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!