Friday, April 06, 2007

Party and Show

Last weekend (Mar 24th) I had a sorta birthday party, and my band Colossal Inertia put on a show. Fun times, had a good turnout and it was a good way to move the band forward (in the dearth of gigs lately). Mostly Bonnie's idea & handling of the facilities, but the band put on the show. We rented Studio #16 at the Sawtooth Building in Berkeley - a labrynthine sprawl hosting a lot of artists' studios from different disciplines - painters, sculptors, dance & drama classes, antiques, even a few musical instrument shops. This room was nice and big with high ceilings, and a wooden dance floor.
It was fun organizing and planning, but lots o' work. Our philosophy is to be put on a show, and not just a rock band standing up there, so we started with the props. Smoke machine, strobes, stage lights, rotating siren lights. Then a video projector, displaying an array of freaky clips we had all gathered from various DVDs and the internet (the animals, and the soft-core aerobics videos seemed to be the most popular). Then there were the costumes - each of us had a different wacky outfit going on. So, the eye candy was underway, next on to the songs. Most written by me, since I had originated the band the previous autumn, but a range of stuff from heavy metal to ballads, to acoustics, and lengthy instrumental passages. It all came together well, despite not many rehearsals, and not being able to get into the room until the moment we needed to start setup.
Well, that was a bit of a nightmare. We got there at 6, people were gonna be arriving by 6:30 and we'd start at 7:30 was the plan. We had 5 players, 12 different instruments at various times plus vocals, and 2 video projectors each with their own laptop. With a couple borrowed PA systems, only a few mics, and an elaborate stage to set up. In addition, we needed to be extra careful about the wooden floor, not to damage it. We must've moved the PA system and the projector at least 3 times, and had only a minor soundcheck (interrupted by the breaker switching off), and main instruments sounded OK, from what I could tell. So, we broke, to get into costumes.
Mine was easy, I must admit - I changed my shirt, put my hair in ponytails, and put on a Viking hat and jacket. Tim had a hazmat suit on, Linda went as a gypsy ninja, Jimmy had his gorilla suit and the crazy rabbit head (which has its own cooling system, and A/V unit), Pandacat went with a King Diamond-esque makeup and leather getup.
So, we went on - first couple songs I played my doubleneck guitar, was doing the typical frontperson banter, adjusting levels as much as I could, going smoothly. Then I switched to Stick (while the rest of the band vamped on the 'Switch'), into the instrumental. Then in the middle of the next song, the breaker flipped again, so we started over with it. Then into the song with the bass clarinet (Tim has significant instruments changes as well). Couldn't hear the bass clarinet thru the sound system (one of the many technical problems which plagued us - not sure if it was even hooked in). Then a switch to banjo, during the surf song (wherein I couldn't fire up the Theremin), and Tim came up to the front of the stage to play on Melodica, then bass clarinet, and Pandacat switched to bass guitar. The crowd warmed to the Pirate song, and we did an extended jam at the end to keep it going. Then into the other banjo tracks (I liken one to a 'goth-dixieland', and the other to a 'deserted Mexican highway ballad') which were delivered well, but the arrangements do need some punch... Then a switch back to Stick, when Pandacat started a spacey guitar-keyboard jam which rolled into the Apocalypse Waltz (all improv, but needs some arranging to hone it.) Next was 'Gingerbrains' which I was going to run the loop on, but that didn't come through and I spent too much time futzing with it (I mean, the point of our random trax is an Oz-like 'Don't look behind the curtain'. Luckily the band struck up while I was messing around). So, we forged ahead with me really playing the riff on Stick, and I wasn't able to do the Theremin solo (that wasn't getting any sound anyway). So, next was 'Cave Bear' which went well and was one of our more popular selections. And we left the stage and came back (guess that counts as an 'encore') for our unnamed (oft-titled the new song or the drinking song or the hungry song) pounding hard rock track.

Our set list [including so-called bumpers]:
* Metal in the Microwave
* Asphalt Flowers Generator
* [Switch]
* Arbogale
* Gathering Dust
* Remember to Pay
* [Surf Song]
* Pirate's Cove
* No Not Me
* Revelations of My Friends
* Armageddon Waltz
* Gingerbrains
* March of the Cave Bear
* The Hungry Song (encore)

Unfortunately, I was so busy and didn't have the wherewithal to arrange recording (I had any number of people who simply could've brought a video camera). Some nice pics, though...
Band is in a holding pattern for now, coming off this show and waiting for some to wrap up being busy at work... So, more updates later.