Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Two Sets at Norcal Noisefest this weekend!

I will participate in this year's Norcal Noisefest!
First, Earspray will play on Saturday, 10/3, and secondly Infinite Plastic Internal will play on Sunday, 10/4.
Both shows will occur at:

Cafe Colonial
3520 Stockton Blvd.
Sacramento, 95820

Earspray plays at 3PM on Saturday, Infinite Plastic Internal plays at 4PM on Sunday.
Noise for the people!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Surplus 1980 West Coast Tour 2015 Part 2

Surplus 1980-Starlite Lounge, Sacramento, CA; 9/9/15
After a day off and a quick drive from the SF Bay Area up to Sacramento, we found ourselves in the tremendous heat of California's capital city. I mean, it was hot! Hot show, too. We managed to have a nice sized audience, and the set seemed to have really gelled; perhaps a day off from playing was a good thing. I can only recollect only a few small biffs on my part, and the energy levels were satisfactory. Nightingales were ripping. Oh, and did I mention Gentleman Surfer? DO go and see them if they play in your town. John Bafus is an incredible drummer. Holy smokes, that man can play. The end of evening drive back to the hotel seemed really giddy. Fun, fun, fun!

Below: Starlite Lounge's very cool signage and Moe! contemplating Sacramento
Above: Mel in blue

Surplus 1980-Old Nick's Pub, Eugene, OR; 9/10/15
It's definitely a bit of a schlep from Sacramento to Eugene. Some weird energy kind of overtook me on that drive: by the time the show was to start, I was nervous as hell, walking around the gritty college town, practically crapping my pants. Odd. More high energy playing from Surplus, although we were for the most part ignored. There were people at the bar, but they tended to stay outside and smoke cigarettes. Those that did watch us play danced a lot, which was kind of cool. Also cool was the management's treatment of us, which included a really fine bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon backstage. I had a fun time imbibing most of that sucker, post set. It was also fun to contemplate the set lists from recent MDC and Raw Power shows at this fine venue. Nice people, more heat, more Rock.

Below: Moe! and Bill Wolter tune up

Surplus 1980-Lo Fi Lounge, Seattle, WA; 9/11/15
This show may have been the weirdest one of the tour, vibes-wise. After a long drive up to Seattle, during which we got lost between Tacoma and our motel, we arrived at Lo Fi and set up our gear. I guess that Moe! had asked the club owner if Surplus and Nightingales could play first on a four band bill. We were duly informed that we'd play third and fourth, respectively, so we figured Nightingales could take the coveted third spot. This had Surplus playing at about 1 AM, and after a pile driver of a set from Nightingales. I suspect that everyone in the band realized that after that ass kicking set, we'd have to overcome our fatigue and really push extra hard, or look a bit sad, and that's what we all did. During an extended version of Failure of Commitment, I swear that I felt the bandstand rising!  I just recall everyone adding a bit of extra exertion in their playing, and feeling that we were trying to blow the walls off of Lo Fi's old, Western saloon-feeling room. After our set, members of Nightingales and Surplus 1980 shouted out MC5, Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, and other tunes at the tops of our shredded lungs. Dorky? Yes. Fun?  You betcha.

Below: Lo Fi Lounge window, a battered snare drum and set list

Surplus 1980-Panic Room, Portland, OR; 9/12/15
To end Surplus 1980's West Coast tour, our somewhat fatigued troupe, having gotten about four hours' sleep after the long night in Seattle, headed down the road to Portland, with considerably less trouble. Naturally, we stopped at some key spots, I guess a bit tourist-ey: Bagdad Theater, Powell's, etc. What a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Rose City. As for the set, it started off rather shaky, with Bill's guitar basically shutting off during traditional set opener Pigeon Obstacle Course. Thankfully, he was able to fix the problems while Moe! and I double drum dueled, and after a bit, we found some nice spaces. I recall looking at Moe! during MES Shoe Contact, during which we were both drumming again, and both of us smiling really wide! That was cool. After this energetic set, Nightingales did their thing, and brilliantly again. I had a kind of personal tour-ending party at the end of the night: rum and Coke, a good cigar, probably a bit too much gregariousness with anyone that was around to put up with it!

Below: Surplus 1980 live shots, courtesy of Matthew Scott Waldron (thanks, Matthew!)

Above: end of tour group shot!

As I find myself back in El Cerrito, weathering the inevitable post-tour depression, I also feel really happy. Happy to have learned Surplus 1980's complex set, happy to have played some cool shows, happy to have gotten to know the members of Surplus and Nightingales. Those emotions will outlast the brief downer of having to get back to "real life".
Here's to a great time.
Final impressions: Moe! Staiano is a really talented, creative, and sweet person. I wish that I could shout that from many a rooftop. Nightingales are a rockin' great band. Always warm up your wrists before a gig, drummers.
Many thanks and praises to Moe!, Mel, Bill, Steve, Tom, and Amanda of Surplus 1980 for allowing me the privilege of playing with them; Andi, Fliss, Jim, and Robert of Nightingales for being really cool people; Scarp Home for the loaner practice pads (total life saver!); and Melissa for putting up with me running around being a middle-aged Rock guy for a spell.

Surplus 1980 West Coast Tour 2015 Part 1

Earlier this year, Moe! Staiano posted on Facebook that his band, Surplus 1980, needed a fill in drummer for a short tour of the West Coast with British band Nightingales; at first glance, I just noticed and found it interesting, but after a second thought, I figured "why not try?", and asked for an audition. Needless to say, I somehow found myself with the gig. After getting a zip file containing the projected songs in mid-July, I began a frantic rehearsal schedule, alone and with the band. To say I was manic about it would be correct. If you ever need to to this sort of thing, keeping a log of your activities really helps. After about four full band rehearsals, the time to hit the road was upon us, starting in San Francisco.....

Surplus 1980-Amnesia, San Francisco, CA; 9/4/15
The main thing that worried me about playing at Valencia St.'s Amnesia was not so much the somewhat complex (but totally ROCKING) arrangements of Surplus 1980's tunes, but how in the hell we were going to cram the entire full sextet version of the group onto this venue's tiny stage! As for said arrangements, I felt as though I had most of them well in mind as we played. Possible biffs on MES Shoe Contact and Morale Is High did not deter us from having a rocking time. It was especially cool to have nailed the wonderful two drum set riffs of Trying to Succeed, Waiting With Little to No Results. Man, that's a fun part to play. It reminds me of my Taiko drumming experiences in some ways. I was elated upon finishing. A lot of hard work felt as if it was going to pay off, at least aesthetically.

Below: Moe! and Mel working on tour logistics, and a pile of drums
Above: first show set list

Surplus 1980-Echo Lounge, Los Angeles, CA; 9/6/15
After an early wake up/departure, Surplus 1980 (minus keyboard player Amanda Chaudhary) and Nightingales ended up in Los Angeles with plenty of time to spare, allowing for nice, long sound checks and a bit of down time before the show. I walked around Echo Park, which, paired with the incredible weather, was beautiful.

Our set seemed mostly tight, with a really high energy; I was dripping with sweat at the end. The double drums seemed a bit chunky to me at times, and I clammed on 99 Is Not 100, something that would continue to dog me for the rest of the shows (sorry, guys!), but other than that, things seemed tight. The Echo Lounge treated us really nicely, too. Great sound team, great stage. Just really cool. A few people even came to see us! Alright!

Below: Moe! and Bill Wolter sound checking

Above: Surplus 1980 in action at Echo Lounge!

Surplus 1980-Black Cat Bar, San Diego, CA; 9/7/15
Needless to say, San Diego's close proximity to Los Angeles allowed us to take a bit more time in getting to the gig. I consider it somewhat of a waste if I travel to Southern California and do not avail myself of the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully, we did get a chance to take a swim and a sunbath before hitting Black Cat Bar for the show! As for the show, despite its sparse attendance, I felt like it was really tight. We got a bit closer to nailing the complexities of Morale is High (thanks, Steve!), and the rest of the set was Punk Rock in its energy.  One friend that came later posted on Facebook "Rhys Chatham would love this band", which I'm sure made Moe! blush a bit. Nightingales drummer Fliss beat me at pool after the gig.

Below: Dr. Steve Lew sound checks, Moe! points out something or other

General impression-Los Angeles and San Diego are messy and vibrant.
Coming up next: Sacramento, Eugene, Seattle, and Portland shows!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Earspray-Studio Grand, Oakland CA; 9/2/15

Right off the bat, I was saddened to read about the passing of Studio Grand founder Holly Schneider earlier this year. It seems as though the space will continue, using her life's work as a model, which is great for artists, dancers, musicians, and poets in Oakland and beyond. Thanks, Holly.
Earspray's set was a particularly fun one for me. We got really noisy and out of control! Our set seemed to have a really manic energy, and Ann, Carlos, and myself seemed to be pushing the sound to the brink of madness. I'm not sure how the audience felt, but I sure had fun!
As per usual in recent Earspray shows, I used the Waterphone, scraped and banged, along with several metallic rods that I'd recently re-purposed from some old, found furniture. Additionally, I played some recorder.
Carlos enjoyed playing his primitive circuit bent Casio, along with a few other devices, and Ann pounded on a mic'ed cymbal and sang, along with doing her increasingly adept video work.
Things are gelling in Earspray land!

Below: full band shot and gear

Many thanks to Fernando and Oakland Freedom Jazz Society, along with Bill and Splendor Generator!