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.
Congratulations to The Electric Grandmother and director Dylan Mars Greenberg for wining the 2022 Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for the "You're in the Show" video!
Also get the new single right here at Bandcamp!
June 11, 2005
CD RELEASE PARTY for Pee Sells…But Who’s Buying?
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ Ocean Ghosts
Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
This one feels a little hard to write, as it sort of conjures up some weird and painful feelings for me. Keep in mind this is just our 19th show, and I still felt pretty green about all of this. I really wanted things to go well for this one, and they just didn’t. It makes me wonder about bands who have quietly folded when things maybe got too difficult near the beginning. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve quit EG countless times in my mind, but it’s never lasted more than a few days. It just always felt like I was on this Black Flag-esque mission, with the intent to have a lot more fun than they did, and also being less sweaty and dirty. It’s just what I do, and since EG was officially declared a duo in 2009, what we do.
I only recently remembered that I originally wanted to have this show at Andyman’s, because I could already tell we fit in better there. However, the dates I wanted for the gig were already taken, so I decided to reach out to Cafe Bourbon Street. There’s no real reason why I shouldn’t have been able to wait, it’s just always been my way to try and map things out when it comes to EG; “The release date is for this specific time, and that’s that.” It’s helped keep the band driven, but has at times been a hindrance (more on that much later). I got some dates mixed up when emailing back and forth with the booking agent, and I guess he thought I was being overly apologetic or just annoying, because when I was asking about the date being finalized, he wrote an obnoxious reply of “YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES (+/- a couple YESES).”
I had been in contact with someone who worked at the Alive magazine about reviewing our new album for this show. I was working part time at a campus bookstore on the day the new edition came out, and I went and grabbed a copy on my lunch break. I did that thing where you don’t really read from the top, and you just sort of scan for keywords at first. Eventually I processed all of it, and then came the weight of sadness. I knew we were doing something weird that maybe not everyone was into, but this write-up was scornful and accusatory, asking how we had the nerve to even exist in this person’s world. I went and got a slice of pizza, sat for a while and just thought about things. I will say that eventually I started chuckling about it, and decided the thing to do would be to own it. After all, to have such harsh and seemingly personal things said about you in a city-wide paper was kind of funny. From then on, I made a point to tell anyone who would listen. Oh yeah, for those in the know, the author of this review is perhaps a bit of an elephant in the room. I’ll just say this about that: At least there’s never been an article written about me in the New York Times meticulously detailing how I’m a complete asshole.
Show night: I had no idea this would be the last time we’d do a show with The Squares. There are bands who have done shows with us in the past who have used us as stepping stones early on in their beginnings, I sort of hear it as their inner (or maybe even an outer) publicist telling them “Electric Grandmother is fine to gig with at the start, but if you really want to get somewhere with your band, you have to move on.” I’m here to tell you that The Squares weren’t like that. They made a point to say “People have seen us a lot recently, we’ll go on first.” They played a great set as always, and even did an amazing cover of our song “Tom’s Girl.” Johnny La Rock and Mush Mouth were our buddies and were always great, but considering how relatively new we were, it’d have probably helped to have another local on. The problem was that I think we only knew so many local bands in those days. Really greenish. The Ocean Ghosts went on third and completely killed. They briefly had a 3rd member named Leroy at the time, the same guy who handed me the money and said “I don’t think it’s gonna happen” at the last show we had at Bourbon Street. The thing is, it was happening to an extent that night. A decent crowd, and I think we sold around a dozen CDs before we went on. Mary Alice had made a great presentation with the show poster and some pee-colored accoutrement. Then we went on.
Same old shit with that goddamn CD player. I was all ready to rock, emerged on the stage from out the bathroom, and the fucking thing started skipping, or getting “shocked,” which I guess is worse, because it caused a greater delay. We were about 10 seconds into “Here Comes the Urkel” when it first happened, and the crowd let out a genuinely disappointed moan of “AWWWWWW.” The set stunk, though I think we managed to get through all or most of it.
That night, I had a nightmare about a bloody leopard rolling down a mountain into a pile of haunted tarot cards. I officially declared the era of that tabletop CD player over, and decided that we’d move forward with a laptop computer. Later on I saw a picture from that night of myself smiling while watching the Ocean Ghosts perform. I remember thinking that I looked very small and lonely, and that I didn’t quite belong there.
Mary Alice: This was such an interesting read because I had no idea you'd maintained these feelings about that show in particular. I guess the bad feelings of the show in retrospect were kind of muted by the colossal weirdness of the review and the eventual, unwilling, close association we would eventually have with its author.
I've told you but I don't think I've mentioned on these posts that the majority of our early Bourbon Street shows merged into this one in that I remember a lot from this show and associated memories with one or another of our other early Bourbon Street Shows.
I remember clear as day that we had dinner out at Aladdin's that night and it gave me horrible gas. There's no reason I should have been gassy after eating at Aladdin's but I guess if you remember it as being a crappy show, the shoe fits. I also think after dinner I dropped you at Bourbon Street and went home to get the ancillaries (the poster, pictured, and a small woven basket I want to say I found at a thrift store and filled with yellow paper Easter grass to display the Pee CD in among probably other things).
Looking at the date, it occurs to me that this is the first show we played after moving into that apartment in Grandview, which is probably why I made the second trip home to get balloons and what-not. The summer of 2005 was a fucking weird and unpleasant time for me personally. To be blunt, my mom was dying and I was experiencing some weird health problems as well. I was gaining a lot of weight and not sure what to do with myself career-wise, two years after getting my master's degree and wrapping up coursework in the PhD program, totally aimlessly. God, what a weird time.
Unlike you, aside from the disaster that was our set, I had a pretty good time at the show. The covers by our friend-bands made me feel so--good. I remember both performances like they were yesterday. I'm also 90% sure it was at this show where one of my students came and he'd used Photoshop and a screen print kit to create a homemade EG poster, which also made me feel very warm and happy. I had the feeling that your music actually touched people and think I may have wondered whether we could actually *be* someone if we could just get past this stupid issue with the CD player.
And finally, the poster I made with foam-core and Crayola poster paints kicked around that apartment in Grandview until we moved to DC. I think those stains on it you can see in the pic is actual pee, from when our cat Milo was sick and dying and peeing on everything. Also the SC TV/sitcom core tele vision logo was my play on the HC SE/hardcore straight edge logos which were popularish among kiddie punk scenes in the 90s. I thought it was hilarious but was probably literally the only one.
So we’re watching A Christmas Story, and I’ve always told Mary Alice that when Ralphie is using the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring in excited secrecy, it reminded me of this GI Joe contest I did as a kid. I took the time just now to try and research what exactly that was, and I figured out it was this fold out packet that came with the toys in the late 80’s. “Invade Cobra Island,” and the objective was to intercept the Cobra transmission and determine which of these locations where the something-or-other is hidden.
I found it so exciting, I even set our kitchen timer and hid in my bedroom closet before studying the map, to simulate this stealthy and covert operation. Without much evidence, I guessed the location to be #4, The Cave. When presenting this guess to my friends, they informed me that the general consensus in the community that the location was #6, The Power Station. It was an icy cold shower on my fun. I never entered the contest.
Show #18: May 6, 2005
w/ Zachery Allan Starkey
Fat Girls by the Snack Table
The first time I saw the name “Fat Girls by the Snack Table” in print was on a marquee at Larry’s, a legendary but now long-shuttered High Street bar. I pictured a bunch of smarmy guys in a shitty cover band, and I thought to myself “What a bunch of douchebags.” It was only once this show was booked that I found out the band was in fact all girls, and quite saucy to boot. I found their website which featured exactly one song called “Nothing Makes a Man Change,” which had a chorus that ordered the listener to “Fuck me real slow.” Their sound was a bit more sophisticated than ours was at the time, but it was in the same poppy/electronic vein. I knew we’d end up being good pals.
Even if you didn’t know Zachery Allan Starkey personally, you knew Zachery Allan Starkey from seeing him walk around the city with his eye-catching new wave hair. I had introduced myself to him already on the OSU campus where we were both undergraduate students, and we had friends in common. He had initially tried to get us on a previous show at Skully’s, another High Street venue, but that one fell through, so this show at the High Five was a generous IOU. Zack was a polarizing figure in Columbus (now seems better received overall in NYC) who inexplicably drew people’s ire, so I was excited to be a part of this whole wacky thing.
This was our first show at the High Five (the second iteration of the club), and I found it to be very polished-looking. I saw Zack arrive at the venue, and I approached him to say hello, but then noticed he was screaming at someone furiously on the phone, so I put that off for a moment. I then met Gretchen Tepper from the Fat Girls, but I don’t recall what we talked about. What I do recall is a bit later Zack asking me if I’d met Gretchen while she was standing next to him, and I had to pause to think if I had. “YES!” she shouted at me, with a half-laughing snort. (I wouldn’t go as far to say that I have a “facial blindness” condition, but I do have a tendency to sometimes need a moment to remember people who are relatively new to me, or people who I don’t see as often - I think it’s more of an anxiety condition. If I’ve done that to any of you, and I know I have, I’m really sorry).
We were on first, and I remember having a few before we went on to loosen up. I was beginning to realize by then that having a bit before a performance made me a bit more animated on stage. I mostly recall doing our cover of “Milkshake” by Kelis, and facing the crowd in a tornado drill-manner with my butt in the air (covered for this one, but that would eventually descend into underwear, and then bare ass).
The Fat Girls went on next; They had been advertised online as a three-piece, but by this time they were a duo. Gretchen and Sara Cole rocked that joint, and held the crowd in the palms of their hands. At one point between songs, Gretchen asked the crowd, “Does anyone want to lick the sweat off of my tits?” Like I said, I knew we’d end up being good pals.
Zack Starkey closed the night, joined on stage by Marvin the Robot, aka Miles Curtiss. This was our first introduction to Miles, who is someone you don’t easily forget. At one point during the set, Miles abandoned his synthesizer duties to run around the venue and rub the heads of people who were quietly minding their business at the bar. It was outstanding.
It is simply unbelievable to me now as I write this that it was a mere 11 months later we were organizing a farewell show for the Fat Girls. We had already grown so close by then. I threw a minor tantrum over the phone to Gretchen when I heard the news they were breaking up. I couldn’t help it, performing with them made me feel safe and powerful. They were so great and so magnetic, and they could get a bigger crowd than we did just by falling out of bed in the morning. This picture is from an after party at our place following their last show (aside from a handful of reunion gigs) on April 15, 2006. What’s also unbelievable to me is that the show ended at 2:30 AM, so who knows what the fuck time this is taking place. We were damn party machines back then. It was a special time and place.
Show #17: April 9, 2005
w/ November Loop
In the same rude way we left early the first time we performed at Supraphonic Studios, this time we rudely arrived late. I remember we arrived just as The Bedspins were finishing, and the singer guy was like “Thanks to The Electric Grandmother,” and I was like “Sure, no sweat.” I’m not entirely certain how long Supraphonic would remain open after this, but it wasn’t around long. For reasons I can’t remember, we weren’t able to master the upcoming “Pee Sells” album in the studio, the album was mastered at our friend (same engineer we’d used prior) Jason's house by dumping the tracks on his home computer.
Our friend Colin set up the show, and he remarked to us when we arrived that he had been nervous because until then “His headliner hadn’t shown up,” and I was like, “Wow, we’re his headliner.” As with many of our shows, we really didn’t match with the rest of the bands, but ya know, sometimes those types end up being our most ardent supporters. This is a solid segue to the next band that was up, the Heartbreak Orchestra (pictured). Described via their website as a “primarily acoustic folk/Americana/country band,” you think we’d go together like oil and Fruit Roll-Ups. But we ended up being good pals with John and Jill Garratt (née Wooten), and they’ve been great supporters of ours over the years. Some might even say that John has written about “Pop” that “Matters” when it comes to EG, but you didn’t hear that from me.
One moment that I specifically recall from the show was taking exception to being called a “short guy” the prior week on the Done Waiting message board, and I made a point to tell the crowd that evening that I was better classified as “medium-short.” I also remember that we performed on the opposite end of the space this time. This would certainly be our last show at the studio, and likely the last time we ever set foot inside. Kind of marked the end of a specific era for us. Kudos, Supraphonic.
Addendum: There's some debate between Mary Alice and I about when this happened, but it's possible it might have been this show where after the set we witnessed this kind of norm-looking college guy on his cell phone frantically talking to his friend, saying something like "You gotta see this man, they covered everything, we're talkin' Urkel, we're talkin' (other sitcom characters referenced in our set)..." To this day, we say "We're talkin' Urkel" to each other when the situation calls for it.
Show #16: April 1, 2005
w/ Infinite Number of Sounds
This is the show that changed everything. I know that sounds overly dramatic and self-important, but ya know, fuck you. I feel like with this show, EG kinda announced its arrival.
J Rhodes had suggested to me that we set up this show, which I then did. It was our first gig with Infinite Number of Sounds, the Cleveland experimental music powerhouse that featured my friend Matt Mansbach, who I knew from my Dunkin’ Donuts days, as well as his brother Dave, Brent Gummow (who also ran the ExBe board), and Ron Tucker. Joining us on the bill were the Ocean Ghosts, the new band from J Rhodes and Scotty Boombox, and Scotty was slated to do a solo set as well.
This show was just a week after the crummy disaster of a gig at Cafe Bourbon Street. That was one advantage to planning so many gigs close together, is that we didn’t allow ourselves the option to quit what we were doing. I don’t remember if I told Mary Alice that I wanted to quit after that last gig, but I probably did. If you’ve ever been in a band, you know about making false promises to quit. I’ve even talked to people who, like me, have falsely promised themselves it would be their last show during the middle of a set. But you just go on, without even knowing what’s still driving you to do it.
But back to the lecture at hand - the show on April 1, 2005, which was 10 years to the day after my near-fatal car accident. I thought it was really cool that I was playing this real boss show with my friends a decade later, like if I could go back and tell myself this would be happening, I could bring myself some comfort. That is kind of how trauma works, come to think of it - it’s a good practice to talk to your old self, and to offer them reassurance. It’s how you begin to heal.
But back to the lecture at hand - EG was on first, and I noticed something strange happening in the venue: People were there. Now, INS had developed a decent following in Columbus, Scotty and J did well locally, but that didn’t account for the density of the crowd. I had done good promotion for the show, but I think it was just one of those nights where things just somehow came together. I think all in all there were a little over 90 people who paid to get in, but at the time I probably thought it was more like 190. There was a sizeable crowd by the time we started - I remember opening with “Hangin’ Out With Mr. Cooper Sucks,” and walking over to turn up the monitor shortly after the beginning of the song. Just one of those things I remember.
This photo sure is special - Josie, myself, and Matt. Looking back, it’s touching to me how faithful Josie was in coming to our shows whenever she could. It’s not the type of thing you really focus on when in the moment. Matt and I are holding pom-poms that we brought, which likely were accompanied by a football, basketball, and whatever else we could buy at Target to throw at the audience.
In the days following the show, someone alerted me to post on a local music message board called Done Waiting, which I had never heard of before then. It was a post titled “ELECTRIC F-ING GRANDMOTHER." Many replies followed, and I joined the board so I could say thank you and hello. It was extremely flattering, and still one of my favorite memories, much like the show itself.
Show #15: March 25, 2005
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ Johnny La Rock & Mush Mouth
This show was a bad idea, and it was pretty much all my fault. I booked it when we already had a solid gig scheduled for the next weekend, and I asked two out of town bands to open. I remember not having much time or energy to promote, I think I put up one flyer on a bulletin board on the OSU campus, as if that would make a difference. I think I even knew at the time I had blown it with this one.
The gig was a desolate affair. I don’t know who all paid a cover to get in, but maybe 3 or 4 people did. We met Leroy that night who was briefly part of the Ocean Ghosts, the new band who were to play with next week at the Treehouse. He was doing door at the venue, which was the easiest job in the universe that evening. At one point before we went on he told us he was going to take off, which was totally understandable. He gave us the little bit that was collected, smiled at me and said “I don’t think it’s happening tonight, man.”
One thing I learned that night is that depending on the bar, the person collecting cover is the gatekeeper and acts as your shield from nefarious types who wish to do you harm. There existed an enormous college campus nearby, and lifting the cover was like lifting the floodgates. By the time we went on, there were a handful of young men in the bar who were not interested in receiving art from us. I think for a number of people, when they think of EG getting heckled they think of the Deadboy & the Elephantmen show at Little Brother’s (more on that later), but this is the one I think of first. I don’t remember all that was hurled at the stage, but I specifically remember “You suck!” and “Shut the fuck up!” It also didn't help to not have any local coalition in attendance to defend us, being relatively new as we were, on this odd night I deemed it wise to have two Cleveland bands open for us in Columbus. I know that for a group like us you might think we’d expect this sort of thing, but I honestly didn’t, and my feelings were hurt. At the end of our shortened set I flipped the guys off, who thankfully just grinned back at me, and we got the heck out of there.
Our out of town buddies were at least good company. We stayed up all night at our place chatting and having drinks, and in the morning we went to McDonald’s and got McGriddles. I then went to sleep for three hours and then woke up so I could spend the day with my dad who had come into town for the day. This thankfully would be the last time I would drink Smirnoffs all night and then follow it with fast food and three hours of sleep.
Mary Alice: One thing I remember about this show is that the hecklers were also yelling out the names of TV shows, like they were requesting we play songs about them? As if it were all kind of off the cuff? I should mention for folks who weren’t around back then that at the time, 90% of the songs we performed live were about TV shows (where now it’s closer to maybe 30-40%). I don’t remember the others but will never forget one of their “requests” was for NBC Nightly News. As flustered as I was, even at the time I thought that was a borderline clever roast. I also remember clear as day wrapping up “Blow Show” and at the end one of them said “OK *that* was pretty cool.”
At minimum we all learned valuable lessons that night.
Show #14: March 10, 2005
w/ The Squares
I was today years old when I found out that “Supermercado” is Spanish for “Supermarket.” That’s kind of how I am, I often don’t notice things that are right in front of my face. But that was the name of the acoustic duo fronted by Lee Keeler, who I knew from my Upchuck Berry days.
Who is this “Upchuck Berry,” you ask? Well, that’s the punk rock band I fronted from Autumn 2001 - July 8, 2002. In fact, it was right about 20 years ago when the band formed. Myself, and my friends Eric, Brandt, and Jeff - Happy Anniversary, boys! We played two shows and released one CD-R album. The first show was a house show, and the second show was July 8, 2002, on a Monday night at the now long gone Little Brother’s club. We were joined by a band called Shiv and an act called Son of Sound, which was Lee singing and playing guitar solo.
We opened the night, and I think it was a particularly wild and energetic show, because when I got off stage Lee said to me “Great, now people get to see a boring acoustic act,” to which I replied reassuringly, “It’s a different dynamic,” which Lee scoffed at. Who could blame him, EG must have murdered that joint. I do recall Supermercado doing a sweet cover of “Alex Chilton,” one of the best Replacements songs. Lee, I wasn’t bored. The Squares did what they did so well, you already know that story.
Show #13: February 17, 2005
Pat’s in the Flats
w/ The Squares
Helen Terrace Crew
Back before EG was a duo, we were a single. It’s kind of weird to think about now, but up until 2009 Mary Alice was a “live member,” and I personally was “The Electric Grandmother.” We always were essentially a duo, but we sort of didn’t know how to describe it when I handled the entirety of the songwriting/music, while she was tasked with creating the visuals solely for the live shows and would project from off-stage. As you know us in the present day, she’s a full-fledged band member who is greatly involved in the creative process, sings on stage, and generally handles the art direction for the group. As I always say, without her watching EG would look like a stripped-down and drunk Fugazi performance. Or maybe more accurately like watching David Essex singing “Rock On” (see photo).
The reason I bring this all up is because this was one of a handful of EG shows where someone stood in for Mary Alice running the projector, as we had tentatively thought this would be the case for out of town gigs. In this case it was Jeremy from the Squares who was tasked with freestyling the (until we got an LCD projector) manageable slideshow, which featured 3-4 images per song. It was the first indoor Pat’s show for EG, and it was booked by that Cleve guy who booked the Rockwood show. Me and Jeremy were up first, and I started the gig off by saying these were songs about “Life, love, and John Stamos,” and I heard this girl murmur “What..?” before I launched into the first song. I remember having a good amount of fun. The Squares were great as always, Your Friend was a riot-grrrl-esque band from Akron who I also enjoyed. I got pretty buzzed off of two vodka-7's, which made at Pat's was sufficient for the whole evening.
Jeremy and I headed back to Columbus before seeing the Helen Terrace Crew, who Cleve informed me had 8 lead singers as we were getting ready to leave. I asked Jeremy where the other guys in the band were, and he surmised that the gals in Your Friend were trying to coax them to “hang out.” On the ride home, I remember Jeremy and I having a nice talk about life, love, and John Stamos. He made a remark about how I had a great stage presence and how the people watching are often "Confused at first, but by the end you have them eating out of your hand." And of course that stands out - I can't imagine hearing a compliment greater than "Confused at first."
Show #12: February 11, 2005
Cafe Bourbon Street
w/ November Loop
This is one of those shows where I know there’s photos. I can remember at least one shot of me on stage, but it’s lost somewhere in time and outer space. This drawing is an artist’s rendering of how I remember that photo looking.
Another gig with our pals in November Loop, I believe there was originally a 3rd band who had to cancel. I feel like the first five times EG played Cafe Bourbon Street something went wrong, but this show was by far the best. We played first to an enthusiastic crowd, one of those shows where there’s great energy and you feel like people are swinging from the rafters. It felt really good. After our set we went outside, and this girl came up to me and said “My life changed tonight after seeing you. I’ll never be the same.” (Sure, she might have had a few, but let’s just go with it).
On the flipside of this deranged praise was a guy who said to me, “I was in there trying to read, and I couldn’t because of your set. I wanted to punch you in the face.” (Which I suppose counts as the thing that “went wrong,” but in retrospect isn’t terrible. Also, we should have been more considerate to a guy who came to a rock show in a bar to quietly read). The upshot was that when he said this to me, I was talking to the fun-lovable yet sizable drummer from November Loop. He said to the guy with a grin, “Ok, but just so you know you’ll have to go through me first.” That’s one thing to remember about EG: Drummers really love us, and they’re a crazy lot. So if you come at us, there’s probably a drummer waiting in the wings ready to beat your ass.
Show #11: January 18, 2005
w/ Kill Crush Destroy
(Others – ?????)
This show marked the beginning of the end for the tabletop CD player. I wasn’t sure if I still had it, but here it is, complete with the first EG sticker there on the front featuring one Mr. Steven Q. Urkel. We had originally thought that the PA at Cafe Bourbon Street had caused our severe audio issues at show #3, but this show proved otherwise. I had mentioned that this player had been subject to skipping/getting “shocked” by signals from the PA, but I’m wondering now if those may have just been audio issues in general, because I feel like this might have been the first incident where the music would stop and start playing? The answer, my friend, was blowing on the stage that night.
The girl who booked at Bernie’s during this time dug what we did at the last show, and invited us to be on this gig with a New Jersey hardcore band called Kill Crush Destroy. A Google search indicates that this show was on a Tuesday night, which explains why Mary Alice had asked if we could leave early. We hatched an idiotic plan to ask whoever was running the door if we could have our cut of the money before the end of the show, and I can’t remember what he said, but I remember him seeming nonplussed.
We went on first, and the player began fucking up right away. I remember getting frustrated, and at one point pantomimed shoving the microphone stand up my ass. I think we did about 5 songs and then gave up. Our lone friend who witnessed the performance remarked “That was cool, kind of a GG Allin show.” While we were getting off the stage, we met the guys in the next band Vaudeville, who we got to know and played with in the future. That was all we accomplished that night, because we fled the scene in embarrassment. We didn’t ask for any money.
Mary Alice: Oh my I have zero memory of this show! Except that I vaguely remember being super pissed that the show conflicting with something I wanted to watch on TV, which sounds really really dumb except when you consider that we didn’t have DVR at the time. Taking that into account, it’s just really dumb. In fairness to me, I think I was concerned that we were playing two shows at Bernie’s back to back and nobody would come see us and I was right about that.
All that said, reading this was appalling.
Show #10: December 20, 2004
w/ The Squares
So about my friend from French class that I mentioned in the last story, Jeremy Pifer? We had been talking about our bands to each other for some time and were scheming about doing a show together. One day he handed me this very CD-R pictured here that I saved for all these years. Prior to listening, I was already planning no matter what to give friendly feedback to this young fella about his demo (I was a few years older than most of the students at OSU), but instead I was greeted by an amazing garage rock assault to the senses. I could not believe how good these guys were, I was flabbergasted. The next time I saw Jeremy, I pulled one of those “I didn’t like it...I loved it!” on him, and he totally went for it, haha, youth.
The Squares invited us to play a show they set up at Bernie’s, the (now defunct and developed over) notoriously filthy punk rock club of Columbus. You don’t necessarily think of punk rock, at least in the traditional sense, when you think of Columbus. But I’d go to battle with Bernie’s against any hole you think you know of. There’s a famous story of a member of the Aussie-punk rock greats The Saints walking into Bernie’s prior to performing, looking around the room and saying “I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve this.”
On the night of the show, wouldn’t you know it, our projector from Georgia State University gave out. I called Jeremy and asked if he wanted to try and find another band, or if he’d be interested in doing interpretive dance behind us in lieu of our projection. Both ideas were resoundingly rejected, so we thought the hell with it; I'd just go up there and dance around without Mary Alice’s visual aids.
So that’s exactly what I did, to a bit of a shortened set. I remember it being really strange and fun, and I specifically recall this gutter punk looking guy falling off of a stool laughing during the song “Doogie’s My Friend,” which made the whole thing worthwhile. Local punk band Blatant Finger followed our set, and they played for way too long. They had a bunch of bullshit, prepared-in-advance crowd-baiting ideas for between songs, specifically making fun of Andyman’s generous size (shitty and totally out of nowhere) and the very recent shooting death of Dimebag Darrell at a nearby venue (pretty weak). After what seemed like an eternity, those assholes got off stage and The Squares rocked that motherfucker with the limited time they had.
We played with The Squares a few more times after that, and they broke up after a few years, but anyone who was there for their short time knew how great they were. They got signed to a popular local label and were named a Columbus Alive “Band to Watch,” even getting the cover of the dang magazine. They were it, and good-looking to boot. Kudos to you, The Squares. Long may your legend hover around the 614.