Show #48: June 24, 2006
The Off-Ramp Stage (11:15 AM)
According to Wikipedia, “ComFest is a free, non-corporate, music and arts annual festival currently held each June at Goodale Park in the Victorian Village area of Columbus, Ohio,” so if you don’t know, now you know. When we first started doing shows, I never pictured Electric Grandmother as being a Comfest act; I didn’t think our brand of wackiness would fit in very well, but mostly that we used visual projection that either needed to be indoors or in darkness, and night time slots at this outdoor festival were hard to come by. But people kept encouraging me to apply, which I eventually did, figuring I’d shoot first and ask questions later. I remember rationalizing out loud one night at the Treehouse that the thoroughly wacky Gil Mantera’s Party Dream had performed at Comfest (“Yeah, but they suck!” - Quinn), and people kept encouraging me to apply, so I eventually did, figuring I’d shoot first and ask questions later.
Lo and behold, eventually came the email informing that EG had been accepted for the festival. A committee member named Mark Fisher had seen one of our shows and dug it, especially our song “Sick Little Boy in Scotland,” which is about a letter writing campaign hoax that I was unwittingly a part of in second grade. Our buddy/committee member Ryan Jones, the manager for The Lab Rats who were on the verge of exploding (and who were EG fans), put us on the cool band “Off Ramp Stage” as openers on the same day The Lab Rats would be closing (sweet hookup dude), with the idea of us being like “Saturday Morning Cartoons” for the attendees, which was pretty neat.
The preparation for the show was pretty taxing for Mary Alice, as she was trying to format the visuals for our show onto a video iPod, which we planned to run through a television that we were going to prop up on the stage. She spent an entire day doing this only to find out that the iPod jack was fucked up and wouldn’t connect properly to the TV, and I thought she was going to lose it and beat me into oblivion (remember that EG is still mostly a solo project at this point, and these are all thankless tasks). It then dawned on us that we could just use a DVD player to do the same thing, and I tried to calm her rage by noting that at least all her work had led us to a solution, but it didn’t help.
I was skeptical about anyone coming out to see us at 11:15 AM, but I guess I didn’t know Comfest too well, because people were there. I don’t recall if I was able to get a famous Comfest beer (see above cup) this early, but I think I might have. We performed with the TV, some traffic cones, our bubble machine, and rocked out in the morning heat to a smallish but solid crowd. We got good feedback, then probably had a funnel cake.
Actually, we probably went home after that, because I had signed up to volunteer later as part of a “quid pro quo” (just kidding, sort of) for performing, and would have wanted to shower and change. Mary Alice had gotten a pretty bad cold, and was content to stay at home the rest of the day to watch episodes of Lost on iTunes. I'm not sure when exactly I came back to the festival grounds, but I was certain to get my beer on before my volunteer shifts began. I also don’t entirely remember what I did as far as “volunteering” went, but I imagine I was pretty ineffective at doing it. I do recall working at the Gazebo stage in the evening trying to set up equipment and sort of stumbling around, and this lady was like “Ok Pete, you’ve had enough beer,” so I guess she was in charge? As the night fell, I lamented to this older volunteer guy that I wasn’t going to be able to see The Lab Rats at the Off-Ramp Stage, and he was like “Just go!” I explained to him that I couldn’t because I was still doing a volunteer shift. He laughed at me and said, “Man, this is Comfest. Do you think someone is back there writing down your name that you skipped out on your shift? Just go.” With that, I bolted off through the darkness in drunken glee towards the writing sea of humanity watching the band. I’d estimate there were at least 500 people spilling out of the tent, people crowd surfing, total topless chaos.
Mary Alice came to pick me up around the time they were finishing their set, and she had begun to feel much worse by then. She was in no mood for my merriment, and nearly killed me when I asked if she wanted to after-party at Andyman’s.
A few days later I got an email thanking me for my volunteering, so I guess they forgot to write my name down.
Mary Alice: I definitely had a funnel cake for breakfast that morning but it was so hot in that tent and I just remember feeling sticky and miserable the whole time.
Now I will reveal something I’ve never told another soul: my mom passed away the previous December and we inherited her fancy little laptop, which we used for shows for several years hence. I hadn’t signed out of her iTunes account and at the time the most current season of Lost was only available to purchase and as we were both still in school at the time, I didn’t have $40 to spend, so I used my mom’s still active iTunes account to buy it. I can reveal this because I would NEVER do this now (not just because our financial situation has changed but also because I’m a lot less depressed and Machiavellian than I was at the time) AND I had to miss all of the fun because I had bronchitis but I do feel that this is still one of the worst things I’ve ever done.
Finally, I hate that I come off as such a grumpy asshole in this story but cannot deny that every word is 100% true. It was—a very different time.
I still drink water from my Comfest cups every day.