Posts tagged ‘Fontana’s’

5/2/09: 100 Bands in 100 Days Final Show with Takka Takka, Anamanaguchi & Right on Dynamite @ Fontana’s (100/100)–PART 2

May 3rd, 2009

photo by Mike Pollock

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Go back to Part 1

The 100th show: Part 2

Showtime

Friends started showing up, and then just kept coming and coming all night long. First, it was Brent and Tim. Then John and Kara. Then Lance. Then Scott, Josh, Dave, Dan. Then Thomas…and so on and so forth. The next thing I knew, the place was packed, the open bar was in full effect, and we were just 30 minutes away from the music. I was running around like headless chicken and getting dizzy from bouncing from one person to the next. But it was awesome that everyone was as excited as I was.

Al and Francis took the stage just before 9:30 to introduce me. Then I thanked them for throwing the party and everyone for coming, and then introduced the first band of the night: Right on Dynamite.

They took the stage and fucking rocked the house. It was awesome. People were dancing, jumping around, having a great time and I was just loving it. I saw ROD on day 8 of the project, and they sounded just as good, if not better this time around. They were super excited to be playing tonight, and you could feel it. Toward the end of their set they announced that they had a few songs left, and then one “special song” after. That “special song” was the one I was going to perform with them: “I’m so tired,” by The Beatles. The song that best sums up what it feels like to see 100 consecutive days of live music.

And there were the butterflies again. Man, I was nervous. I thought I would forget the chords, and the words, and look out into the crowd and just freeze up. All those normal stage fright things. But once I stepped on stage and the crowd went nuts, none of that happened. Jon clicked it off, I played the opening lick and then the first words of the song came right out:

I’m so tired. I haven’t slept a wink.

I’m so tired, my mind is on the blink

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photos by Mike Pollock of 50showsat50.blogspot.com

It was the longest 2-minute song I’ve ever played. And the most fun. Thankfully Dan and Nick helped me out on vocals. Even though I had the lyrics taped to mic stand, I still stumbled over a few words here and there. But whatever. I was doing it, and it was awesome.

We finished the song. The crowd went wild. And my rock star moment was complete. But not my time on the stage. I had some awards to give out. A few weeks before the final show, I decided I wanted to honor those people who’ve played important roles in the project. I made up little gold and platinum records with 100 Bands in 100 Days artwork, and a plaque.

Here are the awards I gave:

The Farthest Distance Traveled Award, to Brent Boswell
The Most Shows Attended Award, to Jeremy Egner
The Guy Behind the Guy Behind the Guy Award, to Francis Garcia
The Badass Motherfucker Who Went out of his way to Make Sure This Project Was the Best It Could Be Award, to Al Risi

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Then I introduced the next band: Anamanaguchi. They’re a great 4-piece instrumental band that routes their instruments through an old Nintendo. Yes! Gamer rock! I loved it and so did everyone else. The crowd was really digging them, which was great. You just never know with an instrumental band. But they’re so high energy and fun and original that it’s hard not to love them.

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As Anamanaguchi continued to crush it on stage, I saw some of the guys from Takka Takka and thanked them for playing the show. They returned the sentiment and were happy to be asked. Anamanaguchi finished up their set, and then suddenly the show was almost over. How did that happen?

I got up on stage again between sets and thanked the band, reminded everyone to stick around for the third and final band, Takka Takka. Then, I bopped around the party, hoping to talk with some friends I hadn’t had a chance to say more than two words to all night. The best thing about being the guest of honor is having all your friends turn up for your party. The hardest part is not being able to spend a long time with any of them.

After a pretty quick set up Takka Takka was ready to go. I first heard of this band when they played at SummerStage with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Architecture in Helsinki a few years ago. I missed their set that night so I was looking forward to seeing them tonight. And I was excited for the finale. The last and final band. The final piece of the puzzle. After Takka Takka, the 100 days would be complete. I have to admit, I was a bit sad to see it all come to an end. As difficult as it was, and as long as the 100 days felt, I was going to miss it for sure. But first, Takka Takka was going to bring it all home.

As they started playing, it hit me once again that this was actually happening. That all the people in the room were there because of me. That the band on stage, and the two bands that stood there before them were there because of an idea I had. All the cameras, lighting, the director, DPs, the sound guy, the open bar, and all the planning – everything was because of this project. That is a fucking humbling feeling, to say the least.

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Takka Takka played an awesome set, finishing out the night, and the project, in a great way. They are a fun, easy going rock band with a sound as unique as their name. The guys in the band were so nice, and seemed really happy to be there. Good times all around.

After the set, I took the mic one last time to thank all the bands and everyone left standing for being a part of this monumental night in this project and my life. And, apparently, I was cursing like a drunken sailor. Hey, I’ve always said I’m a writer, not a speaker.

And that was it. The 100 days was complete. The binge gigging was over. I did it. And it was time to go home.

What will I do next? Will there be another 100 days project? Will I go through live music withdrawl? Will I be able to go home and sit around and watch TV without getting bored out of my mind? When will the documentary of this event be available to see? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions right now. But I’m looking forward to having the time to figure them out.

All I can say is, stay tuned. You haven’t heard the last of me.

See more photos from the Final Show

5/2/09: 100 Bands in 100 Days Final Show with Takka Takka, Anamanaguchi & Right on Dynamite @ Fontana’s (100/100)–PART 1

May 3rd, 2009

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The 100th show: Part 1

Wow. I have no idea what to say about this party. What an amazing, amazing night.

I will start off by saying thanks to Al Risi from ARMM and Francis Garcia from Shout It Out Loud Music for throwing me such a kick ass party. Thanks to Right on Dynamite, Anamanaguchi and Takka Takka for rocking the house all night. Thanks to Bruce Ashley of Company X and his film crew for documenting every last second. Thanks to Sunshine for flying in from London, Brent for flying in from San Fran, John for flying in from Minnesota, Tim for driving down from Massachusetts, and everyone else in NY who came to Fontana’s last night to help celebrate the culmination of 100 consecutive days of live music with me.

This was the coolest party I’ve ever been to and been a part of. Here’s how it all went down. And just so you know, this is going to be a long post, so get comfortable.

Pre-show madness

I got a call around 4pm from John, one of the DPs from Company X who was filming the night. He was outside my apartment, waiting to jump in a cab with me to film an interview on the way to the venue. I was headed there early for Right on Dynamite’s sound check, and to practice a song I was going to perform with them after their set. The other two bands were coming in from out of town, so they wouldn’t be able to sound check this early.

I stepped out of my apartment, and John already had the camera going. We hopped in a cab, did a quick interview on the ride over, then he jumped out of the cab at Fontana’s. When I went inside, Al was already there, and John did a short interview with him as well. I did sit around for few minutes just waiting – the calm before the storm, if you will. Then Right on Dynamite showed up and it was on.

We headed downstairs where Bruce and his crew had been setting up all day. That’s when I realized how real tonight was going to be. I mean, there were multiple cameras set up, including one a fucking dolly in front of the stage! They brought their own lighting for the stage, to spotlight the bands, etc. It was out of control, in an awesome way. They even had like 3 or 4 Flip cameras on tripods. Unbelievable.

I did a little setting up of my own by hanging some pictures my friend Alan shot for me of the more tangible items I’d collected along the way: wristbands, ticket stubs, flyers, my little written record opened up to where Les Paul signed it, my nasty ass earplugs, camera, and so on. I even had a bunch of commemorative posters made up for the night and set them up for sale, too.

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Right on Dynamite started their sound check and that was one more reminder of how real tonight was. And then I got nervous, too. Earlier in the week, my friend Brent suggested that I play a song during the party. He suggested “I’m so tired” by the Beatles. I don’t know if he imagined I’d take him so serious, but I did. After he said it, I immediately IM’d Al and had him ask the band. They were totally into it, practiced the song at rehearsal all week, while I did a little practicing at home. And tonight, I was going to do it in front of everyone at the party.

What am I nuts? I’m a guitar player, not a singer. But the song was so fitting that I just had to do it. Fuck it, right? After ROD sound checked, it was my time to get up on stage and run through the song with them. It went pretty well actually, but I was still nervous as hell about playing it tonight.

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Calm before the storm

By 6:30 the venue was set up, ROD had finished with sound check and now I finally got a moment to sit and relax and take a few deep breaths before everyone started to arrive. We actually had to clear out of the room by 6:30pm since there was a band who actually had a gig that night at Fontana’s, who I’m sure were saying “WTF?” when they saw all the film equipment, etc.

Oh, wait. I forgot. I didn’t get to relax yet. I still had to do an interview. I thought it would be some hand held interview like Al did earlier, boy was I wrong. This shit was really official. They had an area set aside that was pre-lit with two cameras. I sat down and we did about a 30 minute interview. Itwas a lot of fun to be able to reflect on the project just before celebrating the end of it.

Ok, so after that I actually did get to relax a bit. Al had run home to change and print out the guest list, etc. Francis took off for a bit too, I think. And it was finally just Sunshine and me, relaxing in a booth upstairs having a drink. But not for long…

Continue to Part 2

4/29/09: The Megan Wolf Project @ Fontana’s (97/100)

April 30th, 2009

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It’s all happening.

The final day is finally near. Which means, the final event/party/show is also near. I haven’t talked about it much yet, but here’s what’s happening. My friends Al from ARMM and Francis from Shout It Out Loud Music are sponsoring the 100th day. They booked Fontana’s as the venue, three secret bands (to you, not us), and we invited who I could. It’s a small venue, so the list is tight. If I was unable to get you in, I apologize in advance.

Tonight we all met up at Fontana’s for a quick walk through of the venue. Francis has a video crew coming as well, to document the night/project. So they had to do a quick tech scout of the room. We talked details, met the contact at Fontana’s and so on. The planning for this event has mostly taken place via email, phone calls, etc. I’ve been in daily contact with Al and Francis, and they’ve been doing all the legwork behind the scenes.

This was the first time we’ve all been in the same place together since…hmm…since the Holly Williams show at Joe’s Pub, I think. Al and I have seen plenty of shows since then. And Francis and I saw Headlights and The Love Language last week at Bell House. But, anyhow.

We met up at Fontana’s tonight to hash everything out: talk sound check times, lights, cameras, and a rough agenda for action. But, before any of this went down, I had to head out to the other side of the fucking country for a quick in my company’s Portland office. Yes, you heard that right. Not only that, but Sunshine got back to NYC tonight, too for a two week trip. So basically, she was getting in, and then less than 12 hours later, I was leaving for two days.

Me: Hi, Sunshine.

Me: By Sunshine.

As long as I was already at Fontana’s for the walk through, I figured I’d make whomever the first band playing my 97th band. Fuck it, right? I was there. And trying to make it so by the time Sunshine got back from the airport, I would have my music done for the night. And it almost worked out perfect. Almost.

We wrapped up our walk through at Fontana’s just as the first band of the night, The Megan Wolf Project, was going on. Just then, Sunshine called to say she was jumping in a cab at JFK. Damnit. Not enough time for the band to play. Hmm. I told her to just take a cab to the club, I’d meet her there, and the band would hopefully be done in time and we’d head home. She agreed, and I headed down to check out the band.

Megan saw us scouting the place out beforehand and asked us who we were. I told her about the project, and that I was on day 97, and she was thrilled to be part of the end of the project. Even giving me a shout out a few songs into the set. She was a really nice, was very pretty and had a nice voice, but I just wasn’t sure what to do with the music.

It wasn’t off-putting. It just didn’t do much for me. Not a whole lot to grab onto. Maybe I was preoccupied with the upcoming 100th show, or trying to time out right with Sunshine getting to the venue, or the fact that I had to leave for Portland in the morning – but I remember very little about the actual music from the band. It was fine, just not memorable.

About halfway through the set, Francis, Al and the director Bruce’s crew had to split. Bruce hung out and had a beer. We bullshitted about the night, and he snapped off a few shots of the band. Then, with two songs left, I got the call from Sunshine.

Sunshine: I’m outside.

Me: Shit.

I headed out, grabbed her, carried her luggage inside, begged my way out of paying the $7 cover just for the last song, and we headed downstairs so I could complete the 97th day.

Whew.

Day #98 and Portland, here I come.

4/13/09: The O’s @ Fontana’s (81/100)

April 13th, 2009

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God bless America for bluegrass music. The beautiful, sweet sound of the banjo, acoustic and slide guitars. Eat your heart out indie rock. Sometimes you just need a little reminder of where you came from to set you straight. I wrote all of that with a Texas drawl in my head, FYI. Even though I’m from Minnesota, yet somehow lost my accent all together somewhere between growing up in MN, undergrad in SC and the last 7 years in NYC. I just think talking about bluegrass sounds better with a southern drawl. Or, in the case of this blog post – imagining a drawl in your head as you write.

The O’s were just the reminder I needed that I grew up with roots/American music like The Gear Daddies, The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt, The Honeydogs and so on. I was raised on this stuff. It’s in my blood. Even though I don’t really bust it out that often anymore – apart from Wilco who is in a steady rotation pretty much all the time (I listened to A Ghost is Born twice and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Sky Blue Sky each once today). So it was nice to see two guys up on stage, cranking out some stuff that sounded like home. Or some version of it.

But tonight wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. It was supposed to be about a big show. The Neko Case and Crooked Fingers show up in Times Square. Except I choked and didn’t get a ticket in time. And now that there are a limited number of days left in the project, I want to make sure they all count. So I felt like a bit of a loser for not jumping on that ticket, and that I was just settling for some random music. But it’s these moments that surprise you the most.

The O’s are two guys: John and Taylor. That was pretty much all I knew going into this show tonight. Oh, and I saw that they were playing a show in Dallas, TX with Mark Olson and Gary Louris, formerly (and soon again, I think) of The Jayhawks – hometown heroes of mine. So, in my mind, if these guys are good enough for the Jayhawks, they’re good enough for me. And I was right. Or, they were right. Ok, we were all right.

The O’s were great. Not only great musicians and songwriters, but funny and self-aware about there being less than 20 people in the room. They cracked self-deprecating jokes about it the whole time, which helped break the tension of it being early and empty. They played a fairly quick set, under an hour, and probably could’ve played more if the sound guy would’ve let them. I know I could’ve listened to more.

I introduced myself to the band and picked up a CD after the show. I mentioned how I was a big Jayhawks fan growing up, so I was happy to see them playing with Olson and Louris. They said they cut their tour short to get back to Dallas so they could play that show with them. I said good luck, good night, and ran across the street to pick up dinner from the best little dumpling house in NYC (as far as I’m concerned).

81 down, 19 to go.

2/21/09: Divergence @ Fontana’s (30/100)

February 21st, 2009

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I wasn’t feeling too metal tonight but there I was, at Fontana’s anyhow. I wasn’t sure what I was  really in for since I knew very little about these guys. show.. I was contacted by Brian from a band named Divergence a couple of weeks ago. He found the blog and sent me an email, asking if would check out his band if he put me on the guest list. Nice. My first official band solicitation of the project. I did some Googling and found out that Divergence is a metal band from Jersey. The song that starts on their site doesn’t sound bad (albeit, pretty obviously “inspired’ by Metallica’s “Shortest Straw – at least the intro), so I figured why not. It would help diversify the project. Indie Rock Thursday. Jazz Friday. Metal Saturday. Plus, it was free. And early, leaving the rest of my night open for a change.

Brian (bass/vox) sent me an email Friday, saying that if I got to the club around 6:30p, we could hang and chat before their set. To be honest, I didn’t want to hang and chat. I wanted to come, watch and leave. Nothing against Brian, I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice guy (they all seemed nice, good vibe in the room tonight). I just didn’t feel like hanging and chatting. I thought it might taint the entry I would write. Ok, unless he punched me in the face (which is always a possibility, this is metal) – I’m sure it wouldn’t taint it that much. But whatever, I was thankful he put me on the list, so I got to Fontana’s at door time, 6:30. Yet, the hang and chat never happened (except for briefly after).

 I’d never seen a show at Fontana’s, so I didn’t actually know where the stage was. But I did know that Fontana’s is across the street from my favorite dumpling house in Manhattan, and was looking forward to $3 dinner after.

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But I digress.

I found the door to the stage, said I was on the list, but the woman at the door had no list, so I showed her the email from Brian, and that seemed to be enough. The place actually got pretty crowded for such an early show (50+ people). A lot of family and friends I was guessing. Either that or there’s a big middle-aged metal audience out there I don’t know about.

Divergence hit stage and immediately brought the metal: cranking out song after Metallica-inspired song. Yea, sorry. I can’t write this entry without repeating how blatant the Metallica inspiration is. Thing is, apart from the one song that starts like “Shortest Straw,” the rest seem inspired from post-Black Album Metallica. Which I thought was weird since the pre-Black Album Metallica is the good Metallica (right?). In fact, just in case someone in the audience didn’t catch onto the Metallica inspiration, they actually played “Fuel” from Metallica’s ReLoad. I mean, it made sense. But I was still a bit surprised that they played it. You just don’t usually hear bands be that blatant about their inspiration when picking a cover to work into a set. At least, not until they become bigger. 

But they were having fun, the crowd was having fun, they were good at their instruments and the songs were tight (kind of have to be, this is metal). And I haven’t been to a metal show in a really long time, so it was fine. 

With songs titles like “Eulogy” and “My Prison Still Remains,” the requisite finger tapping, Crate amps and ESP guitars, this show had everything a metal show needs – except the badass attitude. Brian was definitely charismatic, but metal should scare you a bit. At the very least, it should make you a little uneasy. But that just wasn’t there tonight. Which was fine with me. I just wonder what the heavy metal gods were thinking.