So on Friday, November 12th, 2010 we played a stinky little dive called Fitzgerald’s in Huntington Beach. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging Fitzgerald’s. At least they have the cajones to feature unknown original bands on weekend nights. Live bands, Original Music! Holy Crap, Really?
Hey, I still have kids under 18, so I use terms like “crap” and “cajones” if you don’t like it, blow.
The camera sucked, the lighting was bad, but neither was as bad as the sound, so here you go:
Long Beach (June 4th, 2010)
The Whistleblowers infiltrated the 2nd City Council Art Gallery and Performance Space in Long Beach for a performance that can only be referred to as their first. What do you want, a critique? Figure it out for yourself:
Huntington Beach, CA – The Strangers performed at Fitzgerald’s in Huntington Beach on a warm Saturday night, opening for No Crisis and The Crowd. The half-hour set was exciting and well received. Veteran punk rocker Rob Milucky heads up the band on guitar. Front man David Stucken handles lead vocals and the rhythm section is comprised of Shane Haddock on bass and Julian Kelly on drums.
The clip below is a song called Saint Marys. I applaud Fitzgerald’s for having the cajones to feature bands like the Strangers, however like other clubs of this ilk, sound and lighting can be a challenge. The band was tight, the set was consistent and the performance was passionately energetic.
Watch for these guys because their star is on the rise.
Inebriation Isn’t Just an Adventure, Its a Career
Wednesday’s at Close Encounters. Yes he did, the Persian owner, Ezra, named it after a popular Spielberg flick. I say owner, but in truth, his mom owned it. He runs it so he can meet chicks. Problem is, it’s in the middle of suburbia. If you’re a stag female, sucking down brews in a mid-suburbia dive on Nickel Beer Night it means you’re married, overweight and angry.
Tina, the singer, designed and sewed costumes for everyone in the band. Nobody asked her to do it, nobody ever hinted at it, but they arrived on Nickel Beer Night with high expectation.
The costumes consisted of long-sleeve beige turtleneck shirts and beige pants. Each horrible shirt was hideously amplified by “artsy” themed-designs made of misshapen, sloppily sheared rayon sewed in random patches. A unique fluorescent color scheme for each band member. The seams were bulging and some of the thread matched.
We started the set as usual, with a medium energy pointless pop number but there was magic in the air. Although that might have been someone smoking pot. It was the 80’s in California. You could still smoke indoors in those days and the foul stench of sour smoke encrypted on your clothes when you went home at night was an added bonus. Sticky floors, stained chairs and someone always passed out on the bar. Ahhh, just like home.
There was a lovely “one big happy” family sitting in front of the stage, just off the dance floor. Frequent toasts and gulps, joyous laughter, crackling guffaws.
Beer is 5¢ a glass, and a dollar a pitcher from 8PM – 915PM. If you’re a bartender, you know what this means. People with only a dollar to their name come in and drink 20 beers in an hour and fifteen minutes. Probably the worst drink promotion ever conceived.
By 10PM the initial friendly buzz of carbonated domestic swill has worn off and the violent uglies begin to emerge. At the friendly, loud, squinting smile “one big happy” family table in front, all of a sudden the mom, late 50’s, and daughter-in-law, early 40’s, furiously jump to their feet.
Fire bellowing from all four eyes, in a blink clenched fists pummel wrinkled skin cheeks, smearing foundation and blush. Arms swinging and flailing, profane screams of fierce acrimony released. Strikingly more terrifying and vicious than ultimate cage fighting. A couple of the men at the table get up seconds too late to pull them apart, but manage to rush them outside.
The band plays on, doesn’t stop, doesn’t miss a beat.
Mock Manager Mark is the self proclaimed manager of the band. A friend of Mark, the drummer, Mock Manager Mark professes to be the bands manager in an attempt to get free drinks whenever he attends one of our gigs. Never one to miss an opportunity, Mock Manager Mark goes outside to inspect and possibly wager.
Seconds later Mock Manager Mark and one of the female pugilists’ escorts fly through the door, tumbling across the dance floor. Toppling tables over, flinging half empty glasses through the air, flipping the torn vinyl chairs upside down and more fists recklessly swing with abandon or poor drunken aim, you pick.
The band plays on, doesn’t stop, doesn’t miss a beat.
The two bleeding drunk strangers are pried apart, but two more fights break out across the room, people fighting about the fighting. Enraged suds soaked patrons turn on each other in riotous dysfunctional union. Enraged fractious anarchy right here, in the middle of a bedroom community in sleepy South Orange County.
By the time police arrived, shattered glass was swept up, stained bent chairs and wobbling tables were put back in place and all members of the “one big happy” family had escaped.
Tina was pissed and a little hurt. Not one word about the new threads.
Another freaky night in the life of the working musician.
When we left off, Tina was coughing, I was drinking and the unknown drummer was doing alright.
The odd assemblage of players in the band was a tribute to tolerance. Tina was a washed-up waitress from Buena Park with a kid. Lots of gumption, but no goods. Paul was the keyboard player who gigged with us when he wasn’t touring fairs with 70’s bands. Henry the sax player, was big, black and really black. An okay player, but great charisma, we always put him center-stage. Mike, my guitar playing brother and myself, well let’s just keep us out of it for now.
The fill-in drummer was a Basque. If you’ve never met a Basque then I apologize. There isn’t enough space in this story to adequatly describe the psychological complexities of the Basque heritage. Suffice to say that the tension was high and the behavior erratic. This does accurately describe every drummer I’ve ever worked with, but being Basque adds an entirely new dimension to the equation.
The night wears on, the drunks get braver and the room stinks.
The dust and scum filled corners of the 34 year-old building hasn’t seen a sober broom since 2 months after inception. The gum stopped urinals are stained and just plain nasty.
The frequenters of this establishment are locals. There is nobody at home they want to hang out with, so they come here. The bartenders and waitresses are their family. The clientele choose to soak their heads in alcoholic splendor rather than have an actual life.
That’s where we come in. It’s our job to encourage and incite the rabble and boost sales.
We think we have it. The people are dancing and smiling and getting it on. The staff are bobbing their heads and nudging their neighbors in excited, useless conversation.
People are buying rounds, the manager is smiling and nobody has been arrested or died. It’s been a good night.
The last song is played and I expel a sigh of ouzo drenched relief as the evening seems to come to a close without incident. But of course, it’s never over until it’s over.
We’re packing up, carelessly swinging the heavy equipment through the thin doorways and tossing it into our cars. The Basque wants a beer, but the place is closing and the bartender and the manager are anxious to leave. The answer is no.
The Basque does not accept this answer and waits until no one is looking and while the competent staff are busy restocking for the following day, the Basque steals a 6-pack off the top of the bar and runs out the back door.
None of the band members are new, but we are a new band trying to break in to the club scene. We start getting regular work and BAM, it’s gone.
Welcome to Rock-n-Roll
The Rendevouz Room, 1988
A young but frivolous group of slightly stupid musicians mount a stage covered in rotting orange plush carpet and old duct tape.
It’s the first time the group has attempted to crack this smelly crowd of regular suds swaggers and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be pretty.
A cloud of stale cigarette smoke hangs face level and Tina, our singer, releases a dry, lung-damaged cough, buy it’s okay. She’s a smoker. She can’t sing that great anyway.
There’s a twist in my pre-gig martini and in the night. Our regular drummer is double booked. He took the higher paying gig, just like the rest of us would have. The keyboard player, Paul, asked one of his friends to sit in.
He assured us the guy was good and we all believed him because, well… we didn’t have anybody else.
The guy, we’ll call him the drummer, was alright. That was, until the end of the night when things started getting freaky.
We’d been on freaky gigs before, like when Andy, the 60+ year-old owner of the Bunkhouse would do a complete striptease in the middle of the dance floor. A gay, 60-something, overweight man suggestively removing all of his clothing in middle of biker bar in Garden Grove. Freaky.
I could tell this was going to be exactly the same, but different.
If there was any doubt that Gene Simmons was irrelevant, the following article from Afterdawn.com should clear up the confusion. Record companies have been manipulating the public for decades. A recent example includes a scam by Capitol Records. Coldplay will be auditioning bands to open for them via YouTube videos for this summer’s tour (Rolling Stone – June 26th, 2008). Have you heard the phrase “Giving up your first born”? If you sign up and agree to the Contest Rules, you are essentially giving up all rights to your submission (read this). So if you finally wrote that Million dollar song, guess what, it doesn’t belong to you anymore. Of course the onus of this little trick is on you, if you don’t read the fine print, it’s your own damn fault. But there are plenty of other examples where record companies were not so forthright in the practice of their trade. Record companies need to die, maybe not all of them, but there are several that are infected with the virus known as g.W_ep (greed with extreme prejudice). And for an artist(?) like Mr. Simmons to defend that model shows exactly where his priorities lie. Read on:
“Last November Afterdawn.com reported that Gene Simmons, founding member of the rock group KISS, had gone off on Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead and college aged pirates, going as far as to call Radiohead “idiots” and saying “Every little college kid … should have been sued off the face of the earth,” for their unauthorized downloading of course.
He has followed his last tirade with some new comments, this time again blaming NIN and Radiohead but more importantly, the music fans. “The record industry is dead,” Simmons notes “It’s six feet underground and unfortunately the fans have done this. They’ve decided to download and file share.” He then insisted that the aforementioned bands were “contributing to the demise of the record industry” by using new intelligent sales models that apparently he does not approve of.
When asked why KISS had not released a new CD since 1998’s ‘Psycho Circus’, Simmons added that “there is no record industry around so we’re going to wait until everybody settles down and becomes civilized. As soon as the record industry pops its head up we’ll record new material.”
Of course, he neglects to note that at every turn the “dead” music industry continues to push consumers away, using the RIAA watch dog to sue children, grandmothers, and even deceased members of society while failing to confront the real problems the industry faces.
It is also important to note that Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails’ “idiotic” experiments have raked in millions of dollars for the bands, with little overhead and more importantly, no revenue sharing with the labels. They gave the fans what they wanted, and the fans responded. What a crazy model no?”
Music fans have been sharing music since there was music to share. Some marketing analysts might even consider this behavior a form of free advertising. Historically, the RIAA has sued or lobbied against any form of recordable device or media. Why…, g.W_ep, of course. Their stance is that if you buy a record or CD, but want to hear the music you just purchased on a cassette player, than you need to buy the tape as well. Enough is enough.
Downloading songs from the internet has and should change how music is distributed. Imagine this, what if musicians/artists/bands relied on live performance for the majority of their income. As if their talent and ability were the driving force behind their success instead of knowing someone or buying your way into a deal. Don’t get me wrong, awe-inspiring talent exists, but explain Milli Vanilli to me.