Monday, January 31, 2005


the weather was cold but crisp and clear, so my drive to cleveland was smooth: i got there in less than 5 1/2 hours including 2-3 stops (i intended to get gas and lunch at the same stop, only to discover there was no atm at the gas station i chose, & the only quick food option there was mcdonald's... so i ended up waiting a couple more hours before eating).

the sondguy was supposed to arrive at the venue at 7, and i got there at about 6:45. so i went "next door" (actually two or three doors down) to music saves (where the pre-show performance by j scott franklin was to take place) to pass the time. music saves is a record store that carries almost nothing but the hott indie rock & emo stuff. this is great if you're into indie & emo, but not so good if you're into anything else. i did see a couple hip-hop cds but only the ones that crowd would be looking for: madvillain, el-p, beans, etc.

before long i headed back to the venue & began setting up. i set up near the back of the venue (right in front of the door, in fact), so i could play during transitions yet leave the stage empty for other performers. then it was back to music saves to see j scott franklin.

j scott performed as a one-man band: he had guitar, trumpet, microphone, and pedals. one of the pedals was a loop pedal, which allowed him to play a lick & then loop it so he could play something else on top of it. at times he sounded like a full band. the sound was folkier than i generally listen to, but the tech was very interesting and i found myself wondering how easy it would be to perform live barbershop if i had pedals like j scott's. in fact i imagine lord of the yum-yum probably has a very similar setup.

birthday cake was served (it was experimental behavior's first birthday), but there were no frosty beverages to wash it down with, so i didn't quite finish my piece. by this point it was nearing 9pm, and i was supposed to start the show at 9pm, so i made my way back to the beachland tavern.

soon the crowd started to make their way over & i began my first set. i started off with some short pieces i had created specifically for exbe & mixed in various other noise, loops, and silly samples. i was actually fighting a headache all night, but i managed to keep it at bay & perform pretty well, considering, i thought.

next up was humachine. you can't really understand the humachine phenomenon unless you go on exbe and read some of his posts... a large percentage of them are about how awesome he is, how he has "the highest technology" in music, how bands like skinny puppy have ripped off his sound, etc. but if you listen to his mp3s, while the production is high quality, the actual content is pretty run-of-the-mill ebm-type stuff.

his live setup consisted of a bunch of gear (indeed he has a lot, & some of it looks pretty nice) and a video display (he also has a public access tv show, you see). the music itself was not bad: in fact it was quite competent; busy, with various crisp sounds and beats and samples. at one point jack commented that his live sets were better than his recorded output, and i had to agree... though it wasn't particularly original (unless those really were his ideas and they were all stolen long ago by other club acts). but the video...

well the video truly looked like it came from public access tv. humachine himself was in almost every shot, nodding to the beat, mugging for the camera, playing with cds (not playing cds but fidgeting with a stack of presumably blank cdrs), tossing cds at a friend's face, making grasping motions with his hands... there were some video fx laid on top but not enough to mask the actual content. it was totally narcissistic & amateurish: ridiculous and often hilarious. but clearly not on purpose.

next i performed again as a transition between humachine and the afrodesiatics, a 7-piece funk band with full-size xylophone, bongos, drum kit, the works. this changeover was only scheduled to last 15 minutes but it took closer to 30. my performance trailed off a bit after awhile, but whatever. nobody seemed to notice.

the afrodesiatics were very tight: they were obviously all accomplished, talented musicians, and they really brought the funk.

by this point the venue was simply packed: i never heard a total head count, but there were enough people there that one had trouble moving around, & there were actually people standing behind me just hanging out.

next up, nick traenkner gave a powerpoint presentation about cleveland. for some reason, nick decided to stop using the term "powerpoint presentation" to describe his work but i don't know why: that's exactly what it is, and i think the idea of an artistic powerpoint presentation sounds much more interesting than "multimedia performance" or whatever he's calling it now.

the presentation was highly entertaining: amusing and informative, similar to irene moon but without the bizarre sound effects or wacky costumes. nick did his presentation without amplification: he just stood in the middle of the bar projecting his voice. he didn't want to use a mic though i thought he would've done better with one: not a handheld, but a lavaliere or a headset would work great.

after nick came beautiful loser, a 3-piece. when they started their first song i thought maybe they were blues, but then i decided they were closer to jazz. i don't know much about jazz beyond john zorn, so maybe i was wrong, or even if i was right, i have no idea what kind of jazz band they were (i guess their website refers to them as "instrumental/pop/world/rock"). color me clueless. still, they were clearly very talented musicians: the guitar player had to be in his 50s, so i suspect he's been playing guitar for at least 30 years.

then i played again, opening up my final set with "spamouflage" & transitioning into... something else. i forget, and i didn't get anything recorded.

infinite number of sounds finished off the night. as usual they were great. they started off with some new material, then into some classic older material. if you've never experienced them, they're a catchy instrumental indie-type band with electronics and a kick-ass video display that's mixed live to the music. they never disappoint.

after awhile of sitting around, tearing down, etc, we made our way back to the INS house, where brent (the video guy) put me up for the night in their guest room: there was even a computer in the room so i could check my email & stuff! the following morning we went out for "breakfast" (even though it was 1pm) at a restaurant called
"my friends"... i'd been there several times during previous lakewood visits. then it was time to drive home...

in total, brent paid me $60 (possibly the most i've ever been paid for a show) and i sold $50 worth of merchandise! an extremely successful night for me, a good show with lots of diversity, and good times. even my headache stayed away enough that i was able to enjoy myself.

thanks again to everyone who played, and especially the exbe crew for putting the event together & inviting me to participate.


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