A free bar is a dangerous thing but great for a party and the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase only proved that rule true.
One thing nice about the awards is we only had to haul the Marshalls to the venue which saved our backs and loading time. Our set was filled with a large chunk of the newer material in the middle and this became a big source of discussion later that evening but more on that later. The set went fine though Charlie and Clinton’s guitars kept going out of tune (though not as badly as at SXSW) and curiously enough the two people with tuning problems refused to touch the tuners which were less than a foot from either Clinton or Charlie. Tuners are for the weak is their philosophy.
We started with Alien Abduction with quite a bit of energy but soon lost momentum to tuning and the newer poppier material. Luckily, Clinton’s new song Southern Pine got our groove back and we closed strong with our last three songs Southern Pine, Cannonball, and La Tapatia.
During the last song, I began with the usual deathmetal belting, which involves pushing as much air out of your lungs with as much force as possible, when (out of nowhere) comes this big huge bearded guy. He’s not intimidating or threatening, in fact he’s not doing anything - just standing there, right up front, less than a foot from the small cramped stage. For a second I am totally thrown off. I quickly turn to the side for a verse or so - just to get my wits together. Who is this guy? What the hell is he doing? Then it all became clear, like Kthulu, we must have summoned the dark one himself. Yes, that had to be it as no other explanation was possible. I turned to the audience and announced the Dark Lord's presence to a reverent crowd and commenced with the chant of Satan around the venue then ending with some kind of weird floor dance/wrestle with Brad Moore and being impaled AC/DC style by Clinton.
“Dude did that hurt?
“Uh yea, it did! Rock!”
It was nice to play to a bunch of people who’d never heard us and as much as we teased the venue for being a Bourgeoisie establishment [“Make no mistake of it we wouldn’t be allowed 5 feet from that velvet rope under any other circumstances.” “This is weird, the bathroom is clean. Can someone go piss on the floor?”] we did have a good time and they treated us very nicely.
Brian McManus is the Man!
When we got back to downtown from dropping off our equipment we had a bit of a problem finding a Press to figure out where to go next. I wanted to catch Drop Trio, The Rhinestone Life, Michael Haaga, and some other bands but there was no schedule to be found so we went to the Copa to regroup. Luckily, having a few extra after party wristbands, I called Mara to see if she and her posse needed some. Mercifully I got a call back. “We’re at the 12 spot watching the Rhinestone Life!” Kick ass! I rounded up the troops, we downed our drinks, and we headed over to a packed house where McManus and crew were giving a performance of their Garage Rock meets James Brown-attitude rock show. Rosa had been raving about them for ages and I finally got to see them play three songs that exceeded any expectations I could have had. These guys are playing on a level I could never hope to achieve. People standing on the bar to get a better look – that is a fucking rock show! Props to the soundman who did them right goddamnit!
From there we figured out that the party was at the Rice hotel – Free food and bar! Awesome, some car repairs left me with $1.49 in my bank account so this was a godsend. Now all I had to do was mooch the money to tip the bartenders!
The Rice Hotel
The Rice hotel was pretty nice and the bar actually was free. There was a nice continget of people; some like John Lomax were people with whom I was told I spoke but I cannot recall to save my life if I did or not – now that is a frikkin party!
What I do recall is meeting Satan, who was sitting at the bar. For all of you who have wondered Satan’s real name is “Greg” and he will be credited with a picture on our next album as he accepted the position of Satanic mascot. Linus is now officially brought to you by Satan.
By the way, Bud Light and Budweiser are not exactly the best thing on which to get drunk as it has the magic ability to give you that bloated Violet Beauregarde feeling. Also, I have to say that Kurt and Anika would make a cute couple. I only found out afterwards that she is engaged. Too bad Kurt.
Pop Rocks and a song is cut down in its prime
Aside from chatting it up with people and having the usual moron Linus Pauling discussions (generally revolving on our love of women, music, and drink) there was a seismic shift occurring in the LP4 camp. The set had two issues which we discussed between those of us who didn’t bail (Charlie) or those who had to fix their car battery (Larry in a very Hank Hill moment).
The first issue was the more poppy songs we’ve been playing with a heavy emphasis on the vocal hook. These songs happened to be bunched together in the set and it dragged the set down. My commentary was something like this:
I liked the poppier stuff because it was different from what we’d done but “Southern Pine” really showed that you can blend a poppy psych with a heavy riff and pull it off. This got me thinking that it was time to reconsider the prefab songs in favor of trying to focus on our strengths. Look, Neil Young dicked around with all these styles in the 80’s but when he got back to just rocking the world breathed a sigh of relief. Same thing with Linus. I wasn’t suggesting we totally drop a song with a good hook, fall into a LP4 structured regimen, or do something because it is what is expected. My thinking is that if the song is not distinctive we need to either reconsider the arrangement or kill it. If you have a song that you can step back and say “Bar band song” – kill it right there.
In short, we all seemed to agree in principle that we really needed to reconsider the direction or lack there of and man the rudder.
The one song we all felt was most problematic was “Girls In Black” – a song Charlie brought in as a throw away. I had been having some issues already with it because I didn’t think it was, from a rhythm guitar standpoint, very interesting. Now, we’re a band that actually had a discussion about the usage of the word “bitch” in “Colour out of Space”. The defense was that the character in the song would say that which seemed like a good defense on Clinton’s part so we were cool with it. Charlie has a line in “Girls in Black” which a lot of women really didn’t like and it cost us quite a few people in the audience. I had figured that this song fell under the same defense as “Colour out of Space” but some people in the audience didn’t think so and wrote us off as sexist. Clinton, Steve and I all agreed that at the least that line had to change. So are we being self censoring? Well if there was something artistically hanging in the balance here sure but Charlie brought it in as a throwaway and I had no attachment to the song. Curiously Charlie was happy to drop the song and change the lyrics. So that was never the big stinker I had thought it was going to be.
Is that a downer to end on? Ahh, trust me when we discussed this we were pretty drunk and so it was more like “Maaan, aaahm drunk. Yea, that song’s gotta go. Now let’s get another beer! He's drunk and passed out! Get a picture! Hey, She's cute! John Adams you rock like Dio!” Not exactly a linear sophisticated talk especially when you count the gaps where I went to talk to other people. Point is we had fun, got some important MO issues out in the open, and we hope we get to do this next year!
Went to the Meridian to check out the Press Awards but got there somewhat late. There is something weird about low rent awards shows. I thought they were just going to announce the winners but they actually had a Powerpoint presentation showing the nominees and winners, there were performances mixed it, and they even had some cheesy trophies. I was laughing when I saw Ian Varley (of Drop Trio) with his guitar-with-keys trophy tacked on (he won best keyboardist) which led to a discussion with him about the Keytar. You may think that these would be all but worthless 80’s remnants but oddly there is a market and a real Keytar is actually quite expensive. Ian tells me that Smooth Jazz guys love ‘em.
Anyhow, the Guilloteens, Mara, Lomax, et al. were all there but it wasn’t as much of a kick as the Sunday festivities. I got a nice buzz but I was still recovering from Sunday and hadn’t really had as much time to recharge my batteries after work.
A moment of inexplicable horror came in the form of this band called Lomestar Pronstar – a living cliché of rock. Now before I say anything, I will say that they can more than likely play much better technically than I could and I hate the Nu-Metal genre from the get-go so I am probably not their target audience. Sorry this just seems like the kind of stuff born out from the loins of suburban jocks who drink Coors and who’ve never met a person of color – ever. Now, that’s my gut reaction. I’m not saying that these guys are that nor that the genre actually is that in practice I’m just saying that’s what it speaks to me. So having said all that, here is what I want to know. Even if you like this stuff, what the fuck is with the dreadlocked white guy who does back-up vocals and dances like a latter day Vanilla Ice? Does he bring the pot to the rehearsals? That is the only reason I could think of this guy being on stage. “Dude, that was really cool when you pumped your fist in the air and hopped around! That song would suck if you didn’t do that!”
Well, if they hadn’t played there wouldn’t have been much to write about here so go figure. I guess thanks guys providing me with something to mock.