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Saturday June 19, 2004 - The Roadhouse - Athens, GA
This one felt pretty good. I think it was the first time that we felt natural for most of the show. If you look down at my star ratings, you'll see that I gave nothing below a three. That's a first and I'm proud to point it out. Also, this is the end of my early experiment in seeing if we could pull this band thing off. We succeeded. Now, in my mind, I can go out and started booking us with confidence knowing what we can do and that we'll only get better at it. That's a great feeling. This is the first time I've been "allowed" to follow my plan that I wanted to try with the last few projects. All in all, I cannot complain. We did an out of town open rehearsal first, had our first show on a Saturday night at Tasty World, our second at the Georgia Theatre and our "very third show" at AthFest. We've already played with jam bands, country bands, alternative bands and rock bands. We've held our own at each one. Now we're going to spread out and make the shows looser and more off the cuff. It'll be fun and unpredictable for all of us. I can't wait.
Tonight, we had planned on opening with "If You Want To Go" but Tom's voice couldn't hack it so we excised it at the last minute for what has become our opener at all of the official shows so far, "Until The Road Ends." I would've rather tried the other for fun's sake but we did play "Road" better than ever. It's funny. Both of those songs were meant to be closing benedictions but they work surprisingly well as kickoffs, too. To me, that's an example of our method of turning things on their proverbial head and making them seem right side up. We're just lucky it works. Then it was straight for "Into My View." It's still getting tighter and I'm getting more and more comfortable with a fairly tricky song! I was quite surprised at the rousing applause at the end of the first two. This was definitely the most people we've played for. The positive response (as it should) only gave me more confidence. I'm already starting to see returning customers and it was even more of a boost to have several photographers shooting us at once (another side benefit of AthFest I guess). It made us look and feel more important than we are. While the next two songs didn't do as well, they were still fine. There just wasn't as much fire. "Goodbye Tuesday" and "Haven't Got A Clue" were played close to flawlessly but neither of them (esp. "Tuesday") pack the wallop of some of our songs. With three shows under our belt, I can now say that I've seen people singing along with our material at 2 of the 3. Not bad considering these are people that aren't connected with the band! Again, another great sign in my book.
For the next section, we decided to wing it a bit. We pulled out "I Won't Stand Still" for the very first time and found that it rocks pretty hard electrified. It's also a great song to segue into "Phony," which felt extra aggressive tonight. We hit it harder, we swaggered through it and during the last bit of riffage I decided to go exploring. Instead of just looping the riff, I began trying to soar upwards. I kicked the delay on and bent the bejeezus out of some notes. I made a lot of noise, found a few sweet spots to trill and went all the way to the top before crashing it back down. It was the kind of thing I've never had the confidence to try before. I've NEVER done a solo not knowing exactly what I was going to do. It freaked out a couple of people in the audience and surprised our regulars that we went that far sideways. As I went outside the lines, Tom accented behind me. Frank stayed rooted musically but even he was moved to, well...move! That song is now the centerpiece of our show and I can't wait to hear it develop more. I will admit that after the excitement of "Phony," "Colors In Black & White" and "Worms On The Pavement" didn't quite seems as rocking as they used to seem. It's not that they've gotten any worse, it's just that the other parts have gotten so much better! Perhaps "Worms" needs a little playing with, too!
After "Worms," we debuted another old chestnut from the catalog. I introduced it by saying, "It's that time of year. Somewhere a couple just got married, someone is visiting their first music festival and someone's celebrating their first Father's Day without their Dad. This is for all of them. It's called "Scared Of Myself." It was odd. Maybe I mumbled. Maybe the mic wasn't loud enough but no one seemed to notice that last part. Either way, I wanted to do it tonight for the first time. My Dad always liked that song and it was (unbeknownst to him) partially written about the death of his Dad. It was only appropriate and I'm not ashamed to say that I think we knocked it out of the park on the first try. As always (in Q-Sign, I called it "Old Faithful"), the song went over great. After a still improving "Towel Cape Song" (again, great response) we moved in for the closing ceremonies. "Taking Its Toll" was great until Tom lost a stick during the most dramatic moment of the solo (Oh well - par for the course and funny in and of itself). We flip-flopped the last 2 to great effect. "Creepy Jackalope Eye" rocked suitably but "Give Up Town" was enough to raise blisters. We sailed through it with power and melody and I'm getting closer and closer to being able to cut loose again. Soon enough...soon enough. I can feel the other guys edging out there, too.
Completely biased star reviews of each song performed.
1. Until The Road Ends ***
2. Into My View***
3. Goodbye Tuesday***
4. Haven't Got A Clue***
5. I Won't Stand Still (N)****
7. Colors In Black & White***
8. Worms On The Pavement***
9. Scared Of Myself (N) ****
10. TheTowel Cape Song****
11. Taking Its Toll***
12. Creepy Jackalope Eye****
13. Give Up Town****
After the show, I hung out as usual. Andy Ainsworth (perhaps the easiest going and nicest guy I've ever worked with) from Q-Sign and Star Zero was there. He did about a 150 mile round trip to see us. It won't be forgotten. It was great and eye opening to be able to grill him afterwards about this thing compared to the last few. The couple of suggestions he made for improvement were dead on and will be incorporated. I think he enjoyed it and had a good time hearing those songs live without him being the one playing on 'em. I think he was surprised at how many songs we did that were born when he was part of it all. It was cool to be able to play my variations on his solos and the ones we created together for him. I think I pulled 'em off okay. He also seemed to dig the freakout at the end of "Phony." Matt Thompson (yet another writer - except a real one) from the headlining band Twain compared us to Graham Parker (cool!) while his bandmate / front man Eric Gregory said "I really enjoyed it but I also hate you 'cause now I gotta try and follow it". A girl who's known Tom for a while asked me how I got Tom to loosen up so much. She said, "He let his hair down and was swinging all around. How did you get him to be so sexy?" I think I stared at her quizically for a little too long. As much as I'd like to take some credit, Tom's responsible for his own sexiness, thank you very much. I have nothing to do with it! Tim Adams from the critically acclaimed Dodd Ferrelle & The Tin Foil Stars was even in the crowd. He said that he loved it and that Athens needs a band like us. Since he's in a similar situation, I asked him what he thought about the band name with my name at the front. He said "Go for the recognition. I knew your name already. If it works, use it." Ah, good to know. I'm still sensitive about that and it soothes my mind a bit coming from a guy who's in a band with someone else's name at the front!
The prize for the one who came the furthest from home goes to Adrian Garvey. He came from Ireland to find himself at The Roadhouse for our show. He and I have stayed in touch by email since I met him last year at the closing show of the R.E.M. tour. Afterwards, he compared me to "a young Peter buck all the way down to the shirt." When I asked him what he thought about the songs and performance, his smiling response was just what I wanted to hear, "It's fucking brilliant, man. It's shit hot." I'll take it!
Thanks so much to Twain, Matt, AthFest, The Roadhouse and Doug (for running sound). Thanks even more to "those who like it with extra cheese."
Photos by Amanda Stahl and (what?) Chris McKay.