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#7- Saucy Monky at U-31 in San Diego, 5-6-09

 

Ah, finally a chance to talk about
Saucy Monky!  We're a four-peice rock band with indie/pop leanings, lots of interesting harmonies and three albums under our belt (two before I came on board a few years back.   Cynthia Catania and Annmarie Cullen alternate on amazing lead vocals, and they each play guitar.  Cynthia plays the lead and effect-laden color parts ("fancy" guitar as Annmarie once called it), and Annmarie holds down the rhythm parts, occasionally on acoustic but lately on electric.  Megan Jane is a recent kick-ass addition on drums, we just played our first couple shows with her a few weeks back and she's been perfect.   

On The Road Again
Saucy has been hitting the
San Diego market recently, so that means the occasional trip South on the 5 freeway (foreshadowing alert).  If it's a week night, we usually make it a round trip and don't bother getting hotel rooms.  This was one of those nights with a 9:30 pm show, 45 minute set, then a 2 hour drive back to LA.  My secret recipe for these trips has been a brief nap in the late afternoon and a "5 Hour Energy" drink/shot from 7-11 before the gig.   Anyway, on this particular Wednesday we played at a funky little joint called U-31 on University Street.  

One of Those Days
Okay, so yesterday was indeed "One of Those Days".  I'm gonna try not to dwell on it too much, but it's worth mentioning.  For starters, I had a cold.  Still do as I type this actually.   My throat is sore and my voice is scratchy.  I've also had a bum knee for several months now, some sort of hyper-extension issue.  So I finally had my doctors appointment yesterday morning and the doc can't find anything wrong.  I limp out the door hoping the X-Rays have a different story to tell.  Then I'm out cleaning pools and I drop my friggin' ipod into a friggin' swimming pool.  It was submerged for at least ten seconds before I fished it out.  It's fried.  Will be buying a new one today because I NEED an ipod, it's a very important part of staying sane whilst cleaning pools for a living, trust me.   

*(By the way, I had two people tell me at the gig that if you ever drop your phone or ipod into a pool, the best way to bring it back to life is to
immerse it in a small bucket of rice overnight.  Apparently the rice pulls the moisture out.  Don't try turning it on or the circuit board will fry.  Don't use a blow dryer on it.  I tried this last night and it didn't help, but I tried to turn it on prematurely when I got home yesterday.)*

So, after a most craptacular day so far, I'm on my way home and I GET REAR-ENDED ON THE FREEWAY by some jackass who isn't paying attention.  Just slams his car into the back of my truck, didn't even hit his brakes once.  "Why yes, I'd just LOVE a giant shot of adrenaline, a sore neck, a mashed-up tailgate/bumper and an hour on the phone with insurance people, that sounds like a great idea, especially since I'm already sick, limping, ipodless, and driving round trip to San Diego in a little while."  Bah.  At least it was his fault and he admitted it.  And he's got insurance.  

The Drive
...was great, always a pleasure  to enjoy the company of
Ms. Cullen, and we made excellent time, despite a 5:30, smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-what-should've-been-rush-hour departure.  The trip from L.A. to San Diego can be dicey but we managed to avoid most traffic and basically flew the whole way there.  Can you say carpool lane?!   Cynthia was in a separate car cause she was working right up to the last minute, and Megan lives in San Diego so we met her at the club.  

Gear
Because of limited space in Kirsten's car (with new tires this week), I brought my smallest rig, the
Hartke Kickback Combo.  Also the P-Bass and full pedalboard.  I was a little worried that Mr. Kickback would be too small for the room but it turned out to be just fine.  I had to push the level on my Sansamp Bass Driver DI and bump up the low end on my Boss Bass EQ pedal to get it to be loud enough and full enough, but it worked out pretty well.  

Maybe too well?
I was getting this zingy, reactive,
Chris Squire kinda tone, slightly broken up cause I was pushing this single 15" speaker, but in a cool, fun way.  Very aggressive, bighting sound got me playing rather aggressive to match.  Probably too much so.  Maybe a little inappropriately so in a few spots.  Captain Overzealous was taking his raspy bass tone out for a spin and having fun, but probably not obeying all the traffic laws, if you know what I mean.  I was digging in with the pick (and fingers on Disco Ball and Turbulence), smacking the strings pretty hard in spots, working the "rock bass upper-register vibrato" and generally overdoing it a smidge.  Megan was laying it down rock-solid on the drums and I think that helped free me up a bit as well (Yeah, that's the ticket, it was her fault for playing so good and taking the pressure of my timekeeping duties!)... 

Strings Revisited
Don't Smoke Death Cigarettes and Don't Buy DR Strings.  I did finally manage to change those black-coated DR's from  last week.  What did I replace them with?  Well, I had this new five string set of DR's with exact matching gages that I use on my 4-strings (.45, .65, .85, .105) and I haven't played my 5 in months.  So I took the four new strings I needed from the 5 string set and put them on the Precision.  Should work fine, right?  Nope.  Better than those coated strings for sure, they had life and punch, but the intonation was all jacked up above the 12th fret.  Plus there was this "wrongness" about them, like when a string pops off the bridge and you don't notice.  Like it isn't sitting right.  The fundamental was there...but also was weird somehow.  I don't know.  Maybe strings for 5's just aren't meant for 4's, even if the gage is identical.  ROTOSOUNDS FROM NOW ON, I PROMISE!!!

Schizoid Man
It's always so amazing to me how profoundly different a player I can be, depending on the sound I'm getting on a given night.  Seriously, it's crazy.  When my tone isn't working, I really can't play a lick.  It's awful and I feel like a fraud.  "Please say hello to Steve Giles on bass folks, isn't it cute how he's completely kidding himself up here!"  Then some nights the tone is pretty good and I feel competent but workmanlike, "Look kids, it's Mediocre Man coming to save the day from total hacks and
virtuosos alike!"  And then on those occasional evenings where it's all buttery and delicious sounding, I have my moments where I think "hey, I might actually be good at this."  It gets effortless and I can go for stuff without it feeling like I'm teetering.  That unconscious flow thing happens and the groove is just something to slide into, not to work at finding.  

Well, last night was somewhere in-between the 2nd and 3rd example.  It definitely wasn't great sounding, between the weird intonation and the single, slightly overdriven speaker, there were issues.  But!  There were moments where it was working and I was free.  Not sure what it was exactly.  Little flashes of the
White Whale to keep the obsession alive I guess.  Gotta love a good chase, especially one that can stretch out over 25 years and counting.  

Maybe a Blessing in Disguise?
Alas, but the dulcet tones of Mr. Giles were absent this evening.  My throat was raspy from my cold/ sore throat thing and I couldn't sing at all.  Not a major loss, I cover the third parts in Saucy and Cynthia and Annmarie can way more than hold there own vocally without me.  Still, it's always fun to sing with those two.  Plus, strangely, it was actually hard to play a couple sections where I normally sing.  Something about my muscle memory has become hardwired to do both at the same time, and I struggled to do just the playing alone.  So I started singing silently to myself in those spots and it was working again.  Bizarre.  

Setlist

We have this killer new tune called "5 South" that would have been oh-so-appropriate to play last night.  Unfortunately the arrangement still had some kinks in it and we aborted at the last minute.  I think everyone else was ready to rock it anyway, but when we were still talking about (and not completely agreeing on) where certain stabs and hits were gonna go five minutes before we hit the stage, I managed to persuade the troops to wait till it was "ready".  Soon.  It's a great song, you'll dig it for sure.  

So we ended up playing the following (this Saucy Setlist officially goes out to my boy
Derek, Joe Cool in Da House, woot!!)

7 Days, All The Things Ya Know, Acrobat, Disco Ball, Solid Ground, Attention, Superstar, Don't Wanna Know Your Name, No One's Here Anymore, Turbulence.  

Between dropping 5 South and having a longer slot than we expected, we ended up adding three songs we hadn't intended to play (Solid Ground, Superstar, Don't Wanna Know Your Name).  So we were winging it a bit and unrehearsed on those.  It was fun, kept my attention in the moment and we pulled it off pretty well.  Couple bad notes here and there, but nothing remotely tragic for rock and roll.  

Room-ination
I like this room, although it's a no-frills kinda joint.  Big square with booths around the sides, tables in the middle, funky bar with cool mirror and lighting to the right (from stage).   Sounds good onstage and although I didn't get to stick around to see the other bands on this night, I've heard groups play here before and it sounds good for sure.  The crowd was receptive, seemed to dig the show, very responsive.  Our San Diego peeps were out to support us (helped to have a local gal on drums I'm sure), plus we had some early arrivals for the "headliners" showing up and they gave us some love.  

Sound Guy Worth Mentioning
I think his name was Stuart, but I'm not 100% sure.  Anyway, this is the second time we've played at U-31 and the sound guy there has been great both times.  He was paying attention, turning up solos, being attentive, getting a great monitor sound (at least on my side of the stage).  I could hear my bass in the mains, and that took some of the pressure off The Little Hartke That Could.  Nice work Stu, you're almost certainly never going to read this but I hope to work with ya again sometime nonetheless.  

Safe and Sound
After the way this day started, I was happy to get home in one piece.  Less than two hours from gig to my parking spot, very smooth ride.  Annmarie rode home with Cynthia so I was solo for this stretch.  Cranked tunes, made a few mental notes for this blog, listened to sports talk radio and drove just a little too fast.  

Grade
Hmmmm.  Goodish but weird tone.  Moments of freedom.  A few bad notes.  Overzealous attack.  Rough intonation.  Fun!  No vocals at all.  I'm gonna say...  B-.  Realistically could be lower just because of the intonation issue (nothing is worse than being out of tune even a little), but I'm going to let the good moments lift up the grade a notch.  The right strings could have made this a B or B+.  

Up Next
In the next couple weeks I've got
My Own Machine at Molly's on Monday the 11th, Saucy Monky again on Wednesday the 13th, and Amy Heffernan at Molly's on Wednesday the 20th (check out her page for the studio version of her cover of "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga, sneak preview of her upcoming album).  Throw in rehearsals, Kirsten's birthday (we're going to see the Decemberists live!) and a trip to Las Vegas (VEGAS BABY!!!), and it'll be a busy stretch.  Life is good, even when you're having "One of Those Days"...

Thanks as always for tagging along.  If anyone out there is reading this from the myspace or facebook posts and would like to be on the email list so you won't miss one single exciting episode, let me know at sinjingiles@yahoo.com and you're in.  

Talk soon,
-s

Comments

(Anonymous)

Hope it gets better!

Wow, Stove, that is ONE CRAPPY DAY. Sorry about your truck (been there, hate it) and your iPod, and your knee and your cold. Ugh.

That's pretty troopin' to just be willing to go down EYE FIVE and play with all that going on. Guess it must be the magic baton at work.

Do tell about how you like the Decemberists show. I think I mentioned to you awhile back that I saw them in '07 and was blown away. Michelle and I are going when they hit the McDonald Theater again, later this month.

Hang in there, and don't let a bad tone grind you down.

KJB

Re: Hope it gets better!

Thanks Kel, twas a rough day but I'm sure I'll have worse soon enough. No lost limbs or jobs or teeth. Still holding out for something much more tragic for the serious complaining to kick in.

And yes, we're totally looking forward to the Decemberists show. We're both big fans of their new CD (gotta love a good concept album) and LOVED them with the LA Philharmonic a couple years back at The Hollywood Bowl.

FYI Grubb Street coming in July! 10th in Eutucky at The Cooler for a Marist reunion, then 11th at Dublin Pub up in Portland.

Hope things are swell, thanks for checking in,
-s