a few Qs).

Now, I’ll ask one thing about slamming/moshing (and I must add that to the extent I witnessed last night, this "dancing" was not "artful" in any sense as it once may have been somewhere during some earlier time period but rather just pushing one another mindlessly) at our shows: WHY? We’re not UnderOath or Sepultura. I understand that for the most part this type of thing usually comes from adolescent males with pent-up aggression needing some sort of release. Okay. I was there once, but please, if you must, THINK. Look to your left and your right, and be understanding of those who are around you. I’m pretty sure that more often than not, your concert-going-neighbors will NOT want to engage.

Despite having to address this rather sour event, cheers to those who came and rocked out with us in an agreeable and enjoyable fashion.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 27, 2009: Pontiac, MI: Cargo Clutch

Pontiac, MI Show Thoughts

Definitely, this show was less “glitchy” than last night. The Pontiac crowd energized me. They were amazing, following us the entire journey of the show; this was the fourth show in a row, and being that we haven't toured this hard in a while, we were a bit on the slow side before we hit the stage, but our incredible fans turned it around with their excitement and love, giving us a huge jolt of what we needed to perform. We changed some songs around in the set, which I think helped the overall flow. The Pontiac set was as follows:

“The Nerve” (hitting it as hard, loud, and quickly as possible right off the bat feels great)
“Backfire” (settling into a nice more laid back groove but still within the high dynamic and same arrangement as Letterman)
“Chaos” (first oldie with an almost punk tempo and energy behind it)
“Clipping” (taking it down to 6/8 feel, but within the higher dynamic with soaring vocals & thick synth bass and special upright outro, which by the way, to answer some questions about my set up: for this tour, I’m playing mainly my Mocha 1976 Fender Precision Bass, my 1950s Kay Blonde Upright, and for “Burden” I’ve been working in my Purple Sparkle 1973 Fender Mustang Bass; for synth bass: I use Logic running various different and totally original sampler instruments I created; more importantly, I run them all through a Roland 201 Space Echo.
“No Response” (an electro/sampler interpretation on this one with special lighting effects)
“Plan B”(high energy from the second oldie but goodie)
“Stare/Obsolete” (abridged version with full outro)
“Electrify” (new arrangement for live, landing the one, two punch-especially last night: thank you MI)
“Armistice” (some new exciting electro elements with some nasty funk and drum ending; got to kick it into higher gear here mentally and physically or my hand will fall off ; 0)
“Odds” (nice original dynamic in this one with cool vibes, lots of marching drum, & synth bass)
“Noticed” (oldie you can sing along to)
“Typical” (oldie you can scream along to)
“Burden” (taking it to a new place with some Motown influence and special improvised outro section)

*** (Intermission/set change/can I get some water?)

“Pins & Needles” (DK on cocktail kit, G on drums, P on Rhodes, RMC on upright)
“Spotlight” (new extended arrangement for probably one of the best times in the set for me)
“Reset/Break The Same” (oldie but hard hitting grooves linked together for big finale)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September 26, 2009: Cleveland, OH: H.O.B.

Cleveland House of Blues Show Thoughts

Remember my theory that every show on the tour should get progressively better as we move along down the road since we are playing more and more, thus, perfecting our “show craft?” Well, last night’s show in Cleveland didn’t follow that reasoning. We had a lot of technical problems. For example, when “Clipping” was suppose to start, my bass synth keyboard cut out or never came in rather; thankfully, I have a back-up keyboard nearby and it triggered correctly once Paul started singing the verse. So, there was a big gapping whole at the front end of that song. Example 2: Paul landed on my pedals after one of his Rhodes flips and cut out my bass completely for about 20 seconds of “Break The Same.” 20 seconds on stage scrabbling around in the dark trying to figure out where a bad connection lies feels like searching for a needle in a haystack for about 20 minutes. On the other side of the stage in Greg's world, there were plenty of other issues as well, but I won’t go into it.

Now, even though we had a lot of technical things go wrong, I must say that Cleveland made it all okay because they made me feel that all the bad tech stuff didn’t matter too much. There were many other glorious moments that trumped such seemingly small, unnoticeable flubs. For example, I thought the crowd clapping and loud singing in “Spotlight” and "Noticed" was amazing; "Armistice," “Obsolete,” and “Reset/Break” moved the dance floor. Also, we successfully debuted “No Response” last night, and I’m curious to know how people liked or disliked the performance of this song; if you were at this Cleveland show, please comment about that song specifically. So, at the end of the day, it wasn’t the “best show of the tour” but we had a night full of exciting moments and energetic highs.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September 25, 2009: Philadelphia, PA TLA

Philly: Armistice Fall 2009 Tour

Show thoughts

Probably the best show of the tour so far, but that is easy to say since we’ve only played three shows so far. I’ve fallen into this trap before, that is, where I keep declaring that so and so night was the “best show of the tour so far” but when I look back I should realize that we are getting into our rhythm as the tour progresses, and in theory, we should be getting better night after night; thus, making it the “best show of the tour so far.” This maybe true but I still can think of exceptions to this rule, e.g. when something out of one’s control goes wrong and causes a derailment of sorts. Regardless, there was an exuberate crowd tonight in Philly who reacted positively to our full set-up.

I'm happy to say that DK didn't injure himself too much; although when jumping from the crowd off his "audience-held-bass drum" back to the stage, he barely made it and crashed hard into the Rhodes. At this point during the set, I'm sitting at the drums holding down a beat but usually thinking to myself, Please don't do that, or Oh God, please make it, please make it! Fortunately, most of the time, he exceeds my expectations. Watch out front row.

Friday, September 25, 2009

September 24, 2009: Baltimore, MD Sonar

Show Thoughts

I took it a bit easy tonight in some ways; for one, I didn’t want to fabricate any emotion, but two, I simply tried to play tighter. It’s been harder than I thought it would be to get back in the groove of things after not being on the road for a while. As a result, I didn’t move around as much, and I concentrated on my parts and transitions between songs. The crowd was responsive to the new material and new twist as we changed some of the set list around tonight, and afterwards when I talked to the fans, they seemed into it. I had a better time here than Cincinnati overall (mostly due to having a better monitor mix). Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put up the arch and had to nix some lights because the ceiling at Sonar is so low. Nevertheless, we worked out having some video and lipstick cameras for the set.

As Tall As Lions were excellent again tonight; they effortlessly jammed out song after song and played with a lot of passion and energy. I’m happy they were able to do this tour. I’m looking forward to seeing them night after night; they are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands to tour with.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Welcome Back Tour Life

September 23, 2009: Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart's Armistice Fall 2009 Tour

show thoughts

Not bad for the first headlining tour show since about a year and a half. Some say we scored a “B” last night and others an “A+,” especially with the upgraded light/video show. Whichever way you see it, there’s room for improvement in my opinion, and as we go on from city to city, things will morph and evolve hopefully into something more spectacular. Darren and I are having a great time up on stage. From the moments we play new beats together to laying down foundations on old songs, it all comes with challenges, right now probably the biggest being endurance, but we’ll build it up.

After looking at some of concert pics posted on twitter, I am pleased at the “look” of the show. Please do continue to take photos and post them however you can (as the venues allow, too). Unfortunately, some venues are “tight” about such rules. Anyway, thanks for making the effort to come and check out the new music. For those of you who have doubts about this new album, I hope that our “live twist” on Armistice will give you a new hopeful perspective on these songs.

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).