Friday, January 31, 2014

TD High Noon 1/30/2014

We opened for My God the Heat and Red Tape Diaries.  Attendance was sparse at first, but there was a decent crowd by the time we were finishing our set. It was a little snowy out.

I was having a bad day because Walter McBunn got a bad diagnosis. Left for the show stupid early around 7:30pm so I could set up slowly and in peace. There were like 3 people plus the bartender in the venue when I arrived and one of them managed to harass me. I still don't get what his deal was. He said hi to me like 3 times and I said hi back each time and then he got all bad attitude and said hi a 4th time and I was just like "I believe I've already said hi to you several times." I think he was a friend of AS and drunk.  It just sort of amazes me how, no matter how hard I try to keep to myself, annoying jerky people manage to make a scene. That said, both bartenders and the sound guy and the door guy were all super nice and I've kind of decided to go out of my way to be nice to those kinds of people and interact with them more so that in passing.

Anyway, I played for shit. I mean, not my worst show but by no means my best. I was distracted and I'm not well practiced (though I ran set 3 times the week before the show, so was well-prepared ENOUGH). Messed a bunch of stuff up. I wore ear plugs and the mix was a little bass drum was SO LOUD in the monitor even after he turned it down. It wasn't even that it was loud, it was just so boomy...I could feel the vibrations and it was so fuzzy and ill-defined. It kind of drowned out everything else. Like everything else was perfectly balanced and then there was this BOOM over the entire thing. It was weird. Anyway, threw me off a little bit. I also was thinking too much, almost freaked myself out a few times ("what if I loose the beat here? Ah! Stop thinking, stop thinking, stop thinking..."). Missed some transitions (I need to count the verse in KUKU), rolls were shitty (though not the worst ever), was hitting the rim alot on snare. The boys said they didn't notice. It's good to know that my mistakes are my own, though, and can't be contributed to alcohol. I do miss the relaxing brain rest effect though. I wasn't nervous last night...just really, really AWARE. Too much so.

Had dinner, and then a slice of pizza with one of my free drink tix (gave the rest to the boys) around 8pm.

Some Delirium
Goin Down the Drain
Hold U Under
Gun in Your Grave
At the Door
Gotta Tell U
Vacuum Man

Monday, January 27, 2014

CJ, 1/25/2014 Mickey's

We played two sets. German Art Students opened.

I got distracted by an unwanted work text right before load in, and in a strange way I think it killed my nerves and replaced them with anger. Consequently, I played one of the better shows of my life and wasn't freaked out really at all (even though this was only my 3rd sober show & the 1st cj one). I also played with no notes at all for the first time ever, though I had lyrics sitting on my amp for White and Gigantic for if I totally brain farted (didn't need them). Think I finally figured out the right tone/volume balance for the red bass (with and without pick). It sounded good. Used my mic stand bottle holder for water and that was awesome.

The band played pretty well. Tuning was an issue due to cold. CT nearly knocked his amp off the bench during Vamos...which sounded awesome but was a little scary.

It was a medium-small crowd due to low temps, snow, and lots of other stuff happening the same night, but they were enthusiastic. A dude with an "EP-1" t-shirt chatted me up after the show for a long ass time. We definitely have people who are "fans" now that we don't know but who come to all the shows and say moonie-eyed things to us after the gig. I probably had at least 6 people say something to me. It's weird...but I made a point of saying an enthusiastic (un-qualified) "thanks" to each and every one.

Set One:
Bone Machine
Break My Body
I Bleed
U Mass
La La Love
Into the White
Blown Away
Lovely Day
Here Comes

Set Two:
Broken Face
Down to the Well
Manta Ray
Dig for Fire
Wave (fast)
Letter to Memphis
Bird Dream
River E
Something Against You
Gouge Away

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Next Level

I've been trying to think of ways to take my playing "to the next level." I've been trying to memorize more difficult songs (it is slow going) as part of this effort. But this week I started trying not to look at my left hand when playing bass. I didn't realize how much I look at it. It's hard to play and not look at it. There's a sweet spot between looking at the music too much (solved my memorizing) and looking at your hand too much (ok sometimes, but best not to be a crutch). I find that in certain live performance situations you can't see the dots on your fingerboard...and you can't see your notes or sheet music. So getting away as much as possible from either thing is a big confidence booster. Plus, if you aren't focusing on those things you can focus on other phrasing or dynamics or right hand technique. I'm splitting my time on bass now between playing with a pick (Pixies) and playing without (ska). It has been a real challenge to learn how to stop strings from vibrating when playing with a pick and also to cross strings and also to decide "picking direction" (like bowing or sticking...when to do up strokes and when to do down and when to alternate).  Anyway...there's a lot going on lately.

I've also been starting to go back and listen to the original versions of songs that I've been playing for years now to find things that I missed the first time around. Extra vocal harmonies or inflections...grace notes...or things I just flat out got wrong the first time around. That's slow going too...but rewarding to add something new to a song I've been playing forever. Cases in point:

Added a slide pickup from 9th fret to 4th fret right before the last chorus (just after the bridge) in Rascal King (2:38 to 2:41 in video below)

Added backing vocals on the chorus in No 13 Baby (starts 0:34 in video below)

Working to add the breath noise between the first and second verses in Subbacultcha (hard to hear but at 0:38-0:41 in video below)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SVFD Jan 20th Frequency

Cold and light snow. Opened for Something To Do and The Toasters. My amp was really buzzy so I unplugged my pedal and ran straight through the amp. Ground lift didn't help. Don't know if it was related to amp being cold...or that I was using a new 6er plug...or what. Just fucking weird and random. The stand light that I bought because of the Jan 10th show ended up being WAY TOO BRIGHT. Blinded me with reflection off the page. Ended up not needing it because they basically left the house lights on on stage ...or it felt like that. I put a piece of paper over the light for next time. The audience was oddly quiet. Between the lights and the audience, the vibe was really, really weird. Really dead.

We argued about the set list until the last minute.

I've been feeling grumbly about things lately, but I was more relaxed last night than on Jan 10th and my playing was better. Still not "perfect" but respectable.

I Will Survive
Thigh High
Lost Again
Red Rubber

SVFD Jan 10th Frequency

I totally forgot to post about this show.  It was a benefit for a lab animal retirement facility. We played two sets. There was an ice storm. My brain was broken and had trouble reading my music and forgot things that are deep in memory. Lights made music extra hard to read so I bought a stand light for Jan 20th gig.

Set 1:
Dear Sergio
I Will Survive
Somewhere in the Between
About a Girl
I Don't Love You Anymore

Set 2:
Came Out of a Lady
Grazing in the Grass
Mr Smiley
Thigh High
Lost Again
Red Rubber Ball

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

End of Days

A while ago I was horrified that KiS was bringing this beast on stage with Pixies.  Call it coincidence, reverse-foreshadowing, a trend, or the end of days...but this photo pops up yesterday on KeD's twitter feed:

It makes one wonder if the piece of shit was KiD's contribution to Pixies sessions back in fall 2012 after all. To which I say...I have to rethink everything I've ever believed.

Side note: I'm also really sad that KeD isn't playing the Aria in this pic. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Walking Bass Lines with Chromatic approaches

Slow day at work.

This is a brilliant lesson.


So I just signed up for 10 weeks of adult beginner group piano lessons.


It's in line with 1) looking for more stuff to do (yes it feels necessary) and 2) being impulsive. Luckily, this is the kind of impulsive that only puts me out $150 and makes my Thursdays a little hectic this spring. Which is a-ok.

When I was little I wanted to learn to play piano and acoustic guitar. I loved the way that both sounded. My dad had an old chord organ (later he bought a second, more modern version) and sometime between ages 5 and 10 I taught myself to play it. Basically you played the right hand like normal and the left hand you played chords with a single button, kind of like an accordion. I don't think that I taught myself to read music, so the note names must have been written above the notes for the right hand.

Anyway, that was the extent of my experience with keyboard until I was about 25 (despite having been bought an electric keyboard in my teen years, which I still have). At that point I was living in a house with a piano and feeling ambitious, so I tried to teach myself to play. I actually did okay. At the time I was also teaching myself finger-style guitar in two lines (bass played with thumb, melody with fingers), so I kind of had the hang of reading music in two lines. I didn't advance very far by the time I moved out of that house, but it was at least a start.

Since then I've sort of lost interest in keys. I don't really like the sound of the piano anymore...or the acoustic guitar either really. I've moved on to harder rock. But I still think that keys provide a fantastic theoretical foundation for writing music. And it is a great mental exercise in limb independence. And I've always wondered what the pedals were for and how they worked.

So, ya know, what the hell? I hestitated at first thinking "oh maybe I'll do that SOME DAY but now doesn't seem like the time." Then I noted that the 10 week class goes until May...and that's a long time from now. If I wait for the next round of classes, it'll be next fall. Now is as good a time as any, and honestly, now is probably a good time to have more things to do. And, having taken classes from this particular program before I know, they aren't very high pressure. If I bail on some or don't do so isn't a big deal. I said...what the hell?

SOS on Bass

Speaking of Breeders shit I've been working on....SOS on's good view of Jo's left hand around 0:23:

Looks like a 1-4 finger pattern on the 2nd -5th frets starting on E string and moving up

Another ok shot


I've been goofing around playing Breeders tunes on drums for about three years now. At one point I was gonna record a tribute album with me playing all the parts, but gave up on that when I figured out that #1) I can't play rhythm guitar like KiD #2) I can't really sing like KiD #3) I probably don't have the right effects pedals or even know how to figure out what the correct effects pedals are.

Since I saw the band play in concert five times this year, and the same basic set with different encores, I watched Jim more closely on the drums. And I got the idea to try playing Last Splash front to back on drums.

It is harder than it seems.

"New Year" and "No Aloha" and "SOS" are still pretty tough for me...but the most interesting song might just be "Flipside." It sounds like a stupid simple song, but there's some kind of weird shit going on. What drew my attention to it is that it looks exhausting when Jim plays it live.

He's just "Ringo-ing" along for a while and then...HERE'S THE MELODY with both hands. Who knows what his feet are doing at that point. It's weird. I can't quite play it right yet.

I think there's a lot to be learned from Jim. Mastering this album is a worthy exercise.