Puttin' On The Ritz

More sophisticated by the second, etc.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

For the Longest Time, etc.

There are several reasons why I have not written anything here in quite some time. For those of you that know me, you probably can do some simple arithmetic. For those of you who do not, get the notes from one of your friends after class or however it is we trade information in this, the modern, era. Send a text using your mobile phone, learn semaphore, etc. Happy New Year, Feliz Navidad, don't take any wooden nickels, you know what I mean. If the entries seem a bit vague at times please forgive me, my memory is not quite what it used to be, probably as a result of being in this band. Or perhaps it might be better said, my memory is not quite what it used to be as a result of the large quantities of alcohol being in this band requires me to drink.

August 13, 2005 -- East Village Radio, Manhattan
It was hot. Damn hot. East Village Radio is basically a box on 1st Ave, although it is at least an air conditioned one. If our band had any more members it probably would have collapsed under our collective weight, something about gravity and imploding or something like that, although I doubt there would have been quite enough matter to cause a Quasar or anything like that. Regardless, Ted insisted on walking out onto the street and interviewing passersby, much to their confusion. I think we drank Miller Light or some other similarly noxious beverage. Somebody called in and referred to us as "Puttin' On The Shitz", which may or may not have been appropriate. I have a copy of the podcast that I may or may not share with the general public, depending on my mood at the time.

August 13, 2005 -- 904 Bedford Avenue 6A, Brooklyn
Oh yeah, it was my birthday too. So I had a party at my apartment. Mindy came and was really nervous, for some reason. Despite her jitters, More Teeth performed to thunderous applause. Well, perhaps the thunder was just the blood in my head, I was probably already drunk at the time. Kevin showed up at some point, and I think we played shortly after Zeke Healy finished. Then I continued getting drunk and shortly after 3am made a long distance call to the South Pacific. I failed to provide us a performance fee for appearing at my birthday party.

August 16, 2005 -- Delancey Lounge, Manhattan
Casey Block invited us to play a show he was booking, or curating, or whatever. We played upstairs with the quiet acts (Zeke Healy, some other guy, etc.), probably because we play acoustic instruments, albeit quite loudly. Vaz and Child Abuse played downstairs but we couldn't hear them through the floor. The bar manager approached Casey after the show, and rather than reprimand him (which is what he thought was going to happen), she asked him if he thought we'd like to play a show for her at Galapagos in a few days. He said that we probably would. Keep reading, and you will discover that...

August 20, 2005 -- Galapagos, Brooklyn
...we did. It was a little weird, we played after some dance or theatre thing, it is all a haze of weird art that I don't really care to know anything about. I was a little nervous about playing at 5pm to that sort of crowd so I quickly drank about 8 ounces of bourbon. That didn't seem to be enough, so I started demanding that the quietly attentive audience purchase me a beer. Oddly enough, someone did. It turned out to be one of the organizers, but she refused to let me pay her back. I didn't really understand why we didn't get a guest list or any drink tickets, but since we weren't getting paid I guess it all made sense. I'm sure someone is to blame, and it might very well be us. It sounds bleak, but it was actually a pretty moving performance. When I say moving, I mean that the stage was quite large and Kevin spent at least half the set dragging his drums around it, chasing me, mocking me, whispering sweet nothings in my ear.

October 4, 2005 -- Redd's, Brooklyn
We played yet another show with Zeke Healy (I can't really complain about that, it is always a pleasure to share a stage with this upstanding young gentleman), and Pearl (a dude who dresses up like Janis Joplin and not surprisingly plays Janis Joplin songs). The stage was small and there weren't that many humans there, but at least the humans who were there were friendly and we didn't get beer cans thrown at us. Although it sounds really awesome, I cannot tell you enough that it is actually quite painful to get aluminum objects filled with alcoholic liquid thrown at your skull. If you don't believe, have a few drinks with your friends and then experiment with different ranges, different brands, what have you. Let me know what you discover.

October 6, 2005 -- Cake Shop, Manhattan
The paper said that Kevin Shea was performing a solo set, whatever that means. Rather than let Kevin get lonely, I accompanied him and no one was particularly surprised as that is the sort of thing we are prone to doing. I do recall being particularly drunk that night, which means that it was probably one of our particularly drunk shows. If you've seen us a few times you might have had the pleasure of witnessing one of these. Amy was right up front for our whole set, which we very much appreciated. She even gave us $20 out of the door, which we especially appreciated. I like trying to get some food in Kevin's stomach one in a while. I will pause right here and note that although amounts of money (or lack of, as the case may be) are often mentioned we are not obsessed with such things. Kevin just likes to pay his phone bill once in a while, and as he is quite literally a full time drummer he relies on getting money from gigs to put food in his stomach. So if he ever seems a little bitter about it, just remember that when you put money in our hands you literally are feeding at least one starving musician. You might not know this about Kevin but he has weird stomach problems too so he mostly only eats yogurt, although he mixes it up with expensive, organic food as it is the only substance his intestines are capable of successfully digesting. This is not so much of a plea as an explanation. Oh yeah, he doesn't like beer either. Only expensive bourbon for mister fancy pants.

October 13, 2005 -- Red & Black, Brooklyn
It looked promising when we turned up as there were quite a few people there when we arrived. We are not used to that sort of reception, but as usual it was news to people that we were actually performing. There are some shows that I understand us not exactly being billed on, but when we are asked to play a show and told that it will be promoted as such it would be nice if the people in attendance were aware of such things. I suppose it only adds to our mystery, any show could be a Puttin' On The Ritz show (and many have been, much to the surprise and occasional dismay of promoters, clubs, bands, concert-goers, etc.) What mystery remains, that is the question, that is what still haunts me to this day.

October 16, 2005 -- Pachyderm Haus, Brooklyn
The Pachyderm Haus is essentially (well, not essentially, in actual fact) a garage in Dumbo. We decided that although there was some foot traffic, there would be more if we actually played in the street. This was probably to our advantage as we managed to confuse not a few people on their way to see "art" in "galleries" or whatever. In an apartment across the street people were making signs with taunts or jeers or love letters written on them, I couldn't read them because I didn't know they were there. I did see a little kid dancing at some point, which is really all you can ask for. I've heard the market for children's music is quite lucrative, perhaps one that we can tap for the millions we so richly deserve. I got the last laugh a few weeks later when I received a check for our performance fee in the amount of $20. Take that!
Read Kevin's account here, if you dare.

October 31, 2005 -- Tecate, Brooklyn
We had the honor (and the privelege, if you like) to play with such legends as Calvin Johnson, Hella, Japanther, Old Time Relijun, and Tender Forever. If you prefer the word myth to legend, feel free to replace it, it is none of my business. In fact, replace any words you might feel uncomfortable with, perhaps my order was not quite cunning enough. Regardless, bands could not play inside any later than 12am. As Hella finished at 11:45pm, it became clear that we would be unable to play on the stage. Well, it was unbeknownst to Kevin at the time as he had run off to the East Village for some other show that he didn't really end up playing. So I set up his drum kit on the street corner, and when he arrived I proceeded to yell myself hoarse as the only microphone I had wasn't actually plugged into anything. We had planned on performing as Simon & Garfunkel but didn't actually have time to practice any of their songs so we didn't. We did add "Last Caress", which Kevin managed to play completely wrong simply because he'd never heard The Misfits before. It was a glorious evening (not too cold, quite a few people watching) to be playing in the street. We are not mere buskers, we are superheroes, etc.
Kevin had some things to say about this evening as well, and if you look here you can absord them through your eyeballs.

November 7, 2005 -- Club Exit, Brooklyn
There were lots of people at this show. Most of them failed to come to the VIP or whatever lounge we were playing in. Death from Above 1979 started their set approximately 7 minutes into ours so we played one more song and called it a night.
Kevin was much more verbose about the show, and should you be interested in such things you can look here to learn more.

November 18, 2005 -- Fireproof Gallery, Brooklyn
This was yet another Casey Block curated event. Thank you Casey, as we had a blast. Kevin did not have his kick drum so we turned a table on its side and used that instead. This night introduced, to my knowledge, the first time that Kevin did a headstand and played the drums simultaneously. I responded by sticking my head between his legs and singing. Fun? Fun. You try it whist drinking a bourbon and see how well you fare.

November 19, 2005 -- Matchless, Brooklyn
Casey was having a party and asked us to play. There were several bands before us that he had nothing to do with booking; they ranged from horrible to not so good, from what I could tell. Some woman came up to me and demanded that I give her the microphone whilst we were singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", but I refused on the grounds that it seemed like a bad idea. Kevin's drums fell over (mostly because they cannot support his weight) a few times, a few drunk Polish men at the bar shot us some dirty looks, and then Casey told me we could play one more song just as I was about to announce that the next song would be our last. We know when to hit it and quit it, most of the time anyway.

December 13, 2005 -- Delancey Lounge; Manhattan, NY
A friend of a friend put this show together, I don't think I ever really even got the names of the other bands. We played downstairs, where we had never actually played before. I'm not used to all the stage lights and monitors, I can't see anything and all I can hear is the sound of my own voice. So I think people were out there, and I think they were applauding, but I was locked in some sort of feedback loop and I was feeling unwell so it might have all been in my head.

December 17, 2005 -- Exit Art; Manhattan, NY
I was a little disappointed with this show, I have to admit. We were really excited about doing it because La Suprette last year was so much fun. We even rehearsed for the first and only time in 2005 in preparation and learned 3 (three!) new songs. Of course, playing at 2:30pm when everybody is busy shopping in another room is not particularly conducive to playing well or having too much fun. The fact that I was still a bit ill probably didn't help, either. We did debut our fully rehearsed version of "Earth Angel", now destined to be a classic (as well as Fiona Campbell's favorite). A part of me wanted to stay and see the other bands (most of which contained at least several friends) but I was in a bit of a bad mood and the dude who sang opera whilst playing a wine glass didn't really inspire me to hang out.

December 19, 2005 -- Scenic; Manhattan, NY
Now this was the show of the season. We went on at 1:30am, fully drunk, with Vaz and The Good Good scheduled to play after us. A few songs into our set the barback or whatever comes up and tells us, quitely loudly, that the cops are here because of a noise complaint and we have to stop. We viewed this with a bit of skepticism, as we are an acoustic band and the DJ upstairs was in all likelihood much louder than we were. Kevin informed me later that he had been on a Lenny Bruce kick, which is why he stood up and start screaming obscenities and then sat back down and started playing the drums again. The barback came back up on the stage and knocked the drums onto the ground as everyone else in the room inched closer to the stage in case it came to blows. Kevin Shea is respected in some circles, at least. Kevin screamed a few more things (something about how The Ritz can't be stopped, I cannot recall) and then immediately loaded out his gear and hopped in a cab. The same barback could be overheard saying "Man, that guy doesn't even have his chops." While there are many things that can be said of Kevin Shea, you cannot say that he is a sub-par drummer. Well, you can say it, but it would be a lie. I was told later that it was quite the event to have witnessed, apparently everyone's night was made by watching Kevin completely disintegrate or whatever it was that he did. I still don't really know and I was on stage watching at the time. Ask him next time you see him, if you're curious. We are in all likelihood banned from Scenic now, but since I can't see myself trying to book us there again anytime soon I'm not too worried about it.

January 9, 2006 -- Knitting Factory Old Office; Manhattan, NY
The trilogy is complete, it took us some time but we have now played every floor of the Knitting Factory. I don't think anything particularly memorable occurred, we played really well to a mostly empty house. It took the crowd a little bit to warm up to us, they were applauding not just politely by the end. The woman working the door complimented me on our performance, I think I am still amazed when strangers come up to me and admit that they like my band. I, of course, think we are amazing. I don't necessarily expect others to share my view, of course. If ten people had come to see us then we would have gotten 70% of the ticket price of every person after that who came. Thus, not wanting to embarrass ourselves, we showed ourselves out. Hello, 2006.