Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gonna Make Ya Sweat

Ben Franklin
So we got to the Iron Monkey's Automata Chino a bit early last night, me and Eddie. Ben Franklin was playing the last slot of the evening. And if you had told us while we were shivering on the roof deck eating our fish and chips that we'd be dying of the heat later on that night, we'd have laughed at you.

But the air conditioner broke (along with the house bass head) before anybody really even got started, so it was some sweaty madness as the night went on. 

So, before anything got started, Sweat Level: 2 (out of a possible 10)

First up was Frozen Gentlemen, who I'd asked to join Ben Franklin on the bill. These guys get better and better every time I see them. Real pros on stage, they gave an incredibly animated performance despite the fact that all four of them plus keyboards were crammed up on that small riser. These guys are just bad ass disco rock, straight up. At first you couldn't quite hear the vocals so everybody turned it down a tweak and it was all aces from there. Frozen Geez are infectious.

Sweat Level: 4

Next up was Caterwaul from Kingston, NY. These are the kinda guys who drag half stacks on stage in a tiny club and punch each other in the face between songs. Quite a riot, even if they seemed like they felt a bit out of their element. They were playing, IMHO, way too loud for the space, which to be fair is not hard to do. So I stuck some plugs in my ear and went up front. Most people didn't do this. It was a rough set for them. They didn't play badly, but the guitars were drowning out the drummer, and the vocals were really difficult to hear at all.

Sweat Level: 6

More and more people were filtering in at this point, and by the time Caterwaul got off the stage you couldn't move around freely anymore. Kilsy seems to have a really loyal, fun following that showed up en masse to support and shake their shit. I have to say, they really won me over, too. I didn't much care for the recordings on their MySpace, but maybe it's just the recordings - I loved the very same songs live, it was just a great performance, great music. The band was very much in control of their sound, a kind of new-wavey post punk dance rock, bass with chorus on it, keyboards, texture guitars, pretty hot drums.

By the time Kilsy was done doing her thing, it was Sweat Level: 10. Place was packed and hot. Sweat Level went up to 11 as we were setting up on stage. 

This was one of those evenings where your equipment seems determined to thwart you. I lost guitar in the middle of the first song, and had to just sing, dance, and clap and point my way through it until the end, whereupon we found out that the stage power strip somehow got turned off.

There was a monitor in front of me, but it was unplugged. All I could personally hear was guitar louder than everything (which it wasn't, but I was just standing next to it), and I couldn't hear myself singing at all. This resulted in me belting as hard as I could to be heard, so much so that by the end of our set I was literally suffering-out-of-breath, and dying from the heat! Like Eddie says, "everything's fine as long as you don't puke!" But it's really hard to keep smiling, staying in the music, and entertaining the people when your gear is shorting out sitting in beer and you're dying of overheating and not breathing!

Still, we persevered! There was a really supportive group of folks from JC who came out or who stuck around after Kilsy, and those smiling faces really keep you going. We pretty much nailed everything we played and by all accounts it was an excellent show! Especially for only our second proper gig, the three of us together.

So take off all your clothes

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