party at wild mike’s

Wild Mike’s was a covers bar in Lodi, the town we lived in.  I have no idea if it’s still there or not.

When Footstone took the stage I had just finished complimenting Steve, Edzo and Nelson on Ya-Ne-Zniyoo’s set, and thanking them for playing.  I looked at our table and saw a line of people, waiting either to buy stuff or sign up for our mailing list.  I looked at the floor in front of the stage and saw it was filled, and the back portion of the club was also starting to pack up quite a bit.  I caught Sandy’s eye and we smiled; this was definitely a success.

I had no idea.

Footstone took the stage and played “Weave Among Us,” which is the song I posted in an earlier entry.  Within about half a minute, I realized something: I had greatly underestimated Footstone.  This was a tight and heavy band.  They had five members at the time – Dave, an outstanding drummer who also sang backing vocals; Eric, a guitar player who stood at the side of the stage sucking down cigarettes and staring intensely at his guitar while he played; Guy, an excellent lead guitarist who maybe spent a little too much time with the wah-wah pedal; and Mark and Ralph, the two guys who spent that great afternoon at our apartment.  Mark played bass, and Ralph sang.  And wow – he could sing.  

We had gotten pretty friendly with the guys from Footstone, particularly Mark and Ralph, and so before the show we had invited them back to the after party.  So after they finished the first song, Ralph stepped up to the mic and said “We’d like to thank Al and Sandy from Dromedary for having us, and we’d like to let everybody know that there’s a party at their house after the show.”

I looked at Sandy in horror.  There had to be 150 people in the club at this point, maybe more.  Ralph just invited them all back to our apartment.  Did he misunderstand us?  Did he think I wanted him to invite everyone back to the apartment?

“They live right behind Wild Mike’s in Lodi,” he continued (which was not true).  “Just go over to Wild Mike’s and pull around back, free beers for everyone.”  Then, they ripped into another song while I tried not to pass out.

Footstone played an incredibly tight, solid set that rocked.  This far into the night, they were clearly the best band of the four who had played.  I regretted not having saved them for later in the night.  They played a bunch of songs I’d never heard before, then thanked the audience and left.  They never played “Forbidden Fruit,” the song on the compilation.

After thanking the band, I asked Ralph why they hadn’t played the track they were there to promote.

“We hate that song,” he said.  “It’s our least favorite song on the demo tape.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that?” I asked.

“I don’t know.  But we’ve got a whole bunch of new songs, that are more representative of the way we sound, and that we like better.”  I wanted to hear those songs.  

Footstone was a damn good band, and they were damn nice guys.  Their set that night was, in hindsight, the tightest of all the bands, sounded the best, and was the most enjoyable.  I’m trying not to slip out of the chronology of the story, but it’s safe to say that I’ve seen various incarnations of Footstone a hundred times in my life, and they never played a bad set.  Not once.  This was the first one of many, and I was thrilled.

As I was talking to Ralph, Ray from Melting Hopefuls walked in.  It was great to see him.  We chatted for a while – Ray was a little nervous because the band ‘s guitar player, Max, wasn’t able to play the show (can’t remember why). They recruited two friends – one who later joined the band – and this was their first show together.

After a few minutes, Ray handed me a cassette tape.  “I made this tape last weekend in the blizzard,” he said (we had a freak springtime blizzard the previous weekend that had dumped nearly a foot of snow on us).  “It’s all the new stuff we’ve recorded that you don’t already have.”

I was psyched.  I really liked the band, and loved the idea of having their new music before everyone else.  I thanked him.

“Listen,” he continued.  “We have a 7″ that we released on our own a few months ago.  Nobody ever did anything with it, and I didn’t do a good job promoting it.  I was thinking – if you’re looking for a followup release to the compilation, maybe I could just give you all the copies I have left.  You could slap a sticker on it and put it out as a Dromedary release.  If you make any money on it, we’ll split it with you.”

I was blown away.  What a gesture!  And we had a plan!  I immediately agreed, and then realized I had made a decision about the label without consulting Sandy.  So I ran over to her at the merch table and whispered in her ear “Ray wants us to re-release their 7″”.  Her eyes widened and she gave me a big smile, so I thought I made the right call.

Sandy was talking to Joe Mannix, the singer and guitarist from Oral Groove.  Oral Groove was getting ready to go onstage, and I had never spoken with Joe before.  He handed me an Oral Groove T-shirt, and said “You’ve really got to make up some Dromedary T-shirts.”  So I reached into the box and grabbed one, assuming he hadn’t seen them.  I held it up in front of him.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“Thanks!” he said, taking it.  Then, he walked away.

“Did he just steal a T-shirt?” I asked Sandy, who had witnessed the whole thing.

“I think he did!” she said.  “You didn’t tell him he could have that, did you?”

“No,” I replied.  “I was just showing him that we had them.”

Oral Groove took the stage, blasting into “She’s Still Here,” their track from the compilation.  I tried to get closer to the stage to show support, but I realized quickly that I couldn’t.  The club was packed.  Shoulder to shoulder, from the front of the stage to the back door.  

Live, Oral Groove was a garage rock power trio that was aggressive and fun, sounding like some weird mash-up of Buddy Holly and The Ramones.  During their set, their singer/guitarist Joe and their bassist Ed were practically tackling each other onstage, with Joe running headlong into Ed three or four times during the set.  Their energy was infectious; the club was a mass of sweaty people at this point, but everyone was dancing.  

A 20-minute set was an advantage for a band like Oral Groove because all their songs were three minutes long or less – they were able to play seven or eight songs where most bands played four or five, and by the time they were done they had whipped everyone into a frenzy.

This was turning into a great night.

They finished up their set and could barely get offstage due to the size of the crowd.  While Melting Hopefuls set up their gear, I squeezed my way to the front of the room to survey the club from there.  I saw Mike at the door, and he said “It hasn’t been this crowded in here for a long time.”

“How many people?” I asked.

“I have no idea.  Lots of people are leaving, but there are just as many coming in.  During the last band, there were people out the door, crowded onto the sidewalk outside.  I couldn’t let any more people in – it was too crowded – so they just waited outside.”

Holy shit.  This was insane.  I went up to the bar and waited for a beer.  Melting Hopefuls started their set, if I recall, opening with “Gondola” from the compilation.

I was so far away from the stage during Melting Hopefuls set that I can hardly remember any of it.  I remember Renee introducing a song (which I would later learn was “Pulling an Allnighter On Myself,” a big song in our history) by saying “This is a song about masturbation.”  The crowd went bananas when she said that.

The two fill-in guitarists did a great job, although their regular guitarist, Max Siebel, was the highlight of the band for me.  I was disappointed not to have met him at the show.  But they sounded great nonetheless, and, most importantly, I was putting out their 7″.

Melting Hopefuls finished their set, and Dee Dee, Eternal Vision’s manager, leaped up onstage almost before the cymbals were finished ringing, so she could start setting up the candelabras around the stage.  Live Tonight’s stage was very small and thin, and there was not a lot of room for flaming objects, but that didn’t seem to matter.

I wondered casually how their drummer – who really was an amazing musician – was going to manage playing on such a small kit.  I looked across the room and saw Rich, who caught my eye and extended both arms, rolling his eyes back into his head in his impersonation of Eternal Vision’s singer.  I laughed.

Fifteen or twenty minutes went by, and the band had still not taken the stage.  Up until this point we had done a fairly decent job of staying on schedule, but we were still about half an hour behind.  I approached Dee Dee and asked her if she could ask the band to hurry up and get ready, that we were falling behind.

“They’ll be ready to go in a minute,” she said.

Ten minutes later, they took the stage and played “Enter the Morning,” their song from the compilation.  More than half an hour had gone by from the point where Melting Hopefuls finished their set.  Most of the time, the band was just standing around, as their equipment was set up.

I found David Blanche from Godspeed and apologized that we were running late.  He smiled and said “No problem.  I’m enjoying the show.  This crowd is insane.  You guys know how to put on a good show.”

If he only knew we had never done this before.

He introduced me to Timmy, their drummer.  Timmy shook my hand and said “I hope these people like us.”

Best band on the bill, and they’re nervous.

I turned my attention back to Eternal Vision, because I was curious as to how they’d fit in.  They were, no doubt, talented musicians.  And they had brought quite a crowd with them, as I noticed the attire of the people up front had changed from backpacks and jeans to leather pants and jackets.  I thought maybe it was going okay – the crowd had thinned a little, but not much.

And then during a break inbetween songs, their singer, Jim, leaned into the microphone and said “Yeah, we want to thank Dromedary for putting out this compilation.”  And when he said it, he held one finger to the side of his head, and spun it around, in the classic symbol for “crazy.”  His face was all pinched, as if he’d eaten something sour.  Clearly he was letting everyone know he didn’t like the record.

Rich and I looked at each other with the same horrified expression.

“What the fuck was that?” he asked.  I was dumbfounded.  Why would he shit on a record that he’s on like that?  

“Did he just rag on the compilation?” Ralph from Footstone was right behind me.

“I think he did,” I said.

“Why?” he asked.

“I guess you don’t rock hard enough,” I told him.

After they had played for 25 minutes, I went up to Dee Dee and asked “Are they almost done?”

“I think so,” she said. They kept going.  

Mike Fresh approached me and said “Dude, these guys are going on for way too long.”

“I know,” I said.  “I’m sure they’re almost done.”

They started another song.  Mike came up to me again and said “Okay, they were supposed to set up in 15 minutes and they took a half hour.  They were supposed to play a 20 minute set and they’re pushing 40.  I need to go home, and there’s still two bands left.  If they start another song, I’m pulling the plug.”

I agreed.  Thankfully, that song was their last.  Forty minutes, they played.

Rich and I were standing together, with David Blanche from Godspeed inbetween us.  Rich said “That was totally rude.  They took an extra 15 minutes to set up, they dissed the compilation and then they disrespected Godspeed by playing too long.”

“It’s no big deal,” said David, smiling.  “Hopefully we can be as good as they were.”

~ by Al on January 25, 2009.

One Response to “party at wild mike’s”

  1. […] Quite Like Elizabeth was the first time I ever saw Footstone perform live (I describe their set here), and they surprised me.  Thing is, they really shouldn’t have surprised me – they had been […]

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