Gig report: Strawberry Band
Everyone's experience is going to be different and your mileage may vary, but for me, the apex venue for loud energetic music is the basement or small bar. As both a performer and a concertgoer, I find that both of these spaces are more fun than a larger club. There's an intimacy that grants a performer a greater ability to affect the crowd-- if you're dancing they'll be way more likely to dance. And if people dance, or move in any way at all, the music will affect them more. Also the sound is oftentimes better, by virtue of being a smaller, less-echoey space. And a small crowd fills the room, which is ideal, and in my experience is not only valuable for the psychological feeling of being at a packed show, but because it again leads to a greater likelihood for ecstatic dancing. It's easier to disappear yourself in a fairly thick crowd than one that's more spaced-out, and disappearing into sound is a key aspect of ecstatic dance. Sometimes the band's gotta go in for a bigger location or a different set up, and different genres have different requirements, I hope that's obvious. I felt that this particular gig was perfectly tuned to weird bar.
The night was lovely, it was Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year Of The Rat. A great night for a punk show! The crowd was great, and all the bands were dynamite. The show started very close to on time and it seemed like a fair amount of people got there early just to hang out! I guess you can do that at a bar. If you get to a basement show too early it can be awkward, but if you go to a show at a bar early then you're just... hanging out at a bar with the bands.
Of course I always get the jitters before a show, we all do. This time around Dan Wars brought a bag of balloons and we sat around blowing them up and filling the room with them. It was nice to have a physical task to do, and when the first people showed up we roped them in to help us out. I liked having the balloons on the floor, it made the floor seem a little drunk. Also I feel like decorating a little bit demonstrates a good intent. It shows care and creates a feeling of specialness. Next time if we do "balloon joke" as our party task (big if) I'm going to not blow them up so much, so maybe they'll pop less often. As it was they were popping at intervals just far enough apart that you'd scream, then forget about it, then get fully shocked anew at the next one. The popping was an unfortunate consequence. I'm not trying to PTSD anyone out there, just trying to "make the floor seem drunk". Sorry for all the popping.
Once the show started it flew by. Alpha Error, RONG, Funeral Cone, all great. Alpha Error has matching outfits, a color scheme, a banner, AND their own lighting ANNND they were good!!! Ay yi yi. RONG played a locked-in herky jerky noise rock, but with Thin Lizzy twin guitars, that's incredible. Funeral Cone was good as always, they're dripping out the new ones, and I'm happy that DW's pivoting from talking between songs about how much he hates the Beatles to how much he loves the Bay City Rollers. I don't mega agree with either statement but in both cases I can see where he's coming from. I felt like our set went great, a mix of Jacob The Terrible songs and some newish ones, plus a cover of a Cool Breeze song and cover of "Linda Linda" by the Blue Hearts. I'm happy to report that "Linda Linda" went over just like in the movie, and also that there were 2 people in the room that could understand the Japanese lyrics and they went absolutely bananas.
I saw a few pics of the set but mostly they're a wash, because the person taking the pic was pogoing too hard (top pic), or they were trying to take a video but couldn't stop themselves from singing along. Honestly that's pretty ideal! Any picture of me that's in focus is an insult to my vibrancy!
It's been a while since the last band name I was 100% enthusiastic about and wanted to write on things, maybe the last one was "Puzzled Panther" (c 2004). This band is called "Strawberry Band", absolutely delightful. Naming a band can be extremely arduous, and to be honest this task has either set back or completely derailed more than one music project I've been involved in. For years I was a solo musician, and choosing a name as a solo act is very difficult, there's no one to bounce ideas off of. For solo stuff I flitted around between a few names, never lasting long, or just used my regular human name, a default solution that I found inelegant, bordering on vulgar. It was a blessing to float out the name "Strawberry Band" on the group chat and get a resounding "sounds good". It's me, MZ, Uncontrollable Frank, and Cory.
The difficulty in a name is that you want it to sound cool but also be odd enough to result in productive shadowplay over a long period of time. I've already got a lot of great strawberry riffs on deck, and I'm sure there's more to find (the name "strawberry" comes from "strewn berry" for the way the berries are scattered at the base of the plant). And even if you don't go in for poetics, you have to admit that strawberries (I don't anticipate any conflict here) are delicious! There's one other band currently in operation called Strawberry Band, that's a modern band problem-- the shared name. But they're an all-women Beatles cover band out of Mexico, so I don't think we're going to have people showing up at our gig expecting them, or vice versa, and I don't think they plan on making recordings.
Incidentally if you're in a band with no name, and in any shade of agony about it, let me know what kind of music it is and I'll send you a short list of names. Real offer! Also if you have a DIY venue that's just named [name of street] or [number of house] just reach out, but please also include an intent number from 0 (goofass shitball) to 6 (artworld passing). Bands I've named in the past (not including bands I've been in) include Funeral Cone, Bloody Swimsuit, Feedbacula, and Garbage Strike. I feel like there were more but I can't remember?? Are you out there? I've also had the good fortune to name a boat for someone: "the Elizabeth Bishop". That boat sailed around the world! Or it sailed some of it anyway, if I remember correctly.
- "Linda Linda" from the movie "Linda Linda Linda": [link]
- I told a lot of people at the show to look this up, so I'll just post the link, it's a youtube search for "Blue Hearts with subtitles". Great band!!!! All these songs rip. [link]
- "Rollers Gig"- great song about the Bay City Rollers, written and recorded pseudonymously by Nick Lowe to try to get out of a contract. But he fucked up and wrote too good a song: [link]. This is on my songs about other bands playlist. The Rollers are such a crazy band, they look so stupid now and no one listens to them but they probably seemed like the number one band on the planet for a period of time! The were the first band to be "the biggest band since the Beatles" and probably all the execs thought "this is how we're gonna do it from now on- one big band at a time". Luckily it didn't work. That said, the song "Saturday Night", that's a good song.
- UPDATE 2020/12/01: Dirty Doug sent me the recording of our set from this show and it sounds incredible! I posted it, and wrote more about it, here: [link]