April 7, 2006
Lab X Records Showcase
Junior High Mustache
My Latex Brain
It was on November 12, 2005 where Oxymoronatron member Jason Sanders aka Robot X5 said to me, “Hey, you should join this collective of ours called Lab X Records!” And I agreed. We decided to repackage our “Pee Sells” album for a Lab X CD-R release; to wait to make something new probably would have been smarter, but I was all about things happening as quickly as possible back then. So I went and booked this show myself at the mysterious and apparently now long-forgotten Elbo’s in Dayton. The club had been closed for a short time, but had recently been bought and reopened by new management.
Upon arrival, myself and Greg Schultz of Oxymororantron met with the new owner, a very intense and finely dressed man. While we all were discussing logistics for the evening, the man abruptly interrupted by shouting “We’re going to make some MONEY tonight!,” to which Greg gave a nervous and patronizing, “Yeah!” We then agitated the guy a short time later by bringing in outside food to the venue, but said with a threatening smile that he’d “Let it go” because we were from out of town. When I later asked him out of courtesy about using our bubble machine on stage, I was very timid because I thought this guy might try to cut our throats at any moment. After some thought, he agreed to let us shoot bubbles onto his shiny tiled dance floor.
In keeping with punk tradition, we ended up packaging the Lab X version of our album AT the show while Junior High Mustache, a Columbus band we had recently met (featuring Chris and Kris), rocked out onstage. We then went on and performed for a reasonably sized yet slightly underwhelmed crowd, and massacred the club floor by making it really slippery in there with our bubble juice. I don’t remember much about My Latex Brain except that the guy had a Causey Way sticker on his guitar, which I thought was pretty cool. I don’t remember much about the Oxymoronatron set either, except that they kicked ass in front of their home crowd. This was our last ever show at Elbo’s, as they closed again shortly after, probably because the new owner was a maniac.
I want to thank Greg for providing these three versions of the poster that were made for that night, a Lab X one, a Oxymoronatron one, and the drummer for My Latex Brain made another.
Mary Alice: I have no specific memories of this show, except a very clear memory of the assembly of the compact discs. Germane to this discussion but not specific (though common) to just this memory, when we were packaging our old CDRs, we went as far as applying labels to the disc face to make them look more like “real CDs” which seems like a really low bar now, but felt very professional at the time. Anyway, you could buy fat-doughnut shaped labels you could brand using an ink jet printer. Here’s the thing, though? It’s really hard to ensure a round label is affixed properly to a similarly sized round surface, which is probably something you would never think about until you tried? Anyway, we had a CD label applicator to help and it looked much like this.
It is Bandcramp Friday, which means they don't charge taxes or something, so I'm taking this as an opportunity to discuss our most recent album from 2020 called "Relaunch." It came as a follow up to 2017 release "Cancelled," based on the idea of man going crazy because his favorite cop drama was cancelled, and we had amazing help from friends old and new in creating short films to accompany the release. The story was loosely based on my experiences with mental illness, specifically with symptoms of PTSD/Major Depressive Disorder that I endured following our move from Columbus to DC. It's by far the most personal series of songs I've ever written, and at times questioned whether I not wanted to go through with it. But I did, we did, it was very therapeutic, and ended up being something quite special that I don't think we could ever replicate.
We were in the process of shooting videos for the "Relaunch" album when the pandemic started and we had to cease operations. We ended up doing those super fun streaming shows from our home, including a makeshift album release on May 16, 2020. But what we wanted to do for the album was never fully realized, and time marched on. We wanted to do a more hopeful album after doing one so bleak and despairing, then yeah, a bubonic plague happened. But we finished our nice little space album about the Challenger II crew, and were once again happy with the outcome. People understandably had other things on their mind, so we feel like the album went by the wayside a bit. We had a friend recently inquire about the meaning of the album's story, and with our plans for a new album called "Rewind" scheduled for a Spring 2023 release, I thought what better time than now to shoehorn this explanation in. If you're intrigued about what this guy said, you can go stream/download the album at the 'Camp.
March 21, 2006
w/ Kiss Me Deadly
Church of the Red Museum
Kyle Sowash set up this show for Kiss Me Deadly, a short-lived (it appears) band from Montreal. Their most recent album was from 2005, so I assume that’s the case. These are the first of a handful of times that Joel Treadway who ran the website cringe.com came out and took some photos. There’s me in all my sweaty glory, humping a pole at the High Five. That Cosby Show sweatshirt I’m wearing was found on EBay by Mary Alice. We think it was something worn by someone working on the show, because of how bizarre it is. Our favorite part was the names of the family members listed on the sleeve, and there’s also a caricature of Bill Cosby stitched into the back along with an enormous Adidas logo. I remember it fit very snug and was quite warm to wear while thrashing about on the stage. It’s long since been retired from the repertoire (because, ya know), but we might still have it packed away somewhere.
These images are a true time capsule of the era, not just because I’m by myself up there, but because of the balloons, traffic cones, the blue siren light in front of the stage, that specific projector screen, and if you look at the pole-humping photo you can see this yellow camping chair we had that was used to hold the laptop that played back the music. We specifically bought it in yellow to match the “pee” theme of this particular period. We’d duct tape the cord going out from the headphone jack because it would often come loose, and then split it to run the signal through two DI boxes, in what amounted to a bit of a Frankenstein setup. Good times.
I remember remarking to Kyle that I took a nap earlier that day, to which he replied “I remember naps.” I think this was my first time seeing Church of the Red Museum (and I don’t know if this is the first time I met Robby, Tom, and Don from the band), but as anyone who was around then would tell you, the band was amazing. I don’t remember much about their set from this night except for their violin player Leslie asking the headliners from the stage whether they took their name from the Lita Ford song, and they didn’t seem to know what she was talking about. But I remember a specific time seeing the band play at Little Brother’s, and they destroyed so much I remember drummer Robby defiantly throwing his drumsticks as the last note hit, like “You know we just fucking murdered you, now go home.”
I don’t recall too much about Kiss Me Deadly except for the singer asking the crowd for more enthusiasm as she stripped down to a spandex bodysuit. Speaking of time capsules, I did happen to notice that when I came across that recent review I posted from 2005 that Kiss Me Deadly also got reviewed around that time, along with other local/regional contemporaries and other national touring bands we’d eventually end up opening for, many of them now long gone. It made me feel emotions.
One morning in the early 90's I was laying in bed before school, listening to a Cleveland-area morning DJ on my clock radio. He was discussing how "Rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot was touring the country with his giant butt balloon to promote his song '"Baby Got Back (I Like Big Butts)." But he misread the copy as "Baby 'I' Got Back," and when the parenthetical was also not explained, the way he read it made it sound like the song's title was: "Baby, I Got Back. I Like Big Butts."
So upon hearing that, I pictured the premise of the song being that some guy arrives back home from a trip (see pictured), and defiantly yet cheerfully informs his wife that his journey gave him a new perspective on things, and upon his return he's realized that he "likes big butts," and perhaps this unfortunately changes the dynamic for them as a couple.
When I was a kid, I was reading a book about the solar system with my mom, and at one point we came to a part about the Big Bang, and she told me that this was an inaccurate theory that conflicted with our religious beliefs, in that some people believed there was an enormous "BANG!!" noise and then everything appeared as is, which is a pretty funny if you think about it logistically.
March 17, 2006
Trapper John Farewell Show
w/ Trapper John
Kristi Strauss and the Blue Medusa
Jill Garratt and the Heartbreak Orchestra
I had to think for a minute about the origins of the name Trapper John, because I thought it was also the name of a Cleveland media personality, but that was a radio DJ called ‘Trapper Jack.’ The name “Trapper John” entirely comes Trapper John McIntyre, a character from the series M*A*S*H and later Trapper John, MD. Very good.
This was our second gig with the band, the first one had occurred during our Treehouse residency. Trapper John was to open the night with some former members and then close the night with the current lineup, which I thought was clever. Our buddy John Garratt was a former member who was also performing with his wife in Jill Garratt and the Heartbreak Orchestra that evening, and another former member Ben Harris made a special trip from DC to be in the opening incarnation.
I remember we arrived late after Trapper John (the Opener) had already started, and I had to march in front of the crowd with all our shit, like “Hey, dig my life.” This show was kind of exciting for us, because I felt our reputation had begun to precede us and there was a buzz abuzz in the crowd. I don’t recall much about Kristi Strauss and the Blue Medusa, but I believe they later shared members in common with Trapper John to form a new band who we also played with called The Slang. I was of course pumped to see BA Baracus because, well, Mr. T. If you know you know.
After we did our thing Trapper John (the Closer) finished up the night. At one point during their frontman John B held up a giant plastic novelty Swatch Watch and announced he was giving it away, or asked a trivia question and gave it as a prize, or something along those lines. Either way, obviously Mary Alice ended up with it. It laid next to our bedside in Columbus for several years before probably getting tossed when we moved. So if you see the giant watch floating around, ya know, say hello for us.
Mary Alice: "It laid by our bedside" sounds ominous.
I also won a little mirror with a plush moon-and-clouds frame, which is probably hard to picture, but that's what it was. It was almost equally as 80s as the giant watch, but not quite because nothing is as 80s as a giant watch.
John B said that if you break this particular mirror, you'd probably get 100 years of bad luck, which I thought was so funny. Because the mirror's 80sness enhanced its power to bring bad luck if broken. It's one of those things that is rooted in absolutely no logic, but makes perfect intuitive sense to me.
March 4, 2006
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds
This was another one where Mary Alice opted to stay home, so Brent from INS was tasked with the projector duties. This was the first Cincinnati gig for EG, and the boys in Infinite Number of Sounds picked me and my stuff up on their way down from Cleveland. They had a van with no windows they affectionately called “The Kidnapper Van,” and I rode tied up in the back.
The show was at Northside Tavern, a venue they played often. The club is still very active, but I believe they now have shows in the back of the venue, where it looks like they have ample space. Back in those days, they held their shows in the front of the place, and you had to be careful not to get smacked by the front door when people came in. There exists a picture of me performing while wearing a hamburger hat that Gretchen gave me and those weird glasses with eyes that Mary Alice hated, but it’s lost somewhere in time and space. I was able to locate this picture here that Dave from INS took off of their still functioning band website, there’s your hero standing in front of the screen with our older, less dynamic placeholder, Kimmy Gibbler’s head on a blueish background.
As for the performance, Brent seemed to enjoy it while he ran the projector. I think I was mostly a guy in a hamburger hat ruining everyone’s nice time. Josie and Christine were there, so that was cool. DJ Empirical was a good dude, and INS kicked ass as usual while dodging patrons barreling in through the entrance. On the way home, I remember I ate a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger (before you get on my case, I’m still a year away from being a vegetarian here) while falling asleep, while lying between and on top of equipment. I had to pee really bad, but I kept laying there thinking, “It HAS to be soon.” Eventually we did get back, and you’ll be glad to know that I went to the bathroom, which is why I’m able to tell you this story.
Mary Alice: I realized possibly years later that the very detailed, written and verbal directions I gave to Brent in this case and Gary previously made perfect sense to me but probably came off as completely psychotic to Brent and to a lesser extent Gary. I'm singling Brent out specifically because he was good enough to smile and nod and gave me feedback indicating what I said made perfect sense even though it didn't. In retrospect I'm sure he just did the images however it seemed to make sense to him in the moment. If it wasn't exactly as I instructed, to me that spelled certain doom, but was probably more than good enough.
I knew exactly the picture you meant when you were talking about Gretchen's hamburger hat and those glasses I hate and for some reason all these years later, still know that the pic was taken at this show in Cincinnati I didn't attend. If you hadn't brought it up, I would have.
I feel like it was shortly after this one where we stopped using a lot of the accoutrements and wearing hamburger hats and such and moved towards a more dignified appearance, possibly to coincide with getting an LCD projector, which we did the following calendar year. I do recall looking at the hamburger hat and the glasses I hate and thinking "this isn't even very funny, why are we still doing this?"
February 9, 2006
w/ The Lindsay
Mary Alice was away for this one, and I don’t immediately recall why. Her mother had passed away the previous December, and so her absence may have been related somehow. That flyer there that’s seemingly a precursor to this year’s Megadeth flyer was my idea, but was assembled by Mary Alice. Dave’s corpse is boasting that it will “be the best show ever,” but I remember it as being awful. Our friend Gretchen (who in addition to being a member of Fat Girls played bass for The Lindsay) was filling in for Mary Alice on the visuals, and was also giving me a ride to the venue that evening.
I had recently decided it would be wise to change my antidepressant medication based on my own research, which is tantamount to an anti-vaxxer doing their own research on YouTube. I jumped to a conclusion that the recent troubles I was experiencing (that I detailed during the last write-up) was due to my current medication not working anymore, as opposed to my needing to deal with a new and difficult set of circumstances. The changeover seemed to work for a short time, but quickly things began to turn. The night of the show, Gretchen and her friend Josh came to pick me up, and I was in the midst of an anxiety attack. I sat on the couch while they both tried to calm me down; Gretchen sweetly asked if part of the issue was me “missing my girl,” and encouraged me to continue to drink the beer I had been nursing.
After a period of semi-successful attempts to settle me down, they carted me up to Andyman’s for the gig. Shortly after we arrived, Gretchen and Josh were sitting shell shocked at the bar, and I overheard her thank him for his assistance in calming me down, which made me feel like a helpless child*. I wandered around the venue unsure what to do with myself, just trying to get through the night as quickly as possible. I think a lot of people assumed I was mad at them or something, but it was just that it felt like my body was on fire. So then I got really drunk, which seemed to make things better. (Epilogue: I switched back to my regular medication shortly after this show, which helped to start to steer things back in the right direction).
Grannyman’s Treehouse Showcase
(November - December 2005, See flyer for dates/bands)
I haven’t been looking forward to writing about this series of shows, as this whole endeavor of reliving some of the emotions involved has been a little more taxing than I thought it’d be. But Mary Alice reminded me that there’s no deadlines I need to meet, and I don’t imagine these memories are going to fly out of my head anytime soon.
Here’s the thing - I’ve never stopped feeling lucky about being able to do this. It wears thin for some and doesn’t appeal to others, and there are those who even think they’re above performing in front of people at a small club. But I was a weird and awkward little guy, and it’s an honor to be weird and awkward in front of a crowd. I still get tickled when I see our name on a marquee or a venue’s website. That part doesn’t get old. But I’m also overly sensitive and have (especially during this time) often managed to get overwhelmed by stress. Unfortunately, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about this period.
I don’t know how people do it, book these monster DIY tours? I think you have to be a specific type of person to first of all be a “road dog,” and second of all be able to juggle the availability of bands and communication with booking agents. There are some people who don’t mind, or even worse, LOVE sitting in a car for hours for days and weeks at a time, eating poorly, possibly drinking too much, and waking up in a strange house where there’s some naked guy eating cereal in the living room. I’m willing to withstand most anything for a gig, but I suppose I can only handle so much without completely losing it.
To that point, that’s not even close to what’s going on here, I’m booking six shows within close proximity at the same venue with people who I know and trust. But one thing I learned with this experience is that people will turn down gigs, charming as the host may be. This series of shows included a residency of four consecutive Tuesdays and two Saturdays, and those Tuesdays are fucking hard to fill (I’d like to retroactively thank the heroes that performed on those nights).
The best show of the lot was the first one (pictures here), Saturday, November 12th w/ Ocean Ghosts and Oxymoronatron, the robotic punk rockers from Dayton who we would share the stage with several more times. There was a great crowd, and I remember having a blast that night. You can see in the photos here a custom sparkly lightning bolt shirt that you-know-who made for me (get it, electricity?), a semi-matching green lei, and these joke glasses that Mary Alice hated with all of her heart.
That first show should have been enough for the time being, but we stupidly pressed on. I remember at the next show on Tuesday, November 15th w/ Zack Starkey and Marvin the Robot, we cut our set a bit short after we realized it had gotten late and that there were maybe two people in the room watching. I think one of those people was Derek Stewart who ended up being our good friend and longtime EG collaborator, including the creation of many of our flyers, scripts for our “Cancelled” movies, and also that album’s cover art.
For the next Tuesday the 22nd, the musical guests were Vaudeville, who we met doing a show at Bernie’s, and a young talented singer-songwriter named Andrew Graham, who I met while doing a work study program at the Ohio State Art Department. I believe we were both in charge of guarding the invaluable student art projects that hung in the 1st floor gallery, which would have no doubt been stolen and sold on the black market had we not been there to protect them. For this show and the subsequent Tuesday, our friend Shaun Duff (who is often cited as the first EG-superfan) was slated to run the slide projector in place of Mary Alice who needed the time for work. However, for both Tuesdays, something happened where we collectively fucked up trying to get things to work, and Mary Alice had to drive to the Treehouse and figure it out for us. She ended up just staying for the show and running the projector in each instance, and was as pissed off as you’re imagining she was.
The next date was Saturday the 26th, and I believe we had gotten home that afternoon after spending Thanksgiving in Cleveland with my family. One of my most shitty and vivid memories was talking with my mom on the phone prior to the show, and her scolding me for “Always performing in bars, and (why not) coffee shops?” That put me in a mood for the rest of the night, but I think I managed to squeeze out some fun with Fat Girls By the Snack Table and Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth.
The next show was Tuesday the 29th w/ Trapper John and Debaser, and I remember nothing about this show, probably because I was on the verge of losing my shit at this point. Again, if you can manage to pull off this sort of thing, my hat’s off to you. The pressure of booking this many shows at once, worrying about band availability, wondering who’s possibly going to show up to this many appearances at the same venue, on top of stupid amounts of alcohol consumption, it was too much for me.
The grand fucking finale was Tuesday, December 6th with Fat Girls By the Snack Table and J Rhodes of the Ocean Ghosts doing a solo show. There was a guy filming J’s batshit solo performance for a movie he was making called “Performer,” and I believe he also got footage of me (not sure the project ever came to light). I remember having seven beers before going on, and setting up mostly while sitting on the ground with my eyes half closed. I recall Gretchen from the Fat Girls accidentally unplugging our set up twice by running on stage, so that was pretty funny. And then mercifully, it was over.
In the subsequent months I started developing major depressive symptoms, and I believe that this experience was partly the catalyst. I was also having difficulty with some classes at OSU, and at the time I tended to turn my anxieties fully inward when I was feeling helpless and overwhelmed. We were also partying pretty hard in this era, which no doubt was taking its toll. I had a history of anxiety/depression dating back to when I was very young, but the symptoms I was experiencing were new and frightening; I felt very isolated, but also felt as if I was being tormented and cornered. I wouldn’t realize until years later that these were symptoms of “Complex PTSD,” stemming from a car accident and overall childhood crumminess. I was diagnosed in 2012 after we moved to DC, and my mental shit hit the fan. I’m doing much better these days after being fortunate enough to take an amazing course on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and continuing to practice self-compassion and mindfulness.
So yeah, be careful out there, and you can reach out and talk to me if you’re ever feeling upset about stuff, I got experience.
Mary Alice: There is a lot here and I'm very happy you've gotten over this hump. Here are my thoughts in no particular order:
1. Thanks for being kind regarding my (attempted) non-attendance at a few of these. It probably reads a little weird given my current status in Electric Grandmother regardless. At the time, my role was less intensive and I was kind of still the artist's girlfriend "helping out." I wasn't particularly excited about the prospect of the residency and thought/hoped I could step back a little here, but it wasn't to be.
2. I'll also note that not only were all of these shows with bands we know and trust in our home city, but the venue was a three-to-five minute drive from our home.
3. This was a very cool read not just for the show stories themselves, but also for your vulnerability and honesty. Thank you for sharing all that. Love you.
4. Honestly, the only show I remember out of these was the Zack Starkey one because I came in the middle of Zack's performance and almost nobody was in the show room besides Zack and whomever was playing with him at the time. I asked myself at this point what it was all for and was pleasantly surprised when a few people trickled in during our set. Note: if you want me to edit this to be kinder, I can do that, but real talk: this is exactly why I remember this one!
5. Jeers to that pathetically-designed flyer. Wow. Shame on me!
We were recently watching that special on Warren Jeffs and his cult, and there was a moment where they interviewing this ex-member about her experience, she detailed how difficult it was to assimilate into society afterwards, saying she didn't get everyday references people were making, such as those in SNL sketches.
It reminded me of this moment when I was in middle school; It was during my lunch period, and everyone was watching this boy give a speech as a candidate for class Treasurer. At the closing of his speech, he said people should vote for him because "He was good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people liked him." As the kids cheered, I leaned over to my friend with genuine wide-eyed confusion and asked, "Did he just say 'goddamn it,' people like him?" My friend turned to me with a sarcastic disdain, and retorted, "Yeah, he said god-FUCKING-damn it."
October 28, 2005
w/ Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage
As previously mentioned, we made an impression on Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage the previous month at Andyman’s, and so they invited us to open for them at this Halloween shindig they were throwing. Club 202 (long gone) wasn’t our usual type of spot, it felt more like a “night club,” the kind of place you see on Knight Rider in the 80’s. Which leads me to my costume; this very Knight Rider costume picture here is something we found last minute at Target. It came with a faux leather jacket that had the words “Knight Rider” printed on it (because Michael Knight was acutely aware that he was in fact, Knight Rider), a plastic watch thing for communicating with KITT, and a wig that was WAY too small for my huge melon. We pinned the short brown wig to my long black hair, and so it looked like I had a poop mullet (photo found, see above).
We set up and waited for a crowd to arrive, and they didn’t. There was one older guy dressed in a yellow Devo hazmat suit with a classic red energy dome watching us and offering friendly heckles, his plain-clothed wife, and I think the guys in Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage were mulling around at the bar with a couple friends. I strutted proudly around the stage in my poop mullet belting out the hits to a bunch of empty tables. By about the time we were finished, people began to trickle in. We were pretty annoyed, and began to plan our escape. We told the guys in DFL that Mary Alice was sick or something, and we left to go to a friend’s party.
I think that was the last time we saw them, at least as a group, a member or two might have stopped by one of our gigs. By this time we weren’t in the habit of bailing on a show after our set, but there was nobody else we knew there, and DFL seemed like they were in their party mode. They came dressed as a barbershop quartet, and Mary Alice and I share a fond memory of watching each of them hold a shot and harmonizing a four part “Cheeeeeeerrrrrrrs” with each other. As we loaded out, we heard our song being played. We smiled and said to each other: “Daaaaaddy’s Fuzzy Luggage!”
October 11, 2005
w/ Kyle Sowash
So often I find myself not remembering details about shows until I actually sit down to write; I’m pretty sure that Kyle Sowash had an October residency (every Tuesday) at the Treehouse, and so he asked us to be on this particular date. Lo and behold, I believe this show was the precursor to the idea for EG’s November 2005 residency at the Treehouse, which was both successful and disastrous. More on that soon.
This is also one of those shows that gives me a warm feeling to think about. I always want to feel welcome with people who I want to be around (seems reasonable enough), and this was just a nice little time with some new-ish friends who had thus far made me feel welcome at this venue they both had strong ties to. When Joe was wrapping up his set, he made a point to ask if we’d brought the bubble machine with us, and of course we had. I recall emerging from the back and rocking out with a plastic guitar to the maybe 10-15 people in attendance. After the show, I had a nice conversation with Kyle and Joe near the mixing board, just the three of us, which are the kind of things I tend to remember.
That frog flyer - Mary Alice insists she made it, but I would have swore I did based on the formatting, though I acknowledge the use of frog is more akin to her tastes.
September 16, 2005
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds (“Radio Whales” album release)
For our second show with Infinite Number of Sounds, we were able to see them properly in all their glory on an elevated stage. Something I never thought before regarding the band is how I was always confident in the crowd response; I’d watch them humbly set up, and know within moments the entire crowd would be transfixed. They always knew exactly what they were doing up there, and were unwavering with what they were prepared to deliver to either an expecting or unsuspecting crowd. I’ve indicated before how much EG is indebted to the group (we basically lifted the idea of incorporating visuals from them), and they’ll always be our goddamn heroes.
Their second full length album “Radio Whales” was their magnum opus, and I’d hold it up to any release of its ilk. They had amazing videos to accompany their equally amazing songs. I don’t remember a whole lot about the show except their performance, which was magnificent. I remember seeing a couple people at the show who wore INS shirts TO the show, which I thought was boss, because they weren’t a Columbus band. I’m sure us and the Ocean Ghosts delivered our usual what-have-you, but this was definitely INS’s night. I remember seeing the flyer here (that I bugged David and Brent to dig out) hanging on a wall at the back of the club, and I was honored just to be included. I always will be.
¡Viva la INS, these are velvet boots.
September 9, 2005
w/ Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage
I remember Quinn approaching me about this show months prior, and handing me the contact info for Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage, and telling me it’d “Probably be a $500 night.” (I thought at first he meant $500 just for us, but it eventually dawned on me). Daddy’s Fuzzy Luggage was a mysterious band of older guys (Thirtysomethings, they seemed old THEN, you know the rest) that played bar rock over silly lyrics. They did bring out a good amount of people who seemed to have a blast dancing to their tunes. They took to us, and invited us to do a Halloween gig they were putting together. I don’t recall the exact lyrical content of their songs, but there was one where Mary Alice decided that it sounded like they were saying the name of their band over-and-over, so we’d often sing the refrain of “Daaaaaddy’s Fuzzy Luggage!” to each other (you’ll have to use your imagination).
Like I said, they were sort of mysterious to us, and didn't seem to be a part of any particular scene. We kept in contact for a bit, but then lost touch. The last activity from their Facebook page appears to be from 2012. This photo here is one I pulled from that page for a gig they were promoting at the Treehouse in late 2006.
We went second that night, and I don’t recall anything about the opening band Nanashi, except that later on we went to a Mediterranean restaurant, and the host seemed to recognize us. “Hey, I know you guys,” he said. “We did a show together, I was in the band Nanashi. You’re ‘Grandma’s Fuzzy Luggage,’ right?"
September 3, 2005
w/ Ocean Ghosts
Fat Girls by the Snack Table
On the day of this show we were in the car listening to the radio to get updates on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it was being made clear how devastating it all was. I quietly wondered if this show should even go on, because it almost felt like another 9/11. I had that dizzy sick feeling you get when you realize you’re witnessing a catastrophe that can’t be undone, and I kind of wasn’t in the mood to sing about Danny Tanner, important as the subject usually was.
But as these scenarios usually go, it was good to be around people and see friends that evening. It was a lineup that I think everyone was excited to see, as one friend put it to me “The Trilogy,” or “The Triangle,” something like that. I don’t remember a whole lot about the show itself, except for my briefly joining Ocean Ghosts on a song, and I can also picture Gretchen on stage smiling and saying “Go Buckeyes!,” as they had won that day (which is funny, because I remember at a later show her going on a tirade about the oft-boneheaded football fan culture that permeated the city).
By Mary Alice
The Date Auction episode of Saved By the Bell is quietly one of the best episodes they put out. I would argue it’s the single best one that doesn’t take place on location in one way or another (Mystery Weekend, which is my second favorite after the two part Christmas episode, is shot on a set, but takes place completely in a mansion instead of primarily in the school).
The fallout from the date auction, of which Jesse is NOT A FAN, has Jesse going to the dance with Screech, Slater with Kelly (because Jesse refused to bid on him), Lisa going with Brian (who we never see before or since), and Zack going with Wendy, whose body is of a size literally never seen on a high school girl at Bayside or any at other televised high school to that point in history.
Anyway, it’s a pretty messy (as you’d expect) but is honestly the most sensitive and realistic portrayal of actual TEEN PROBLEMS ever presented on Saved By the Bell. Zack is embarrassed to be going to the dance with Wendy. Jesse describes her as “not exactly [his] type” and when the whole thing blows up, Wendy identifies Zack’s disinterest as being the result of her not being “Lydia, Kelly or Elle McPherson!” Lisa changes her whole personality to appeal to Brian’s high-minded intellectualism, which makes him an odd choice for Lisa. Brian also gifts us with tearing down the fourth wall at some point and it’s magical, describing Jesse as a “pseudo-intellectual neurotic.”
Also, watching Jesse and Screech dance together is always a treat, no matter how many times I see it.
As a kid, I would often draw over/alter the pictures that I saw in the daily newspaper or weekly readers. In one instance, I drew sunglasses on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi on this poster for The Karate Kid Part II in the movie section of the paper - it pretty much looked exactly like this. My dad saw it later that day, and was fuming. "You know what this is?," he yelled. "It's called VANDALISM!"
August 19, 2005
w/ Zachery Allan Starkey
House of Cards
This was our first and only show at Skully’s, a large dance club that’s a staple of High Street. It probably qualifies as a “mid-size” venue, but to me it feels like a big chasm of dance floor emptiness (at least when a bunch of bozos play there, haha). Zack Starkey, another staple of High Street, was kind enough to put us on, along with our buds in Debaser and a band called House of Cards (who I don’t really remember anything about). I remember we got big buckets of free PBR from TJ Steppe, another staple of High Street, who was running sound that evening. I believe it was the first gig we were on where the bands got that sort of treatment, and I felt like Jon Bon Jovi.
Debaser went on first, and by this time they had switched from a rock band format to a Depeche Mode format. Our friend Bryan was still singing, and he was wearing a sparkly shirt while grooving around on stage. At one point he joked while pointing to a spot on the mostly empty floor that “Right here is where I pictured a bunch of people dancing.” Later in their set, Miles Curtiss (who was performing with Zack that evening) burst into the club and started dancing like a maniac in front of Bryan, which I think cheered him up. I told Bryan afterwards that I now had a major crush on him because of his shirt.
House of Cards went next, but that’s been deleted from my memory, probably due to the free PBR. We went after them, and I remember being disappointed that we couldn’t better utilize the enormous wall behind the stage for projection. We were still doing a slideshow at this point, so it ended up being this comical juxtaposition where these small images were being projected on a tiny portion of this massive space, and a little slanty to boot. I sang along to the massive booming sound from the PA, and flailed about on the enormous stage. At one point during the set Zack and Miles took it upon themselves to come up and start dancing, and to also jam my butt with the microphone stand. About ¾ of the way into the set, TJ quietly dropped me a note that said they were running late and that we had time to do one more, and “sorry about that,” and I think that made me feel like Richie Sambora. Zack then went on with both Miles and Brian joining him on synth. I don’t remember much of what happened, except for some drunken dancing and Zack arguing with a girl at the bar (from the stage).
We never had much luck booking Skully’s ourselves, and by the time I was confident that we could make at least a small dent in their space, we didn’t really have any contacts there. But so it goes, just like the club, with its gaudy sign outside that demands your attention to this day. Dance on, Skully’s.
August 18, 2005
w/ The Phonographers
This show marked our first performance outside of the greater Cleveland and Columbus area. It came as a result of obnoxious persistence. I had emailed the venue several times asking for a spot and received no response. So I decided to make a point to email them over and over with the same booking inquiry just to be annoying. To my surprise, after maybe a dozen messages, I received a reply of “How about next Thursday?”
Elbo’s was a cool little venue that’s now been gone for around 15 years. There’s sadly little info or pictures of the venue online, this photo I found here is just of some dudes on the stage. Once the night was booked, they put a picture on their website of me performing at Supraphonic Studios, and they added some cheesy-looking effect to the photo that I’m not sure what to call, but there were like these wavy lines coming out of me. It’s probably one of many pictures that I failed to rescue from MySpace before they migrated their servers and lost most of everything. Kind of like the Universal Music Studios Fire for a lot of us.
We were booked with The Phonographers and BRP, who I believe were both local. I don’t remember anything about BRP, I think they might have been hip-hop. We went on second, and I remember having a pretty good time. We had these soft yellow balls (I’m not sure what their real use would be), but we had them leftover from the “Pee Party” album release show. I took some on stage with me, and between songs I informed the audience they were filled with pee, and I threw them while people screamed and scattered. That’s something important I learned that night - If you say that something random is filled with pee and throw it at people, they will react in kind no matter how ridiculous the idea is. At one point during a song break this table with two girls yelled at me “How about a kiss, it’s her birthday!,” and without hesitation I replied “Sorry, I’m married” in the exact manner that Ken Griffey Jr. said to Hillary Banks when she was hitting on him in an episode of Fresh Prince. We saw them later after the set and I thanked them for coming, and they kind of gave me this look of “We weren’t really trying to make out with you, ya know.”
The Phonographers were young dudes, but damn could they play. They covered the Primus song “Mr. Knowitall” and absolutely killed it. I didn’t keep in touch with either band afterwards, but I saw who I believe was the drummer of the band at a later time. He had run sound for us at a Columbus venue, and later told his bandmate “Hey, guess who I did sound for? The ‘My-my-my Car Phone’ guy.”
I remember that when the bar asked how many members were in the band, I said without thinking it through that it was just me. Mary Alice was perturbed, because this was for the sake of drink discounts, and wondered why didn’t I just say the band had two members. This was back when her involvement was minimal, before she used a digital projector, before she was on stage singing, and largely before having any creative input. Looking back, I can admit to being somewhat insecure and overprotective about the identity and creative control of the operation. Ya know, songs about Urkel and all. But it was a unique arrangement that EG had in those days, and I kind of felt like it was mostly what I had going for me personally. I’m much happier to have a bandmate up there with me now.
I also remember leaving my credit card/tab open there. They were super cool about it, and even mailed my card to me. (I did that another time much later at a place that I can’t recall, and they told me to fuck off when I asked about them mailing the card). This was probably the best time we ever had doing a show in Dayton, and I’ll have more about that later.
Show #24: July 23, 2005
w/ Tom Beardslee
I don’t remember much about this show, and I think that means it was pleasantly uneventful. I believe Jason Roxas played on his own (was later part of the group Psychedelic Horseshit), and Tom Bearslee may or may not have played with a band (now apparently teaches guitar in Belgium). We went second and had a good turnout, which prompted Tom Beardslee to remark that we “had a following.” Mary Alice began to say, “Well, it’s a lot of our friends,” and I was like “Shh! We have a following.” (Pictured) I do remember that Jason and Tom bailed before Quinn counted out the door, so we got all the money for the evening. Haha, sorry boys.
July 15, 2005
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ November Loop
This - this show was something.
First of all, it was the last time we performed at Cafe Bourbon Street until February 2008. It was a complete shitshow, and I took it as a sign that both sides should move on. There were some very fine people on both sides, but enough was enough. It marked our 5th gig at the venue, and I feel like there had been an issue with all of them. This one took the cake.
It was partly my fault. OFFICIALLY it was all my fault, but if we’re being honest it was more 30/70 their fault. I had been in touch with the booking agent about this particular show (the same one as the YES YES YES YES email), and I sent several emails to them asking for a final confirmation. After weeks of not hearing back, I figured this person was just lazy, so I decided for everyone that the show was on. When we got to the venue that night to load-in, the area where we usually entered was locked. I knew deep down we were in trouble, but I kept hoping against hope that it was just incidental. We then entered through the front and told the bartender we were here for the gig. “There’s a show tonight…?” she said. Ohhhhhh crud.
I don’t remember or know who was tending bar, but she was cool about it. She said she was glad for the gig, because duh, business, and that she would contact someone to work the door. The person who had been contacted to do the door was my pal, the booking agent. When he arrived at the venue on his bike, he was none too pleased. “Which one of you is Pete?,” he asked with great annoyance. He proceeded to dress me down, telling me the gig had not been confirmed, and that we were fortunate he needed the $25 that he’d get from working the door. But at least the gig was a go.
There was a decent crowd that night, mostly to see November Loop. I was stressed about everything that had happened, so I was getting pretty sauced while they were on. The booking agent asked me during one of their songs to jump on stage and tell the crowd that certain cars had to be moved from a specific area. I was pretty loaded by then and I didn’t really know what he was talking about, so when I got up there I got on the mic and was like “Yeah ya better move your fucking car, a-blurda-blur-blee-oooo…,” which made him shake his head in disdain and hop on stage to share the info himself.
We went on last, and I remember it not going well. It wasn’t because I was too drunk, the crowd just didn’t seem into it. Once our last song ended to mostly silence, a girl at the bar sarcastically yelled “‘A’ for effort!”
Yes, the “White Men Can’t Jump” shirt there - I had one that Mary Alice bought me that looked exactly like this. I was wearing it while performing that night. Somewhere out there, there’s a picture of me sitting down in the middle of the stage, wearing that shirt and looking pretty bummed. I think it was lost by the servers over at MySpace. It was posted with the caption, “The show that never was.” I was also wearing that shirt at my 32nd birthday party when I threw up all over myself and bruised my ribs falling over. I eventually got rid of it, because it seemed like something awful happened every time I wore it. Probably should have worn Billy Hoyle’s “Parental advisory’ sticker shirt instead.
Mary Alice: I remember much of the collateral from this story but don’t remember the show itself.
I mostly remember the White Men Can’t Jump shirt which was far funnier at the time than it is even now. I don’t know how funny it is now because my opinion is clouded by how funny it used to be, but I suspect it is still funny, so you can imagine how funny it was at the time.
Also Pete’s 32nd birthday was in 2010 and if you recall that year, you may be aware that an Early 90s Party theme was itself extremely funny and much less obvious than it is now. Hence the White Men Can’t Jump shirt. Man, I miss that shirt.
June 29, 2005
Johnny La Rock
I had a feeling about the date of this show, so I looked it up, and I was right - it took place on a Wednesday. So Mary Alice and I drove 2 ½ hours up to Cleveland and back for this gig, and it might have been the last time we did that. For a while I’d look back at the rate we were going in 2005-2006 (50+ gigs) and wonder if we’d wimped out by slowing down. I have a tendency to miss the obvious, which is that we were both in school at the time. Last night in fact, while watching A Different World, she and I were waxing nostalgic about the unpredictable schedules you keep in that setting, and the unusual freedom it often allows you.
So we drove up to Cleveland on a Wednesday night to play with pal Johnny La Rock, who was doing a solo experimental set, and a third and final outing with Colorforms. It was at a joint called the Rain Nightclub (which I can find nothing about online), which I remember had a stage that was awkwardly tucked off to the side of the bar. After we arrived, we were in the midst of talking to the bartender and our friends when a drunk guy at the bar yelled “Hey, why don’t you cut your hair!” at me. I chose to ignore him and turned away with my long black tresses while he chortled with a friend, but did notice later that he himself was balding, and lamented the missed opportunity for a sick comeback. In the type of moment you only dream about, he did it again. “Hey, why don’t you cut your hair!” he yelled. “Why don’t you GROW some hair?!” I fired back. He put his head down on the bar and laughed, and his friend cackled and gave me a thumbs up. (I think it was J Kyle Moyer from the Colorforms who turned to me and complimented my awesome burn).
My old friend Keith from my hometown was there, and I remember that specifically because he told me that the strobe light we were using on stage was making him nauseated. It cracks me up, because Keith has never sugarcoated anything with me. I remember asking him if he liked the album that we had recently done, and he told me without hesitation that the “electric organ sound” got on his nerves. Fair enough, Big Daddy. He was right about the strobe light though, especially in a setting that small, and I think it ended up breaking that night anyway. A crisp $20 for the trouble, and back to the ‘bus we went.
Mary Alice: I can say for sure this was the last time we drove to and from Cleveland on a weeknight. I remember discussing it on the way home.
Another thing I remember about this show is that TWO different people talked to me about the production value of our show. If you’ve been reading these as they come out, we were at this point just getting our shit together in terms of getting through a set without major technical difficulties. We were just getting some idea as to how to do the basics and now it was time to bring the quality.
I don’t know why people come to me with this kind of information because I’ve almost never had anything to do with sound quality, but I was told first by a member of the Colorforms that Pete’s vocals needed to be louder, across the board. People couldn’t hear him spout his hilarious lyrics and that was a problem. I can see that because without the lyrical content, the show would have just been really confusing. More so than it was when you could hear the lyrics I suppose.
Secondly, in feedback that dogs us to this day, I was informed that we need to pay more attention to lighting because people couldn’t always see the images. In response, we had all the lights turned out in the stage area, which as Pete mentioned was off to the side in this weird cubby hole area. The result was that it looked like Pete was performing in a cave or under a bridge or something. Neither the Spencer’s Gifts lighting effects nor the projector light did much to fix it. I think if anything, it made the whole thing weirder.
Show #21: June 23, 2005
w/ Fat Girls by the Snack Table
9-Volt Haunted House
I don’t know why I got in the habit of listing shows at Bernie’s as being at “Bernie’s Distillery.” It makes it sound way classier than it was. There was no finely-tailored mustachioed bartender serving craft beer to bearded patrons. Instead, picture the worst dive you’ve ever been to, multiply it by ten and then set it on fire. Either way, I was definitely excited for our second show with the Fat Girls at Bernie’s Fine Distillery.
We had Cleveland experimental band 9-Volt Haunted House down to open the show. If you wanted me to show you a photo of what an “experimental music group” looks like, it’d be a photo of these guys. I had known Craig from the group through my friend Mike, and the other members Jack and Matt through the ExBe message board. I was certainly glad they went first, because they had a fuckton of stuff to set up. After they were finished piling everything on stage, they played an old-timey loop of "A-Hunting We Will Go" until the show began. I recall Matt from 9VHH and I looking at an ad for a White Stripes album in the Alive paper, and mocking Jack White’s current Snidely Whiplash-esque appearance.
Our set went very well, so well in fact that at the end I spiked the microphone in triumph (our mic, don’t spike the house mics, children). Matt later noted on ExBe how much more “dynamic” I seemed that night than the previous time he saw me, and correctly attributed it due in part to my consuming a good amount of Miller Genuine Draft beforehand. I think as a result, MGD became my drink of choice for a while. This solidified my resolve to begin a routine of always having a bit before going on, which is a practice I’ll officially neither encourage nor discourage. It’s fueled some fun gigs, and caused difficulty for others. Know when to say when, and practice how to safely fall over.
The Fat Girls then were up, and they began having sound problems shortly after starting. Sara started yelling at the club sound engineer Ryan Vile and saying “Fuck Bernie’s!,” which I wasn’t sure was wise to do while they were on, but later realized that was par for the course for everyone involved. I believe the late great Don Bovee joined them on stage to do a rendition of the Batman theme-song that night, which for those who don’t know, was a bit of a rite of passage for Columbus bands. (We were able to do a crummy version with him once at a later Bernie’s show) Or come to think of it, I think Don may have tried to make it happen but Gretchen turned him away, and so Don stumbled over and told me they were both “bitches” and left.
We’re getting into the local Columbus music scene weeds here, so I think it’s a good place to stop.
June 18, 2005
w/ The Whiles
“First of all, FUCK the Alive!” yelled Quinn over the phone. “Second of all, do you want to do a gig here next Saturday?”
We’ve seemingly always been fortunate to have a scheduled show in the queue following a performance I’ve been displeased with, it never gave me a lengthy window of time to throw a full-on “I quit” tantrum. I was already re-invigorated by the idea of using our laptop, so we re-purposed this $900 Compaq Presario that had been damaged by downloading Kazaa for the live show. While we’ve experienced plenty of problems since, we never again experienced that stupid problem.
I was told the show would be with The Receiver and Boob Cocoon. I couldn’t find any info online about the latter, but putting that name on the EG webpage certainly made for some interesting searches and site traffic. I found out the night of the show that “Boob Cocoon” was actually Joe Peppercorn. The band that he fronted, The Whiles, were all set to play the show, but I think that was up in the air when the booking info was sent to the papers, and he thought he may have to play solo. That’s right Columbus faithful, long before Sgt. Peppercorn’s marathon, there was Boob Cocoon.
I met Casey and Jesse Cooper from The Receiver that night, who told me that they were still deciding on their new band’s name, and were also considering using “Rocky III.” The Receiver went on to do quite well in Columbus and beyond, but damn it boys, you should have gone with Rocky III. I often brought that up whenever I saw them afterwards, and I feel like in the end it was something that maybe only I knew? Either way, now all of you know their deep dark secret.
I remember the night going very well, and we played this sort of blistering fast set without much talking between songs, because we were still figuring out how this laptop thing worked. But the whole thing was a relief and a breath of fresh air. Sort of like being inside a Boob Cocoon while watching Rocky III.