Which was mostly true. Beginning about an hour after lunch yesterday, and leading up to our show yesterday, my stomach was in knots. It had to be a legit illness, right? it couldn't possibly have been nerves about the show that started 11 hours before we took the stage?
I've been playing in bands since i was 17 years old, and i still get the butterflies sometimes before we play--usually before a particularly important show, like opening for Melt-Banana or Poster Children or something. Obviously, this show was important:
-Rev.Ever was playing out with us for the first time.
-We had planned to play five basically new songs ("Defenestrate Me" wasn't really new, as we played it live twice last year, but we hadn't touched it in about 10 months before the Rev. signed on, so it was basically new) and were unsure whether we'd remember all the words
-New songs tend to take a while to iron out in a live setting for us, so i was nervous about the set being a sloppy trainwreck (which is why i was glad we had this show as a warmup before Cactus later this month; "Potential Energy" didn't gel as a live song until we had played it at roughly five shows or so)
-I knew a bunch of ye olde Milwaukee Basement Kids would be there, and they NEVER come to our shows anymore unless someone else from their scene is playing (in this case, Pink Reason)
So. Nerves. But at 1:30 PM? I still refuse to believe i wasn't getting sick.
We arrived at The Pub at about 8, maybe a little later. Even though i live a half block from this bar, i had never stepped foot inside it. Everything i had heard about the place had implied that this was our one-stop knife-fight-and-drug-deal shop, but it really didn't feel like it on the inside. However, we were still worried when we found out the bar didn't have their own PA. Um...uh-oh. Was Kevin (from Pink Reason, who set up the show) aware of this? We moved the pool table out of the way and started to haul in our gear, trusting that Kevin knew what was up, since he had dealt with these people in the past. Sure enough, we had nothing to fear. Kevin brought a PA over from the Breakfast Nook (local basement venue) next door, and the people working at the bar were incredibly rad, polite, and helpful all night long. (They had great taste in music, too...Jeff from Knife the Symphony found Agent Orange on their jukebox, and the bartender was playing Amy Winehouse and The Pixies off his computer. Not bad for what superficially looks like a blue-collar townie sports bar!)
Pink Reason played a sloppy, short set (Kevin's backing band had been assembled in the last two days this time out, and they had practiced like twice so there you go), but the songs themselves were solid, and the sloppiness of the performance actually added to the raw immediacy of the songs. Our new pals Knife the Symphony, who were sent to us by our bestest buddies in Viva La Foxx (both bands are from Cinci/Covington), played a killer tight set of Kansas City-style post-punk ala Rocket Fuel is the Key. Clipd Beaks took forever to set up, which started really annoying me because the show had to be over at 1. However, once they got going they played a set of trippy psychedelic noise-rock that at the time i was too annoyed to enjoy, but upon objectively looking back, i'm pretty sure it was really good. Plus, they cut the set short to compensate for their long setup time and were finished at about 5 after midnight, so they're ok by me.
Between their extended teardown and our setup, we were left with about 25 minutes when we got started at 12:35, so we had to cut two songs from our planned nine-song set. But that was ok, because the songs we did play were on fire. "Defenestrate Me" started off the proceedings with a bang, and we ran that straight into "Paradise By the Paulding Light" and "Your Head on a Ratings Spike." Right away i realized that our time away from the stage, combined with my feeling a bit under the weather, completely fucked my voice in that i couldn't sing in my upper register for more than a couple lines at a time. Fortunately this was one of those "HiFi drowns out the vocal PA" performances, so my voice being out of shape wasn't much of a factor. Music-wise, our performances, i thought, were tight. The live debut of "Black Holes Resonate (In B-Flat), Baby" grooved like nobody's business, and Rev.Ever's keyboard leads in "You Can Dig a Thousand Holes, But it Takes a Body to make a Grave" have resulted numerous times now in me being unable to get that song out of my head for days. I'm sure last night will go down as no exception.
General feedback was that we sounded really good (surprisingly good, in fact, for the size of the room and our volume), were fun to watch, and that the visuals were good but still needed some work (apparently there were maybe too many Asian chicks being projected behind us; i dunno, obviously i can never see what's going on). And we had at least one person who was really thrilled to hear us covering a Mclusky song ("To Hell With Good Intentions"). It felt to me like a basement show being played in a bar venue, which is just perfect. People crowded up right next to us, cramped stage setup...all perfect for our first show back, although i'm very much looking forward to Cactus Club April 28th with The Dials. Cramped quarters are fun, but stages where i have room to thrash and jump about? Also fun.
And the butterflies were long gone. Of course.
Oh, speaking of the videos...Dan (or projectionist) explained to me that when he takes real time footage and speeds it up to exactly 71% faster than normal, it matches up with the speed at which we play. IfIHadAHiFi: 71% beyond normal human speed!
Welcome aboard, Rev.Ever! May this be only the first of hundreds of badass shows with you.