Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Residents Come To Turner Hall Milwaukee

The Residents Turner Hall
The Residents came to Milwaukee last Sunday night. This was my first time seeing the group live. As I felt that it might be the last tour for the original members, I thought that I better get on it. After all, the Residents have been around since the 1960’s. For those of you who are not familiar with the art collective, I suggest that you check out this Residents link.
When did I get the itch? It was back in 1981, when they released Mark Of The Mole. I had asked for the album as a Christmas gift from my parents. (Pretty cool parents, I must say.) After pulling out the vinyl I put on a pair of headphones and started to play it, while others were still unwrapping their gifts. I was 16 years old at the time, but the album still had a huge effect on me. The songs were almost frightening. Mark of the Mole had a theme. It was all about the struggle of the Mole People, and their war with the “Chubs.”

After Mark Of The Mole, I went backwards in the Residents timeline, and picked up Third Reich “N” Roll. The album came out in 1976, and was labeled as a “parody” of American pop music. I found it to be quite serious music. Perhaps I found it serious because the songs that they chose to parody were musical numbers that were (by 1982) overplayed “Muzak.” It doesn’t take much to turn a happy tune into a haunting, freak out of sound. That’s what the Residents did to so many numbers on the Third Reich album.

The Turner Hall performance featured three “band” members: Randy, Chuck and Bob. Their props and set were quite stripped down. I was a bit disappointed considering that I had heard so much about their previous efforts. I won’t spoil it for those of you still hoping to catch the band on this current tour. It was strange enough just to see the group do their thing. I don’t really know if stage props were necessary. My only complaint: They should have turned up the volume

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Weekend Road Trip Tips For Drummers | Be Prepared For Anything

Road trip advice for musicians
We played two nights in a row last month.  One show was in Milwaukee, while the other was in Oshkosh.  Both shows were in venues that I have never been in before.  That meant that I had no idea what to expect as far as the stage set up, sound, lights, or vibe of the bar staff.  What makes your life easier when you have to play a show in a new club? How should you prepare for a two show weekend? I'll be happy to post what I feel are little things that can make a huge difference in how you perform when you have no idea what to expect.

It goes without saying, but I will say it. Get to the club on time, your first time. Nothing looks worse than being late for your first show at a new club. You have already proved to the club owner or manager that you are not professional. Why should they ask you back if they are worried that you might not show up at all?  If load in is at 8pm, be there at 8pm.  It's not just the club owner that you want to keep happy.  Your band mates might be giving you the stink-eye if you miss load in. 

When you do load in, be aware of the neighbors.  Is the club playing loud music that might disturb the folks that live next door? If yes, try to keep the load in as short as possible.  Be aware of slamming doors, loud band mates, the general "smashing and crashing" of gear, or doors that are propped open too long. Also, be a sport and pitch in when loading in.  You might not be the drummer, but that doesn't mean you just have to worry about your amp head and bottom. There might come a time when I might be hauling your rig out of a club at 3am, when you are dead drunk.  It's a huge relief to know that your band mates have your back.

Feed Yourself On Short Road Trips

For short road trips, I can't stress enough the need for you to bring some extra food with you. Our van broke down on the way to a show that was just 90 minutes from home.  We planned on eating when we got there, and with the two hour delay we had no time to stop for food. There are few things worse than playing a show on an empty stomach. I stash a power bar, candy bar, apple, and shelled peanuts in my bag when I go for an overnight show. Also, stash a full water bottle in your bag. (More on that later.) On the night in question, our late arrival allowed me just enough time to eat some peanuts while I set up my kit in a rush. I had the power bar after the show (before my first alcoholic drink of the evening,) and knew that if I woke up starving the next day, I had some fruit and sugar to keep my stomach full enough.

Don't forget to bring a water bottle on stage the moment you start loading your gear onto it!  There are times when you were supposed to be on "ten minutes ago," and you are looking at a club that is so full, that you know you won't get the bartender's attention.  All you want is a drink, or some water to take onto the stage. That lonely water bottle has saved my butt many times. It's especially handy when you are playing a tiny club, and you just boxed yourself into a corner of the stage with your drum kit. You are thinking about that mad dash to the bar, but your band mate just hopped on stage and she's strapping on her bass.  What are you going to do?  You are stuck, and the band wants to start.  At least you have 12-14 ounces of room temperature water to suck down for the next 90 minutes. Also, check out this useful drummer's drink holder. It's so much better to keep your liquids off the stage floor. We all know how easy it is for our precious drinks to get knocked over. Sometimes your singer can shout out to the bar that the band needs need a drink, and you get lucky enough to get a response. Don't count on it.

In part two, I'll add some "non-food" related items that I find essential.  For now, keep your tummy happy, stay hydrated on stage, and be on time!.