Tonight, we will take the stage at the Ottobar for the first time since I joined the band a year and a half ago. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves (no jinxo!), but we're excited about the crowd we're expecting and the performance we'll put on. Given the occasion, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the highlights and lowlights of the 27-something shows I've played so far:
- There was my very first show with the band. The opening act took two hours to soundcheck for an hour and a half long set. The soundcheck was the better performance.
- There was a bizarre festival "circuit" in the fall of 2011. One of these gigs included an 11 am set in an outside parking lot "stage" in blazing hot weather. It ended with Dave chucking a kazoo 20 yards in frustration. Two weeks later, we played another festival in Dewey Beach. The venue was massive, the weather was drizzly, and the crowd was absent. Luckily, the next-door liquor store had a special on airline vodka bottles.
- There were shows where we overcame atypical circumstances to win people over: the working class fishing town of Gloucester, MA. The upscale wine crowd in Annapolis. The bouncer who looked like Billy Idol in New Haven.
- There were shows where I had my own personal disasters: tuning equipment fiascos at the Metro Gallery. Hitting the microphone with my bass head and creating a tritone over the silent ending of "Applewood" during a particularly cursed mid-July show in 2011. Hitting the wrong pre-chorus note four times in "There Was Light" because I thought my bass was merely out of tune, not that I was actually hitting the wrong note. You learn to prepare beforehand. You learn to get good equipment.
- There were shows when my bandmates had their own foibles. Justin drinking too much coffee before a Wind-Up space show last Winter, which made his voice sound like Kermit the Frog's. Dave breaking strings on his guitar. Dan doing things that I can't remember off the top of my head...dammit. I guess these are pretty minor things.
- There were, of course, the good shows: Cafe Nola in August of 2011, where the crowd sang along to our best songs and bought us endless drinks afterward. Opening for the Of Montreal-based Yip Deceiver at the Metro Gallery in January of this year. When a member Of Montreal calls your band "phenomenal," you tend not to give a fuck what anybody else thinks.
- There were numerous good times playing Pianos in NYC, including the most recent show, where our car broke down halfway to the gig. Justin was already at the venue, so me, Dan, and Dave rallied in our extremely posh loaner Ford Flex to the gig, literally running on stage to play a truncated set. We never doubted for one second that we would leave Justin behind.
That last sentence was a lie.
- There was my personal favorite gig: A headlining night at the Brillobox in Pittsburgh this past February. It didn't snow much at all last Winter, but the flakes started falling as soon as we reached city limits, neatly conforming to every image I've had of the steel city (or as it's known now, the "mid-level white collar city" (c) Onion) that's been portrayed on film. We played a good set to a great crowd, then hightailed it home at 2 am. There was no heat in the van, we were frozen, and the gusts of wind made us all feel as if the rickety 1993 Ford was about to disintegrate. Halfway there, Dave was nearly asleep, we were 25 miles from the nearest hotel rest stop, and none of the rest of us were in any condition to drive. We get to the reststop, Dave says "fuck it, I feel good now" and drives us all the way home. I get to see the dawn for the first time in years, crawling over the Baltimore skyline from my apartment. This is why you play in bands.
We've come full circle to play our first big hometown headlining gig in over a year. So, please come out tonight and enjoy the true beginning of our new album cycle. We're going to give it our best...NO JINX.