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#8- My Own Machine at Molly Malone's, May 11th.

 

Okay, My Own Machine's debut gig arrived at last, and appropriately, M.O.M.'s coming out party was the day after Mother's Day!  Well, technically we did a few shows about four years ago when we had a different name.  And it was the same three guys.  And we played several of the same songs.  But still, it felt like a debut gig, what with the new name, some new songs, a different vibe and more focus.  

Archival links
Because I'm starting to write about some of my bands and projects multiple times, It's gonna get redundant for me to do the whole "intro to the band" routine every time, with names and links and whatnot.  In the interest of cutting to the chase, I'm gonna be leaving those out where appropriate and replacing them with a relevant link to a previous entry.  So, for example, if you're interested in some background and previous thoughts on M.O.M., you can click here.  

Sick Men
The story of our prep for this show begins with myself and Brent coming down with some crappy sick symptoms during the half-week before we played.  I was more cold, he was more fever, but neither one was particularly conducive to singing and it made us a bit nervous.  Brent is the sexy lead singer (and ridiculously great guitarist) and I sing harmony in pretty much every song.  I am also quite sexy.  We had a rehearsal two days before the gig and we managed to sing pretty well without blowing our voices out.   Two full days of rest, meds, witch doctors, potions, salves, balms and good vibrations was the order of the day.  In the end (in no small part thanks to the shot of Maker's I had with my friend Ursulla before the set), we did the show symptom-free for all practical purposes.  

Gear
So at Molly's they have a house bass rig, it's an Ampeg head and Ampeg 4x10 cab.  I'm not really a fan, despite the fact that I love Ampeg stuff.  Not sure why, but it never quite hits the magic tone button for me there.  I ALWAYS ask for bass in the monitors and that sometimes helps.  Anyway, I brought my P-bass, full pedal board and used the house rig with some bass pumped through the monitors.  Oh yeah, and I changed strings, FINALLY put some Rotosounds on, I'm never going back.  Had them changed for our rehearsal over the weekend and they were fantastic, ringing out, punchy, none of that whacked out intonation stuff that was going on with the DR's.  

Vibe-tastic
I freaking loved this show!  Really had a blast, felt like we were delivering the goods, even though there were plenty of bad notes to go around (it was our first show in years after all).  The energy was great, it felt honest and powerful.  No trace of disingenuous "performing", I was genuinely caught up in the moment and rode the wave.  

A Night at The Improv
One of the best things about M.O.M. is the little tangents we dive into on occasion.  There are several spots in the set where Brent launches into a solo and we just wing it behind him.  It's different every time in rehearsal and sometimes we get WAY out there before we bring it back.  Crazy fun.  Feels dangerous, which I totally dig.  No rules, no spoken guidelines, no preconceived notions, just "where the hell do we feel like going today?"  We hit those spots good last night, took a couple of trips off the beaten path and managed to come home again.  Killer.  So fun to play with these guys in this "power trio" setting, it really pushes my buttons on multiple levels.  Also, it's been really good for my listening skills to do these improv sections.  I get all connected and hyper-attentive to Brent and Forrest, and I'm not always great at that aspect of playing.  I tend to get caught up in my own world of tone and parts and whatnot.  

Fashionista
Okay, this is completely lame, I know that before I type it.  But I'm (at least sort of) committed to honesty here, so I'm gonna confess; my clothes felt groovy.  It matters.  It's so completely f-ing lame, but it matters.  I felt cool in my getup.  Nothing fancy, just jeans, converse, black undershirt, grey sweatshirt with some stupid symbol on the front (I think Kirsten found it at a mall somewhere).  But it felt right and it contributed to me feeling loose and good onstage, not self-conscious.  Sometimes the duds don't feel right and it can contribute to an attack of The Awkwards.  Okay, enough of this pathetic clothing talk, blech.  

(NOTE: I just spent a full minute debating the deletion or inclusion of the previous paragraph.  It just seems so...silly.  But I'm leaving it in, the truth is silly sometimes).  

Hey Steve, Don't You Usually Bitch About Your Tone in These Blogs?

Well, yeah.  And I will again now.  Tone was not good last night, at least not onstage.  I got some compliments from some people I trust, so maybe it sounded better out front.  My level was apparently too low for the first couple tunes, so I cranked up my stage volume (by popular demand).  I think the sound guy heard the rumblings of "more bass" and followed suit, cause apparently I was way more present from that point on.  

Unfortunately, that didn't help what I was hearing.  As I'm sure most of you know by now, I'm just stupidly sensitive to my tone.  That little rig couldn't push out the sound that I wanted to hear, and I didn't have enough juice in the monitor to make up for it.  I was going for a bunch of pedal board stuff, stomping on the Bass Muff Pi for distortion when Brent was soloing, hitting the wah pedal in a few spots, but it was all a bit mushy and I had to trust my instincts and not my ears.  

Setlist

Shape to Shift, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Don't Wanna Let You Down, Florescent, Infancy, Broken Back, Used to Be, Sing the Silence, Like Lying, You're Used to Hanging On, Big Yawn (encore)

Have I mentioned yet that Brent writes ridiculously great songs?  Ever since our days together in 3 Penny Needle I've been a HUGE fan of his writing.  This set was non-stop winners as far as I'm concerned.  

Some Memorable Moments

-When we hit the chorus of "Shape to Shift" and I started singing, I knew my voice would be okay for the show.  I was worried with all the sore throat crap I've been dealing with, but that was a good feeling when I knew it would be okay for the night.  I got several compliments on my vocals last night, which is always cool.  Oh yeah, when Brent played an extra second chorus in this tune and Forrest and I went with him without missing a beat, I knew we were dialed in and listening to each other.   

-Got into a serious jam during "Broken Back", a D-tuned, semi-sludgy riff tune.  Brent and Forrest were both just killing it, crazy soloing, tribal beat, right in the pocket, super fun.  I did some bass wah stuff (100% Abby Approved!), it was a smokin' 3 minutes of tasty goodness.  

-During the solo of "Sing the Silence" we botched the out cue and Brent and I had trouble navigating back to the song.  It was kinda funny, we're up there looking at each other going "Now?  How bout...now?  No, now?  Okay...now!"  Finally got back on track.  That was our only real ensemble screw up and was still pretty fun.  I also ditched the pick for this song and fingered it up pretty successfully.  Otherwise it was An Evening With Steve and His Pick.  

-"You're Used to Hanging On" is a wicked-fast punkish tune and we really nailed it.  It's a tough one to pull off, lots of stops, punches, time shifts, weird structure, and all at breakneck speed.  We slammed it I must say.  

Molly's

...is a cool little room.  Has a front bar that is separate from the music room in back, so you can hang out pre or post set where the volume is tolerable for conversation if you want.  If they had a better sounding house bass rig it would be one of my favorite clubs to play in town.  Our crowd last night was smallish but enthusiastic, not bad for a Monday night, but I think there will be more at the next one.  

The Grade
Another tough night to judge.  Tone wasn't good.  Energy was GREAT.  Fun-level, very, very high.  I felt like I played pretty well, despite the rough tone, which isn't like me to do.  Hit a couple bad notes, but no train wrecks.  B?  Hmmm.  I think I might be disappointed if I heard an isolated recording of my playing (at least in a couple sections), couldn't hear things well enough to kill it.  But still, IT FELT REALLY GOOD!! This band is not about precision, it's about attitude and conviction.  The mission statement isn't "play as perfectly as possibly", it's more like "take chances and play with balls" and I did both of those things darnit.  I'm saying B+.  Yes Kirsten, it's another grade "in the B's".  Some day there will be an A, C, D, or F, I promise.  

Up Next

Saucy Monky on Wednesdy at The Kibitz Room, then Amy Heffernan the following Wednesday back at Molly's.  Lots of rehearsals in between.  Plenty of thoughts about recent recordings, writing, practicing, and more, but it will have to wait.  

If anyone is reading this from the Myspace or Facebook links and wants to be added to the email list, let me know at sinjingiles@yahoo.com and I'll put you on the list.  

Thanks for reading, talk soon,
-s

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Comments

(Anonymous)

B+? More like B-S!

Kirsten's right. Get outta the Bs.

Sounds like an A- night. Your analysis and critique is about your playing and approach, right? So if you're in a situation when you can't bring your preferred rig to dial in your tone just right, that's not your fault.

You dealt with the house, and you didn't let your imperfect tone throw you off (which has been a problem in the past, it sounds like). You played with balls, took chances, played accurately enough on challenging material (see YUtHO) to not get self-conscious, found your way back admirably when you wandered too far from home, and had fun. What's more, you overcame illness to sing and play well. You even "fingered it pretty" on one song (ewww...).

It's fine to reserve A and A+ for times when everything is just exactly perfect, you hit everything right PLUS add that elusive mojo that takes it over the top. But this doesn't sound like a B+ night.

And if you want to be REALLY honest, you'd tell us what kind of socks and underwear you wore. Confidence starts next to the skin, my man.

Re: B+? More like B-S!

Now we're talking! Great points and it raises the interesting question of "what exactly is my criteria for an A-, A, or A+?" I think I've got some ideas on that subject and will probably write about it in my next post.

Now, who might this anonymous commenter be? Hmmmm. Perhaps GD? That's my first guess. Whoever it is, keep firing with the comments, I love the feedback. This blogging thing is a bit of a vacuum, feels like shouting in an empty house sometimes.

white athletic socks and boxers (well, you did ask),
-s

(Anonymous)

Re: B+? More like B-S!

You're wife is guessing the extraordinary KM made that comment.