Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Proletariat April 8 Recap, Charlie-Style!

Hey all... well, I finally decided to post something here! And I think I'm going to write a little about our most recent show at the Proletariat, April 8th, 2006.

To my mind, this was neither one of the best nor one of the worst of our shows. Just to be contradictory, I'll also say it wasn't just an average show. I think we played really well, and I think the crowd got into us, and that's really the most I can ever ask of a show. So I guess on those counts, we succeeded marvelously.

But let me back up a bit. The show was opened by the inimitable DJ Cub, aka Ted, aka my friend Tedley... Ted (or Cub, or whatever) and I go way back; I've known him some ten or eleven years now, and have always considered him a good friend. And while I would by NO means consider myself even remotely intimate with the DJ scene, to my ears, he's a great DJ, mostly because he mixes it up really well, segues from one song to another well, chooses his cuts well, plays to the scene he's performing in rather than trying to dictate it, and plays a lot of trip-hop and old school rap, which of course are two somewhat underrepresented sub-genres in most of the DJ scenes I've witnessed, and are of course also two of my favorite sub-genres. I don't know, when it comes to rap, with a few notable exceptions, my interests are pretty much limited to 1985-1995. Most of the stuff before that era is cheesy and clumsy-sounding to my ears, and most of the stuff after that is too slick or too bling-oriented or too complicated or so gangsta it's stupid. To me, rap's always at its best when represented by what I guess could be termed the second and third waves of rap, or maybe the first and second waves of "hardcore" rap: Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, NWA, Cypress Hill, Digital Underground, and early Wu Tang Clan, to name the heavies. Anyway, Ted knows this, and while I'm sure his knowledge of hip hop far exceeds mine, and he's well aware of some of the no-doubt great stuff to come out since that golden era of hip hop, he always comes back to a lot of these guys during his sets. The man knows quality, that's all I'm saying.

Though apparently Ramon says he showed up thinking we'd have turntables on hand or something. I don't know... that's a little silly, but I'm glad things worked out, because he did it up right.

Born Liars rocked, and I really liked Georgia's Horse, though I must admit I was getting a little antsy when their set ran past 1:00 a.m. As much as I agree with Ramon that some of our recent shorter sets have probably been more effective than the usual hour-long Linus pound-a-thons, I much prefer to do our shorter sets of our own accord, instead of out of necessity. I hate feeling rushed.

And there's the rub, in case you were wondering where it went. I think if there was one and only one detraction from this particular show for me specifically, it would be that rushed feeling. It's impossible to ignore when you're going in with a 50-minute set, and you've only got 40 minutes to play it in. To be honest, this sort of thing just happens. Ramon's expressed his preference for the four-band lineup, and while I must say, as long as everyone's playing relatively short sets, I like it too, I will say this: it does exponentially increase the likelihood that things are going to go off-schedule. I can't really explain WHY having only one extra band added to the standard three-band lineup causes such problems for scheduling, but it generally does. One way or another, either by one band going terribly over time, several bands just inching beyond their preferred time limits, or one or more bands taking too much time setting up or tearing down, four-band shows always seem to really test the schedule more than lesser shows. So I'm certainly not going to blame any one band for us not hitting the stage until after 1:15 a.m. As Dega says in "Papillon", "Blame is for God and small children." Good quote, that. Glad I could fit it in there.

At any rate, we did what we usually do when we go onstage feeling rushed: we RACED through those songs. Again, as in so many things, I'm of two minds on this phenomenon. On the one hand, I find that some of the "heavier" songs, like Switzer and Southern Pine, suffered a bit from being played at that speed. They were designed to be heavy, not to be fast, so making them faster only made them lose some of their heft, but they didn't really gain anything from it. So I wasn't really happy with that, not to mention the agonizing PAIN my left arm was in, trying to finish out the big riff-fest that Clinton solos over at the end of Switzer. On the other hand though, I have noticed that sometimes Linus plays with a little less than the optimum amount of energy. We've been known to tire out mid-set, or lag a little on certain songs, or whatever, and that was certainly not an issue this time. We played with maximum intensity and energy, and even managed to whip the shit out of Cannonball, a notoriously difficult song for us to get the right speed and intensity on. No problems with that this time. We played hard and fast so we could finish in time, and we JUST made it. We ended up having to drop La Tapatia, which sucked since that's always a hugely fun song to play and a great way to end a set, but at the same time, we had a really good set, so at least we only had to lose ONE song.

I think the sound was good too. It was probably a little loud for the venue, because I got the distinct impression that for whatever reason (size, shape, wall/ceiling/floor construction), the high end frequencies were bouncing all over the place, making the volume a little harder to take. I know most people reported their ears were ringing for days after, as mine were. But only some people really mind that; others just love it, and I got enough compliments afterwards on the patented Linus "wall of rock" that I figure it probably wasn't a liability in our case. I did hear that it wasn't as distinct as it is when we play at Rudyards. I think this is because we had to turn down our amps onstage because the PA couldn't really handle competing with them, so most of our volume was probably coming through the PA via the amp mics, rather than directly from the amps, and maybe pushing all those amps through that one PA made the guitars a little less distinct or something. I don't know. It all usually sounds pretty indistinct up on stage, unless we're at Rudz.

Overall though, I thought it was a success. We played well, the other bands were great, and despite a few scheduling problems, overall it could've been MUCH worse (having seen several four-band shows where it WAS much worse). After all, everyone got to play a decent-length set, no one got hurt, and nothing got broken except that one guy's bass string. Plus, several people reported being severely rocked. All in all, I'd call that a success.

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