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#12- Flannel High at Griffith Park, 6-6-09

I played a last minute gig this past Saturday afternoon with my 90's grunge tribute band Flannel High at a cancer benefit over at Griffith Park.  For previous thoughts on the band you can click here and scroll down to the third part "Wednesday".     

I am now attempting to recreate this entry.  It was FINISHED (except for the links) and my computer just crashed.  Ouch.  These take about an hour (ish) to write.  I'm trying to stop mentally smashing the computer.  I think I could reach the pool from our balcony with a good heave.  I KNOW I could get the neck of my Jazz bass right through the monitor with a good windup.  Okay, taking deep breaths, slowing my heart rate, relaxing my shoulders.  WHY DIDN'T I HIT SAVE?!?!  Sigh...

(just hit save)

Literally dragged out my SVT 8x10, Ashdown head, full pedal board, and Precision bass.  As you can see from the photo, it was a SMALL stage we were dealing with.  We set up the amps behind us and considered having all non-drummers stand in front of the stage.  Eventually, being the prima donnas that we are, the thought of setting our pedal boards in the dirt convinced us otherwise.  Also, the P.A. system was, um, not necessarily adequate for a loud rock band.  They had two small speakers powered by a generator.  Three inconsistent-signal-receiving wireless microphones but only one functional mike stand.  I ended up bungee chording my mike to the stand and setting said stand atop the kick drum case to get it up high enough to sing into.  Seriously.  Check out these photos...

Crap.  Can't figure out how to rotate photos.  The one on the left is a good shot of my bungee treatment.  The one on the right SHOULD be rotated, but if you tilt your head you might be able to see how the mike stand is sitting on top of a drum case, anchored down by my chord bag, and generally ridiculous looking.  "Hey MacGruber, are you making a margarita?"

(Just hit save again)

Tone a Friend
Managed to get a useable bass tone, despite the traditional difficulty of doing so for me at outdoor gigs.  The low end was beefy but I didn't quite get the top end punch or clarity I like.  Messed around throughout the show with the Boss Bass EQ pedal but to no avail.  Still, had a good time with the low-end heavy sound.  Forced me to play a little different, less of a "notes" thing, more of a percussive sliding around approach. 

Doing the Two Step
One unfortunate side effect of having my microphone on a drum case was that I had to reposition my right foot to the side of my pedal board when I would lean in to sing my harmony parts.  That spot is also exactly where my cable plugs into the side of the board.  I managed to step on and unplug my instrument three or four times throughout the set.  Quickly re-attached it each time, usually with my foot but once had to bend down and do it manually.  Nothing ruins the momentum like your sound disappearing in the middle of a phrase :).  


It Was Supposed to Say Spinal Tap and Puppet Show
Okay, in all honesty, this show was kinda rinky dink.  We pulled up to see the "band" before us was a couple of fourteen year old girls singing karaoke.  The P.A. was pretty much crap.  I've opened for a yo yo team before (eggplant serious), so I know what I'm talking about here.  BUT, we had fun anyway.  It was a great cause, the organizers were cool, the sparse crowd was appreciative.  People were walking laps around us in a walk-a-thon sort of activity and we knew we had more ears than eyes.  Plus, it was a good run-through for our upcoming show at Rusty's on the Santa Monica Pier next Friday night.  

The Band
We kinda kicked ass all things considered.   We hit the changes/stops/endings we'd been working on at rehearsal recently.  Dan played great and did a good job of drumming at a reasonable volume for our limited P.A. situation.  Tony ripped some smokin' solos on "Alive" and "Low".  Doug killed it on guitar but his vocals were tough to hear until we switched his mike with the one on the kick drum halfway through, and he sounded better from then on out.  Also, It's funny how people respond to some of these cover tunes.  After so many years of doing original sets I forget how cool it is when you see that look on peoples faces that says "I friggin' LOVE this song".  Helps get an audience on your side when they've heard your material ten thousand times on the radio.  This seems like a good time to segue into...

...The Set List
 I know at least a few of y'all will be at our show on Friday, so in case you don't want to spoil the surprise I'll right align the set list and you can avert your eyes and skip over this part.  
Alive (Pearl Jam)
Plush (STP)
Cherub Rock (Smashing Pumpkins)
My Hero (Foo Fighters)
Low (Cracker)
Medley (Various Artists)
Creep (Radiohead)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)

We'll probably sneak in at least one or two more on Friday.  Rock songs in the 90's were long, seriously, our tunes average 4 and a half minutes and several are much longer.  


Costume Party
Part of the fun of playing in a tribute band is dressing the part.  We're still working on all that, but we are slowly but surely dialing in our grunge look.  Doug has his Kurt Cobain striped sweatshirt, Dan and I rocked the flannel, I wore my woodsy lumberjack hat I found the other day at 7-11.  Tony topped us all with his wig and knit cap look.  Actually I've got a close up photo of me in my getup that Doug's sister-in-law snapped with my new digital camera...
I promise I'll figure out this rotating thing and come in and fix these some day.  

(Definitely saving now after I uploaded the photo)

The Grade
Hate to say it, but it feels like another B-ish outing.  Played pretty well, only a couple little bad notes.  Sang reasonably considering the poor monitoring situation.  Hit the changes we'd been working on.  Had fun with the bottom-heavy tone, did some greasy sliding about.  But the tone wasn't what I was after.  And I kept unplugging myself.  I played well, but didn't kill it.  Didn't feel sonically free enough to surf about with total confidence.  But it was pretty good.  I'm gonna go with B+.  

Up Next
Since this was a last minute gig, I didn't mention it in the last "Coming Up" section of this here blog.  That means I'll have to pimp the same two shows that are in the near future that I did last time.  I've got Arrica Rose and the ...'s Thursday night at Hotel Cafe, and the aforementioned Flannel High gig at Rusty's on Friday night.  Should be a great week of shows, I have high expectations for turnout and general fun-factor for both of those.  Sweet.  


Okay, thanks as always for following along.  I think the mailing list is up to about 25 people and I know there are some folks who pop in from one of the links I post online.  I have reasonable confidence that there are 6 or 7 of you who consistently get to the end of these entries.  Maybe more?  No way of knowing for sure.  If you're reading one of those links and want to have this emailed to you directly hit me up at sinjingiles @yahoo.com.  

Talk soon, probably next weekend after those two shows.  Double entry perhaps?  Hmmmm...