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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in IfIHadAHiFi Lucky Best Tour Diary #1's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
1:06 am
Sunday, September 7th, 2008
5:43 pm
Sept. 5 and 6: The Fame By Proxy debut
Oh hai! Remember how we used to do show and tour reports? Now that we have a swank new website that can be updated easier than the last one, i'm gonna try to get back on that again.

So this weekend we officially began selling our new full-length, Fame By Proxy, via a pair of shows in Milwaukee and Madison. The first, on Friday, was at the Frequency in Madison, a new club opened by our good friend Darwin in the space where the Slipper Club used to exist. We spent the first couple hours of our time at the club drinking free PBR, eating pizza, and watching JJ Hardy hit a walkoff single to beat the Padres in extra innings.

After a lovely set by Cincinnati's Ampline, we took the stage and i immediately shat the bed. I've been having issues with the locking mechanism on my DW500 kick pedal since i bought it in June, but Friday night took the cake. Not halfway into "Defenestrate Me" my kick drum was on a 45 degree angle from my foot, and the pedal was getting wedged on the drum head about every third strike. Very frustrating, very distracting. And for some reason i decided to power through on "Paulding Light," and it just got worse.

I tried to adjust the pedal properly after "Paulding" and had no luck. My now-soured mood was being compounded by a complete lack of audience enthusiasm, so i threw the pedal toward the front of the stage, stormed downstairs, grabbed Ampline's drummer's pedal (in a funny moment, he yelled "HEY!" then ran up, adjusted something on it, then handed it back to me), came back upstairs, threw my kick pedal off the stage and into the stairwell leading to the back alley, and installed the Ampline pedal. From then on the set went off pretty much without a hitch, except that i was so thrown off that i played like shit the rest of the set.

Still, despite my frustration and the near-complete lack of audience response, we got nice comments from the sound guy and a few other people, and one dude bought $30 worth of stuff while explaining to Yale how he has a ton of friends in the UK who apparently LOVE us. Hey, cool, know someone who can get us over there?

As it turns out, it was a good thing that we got a less-than-solid performance out of the way the night before our proper CD release in Milwaukee, because our set at the Cactus Club on Saturday brought the pain. We took the stage in a fairly packed room, launched into "Defenestrate Me" (complete with a new Iron Cobra kick pedal which i bought earlier in the day--lesson learned, only buy Iron Cobras from now on. This is how brand loyalty happens), and proceeded to blaze through the best performance we've executed in months.

The show was free, so we were hoping for an insanely packed Cactus Club. As it stood, a wedding prevented a lot of our friends from showing up, and there were random other people i expected to see that didn't make it, and that was disappointing. But! The lack of familiar faces (and make no mistake, there were still plenty, and it was great to see all of them) was more than made up for by the large number of people there whom i didn't recognize. Having a ton of friends at your show is great; but having a crowd that's half friends and half people you don't know who still came out to see you? Even better.

The other bands last night were outstanding as well--King's Horses (subbing for a too-sick-to-play New Loud), White Wrench Conservatory (because obviously they're going to play our CD release, duh), and our Portland-via-Madison labelmates System & Station were all fantastic. All in all, we put together a solid night of free kickass rock 'n' roll for a packed room. That. is. awesome.

So hey, thanks to everyone who made it out! You made our CD release last night feel like an incredibly special moment with your dancing, your "hey hey!" singalongs on "Success!", and your demands for an encore which we didn't honor because we're jerks. Our next Milwaukee shows will be a pair of basement gigs in October, but before that, we're heading out on tour! See you when we get back.

By the way, final tally for CD sales at the release show:

Fame By Proxy sales on Friday: 1
Fame By Proxy sales on Saturday: 6
No More Music sales at its CD release in 2004: 7

So, we're on our usual pace! We'll be rid of these CDs by 2013, for sure.
Sunday, March 30th, 2008
3:11 pm
3.28.08: Beat Kitchen w/the pAper chAse--"'Big Guns' By Skid Row is actually about firearms"
It always seems to throw people when i tell them that i still get nervous before shows sometimes. "Really?" they ask? Yep--i, who is generally pretty damn comfortable on stage and has been doing this for years, still get nervous before certain shows sometimes. And for some reason, this all-ages show at the Beat Kitchen had butterflies churning in my gut when i woke up at 7 AM. I've never had them THAT early.

But we were of the opinion that this could be a huge show for us. All ages, Chicago, with one of our favorite bands in the known universe. The room was sure to be packed wall-to-wall with impressionable youngsters with disposable income, right? So we worked overtime to finally re-stock our merch: buying more copies of Hot Nuggets! and No More Music from our label pals and finally ordering a new run of t-shirts. So we arrived at the Beat Kitchen ready to win over a ton of new fans and move some units.

Ah, those silly expectations.

By the time we started playing at 8:20 PM (ten minutes earlier than the advertised start time of 8:30--um, er? There was some explanation about new liquor laws in Chicago dictating an earlier end time for all-ages shows, but still...10 minutes was going to save the night? Eh, whatever. The Beat Kitchen's been good to us so i won't bitch too much), we discovered that apparently Chicago trains their people at a pretty early age to arrive late for shows. We started playing in front of about 20 people or so, and by the time we had finished, several more had trickled in. But by the time Reds and Blue finished and the pAper chAse started, the place was wall-to-wall packed, as expected, with i'd guess about 20% of those people actually seeing us play.

This is something i'll never get--i think if the pAper chAse had played by themselves with no openers, a good number of people would have thought "what the hell, $12 for one band?" Yet they're fine just showing up on time to see them and no one else, i guess. I dunno. No sense in bitching about it, and at the end of the day, i'm not really that bummed--just bemused by the average concert-goer's willingness to not get their money's worth. I mean, it's very rare that an opening act wins me over in the first five minutes of a show...i get that. Very often they're not much to write home about. But it's still nice to give 'em a chance, ya know? I mean, you're spending the money on them.

Anyway. I can't control other people's habits, so no sense in wasting time thinking about it (even though i just did). As for our set, it was fine. We were solid and played well, and those people that were there for us enjoyed it (i even heard laughter during our between-song banter, so ha!). So mission accomplished to the best of our ability. A few roadblocks like Rev.Ever breaking a bunch of guitar strings didn't really derail us at all, and playing was fun, although i got tired out really quickly for some reason, be it lack of sleep the night before or the Beat Kitchen food not agreeing with me. Not sure.

Reds and Blue were enjoyable spacey keyboard indie rock (confidential to white, wrench, conservatory.: you should probably get in touch with Reds and Blue about swapping shows), and what can i say about the pAper chAse? As usual, they were ungodly and incredible. They opened with a pair of new songs that felt 8 minutes long each and still had me grinning and giggling like a doofus at the pure musicianship being shown on stage. The more and more i see that band, i can't help thinking, "John is a fucking genius. And he's a fan of OUR band? Really? How? Why? The amount of talent we have as musicians probably fits into his pinky finger and he's told me he loves us? What?" It's truly humbling and weird and awesome to think about that.

The show ended by 11 PM, so we were able to jaunt over to Quenchers in time to see our pals Bear Claw, but unfortunately miss the Conformists. Ah well. Bear Claw were excellent as always, and we got to say hi to some Chicago pals that decided to spend the evening over there instead (which, hey, it was free and the bands were awesome and we had played in town three weeks prior, so sure!).

Oh, and our merch sales? Two t-shirts sold to friends. I couldn't help but laugh at all the effort we put into re-stocking the shelves. The good news: we have plenty of t-shirts for sale next weekend in Madison and Milwaukee!
Sunday, March 23rd, 2008
6:33 pm
March 2008: So far.
We have played a few shows this month, and we have been sorely remiss in writing about them. In an effort to get us back into the swing of things on that tip, i will now post some brief summaries of these shows we have played. These will not be as detailed as they would have been had we stayed on our game and posted about them as they happened, but what are you gonna do? At this point these are more for my benefit that yours anyway. SO THERE.

March 2: Mad Planet, MilwaukeeCollapse )

March 7: Cal's, ChicagoCollapse )

March 8: The Attic, ManitowocCollapse )

March 14: Cactus Club, MilwaukeeCollapse )

March 22: Corral Room, MadisonCollapse )
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
11:26 am
Checks it out, I's got a digitals camera now!
Pics from 2/2/08, Manitowoc.

The back hatch opens again!

Rev.Ever drinks beer.

thee Tony Weber attached this note to Dr.Awkward's back...

Many dimes later, this happened to Tony.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
11:07 pm
Our Weekend With Arks: 11/2 MKE and 11/3 St. Paul
I am getting awfully bad about updating this shit on time, especially considering all the free time i have lately. Fortunately, i have a Statement of Purpose to put off writing, so...hai!

11/2 at the Borg WardCollapse )

11/3 at Station 4Collapse )
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
11:49 am
10.22.07: Cactus Club with Captured! By Robots
Last night's show with the mighty Captured! By Robots reinforced for me an important lesson in playing on stage: fessing up to a bad set on stage is very tricky business. If you joke about it a few times, it's maybe seen as self-deprecating and the audience may not get that you really mean it. If you let it affect the overall show, though, it runs the risk of derailing the whole process in a feedback loop of mistakes and frustration, thusly ruining what the audience may see as a perfectly fine set of music. Always remember: The audience doesn't know your songs as well as you know them.

Last night, i think we walked the tightrope of a derailed set, but managed to avoid the feedback loop and still pulled out a set that was fun for the audience, even if it was a bit of a chore for us. I blame myself. See, things were running behind schedule because the C!BR setup (drums on one side of the stage, toms on the other, among other roadblocks that come with an all-robot band) forces Alex (Cactus soundman to the stars and all-around amazing human being) to re-think a lot of his usual setup. Thus, by the time he had us miked and soundchecked, it was a little after 9, which was the announced start time of the show. To make things worse, Yale was having pedal issues during the setup process. This didn't slow things down, as it happened during Alex's setup, but i was so paranoid about Yale's tone being off or weird due to a swapped out pedal (he was also borrowing White, Wrench, Conservatory's Ampeg bass amp as his Ampeg Reverb Rocket is in the shop--similar amp, but slightly lower frequencies as a result of it being a bass amp, obviously) that i wasn't really paying attention to the sound balance on stage. WWC's amp is quieter than Yale's, so our on-stage sound was pretty quiet overall as a result.

My mistake: Right at the beginning of the set, i notice that i'm not hearing much of Yale's guitar at all, so i ask Alex for more in my monitor. Soon, Yale's guitar is all any of us can hear. And since we're too stubborn to make multiple monitor requests during a set (we have a sort of unofficial rule where we make one monitor request per show and then shut the fuck up and deal, because musicians who constantly harp about the monitors during their set are annoying, so none of this is Alex's fault), we soldier on. All throughout the set i am operating under the assumption that while it sounds crappy to us, it's sounding fine to the audience, so i keep thrashing about like i always do. The audience is receptive--at least, for it being a Monday night crowd!

The second half of the set starts to derail a little, though. "99 Probalos" is a slightly more midtempo song for us, and we haven't played it live enough times to figure out how to keep the energy up in the set while we play it. I'm not entirely convinced that we should play it live very often. This leads into "The Buzzard," which i believe goes well enough, except i flub a few fills in the disco bridge. Then, we gloriously fuck up the opening of "Success!" when i completely misjudge where Rev.Ever started playing the opening riff. I come into the verse about a measure early and it takes The Wizard and Rev. a bit to readjust. Fuck. By the second half of the verse, we seem to be back on track, but yeah. Dudes on stage at this point are getting crazy frustrated with the unbalanced mix and resultant performance fuckups, and by now i sort of feel like i'm punching the clock with regard to my stage presence.

Fortunately, "punching the clock" for me looks like most other drummers "going all out," and as we climbed off stage, i overheard people saying good things. Yale's lady Beth and my roommate Scott both agreed that the set sounded totally fine--Scott didn't even catch the "Success!" flub (although Beth did, but she said we got on track nicely). To top it off, a group of younger dudes dressed up in Secret Service outfits at the pre-tour behest of JBot (this season's C!BR tour was a recap of the last seven years of the GWB Administration, complete with JBot dressed as Dubya, GTRBOT dressed as Cheney, and DRMBOT making a creepy, creepy Condi Rice), who were recently 21 and had never seen or heard of us before, loved us, and are likely coming to the Borg Ward show on Nov. 2nd. If we played well enough to actually convert new fans, we must have done all right.

So there you go. Obviously, no one is happy playing a sloppy set, and it gives us stuff to work on, but they happen. It's taken me a few years to learn this, but if we snooty indie-rock noise "arteests" can remember that we're also entertainers, and that the audience left entertained...well then. Mission Accomplished.

And speaking of "Mission Accomplished," the Captured! By Robots "Dubya" tour is a riot. Not my favorite C!BR gimmick tour ever, but GTRBOT constantly screaming "I'M GONNA SHOOT YOU IN THE FUCKIN' FAAAAAACE!" is awesome, and the cover of "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who is fucking unstoppable. Go see 'em when they come through.
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
3:15 pm
09.15.07: !OUCHO! Fest, The Mutiny, Chicago

For the last nine years, Joe Sepi and his band (appropriately enough entitled *joesepi*) have hosted !OUCHO! Fest at our favorite dive bar in Chicago, The Mutiny. The gist of the whole deal is this: lots of bands, free admission, and free grillin'. Apparently the owner of the Mutiny makes an annual trek into Wisconsin to buy a shit-ton of sausage, and the Mutiny faithful reap the benefits. This year, we were fortunate to be one of the bands invited.

We made our way down to Chicago with a van filled with nothing more than guitars, pedals, the synth, and some cymbals and hardware, as there are so many bands playing that for the sake of expediency, all bands use the same backline. We normally detest this practice, as playing through other people's gear seriously changes our sound most of the time, but in this case, the spirit of the proceedings (a bunch of folks just getting together to eat grilled meat and play rock and roll) was more important than us having "our sound" exactly the way we wanted it, so we were happy to have a light load to carry this time out. Also in the van was our pal Christopher McGarvey of Chicago's A Vast Amount of Scientific Data, as he lives in Milwaukee and needed a ride down.

The Mutiny is just the way we left it last time--a fucking hole in the wall, and we couldn't like it more this way. We each hooked ourselves up with their huge $6 mugs of Pabst (which are about the size of half a pitcher), and took in the tunes, notably great bands like the aforementioned AVAOSD, The Chrome Robes, Century Rocket Building, .22, and *joesepi*, all of which were completely outstanding and filled with rad dudes. Hot hot photos of them all can be found here.

One big plus that !OUCHO! has over your typical Mutiny gig is that the crew brings in actual sound guys and monitors. This didn't help us on stage very much, as all i could hear was Yale's guitar and a little bass, but still, it helped greatly for the audience, and for the bootlegs being recorded of our sets by the sound dudes. Listening back to the recording of our set, it's as i thought when we played--not our best night, by a long shot. Tones were weird thanks to the foreign gear, and many many things were out of tune during many many parts of the set. Still, troopers we are, we slammed through and made it entertaining, and at the end of the set, no one apparently had noticed that it was an off night, because we were the recipients of many handshakes and accolades. Hey, cool, i'll take it. These positive response was received despite my insistence on renaming nearly all of our songs as slams on Chicago sports teams. "This next song is called '200 Million Dollar Payroll and the Same Record as the Milwaukee Brewers.'" "This next song is called 'Rex Grossman is Wisconsin's Favorite Quarterback.'" Etc. People laughed more than scowled, apparently.

We took off for home around 1 or 1:30 AM after an evening of grilled meat, awesome rock (from everyone else), and lots of quality time with Chicago pals like Faiz (formerly of Danger Adventure, who was playing with *joesepi* that night), Zach of the ex-Hit Commission of Champaign, and many many others. We're looking forward to bringing A Vast Amount of Scientific Data up to Milwaukee on November 2nd, and looking forward even more to showing them a good time at the Church of Murray afterward. Bring it on, Chi-town!
Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
1:49 pm
O Hai.

At some point, i'm sure there will be recaps of our four shows this weekend with Oakland, CA's Replicator, our best friends in the rock 'n' roll world. Until then, i invite you to read Replicator guitarist (and sometimes HiFi guitarist--twice equals a trend, Neutron) Conan Neutron's tour journals on Superstarcastic.com.

Already posted are his takes on the Cincinnati and Detroit shows, with Chicago and Milwaukee coming shortly. Dig it.
Monday, August 27th, 2007
11:44 am
its 1982 all over again
I am totally going to do one of these...

So things start out bad... the Dr. informs me that the back hatch to the van is not working, since the side door dosent open either this is really not good news, we somehow figure out how to load everything but the bass cab, through the driver side door, over the middle seat and into the back, as if normal loading isn't sucky enough we have to do "extreme" loading...

We pull up to the venue (an old market of some sort) and unload basically having to do everything above only in reverse. E=MC Hammer play a great set, I normally hate slap Bass but they make it work...

we sit through a bunch of "hardcore" bands and then leave to get some subway, it should be noted that I do not understand playing hardcore in 2007 anymore than I understand playing in a cover band.

conversation at Subway...

Larger black female sitting at anougher table to me "are you a basketball team?"

Me "YES"

we got back to the venue in time for Cougar Den, who were great and reminded me of the late 90s Ohio scene (Armstrong secret 9, Hairrot the Spy) I really liked them...

a bunch more bands played, and then we were up...

The set started slow, I broke a string during the 1st song, and DR. really messed up Premeditated, after the set I learned he sprained his ankle very badly during this song. By mid set we had the crowd in the palm of our hand... people were dancing and rocking out...

after us Get Rad played... I do not get, GET RAD (see statement about playing hardcore in this day and age) people were doing spin kicks and picking up change, I find this funny to no end, but am scared to laugh as anyone of these hardcore kids could kick my butt...


I will now go listen to our track X-13D which will be on the WMSE Cook book comp. we recorded it this weekend and it features a really messed up drum machine/synth played by the Wizard...
Thursday, August 16th, 2007
4:34 pm
A Very Economical Recap of our Last Five Shows
Hey! Remember when i used to keep these show recaps updated on a regular basis? Me too.

June 9: MKE, Cactus Club. white, wrench, conservatory. CD release show w/Viva La Foxx and the Kents. Insane turnout, which confused me greatly. Possibly one of the best sets we've ever played. Top 5 for sure. Viva were amazing and Amy had some amazing camel toe happening (which she acknowledged on stage because she doesn't give a fuck). wwc were fucking solid as hell and had many guest stars. Afterparty was silliness. Giggled watching people hit on Amy with Reuben around. Reuben: "meh, whatever. I remember one time when we started dating and i was playing a show and some dude was hitting on her in the audience. I was getting pretty pissed and then i saw her deck the guy across the face. That's when i realized i have nothing to worry about, so now i just roll my eyes." Or something like that. This was over two months ago.

June 15: Manitowoc, WI. The Batcave. Us, wwc, The Kents, and Surf Ninjas. Oh, Manty. Good times. Everyone played well, we blew away Manty kids, someone got sweet photos of us, Norah and her boy were there, then wwc and we got a pair of cheap motel rooms in Two Rivers and drank with The Kents and their pals. Much love, Manty, as usual.

June 16: Steel Bridge Song Fest, Sturgeon Bay, WI. The Wizard covered the important shit in this Superstarcastic.com post. Jane Weidlin was outside in the beer garden when we played, so she didn't see us, but she owns a copy of Hot Nuggets! now, so, yeah.

August 7: The Vault, MKE, w/wwc and Terrior Bute. We apparently play all our shows with wwc now. Packed basement of 20-some people, free show, hot and muggy as hell, i gave myself a bangover the next day from all the thrashing i did behind the kit. Apparently some of the kids there had never seen us before, which is why we need to play these shows as much as possible.

August 8: Madison, The Annex, w/The Arkhoffs, Johnny Nobody, and The Dollyrots. 7 people paid, but they were cool people, so it was a fun show. Kyle from the Arkhoffs broke his snares, so he asked to borrow my snare drum and promptly broke the bottom head. How'dya even do that? Took the bottom head off his snare; problem fixed. Played well. Ate Taco Johns. Darwin Sampson = total dude.

COMING UP: Replitour! Cinci, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee! August 31 thru Sept. 3! Go to our website's tour dates page or to our MySpace for details! Holy cow!
Sunday, June 17th, 2007
8:04 pm
crossposted from my journal. neener.
After the show, I went outside to find the Madison contingent who didn't come in to watch us. I caught sight of pAt mAcdonAld, and went to go thank him for everything, having us up to play his shindig is always an honour. We talked for a while about the goings-on (me: "I would feel so weird if we were playing on the main stage." Pat: "Well, I do feel weird there, too!") and Pat mentioned that Jane Wiedlin had not heard us play "We Got the Beat," and that she was disappointed to have missed it. I said "Yeah, that's a shame. Shame, too, that I didn't actually manage to meet her..." At which point Pat said "Well, follow me," and took me over to introduce me.

I followed as told, and Pat said "Jane, this is the guy whose band does an awesome cover of your song...this is the Wizard." Jane said "Oh! The Wizard! Nice to meet you!" and I got all fanboy for a while. She explained that she'd gone to an ATM, and came back to find that she'd missed the song. "The five minutes I walk away!" So I went and got her the last copy we had of Hot Nuggets, and a copy of the w,w,c album to boot.

Jane then went inside to get another drink, while I stayed outside chatting with Pat. She met Dixie inside, and said "Oh, yeah, the Wizard gave me your CD!"

Jane Wiedlin doesn't know my name, and she didn't hear me sing a song she'd sung only hours earlier. But she knows I'm the Wizard.
Thursday, June 14th, 2007
10:07 am
HiFi "Minotaur Documentation" Tour '07, Day 4: 06.04.07 Bloomington: Party Crashers
Another Monday on the road, another Punk Rock Night at Uncle Fester's in Bloomington. PRN in Bloomington is one of the most golden of oases in the world of DIY punk rock touring: a guaranteed hot crowd on a Monday night, which is a dead zone in any other city. Playing shows on the road on a Monday usually result in the locals saying, "man, come back on a weekend and it'll be much better." Yes, because bands are able to magically route their tours so that they're only traveling on weekends and the rest of the time they're home in their beds. Someday transporter technology will render weeknight shows obsolete.

Anyway, enough rambling. Despite a sudden decision by the state of Indiana to adopt Daylight Saving Time, thus denying us the extra hour we thought we had to get to Bloomington from Lansing (seriously, Hoosiers, wtf? My world has shifted), we still arrived in town early enough to find the bar still closed. After consulting the flyer to note that there are only three bands on the bill (us, Sump Pumps, and a local called Landlord), we drove to Rob and Kyl3 Sump Pump's place to chill out. As we made conversation, we asked Rob about the other band on the bill; he knew nothing. He then brought up how our Milwaukee pals Terrior Bute contacted him to get on the bill, as they needed a show on their way home from Baltimore. Rob had referred them to Josh at Fester's (as had i), but had heard nothing since.

Then the phone rings, and Rob has a conversation with Josh. Suddenly we discover that 1) Terrior Bute have arrived, having never heard anything from Josh and hoping to hop onto the show, and 2) ON TOP OF THAT, Josh had allowed two other touring punk bands to hop on last minute before Bute even showed up. Suddenly we had gone from three bands to SIX on a Monday night show that normally starts at 11 and ends by 2 (the bar closes at 3). WTF.

We arrive at the club and starting giving Terrior Bute good-natured shit when we see them. Obviously this isn't entirely their fault; Josh never responded to their email, and they showed up understanding that if nothing else, they'd get to hang out at the show. Admittedly, we were a little annoyed at the prospect of smashing six bands together on a Monday night, but fuck it--that's sort of what punk rock, DIY touring is about. Plus, Terrior Bute are our pals and a great band, so of course we're gonna help 'em out if we can. No question. Arrangements are made to have all three of our bands (Bute, Pumps, and us) share our gear, and away we went.

Credit Josh at this point for running the show like a goddamn machine. He started the show a half hour early (10:30), and instructed the other two late-arriving punk bands to share gear and play 15 minutes each. And to their credit, the switchover was quick and painless and both bands were done by roughly 5 after 11. Suddenly we were back on schedule (especially considering Bute play for 20-25 minutes, tops). So credit the first two bands for being efficient (but don't credit the second band's singer for being a dick and throwing a bottle up into the second level area and almost hitting Kyl3. Douche move, Massengill).

After Landlord's solid Dinosaur Jr. cover, we set up our gear for Terrior Bute, and the boys do us proud, slamming through their keytar jams and easily winning the crowd over (as we knew they would--c'mon, a crowd that likes us and the Sump Pumps? No-brainer for Terrior Bute). We hit the stage and blasted through some new tunes for the Bloomington crowd (i think last time we came through we treated them to "Paulding Light" and some Hot Nuggets! songs, but i think everything else new we're playing was new to them as well), and the Sump Pumps just killed. Their new material is seriously incredible, as the CD-R Rob burned for us confirms. Just...wow.

The other amazing thing about Bloomington is that you can buy beer until 3 AM there. Thus, on the way back from Fester's, a last-minute run to Kroger's was executed before closing time so we had beers to consume at the house. We kicked back and had a few with Matt the BattleBot (Murder By Death's bass player, who lives with Rob and Kyl3) as we watched Lewis Black on HBO. Yup, real livin'.

And so, our first multi-day road trip with Rev.Ever ends without a single hitch. I think the dude can hang.
Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
9:20 pm
HiFi "Minotaur Documentation Tour 2007 Day Three: 06.03.07 Lansing: "Jesus led me to the basement!"
One important piece of information needs to be remembered during the recap of our time in Lansing this time out:

Tom and Jim from Red Swan built a still.

This is what sludgy doom balladeers in central Michigan do when they are not doing rock and roll--they distill their own hooch from whatever occurs to them on that given day. Upon our arrival, we were given some "Apple Jack" to sample--distilled 100-proof apple liquor. It was a little vinegary and a whole lot tasty, y'all (and as i am writing this, it's been over a week since i drank it and i can still see, so i think they know what they're doing). Tom at one point admitted to a desire to distill an entire Ceasar salad. I expect a full report when this happens.

When our bands arrived at Mac's there was an all-ages show wrapping up which featured the following bands (see if you can guess the prevailing genre of the musical acts at this show): Bloodlined Calligraphy, Dagon, Straight Line Stitch, Know Lyfe, and Among the Atrocities. If you're picturing a scenario where we're standing outside the club as inside we hear chugg-ch-chugg-a-chugg RRRRROOOOWWWWRRR wreee-nee-nee-nee-neener CHUGG, you're pretty much spot on. Once the show ended, i watched the kids haul their fancy road cases and fancy equipment out of the venue as i waited to load in my beat-to-shit duct-tape-covered drumset into the venue. I watched these kids, all decked out in their black jeans and black hair and black black black things, and i looked at my friends and myself--me with my salt-and-peppered hair; The Wizard and Tom with their male pattern baldness; Yale with his Sconni dude paunch, and i imagined these kids staring at us and being convinced that we were waiting to get on stage to play CCR and ZZ Top covers all night. And while that would be fun, that's not exactly what we had in mind for the club.

What we did have in mind was the usual hot rock, which was delivered despite a pretty nasty derailment during "Defenestrate Me" that wasn't able to get back on track because vocals really couldn't be heard on stage. There was some nasty bass feedback ringing through the monitor mix that kept us from really hearing each other, but we trudged through like troopers to positive feedback (heh) from the small but attentive audience. And Red Swan KILLED it. Duh. Those guys need to play out of town more often and share the awesome with the rest of the Midwest at least.

Let's pause for a moment to check in on our resident rookie and see how he's been handling his first major multi-day HiFi road trip. As i alluded in the previous entry, Chicago saw our Rev.Ever get loaded up on the whiskey and beers and pass out but good in the most contorted of ways on Zak Starcastic's floor. When we awoke on Monday morning after Sunday's Lansing show and subsequent Apple Jack consumption, i noticed a cut on the Rev's forehead.

"Um, dude? Where did that come from?"

"Uh, i don't know! Um...OH! I remember! Tom took me downstairs to the basement to show me where they keep their gear, and i bashed my head on the ceiling going down the stairs, i think."

Remembering that Tom went to bed before any of us, i looked over at Tom and asked, "um, Tom? Did you take him down to the basement last night?"

Tom looked at us quizzically. "No......"

It was eventually decided that Jesus himself must have come to the Rev in a vision that night and led him into the basement in order to, well, crack him on the head, i guess. Bad Jesus. Naughty Jesus. But maybe he was trying to tell Rev.Ever something? We'll never know, but we do know that the Rev was definitely in the basement at some point, because he accurately described it to Tom.

After a quick Mexican lunch and a stop at a music store for supplies (as we entered the store, someone asked us which one of us was the drummer, to which Ever motioned at me and answered, "this guy." Another rookie mistake! I had to then explain to him why no one in the band is ever allowed to identify me as "the drummer" in a strange music store ever again), we were off for Bloomington. Thanks again, Lansing.
8:46 pm
IfIHadAHiFi "Minotaur Documentation Tour 2007" Day Two: 06.02.07 Chicago: Superstarcastival!

"Hey Doc."

"Yeah Rev?"

"I noticed you put the recap for this show over on the Superstarcastic blog, where you are a regular contributor."

"Yes. Yes i did."

"What the fuck, man? You're neglecting the HiFi tour journals and pouring all your writing chops into something not directly related to the band? Where's your dedication to the music, man? Since when does some blog take precedence?"

"Dude, are you seriously questioning my dedication? You? New guy? Fine, i'll link the recap over to our journal too, and just for that, i'm gonna add how you got all tore up on whiskey and bierce, Karaoke'd on Demand to some R. Kelly jam, and passed out with your eyes half open."

"Dirty pool, Doc. Dirty pool."
Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
8:48 pm
IfIHadAHiFi "Minotaur Documentation Tour 2007" Day One--5.31.07 Madison: Vete Al Infierno
A few months ago, after this show was booked, we heard a story from our pal Slater, of white wrench conservatory and Two Room Honeymoon fame, about the Inferno, the goth bar we were playing on this night, this night of our first ever mini-tour with Rev. Ever. Basically, the point of the story was that upon visiting the bar, Slater and his pal made a solemn vow and wrote a contract on a napkin, which essentially said, "We, Slater and [Slater's friend], being of sound mind and body, do solemnly swear to never again make fun of Club Anything." (Club Anything, aka Club ? aka Club Interrobang, aka Club Huh, aka Club Riddler, etc. is the local Milwaukee goth bar, which, well, is sort of a running joke in these parts for myriad reasons, including it being A GOTH BAR.) So we were prepared for GOTHIC MADNESS as we pulled up to the club.

Unfortunately, no such luck. Apparently they all know that on one Thursday night per month, our buddy Jake Crustacean books bands he digs and plays music he likes, so they run for the hills. So with the exception of a couple girls in back of the bar who inexplicably kept yelling at the bands to play quieter and turn it down, most of the 30-40 people in attendance were indie rockers and bands filled with indie rockers. Amongst the pluses: my little brother Kris, aka Skippy Awkward (yes, it's not a palindrome. Inside joke); old pal, ex-echo-static drummer and fill-in Brainerd drummer Chad Ovshak; and other old pal Eric Amble, who wanted to evaluate the new guy. Solid folk, all.

Openers Road Agent Spin played a competent set of catchy power-pop, the highlight of which was a rippin' cover of Thin Lizzy's "Cowboy Song." Brainerd headlined and totally fucking tore the roof off the sucker with loud as fuck Unsane-meets-Killdozer nastiness. And our set? Went over great, but it was "eh," i thought. Well, no, not "eh"--better than that, but we had some issues, notably Yale needing to borrow one of the Rev's guitars at the last monute as he hadn't realized that he messed up both his guitar's jacks in Minneapolis last weekend. So his guitar tone was a little weird, which threw me off. No biggie, really, and we still played well. Even if the ladies in the back thought we were too loud and one of the friends that Kris brought with him wasn't feeling it. Heh.

Instead of taking cash from the door as payment, we took what we made ($31!) and invested in a couple copies of Hot Nuggets! for the tour, via Jake. A pretty smart idea, as those six copies will gross over $60 by the time we get them sold.

Friday June 1st was a "day off" on the mini-tour (ha!) as we had been expecting the Superstarcastival to take place on this day instead of Saturday. Once that got shifted around, we really had no options for Friday night except for playing a quickie in Milwaukee, and frankly, we're playing too much in the town this summer as it is. So we rested up on Friday and awaited departure for Chicago Saturday.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2007
1:47 pm
5.27.07 Triple Rock, Minneapolis: Gas is 30 cents cheaper in Minnesota.
Current gallon of regular unleaded in Wisconsin: $3.46. Current gallon of regular unleaded in Minnesota: $3.17.

Dammit. First the Twins take two of three from the Brewers, now this. When are we constructing those toll booths at the borders?

Twin Cities, po' boys, drink tickets, vomit and ROCKCollapse )
Monday, May 14th, 2007
12:12 am
5.11.07: The Day The New Science Died
Seriously now, why don't more people ask us to play basement shows in town? I can't believe how fun this was. Just about everything you could want to go well went perfectly right at this show.

-The show was announced with a 6 PM start time in an attempt to get people to the show in enough time to get it done by 10, as is required at The Breakfast Nook.

-The show actually started at 6:40, as there were enough people at the house by then. The Jack Moves hilariously began their set without Dan on bass, as he was waiting around with a bunch of us upstairs. (It's my fault; i told him it could probably start at 6:45, and he was determined to hold me to that. Unfortunately the band was eager to start and decided to outvote him. He joined in during the last chorus of their first song.)

-There were potential problems with both the Sump Pumps and Louis Tully that were narrowly averted and became No Big Deal. In the case of Louis Tully, one of the guys couldn't get out of work and was stuck at his job until 9 PM. Not a huge deal; we just bumped them to last in the lineup, putting us third out of four bands instead. He managed to get there on time and they got a full set in before 10. And were great, no matter what the band tells you about their slightly sloppy performance.

In the case of the Sump Pumps, i called Rob at about quarter to six to see where they were. His answer? Stuck in Chicago area traffic. Crap. OK, so we bumped ourselves up to second in the lineup, hoping they'd show up by the time we finished playing. As it turns out, they arrived in time and seriously threw down with a set that included their smoldering covers of the Mega Man 7 theme, "Gates of Steel" by DEVO, and "Dare," the Stan Bush classic from the animated Transformers: The Movie from 1986. Goddamn i love that song.

And our set? Sloppy basement show good. My vocal mic didn't have enough cord to make it all the way to my left, where it normally resides, so i had to sing to my right, which is always weird and throws me off. Thus, all my efforts to practice singing "Science Depends on Us" by turning my head to the left in practice were for naught, and i still fucked up the choruses. Guh. But the rest of the six-song set was solid. We played "Defenstrate Me," "That's Almost Premeditated!," "Paradise By the Paulding Light" (which got a number of cheers when i explained what it was about), "We Got the Beat," and we closed with "Doubting Thomas Telescope," noising out at the end instead of fading out as usual. Yay! Short and sweet and solid and people dug the hell out of it.

But wait! We weren't done. It was only quarter to eight, a solid hour fifteen before Mark from Louis Tully would even get off work! "You guys should play more or there'll be a huge gap," said Corey. OK, fine. A rare encore! Sort of! We played "Black Holes Resonate (In B-Flat), Baby," and folks ate it up. We then satisfied some audience demand by playing "(This is) The New Science." Then, we played "(This is) The New Science" again. Then, we closed by switching instruments and playing "(This is) The New Science" a third time, and badly. (Corey eventually replaced the Wizard on drums, his drumming was so awful. I'm not one to talk, though, because my guitar playing was more like pawing at the guitar and making random pointless sounds.)

This met our intended goal of the night, as Danny K from the (now sadly defunct) Modern Machines walked past me and said, "now you never have to play that song again." THAT'S FUCKING RIGHT. I mean, let's not kid ourselves; we'll get stuck playing it in the future, i'm sure, but not for a long-ass time now. Our new songs are better anyway, fools.

46 people paid $3 each to come to this basement show. All that money went to the Sump Pumps, which is completely awesome. Forty-six people in a basement? For our four bands? Crazy! We even managed to make some new fans during the night, as a couple people had never seen us before. So perfect.

Seriously, Milwaukee, invite us into your basements more often, please.
Monday, April 30th, 2007
9:01 am
4.28.07 Cactus Club: The Old School and the New
So, it's two days later and my neck is STILL dying from the neck-whipping i was doing behind the kit on Saturday night. Apparently, spending as much time away from live performance as we did between December and April caused me to forget that headbanging can result in whiplash-like symptoms. Go, um, me?

Anyway. For some reason i was abnormally nervous going into this show. We were playing tons of new songs in front of an assuredly large crowd (as The Dials pack 'em in), with Rev.Ever on stage with us for the first time ("But what about The Pub show?" you ask. Well, that was his first show, yes, but there was no stage!), and to make matters worse, we finished the "Science Depends on Us" vocals on Thursday and planned to debut the song two nights later. Brilliant. So, butterflies.

As i figured, two songs into the set i was perfectly comfortable, as we kicked off with "Paulding Light" and "Ratings Spike," which we've been playing out for almost a year each. So we were solidly in the pocket for the first 80% of the set. "Black Holes?" money. "Get Killed?" Ripped it (and this song, i'm pretty sure, is when i gave myself pseudo-whiplash). "1000 Holes?" Better than expected, as Yale was fretting over the lyrics beforehand (playing the song in soundcheck was tre' helpful). "99 Probalos?" Nailed it.

Then the last two songs? Not so much. "Science Depends on Us" suffered from a lot of things, including massive lyrical failures all around and my sudden inability to properly play the signature drumbeat of the song while also singing backups. Similar lyrical failures, as well as apparent crossed wires concerning whether we were treating the vocals as a group thing or not, also befell our Mclusky cover "To Hell With Good Intentions." So perhaps we'll get those two down a little better in practice before pulling them out live again...which is ok, because i think we're going to start re-sprinkling older songs into the mix again here and there.

Still, most people who talked to us afterward said that the entire set sounded great, so the evening was another lesson in "as bad as you think you did, the audience will never know as well as you, so pretend you aced it." Keith and Janet in particular, who have seen us a million times and only managed to show up for the last two songs, said they sounded rad as hell, so i'll take it! Lots of positive feedback on the Stressed Desserts visuals tonight as well. Dan Kelly performed strongly once again, apparently.

Three additional attendees made the show feel like a true retro old school HiFi experience, and their contributions are duly noted and appreciated:

1) Ben Turk, who decided to bust out the surveys once again, in grand old-tyme S-Martkino tradition (yay Ben! Yay surveys!)

2) Joe Lemur, who had flown into Chicago from Columbus for Friday night's Shellac show at Subterranean and then took the train up to Milwaukee (you don't get more old school than an out-of-town P-kids lister who saw us in the Pop Machine days)

3) Also from P-Kids list: Kip! Frickin Kip! Turns out he's a good pal of Chad, the Dials' solid-assed drummer, and made the trip up from Chicago for the show when he saw that we were on the bill as well. He had tons of good things to say about our set, including something about our new songs sounding "more Midwest pop" and less "aggressive." I had to assure him over and over that we were working out the performance kinks of the new songs, and that's why they didn't seem as aggressive. Don't worry, Kip, once we know them in our sleep we'll be delivering them with the requisite piss and vinegar and cock-punches.

Now, i shall endeavour to spend my work day keeping my head in a desk-related position that causes the least amount of neck strain. Eurgh.
Thursday, April 5th, 2007
4:43 pm
04.04.07, The Pub, Milwaukee: 3.0!
I called in sick to work today because i am old and a pussy. OK, no, not really--had last night's "in bed at 3 AM and up by 8 for work" scenario been an isolated incident and not strung together with multiple nights out in the last week, not to mention Opening Day, i would have been fine this morning. However, my body responded to my alarm this morning with a solid "FUCK YOU" and forced my hand. One phone call later, and i was explaining how my stomach began to rebel against me yesterday and hadn't stopped.

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.
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