the show, part II

Grooveyard began their set with a straight-ahead grunge song, and then Lee stepped up to the mic and thanked us for inviting them to participate, and for giving them the opportunity to come up north and play so close to Manhattan.  It was at that point that I realized that these guys were really into this, and it was the first time any of them had ever played in such a populated place.  Hell, it may have been the first time they’d ever been to such a populated place.  I think everyone else realized it too, because we all moved up close to the stage, just to give them some more support.  I looked around and felt a little twinge of pride that the Dromedary bands were supporting each other like that – after all, creating a scene was part of what I wanted to do.

And I had to give Grooveyard credit – despite playing to an empty room, they were performing as if the place were filled.  They played “Child Bright,” their track from Elizabeth, and then they launched into a really long – really long – shoegazer thing that reminded me of The Loop with its monotonous, noisy drone.  A few people started to stroll into the club as they finished up, they thanked us, and were gone.

cuppa joe began setting up, and Grooveyard began breaking down, and suddenly my evening started getting busy.   Lee from Grooveyard came over and told me that the band was going to leave.  “We had fun, and we’d love to stay, but it took us almost four hours to get here.  We don’t want to drive all night.”

I offered to let them stay at our apartment, but he declined.  I was disappointed that they had to leave, but what they were saying made sense.

Then, Rich Masio walked in.  Rich wrote for a few different publications at the time, and he was a friend, so I greeted him at the door and we chatted for a little.  He asked me what he had missed, and I told him that Grooveyard just played but that there were eight bands still to play.  He gave me a chuck on the shoulder and walked up to the bar.

Then, Sandy approached me.  “There’s a guy who wants to talk to you,” she said.  She looked a little nervous, as she pointed to a guy who was standing next to our table.  I walked over.

He was short and thin, a little disturbed-looking, with wild, wide eyes.  He was sporting a three-day stubble, and wearing a Gillgan hat.  “Are you Al?” he asked, eyes darting.

All I could think of was Mark David Chapman saying “Excuse me, Mr. Lennon?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“I’m David Blanche, from Godspeed.”  David was their singer.  We’d spoken on the phone a number of times, but I’d never met him in person.  They weren’t the type of band to have press photos, so I had never even seen a picture of the band.  However, I was relieved – because at least I marginally knew this guy.

“Hey!” I exclaimed, mostly out of relief.

“I just wanted to thank you again for having us on the compilation,” he said.  “It really means a lot to us.”

“Jesus, David, it’s a pleasure to have you,” I told him, “We love you guys.”

“Well, thanks,” he said.  “All the support we’ve gotten from people like you has been great for us.  We’ve been talking to Atlantic Records, and it looks like we’re pretty close to signing.”

I was floored.  One of our bands, signing to Atlantic Records.  That had the potential to be a huge deal for us, and I was also really happy for them.  “Wow!  That’s great!”  I think I was beaming.

“I wanted to ask you something,” he said.

“Anything.  Shoot.”

“Well, we’ve added a couple of new members to the band, and I wondered if you would mind if they played with us tonight,” he said.

“Jesus, David, it’s your band,” I said, amazed that this guy would actually be polite enough to ask me if his own band members could play.

“Well, it’s kind of a different thing,” he said.  “We added a second bass player, and a saxophone player.”

That did sound kind of different to me.  I wondered how that would sound.  “Have you played together before?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said.  “The two basses makes the bottom end just huge.  And the saxophone is like Rocket From The Crypt.  He just wails.”

“I can’t wait to hear it,” I said.  “But I only have one bass rig,” I realized.

“No problem, I figured that – we brought a second rig,” he said.  With that out of the way, he looked at me again.  cuppa joe was almost ready to play, so my attention was beginning to be diverted toward the stage – cuppa was another band I’d never seen live before.  “Can I ask you another question?”

“Sure,” I said, distracted.

“Well, we were thinking about putting out a 7″ before we signed the deal with Atlantic,” he said.  “Just to get one more record out there, because they’re going to have us in the studio for a long time.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” I said.

“Well, would you want to put it out on Dromedary?”  

Holy shit.  We had been wondering what was going to come next, but never dreamed that it would be Godspeed.  They had a relationship with Heat Blast, and we figured the compilation would just be a one-off thing.  We had heard some of their other songs at that point, and they were way heavier and way more brutal than the song they put on our record.  They were, if you could imagine, like Helmet with David Yow on vocals.

ABSOLUTELY,” I said.  “Yes.  I will definitely put out your record.”

“Awesome,” he smiled.  “Okay, I’m going to leave you alone and go watch the show.”

“You’re staying for the whole thing?” I asked.

“Wouldn’t miss it,” he said.  And then he walked away.

I raced over to Sandy.  “Godspeed wants us to do a 7″!” I yelled.  She had much the same reaction as I did.  cuppa joe was onstage playing at this point, and I failed to notice that there were probably 20 people who had come into the club while David and I had our conversation.  I was too busy huddling in the corner with Sandy and Rich, talking about how awesome it was that A) we had another project to look forward to, and B) it was Godspeed.  We talked excitedly among ourselves for a while, and then we realized something:

cuppa joe was absolutely sucking.

I think we all noticed it at the same time – doug was singing off-key, and steve’s drums were often out of time with the rest of the band.  It seemed like he was playing fills at the end of every measure, and doug’s fingers were stumbling over the fretboard and hitting sour notes.  I looked around the room and caught Ralph’s eye and he looked straight down at the ground.

Frank walked up behind me and whispered in my ear inbetween songs “Oh my God, this is terrible.”  After one song, I actually heard someone in the back of the room boo.  

Steve Bailey walked over to me.  “Hey, they’re pretty good,” he said.  “I like that song from the compilation.”  

At that moment, Steve Bailey was the nicest guy on earth.  He took me aside and introduced me to Nelson, their drummer who I had yet to meet, and a few women that had come along with them (including his wife).  

Thankfully, cuppa joe’s set was short.  I think they were done in less than the 20 minutes we’d asked for.  They broke down their equipment even faster.  

What was weird about Ya-Ne-Zniyoo’s set was that they just sort of started playing.  It seemed that they spent more time before the beginning of their set scattering balloons around the stage than they did actually setting up their instruments.  Steve and Edzo were standing shin-deep in balloons, Nelson was still getting behind the kit when they started playing.

I looked behind me as they began their set, and we now had a respectable crowd in the room.  I estimated that there were maybe a hundred people there at that point.  While Ya-Ne-Zniyoo were onstage, Footstone’s friends started to arrive, so the crowd began to swell a bit.  

Ya-Ne-Zniyoo played for exactly 20 minutes, and their set sounded great.  They were three talented guys who played music that was a combination of Knitting Factory and Maxwell’s, and it worked really well that night.  I don’t think they spoke inbetween songs, but one thing that struck me was that Steve was an excellent, excellent guitar player, who was serious when he was onstage.

They were a stark contrast against the band they followed.  But they couldn’t have been a more stark contrast against the band that was up next – Footstone.

Here, by the way, is “The Man in My Dream” by Ya-Ne-Zniyoo.

~ by Al on January 24, 2009.

One Response to “the show, part II”

  1. […] “Hey, Mr. Lennon!” Sandy said, recalling the story of when I’d met Godspeed’s singer, Dave Blanche. […]

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