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Entry date: 1-9-2022 - Last Night at the Crescent - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

What an eventful day yesterday was. I managed to write, get to Costco, and then spend 10 hours at the Crescent Ballroom for the Club Placebo benefit show. While I’m sure you want to read all about my trip to Costco, there is really nothing of interest to report outside of being able to almost pull right up and get gas. This hasn’t happened for a long time. For the past year or so, I think I’ve waited to get gas every time I went to any Costco location, sometimes for 10 or more minutes.

The struggle is real.

It was surreal loading up my gear yesterday. Even after a two-year break, it still is the same tedious job and I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around the fact that I fully expected it to feel weird, but it wasn’t weird at all. I still know how to pack my mini minivan.

We got to Crescent for soundcheck a little after 1pm and saw my friend, Danielle, who works there and did our check by about 2:15 or so. I was supposed to DJ starting at 4pm when the Club Placebo benefit was set to begin, but due to some equipment issues, I didn’t end up spinning. On one hand, I was relieved because DJ-ing is something that takes a lot of thought for me as I don’t go into it with a set plan. I often don’t even know what the first song I will play is going to be until I put the first record on the turntable.

I know some people spend a lot of time planning this out, but for me, I like to see what the crowd is like and see how I feel and just go with the flow. I love letting music just do what it needs to do. I had picked a bunch of records that were almost completely different than the last time I DJ’d and even shied away from my favorite songs to play in almost any situation.

Songs like “Walk On The Wild Side” by Dizzy Gillespie and “Teardrops From My Eyes” by Ruth Brown have become favorites of mine to slip in there with bands like Happy Mondays, Dead Kennedys, or Led Zeppelin. I like to jump around from genre to genre when I DJ, which might bum some people out, but I really don’t care. I feel like I do my best DJ-ing when I just get in a groove and play songs I want to hear.

But alas, as I mentioned, it was not to be yesterday, so I settled in and watched the entire set by French Girls, who were up second on the day. French Girls do a cool garage/pop/rock’n punk thing and have some of my favorite people on the planet in the band. The did a fun cover of JFA’s “Cokes and Snickers” and it was great to see them play again after several years of not seeing them. I’m excited for the future for them because I think they are really coming into their own as a songwriting unit.

I sat with one of my best and oldest friends, Bill, during French Girls set and it is always great to hang with him. We’re the type of friends that just pick up right where we left off no matter how long it has been since hanging out together. We have that friend-elepathy thing, too, where I can tell him or he can tell me a lot with just a look. I love that.

People were trickling in slowly throughout the day, so it wasn’t overwhelming and I got to talk to a lot of friends, even if it was brief at times. Michael P. did a rad job getting posters made for the Club Placebo information booth, which also had a good amount of old Placebo/Mersey Productions memorabilia. I got to man the booth for a bit, and it is cool that people seem to want to be involved with what we are doing.

The Gnomes were up next. They are one of Jaime’s bands and they play tight, weirdo (in a good way) pop music. Jaime is such a good songwriter and an excellent guitar player. Just a good group of dudes, which includes Andrew J. on the organ and I’m glad they were on the bill. I will go see them again, for sure.

Squeezed in a few tacos with Bill and Jim and James (3/4 of No Volcano) during the break between bands and then JJCNV was up. Holy cow was JJCNV on fire last night. I love them so much and I feel they, like French Girls, are really coming into their own. Pete always sounds so good to me when he plays through my amp. We’ve shared a few times and I take a little secret (not so secret now) glee in helping him sound awesome. Maybe he hates it…I don’t know…but they are the some of my favorite people as well. I love the chats Dana and I have about Pink Jesus and Jeff is a wonderful guy, too. I also love it when Mark plays with them. Got a great picture of Mark last night.

The crowd was really coming in by this point and Fat Gray Cat got to play for a nice size group of people. They are always tight, and Michael P. is the best front man in town. He is just captivating to watch. They did a great cover of JFA’s “Beach Blanket Bongout” at the end of their set. It was fun to watch Michael C. film the song which he played with JFA back in the day so many times. Several people mentioned this last night, too, which was cool. I love it when people are actually paying attention to life.

Scorpion Vs Tarantula was up next and were on fire. It was really nice to seem (everybody, really) and the crowd was very into their set. They play that revved up, Detroit-style raunchy garage punk-n-roll and Laura, like Michael P., is an amazing front woman. There was a great moment where Laura locked eyes with MJ, my friends Dolly and Hoss’s daughter. It was awesome and I wish I would have had my camera ready. I did get a picture of them later as MJ wanted to talk to Laura about doing an interview for her cool zine. I love the fact that the youth is taking such great care of the punk rock scene.

I had to get some fresh air after SvT and it was cool to take it all in for second by myself out in the parking lot behind the Crescent. It was so nice outside and quiet and knowing that so many people I love were in the building behind me getting ready to see No Volcano and then my band, it was just awesome. I wish everyone gets to have those moments like that in their life when they can sit and appreciate the different types of beauty help our lives be so fulfilling.

No Volcano was amazing, as usual. I know I’ve said this about pretty much all the bands, but I love them as a band and as people. Bill and I have been friends for 37 years and Jim, James, and Chris and I have all been friends for about 30 years. It is truly great, though, to know that I would love their band even if I didn’t know them. Jeff said something cool during their set that they kind of have their own genre and if that genre was known by more people, they would be a huge band. I agree.

I was getting pretty nervous and having a hard time standing still. I also had a strange body sensation where it seemed like all the muscles in my body were tense and sore. Probably from being at the Crescent for ten hours, but it was hard to loosen up. When we started, I felt like my hands wouldn’t work the way they should, but that was all in my head.

We started off with our song “Caviar” from our first cd. The first song on our first cd and probably one of my favorite songs that I have written in the band. It was one of those songs that just sort of flowed right from the start. I love opening with it and it has one of my favorite lines in it: “The fish will have abortions no more caviar for queens.” I’m not sure if that makes sense, but the song is very much a stream of consciousness type when it comes to the lyrics.

From there, we went to another of my songs, “(The Man Said) Scorsese (Was A Hack).” It felt better than “Caviar” and the crowd seemed to be enjoying us a lot. We then played “Switch” which is about skateboarding, and we got a little off during the first part of the song but recovered. After “Switch” we played a new song called “The Way To Ignore Someone” and that was super difficult for me.

I don’t really have set lyrics for the song yet and at a place like the Crescent it is hard to fake your way through the lyrics because the PA is so good. I think I pulled it off, but who the hell knows what I was singing. Dave and Jacqui recorded it, but I probably won’t ever have to listen to it. I do have some good ideas about what to say in the song, which is about social networking, but I was struggling last night.

Leslie B. joined us for a cover of the old Victory Acres song, “Bottles Neck” next and that went really well. It has been fun to be around my old friend lately and she killed it during the song. We then played another new one, “5-4” and as I write that, I realize we will have to come up with a better name. I do like the name “5-4-3-2-1.” Maybe that’s the ticket. It’s a really fun, kind of dark, song to play that Michael wrote.

Then we played “Borrowed Records” off our last LP, and I mangled the lyrics. I was bummed about that, but we did “Butterfly” perfectly next, and the crowd ate it up. We finished with another new-ish one, “Doubtful” that I put my all into and it paid off. I think the crowd dug it and everyone seemed happy when all was said and done.

I’m not sure when we will play again. It was odd with the whole pandemic thing blowing up right now. I felt bad that people were putting themselves at risk to be out and about, but most people seemed to be comfortable.

See you tomorrow.

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