Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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!