Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A baker's dozen

That's what our attendance was at our show last Friday at Outlaws.

Promotion had been fairly heavy for this club that we had yet to play. Normally a combination of country-western, boot-scootin' goodness and sad strip club with ridiculous (for Oregon, ruled as it is by the utterly fascistic OLCC) drink specials they've started doing "Tribute Band Fridays." Our friends from The Romanes and We Got the Meat played the Friday previous but we've no idea if they fared any better than us.

Large print and even, for a first for us, radio spots called out to the locals for attendance. Given when these ads ran I'd have to say the club paid a pretty penny or two on advertising. And yet, with all that as well as our enormous sexual appeal we had maybe 12 people in the audience, in addition to our co-conspirators for the night, Blondage. We even delayed starting to see if others would appear.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think this was the club's fault at all. They seriously promoted this show and were excellent to us all night long, even refusing to take their cut of the door. I think the real issue is with locals and their respective "spheres of comfort." The local rags didn't mention the show at all, as they so often do for so, so many local bands - they're too busy getting off with the likes of The Decemberists or Eliot Smith or freakin' Storm or some band that all the other publications are already freakin' covering. If you're a local, free newspaper, keeping your target demo abreast of what's going on, what's "hip & relevant" and such, wouldn't you think trying to find good, local musical talent would take priority over fellating bands that get tons of coverage anyway?

Add to that the fact that the hipster community seems resolute to not stray from the 3-block radius of downtown PDX and the clubs it offers and, well, it becomes true that the prophet is only without honor in his hometown, ya' know? It's not like we are a huge talent or think more highly of ourselves, either - we've just seen this time and again where bands that are supremely talented (e.g. The Odditors) and obscenely popular outside of the city (e.g. 800 Octane) get ZERO press and ZERO interest due to this combination of haughty ignorance and petty arrogance. It's just highly disheartening for a band like us - who just enjoy having a good time and like to have everyone at our shows do the same - to play underattended shows in our own backyard when, earlier in the year, we played to enthusiastic, overwhelming, packed crowds on the other side of the damn country.

Okay, now, stepping off the soapbox (for now), our set wasn't too shabby, I think. Although the other band members thought we sounded off I thought we were fairly tight. Plus, thanks to the Tower of Babel of drum risers, Baloney, Foil, and I had plenty of stage space to get our freak on. Dr C.H.O.A.D., high from his lofty perch, had zero mix to work off of, though, but, to his credit, soldiered on and kept the beats going. We still had fun and I kept the chatter rolling in between gasping for air and in between each song. It was a good place for a show that should be a packed room but maybe next time, ya' know?

This Friday, we return to Eugene and John Henry's to headline a sorta-Halloween show. We've been very well received each time we've played there thus far so let the pizza-slingin' goodness (at a place where they don't even sell the stuff) begin!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Are we the kiss of death?

I'm beginning to wonder...

First, we had our good friends Stay Tuned lose their drummer a little while back. Not an easy replacement under the best of circumstances but, for them, you gotta be an outstanding technical drummer and be able to do vocals AND be able to gush with enthusiasm at the unadulterated joy of ST's music.

Now, I see that Sex Pistols Experience are looking for a replacement Sid/Kid Vicious. Since we just played with them at the end of last month this comes a little too close to home, doesn't it?

We, of course, have no clue about these since everyone seemed happy enough when they played with us. Maybe they had no idea that our fatcore glee would spell the end?

Current mood is "creeped out."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stu-stu-studio Seven and a return to Seattle

(borrowed liberally from Foil's own blog...)

Friday night was the 'fats show at Studio Seven in lovely Seattle, WA.

We got up early to avoid the I-5 traffic (which was mostly successful) and checked into our motel which was about a half-mile or so from the gig. The gig was in industrial South Seattle (a bit south of the Safeco Field), so you can imagine that the neighborhood (and our motel) was pretty lively and colorful. The place seemed populated by johns, meth heads, and other petty criminal types, but they were all completely (h)armless.

We crashed out for a bit in our room then headed to the club about 6:00 and loaded in our gear. The club itself was really nice, in a divey kind of way. The building had seen much better days, but it was big, had a nice stage, a decent bar, a great sound system, and one of the larger backstage/green room areas we've ever encountered.

The two bands we didn't know, Shadowcard and Dissonance, were nowhere to be seen yet. However, out behind the club we noticed Mike's bass player JV, his guitar player Jason watching Mike and his drummer (and our old pal from our Hoboken show) Quincy on the ground rummaging around beneath their motorhome. We all said our hellos, and were asked by the guys if we had any new merch designs. We told them that we had a new print of the "chubby skull" Ts and they were quite stoked. JV even said, "Dude, I'll wear your entire line of clothing!"

Apparently, between SF and Portland, the tread came off a front tire, rupturing the septic tank (and spilling shit and piss all over the highway) as well as putting a small hole in the gas tank - not big enough to make travelling impossible, but enough to severly cramp their MPG as well as make them start seriously worrying about the whole thing going up in flames.

Mmmm...touring is fun.

Turnout was actually pretty decent - much better than the last couple of shows we've played with Mike and the guys - course, those were in Portland on a weeknight and very poorly promoted. That latter fact seems a bit endemic to PDX, our hometown - the perception is that the right people will just find out about the "good" shows by word-of-mouth or some such garbage. Not being quite the darlings of the hipster community some of the clubs in this town (and some of the weekly local rags) pander to, a great deal of enjoyable shows get underattended due to this arrogant ignorance. We respond well to crowds, like any band, but like to bring whatever we can to a show, blaming ourselves above all else if things go South; but especially for touring acts where this is all they do and then they get under-promoted because of they're not "cool enough" is just plain disgusting. (Removing the soapbox under me now in order to continue...)

We were lounged a bit then went on second, prolly around 9:15pm or so. Baloney and Foil, by their own admission, were woefully out of tune the entire set - but that's gonna happen. It happened all the time for the real Misfits as well. My frontman antics were on fire, though, and we won the crowd over after a few songs (and granted, going from an emo-prog opener to comedy-punk is bound to confuse an audience or two). I think once the shock wore off at this all-ages gig we were welcomed warmly. We even had a trio of guys drive up from freakin' Yelm(!) for the show. It was our now-favored "short 'n sweet" set, giving out a baker's dozen of songs in about :35 minutes. It seems to leave the best impression and my voice can hold stronger for that amount of time, it would appear. The folks working at Studio Seven were very appreciative, too, the board guy telling us afterward emphatically "When you come back here..." That always makes us feel good, too.

We were amply armed with a number of drink tickets which were used to quaff our thirst via Sparks and Red Stripe. Foil and I rapped with Quincy for awhile during this band's set. Quincy came out to see us when we played Hoboken (and bought a XXXL sized shirt). The dude is pretty hilarious, to boot. His tour stories and stories of Jersey had me rolling. He's an old friend of Michale's (they had a band together before Mike joined The Misfits), and after Michale fired his old drummer Quincy came on board. Good choice. Off stage, the dude is funny as hell, and on stage he brings a sense of humor and theatrics that really helps the set. His luchadore mask gets mad style points, too. He even said, "That's it - I'm moving to Portland and becoming your drummer!"

Speaking of the Graves' set - it was insanely good. This was, by far, the best set we've seen Graves and the guys play. First off, the setlist was spectacular. Over the last couple of years, Graves has been more and more vocal about his opinion of what his role in The Misfits legacy was and how he feels about the direction Jerry Only has taken the band. The first time we played with him, he did mostly originals and a small encore set of Misfits material from the "American Psycho" and "Famous Monsters" albums. The last time we played with him, it was about a 75%/25% split between Graves and Misfits material. This weekend, it was pretty much 50/50 including at least one song from the Danzig era. Further, his merch is embracing that period of his life. He was selling some old T-shirts from his 2000 tour fronting the Misfits, as well as his own "skeleton" T-shirt with "Michale Graves" also printed across it. I saw this as pretty much a direct "F You" to Only, since The Misfits sell the same shirt, only with "The Misfits" printed across it. And Michale also wore the same skullface makeup that he did in his stint with The Misfits (albeit covering only half his face this time).

And good for him. While we personally have no problems with Jerry Only's decisions (you just can't get mad at a guy for trying to make a living doing the only thing he knows how - if you don't wanna hear "Project 1950" then just won't buy it), we also completely understand why Graves would say something like "You know what? Screw you. I fronted this band for half a decade - about the same period of time as Danzig did. I wrote at least half of the material we released during that period. All of the best known songs from that era were ones I wrote. I also own a piece of this legacy. It's just as much mine as it is yours." Word.

The setlist echoed this newly-formed attitude, too: Some good old-school Misfits songs ("Halloween"), some Graves era Misfits songs ("Scream", "Hunting Humans", "Dig Up Her Bones" - a song that I still insist stands up with the best of the Danzig era stuff), a strong showing from the criminally underrated "Web of Dharma" album ("Casket", "1,000,000 Light Years From Her"), as well as some from the latest ("Punk Rock is Dead", "Beware"). Michale also wisely sidestepped the Gotham Road era. We even got some of the songs off of the impending new album, due out at the end of October.

The first couple of songs had a would-be heckler standing directly behind Foil and I yelling stupid hipster-ironic shit like "George Bush!" and "Bombs are cool!" between songs, showing that Seattle hipsters are not exactly good on keeping up on current events (Graves "conservative punk" past is largely that - a thing of the past. This tour, as evidenced by the "Free the West Memphis Three" shirt he wore on stage, as well as the books and pamphlets on his merch table concerning the case, is about raising awareness of the case as Damien Echols approaches his final appeal. The West Memphis Three case is hardly a conservative cause). The fact that he wasn't yelling it loud enough for the band to hear made it a futile gesture, anyway. However, after the third song in a row that he did it Foil leaned over to me and said "I'm gonna punch this guy in the face. You got my back?" I responded with, "No need - I'm waiting for him to go to the bathroom, then I'll slam his head into the wall." By that point, though the dude and his buddy were leaving the hall. Would I have really punched him? Yeah, I think I would have. And why, in God's name, would you spend $10 to see a guy you hate? Graves still got your money, dickwad. Zing!

That kinda crap annoys Foil and I to no end. The vast majority of the "Graves sucks!" crowd has never heard his solo stuff, has only a passing familiarity with his Misfits stuff, and really just knows that he penned a couple editorials for Conservative Punk and appeared on the Daily Show - three fucking years ago. I can guarantee they've never actually met the dude.

Anyway, after the show we had another beer or so and rapped with Michale and the guys for a bit. They told us that at just about every stop, someone asks them if they've heard of The Misfats. That's flattering as hell. Quincy said that we should be the poster boys of how MySpace can help promote your band (we've been getting approximately 30 to 75 friend requests per day for the last few weeks - it's been insane). Talks of another New Jersey show are underway (how soon that'll happen is anybody's guess, though - it's certainly not gonna happen this year), and Michale said to us "Anything I can do for you guys - you lemme know."

Anyway, we could care less if it's not cool or fashionable to like this guy's music. Seriously - couldn't give a shit. Last night, he fucking nailed it. More importantly, the guy has been cool as hell to us for going on three years now. That's enough for us.

Anyway, we returned to our motel room (cheap beer and hostess snacks in tow) and were advised by our meth head neighbor that "me and the old lady tend to make a lot of noise sometimes - just tellin' ya". Later on that evening, Foil witnessed a huge white cadillac driven by a sharply dressed African American gentleman drop off an extremely scantily clad woman to two men waiting in the parking lot. At that point, he figured he oughtta just go to bed and pray that nobody breaks into his car.

Nobody did.