Loincloth: Gettin' Wild in NJ/NY
All racing to get things together aside ( t-shirts, van rental, and the last chance to get "decent' air fare rates for next month's shows ) Loincloth's first weekend as a performing band went incredibly well. The first venue to fall prey to our special brand of "what the hell is that" metal was a "cozy", or "tiny" club in Longbranch, New Jersey called Brighton Bar. It looked more structurally unsafe online than in person, and in hindsight the show ended up being the perfect no-pressure gathering we had hoped for as our official ice breaker. The sound guy really had things rockin' in that small room, and even though my oversized kit didn't fit on the drum riser ( close, but not quite ) I was able to figure out where everything was after about three songs. One of my cymbals broke early on and fell off of its stand, but things happen and it didn't really effect me. My main china type cymbal stand wouldn't fit on the riser, and I had to tape two stands down to the carpet to keep them from rolling off the side of it onto the floor. My secondary china ended up much further away and since I was trying to use it more, that distance was an issue. There is always an adjustment to make live, especially when you have to improvise with your kit.
I had twenty minutes of sleep in thirty three hours until I grabbed an hour and a half snooze in our hotel room before the show, but rock needs no sleep and I had been looking forward to throwin' The 'Cloth out live for a long, long time. Judging by the crowd size, there were about six people in The Garden State who had also been looking forward to Loincloth tearing things up. There was a band that jumped on the bill at the last minute because their all day pop festival had been cancelled and someone said they could play this show. It wasn't the right crowd for them, but they made it through their set and it gave people something to drink during as they waited for the bands they were supposed to see.
The first band scheduled to play that night was El Drugstore, and they were like Dysrhythmia at times, but more metal. I saw their drummer after the show and told him he was the best drummer I had seen in a long time. I meant it! He was great, and a lot of fun to watch. He and I use some of the same "tricks" but he used a lot more single stroke rolls to create a sort of drum static during their songs. If you like heavier instrumental music, check 'em out.
I basically missed Dysrhythmia because I just couldn't stay awake any longer. My nap at the hotel was just long enough to make me feel worse when I woke up. Almost hungover. I thought about crashing in the van outside the club but it was too cold and it seemed kind of lame. Looking like a lifelong alcoholic nodding off beside the stage during every song, but being jarred into consciousness enough to applaud at the right times seemed much cooler, so that's exactly what I did. I probably should have crashed out in the van. I'm sure there were people who were convinced I was "that guy". The one you almost want to call a cab for, but you can't remember the name of the weekly rate motel where he's probably staying. Plus "that guy" sometimes throws unexpected punches or could have tuberculosis.
Day one of "Operation: Clothe the World's Loins" ended with Craig, Thomas and myself chowing down at a diner within walking distance of the hotel at 4:00 am. I had a cheese omelette and hash browns that looked awful but were actually great accompanied by the sweet sounds of "Effin' effiddy eff that effin' eff-hole" coming from no one of less impressive stature than the manager himself as he and the sixty something year old wait staff reflected upon what they learned that day. What they learned was that Loincloth tip well, and that we like hash browns and eggs. I told Monica that we can probably scratch New Jersey off of our list of exotic places to retire in, but I'd rather go someplace other than the North East anyway even though the Latin club beside the venue had cage dancers plainly visible from the parking lot. I guess Jersey is kind of exotic!
Day Two: Brooklyn, NY. We felt instantly more grounded in a place where left turns are a commonly accepted part of daily life ( what the hell, New Jersey? ) and after a night of much needed sleep, we were ready for New York City. It was a gorgeous day, and "Heaven and Hell" was the perfect cd to guide us into town. We totally lucked out and found a parking space on the same block as the club, so we locked up the van and started checking out the hipster capital of America, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NYC.
I'm sure we stood out like sore thumbs. Craig is the only one who looks like a New Yorker, but he is one after all. On a good day I look like a lost Allman Brother, but on most days I just look like someone you've seen cussing at you from some construction crew pick up truck, or that guy who was too drunk to stay awake at the Dysrhythmia show. We checked out the area and eventually grabbed some lunch at an Italian place. The gnocchi was pretty damned good, and we made our way back to the club to begin setting up for the soundcheck. Plenty of people from Raleigh and Tannon's hometown of Richmond had moved to New York, and there was also a decent group of people who came from different parts of Virginia to see the show. I spent a lot of time meeting people and catching up.
I was really happy to see Hank Shteamer and his wife, Laal again. We met at the Godflesh show the night before Confessor played the Maryland Deathfest, not too long after our interview for the Modern Drummer article. He was trying to get his gear in for the show, but we had a minute to see how each other was doing and to say "Hey". His band, "STATS" was actually kind of perfect for that show. They had such a strong Richmond sound, and with so many people there from Richmond I'm sure that they felt right at home. Hank is one of those drummers who looks like he's doing what he loves most when he plays, and I always enjoy watching people who are having fun. Whether they are playing music or whatever, I love watching people who are so happy that they can't hide it. Hank announced that it was his and Laal's anniversary, so that made the night seem a little more special for them. I did get to spend a little more time with the two of them after the show, which I was happy about. You played a great show, Hank! Thanks to both of you for making me feel at home, and for always asking about Monica.
The room we played in that night was pretty small, but it was packed by the time we went on. You could feel the anticipation in the air. I never get nervous at shows, but I may have at this one had I not played a couple times with Confessor recently. I actually had more time than usual to make sure my drums were close to "right" if there is such a thing. I was ready. I was playing with earplugs in for the first time ever at these two shows. I had tried it at the two Confessor shows earlier this year but the monitors were all over the place ( umm... I'm going to suggest it was 'schizophrenic volume knobs' and leave it at that ) and I had to take them out to make heads or tails of what was going on. The monitors were fine last weekend and the plugs just made everything sound like practice. No insane ringing, popping or mysterious, phantom pitch changes! I've been worried about live shows and my ears. Next month will be the test, but I'm feeling pretty good about it after last weekend.
The set went really well and all of our endings and accents were pretty tight, which is what makes the biggest difference. I did drop a stick once but it bounced off of my crash and I caught it on my right shoulder immediately. It was a pretty damned quick recovery and I doubt most people noticed if they didn't see it happen. The audience was phenomenal! There were people who knew our material and were calling out for specific songs. Not what I expected for just our second show! Actually the crowd's enthusiasm never waned, and the roar after every song was the same every time. We were so honored and thankful for that. I can only compare it to some of the kick ass Confessor shows out of town, but it always took us playing a city a few times before there was any following to speak of. The show far exceeded my expectations, and we have Dysrhythmia and their hometown crowd to thank for it!
After our set I spoke to a guy I had met earlier, and he said that there were so many people that he knew of at the show who had been waiting for this opportunity for years, just as we had been waiting for this chance to play live. He said that there was a sense of ownership of the night that many of them shared. Their years of searching for information, wondering if we'd ever record an album and thinking we may never play out finally paid off for them in a very different, but meaningful way. It was indeed a triumph of patience... sticking it out. Sticking it out because we loved the music so much that we did whatever we had to do to make it work, even if it took one eighth of a century to see it through!
To everyone who came out to the shows, and to Kevin, Collin and Jeff of Dysrhythmia who brought it all together for us... Thank you! Dysrhytmhia gave the fans exactly what they wanted and needed to finish out the night. They seemed to really feed off of the energy, and good Lord! they make what they do look so easy... My arms would fall off if I had to play for them, and Jeff seemed to hit much harder than the night before. There was definitely some adrenalin in the room, and they rocked their homecoming show... hard!
Next up, Oregon, Washington and California. All of these shows could end up being really big events. I can't wait to spread The 'Cloth out west! Hopefully the Mayans were just lazy in not finishing their calendar and all of the hooplah about the End of Days will be for nothing. Or maybe the aliens who promised them a new chapter in life on Earth will have since discovered Jersey Shores and are thinking to themselves that someone beat them to the punch. Until I saw it for myself last weekend I was working under the assumption that the show was pure fantasy, and that no place could breed such people. Now I'm not so sure! Effing eff that eff'd up show and all of the effing people who wanna be like that! Effin' effers!