Saturday, December 4, 2010

#51 Sancho on 12-3-2010

(photo by Robert Hogg)

This was our final show of the year. We arrived at the venue and found an empty white artspace, and it's proprietor starting to set things up. I offered to set up the PA and got started. It was 9:30, and though we were set to play at 11, a flock of people showed up to see us play. I suggested they enjoy themselves at a local bar or eatery, and that's what they did. AV Club were the openers, and were running a bit late, but setup was quick and we were on schedule.

AV Club put on a great show, and I mixed the best sound I could with the small speakers provided. Our set was lively, and I was pleased to have 'Valley Born' back in the set. Wayne commented it was "five years in the making," which made me laugh. The last band (Fay Wrays) apparently had a breakdown and were not going to make it, so after playing we lingered as long as we could. A nice end to this year's performances.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

#50 The Airliner on 11-2-10

(photo by Matthew Stolarz)

Congratulations us! This was the Active Set's 50th show! Hurrah! Hurrah!

This show was handed to us after playing the Terrace. I told my friend Sean Guerin to see about playing it, and lo and behold we got to play together. Francis and I ate tacos, separately, before the show.

The show was opened by a cool experimental 'loop station' guitarist. The Airliner has 3 stages, and we played the tiny one downstairs, not the big cement loading dock one out back or the super cool big stage upstairs. That was reserved for the 'damage to your nervous system' DJs.

They played a bunch of dub reggae on the PA as we set up, which always puts me in the mood. Though the stage is sideways facing the bar, everyone stood in front of us while we played. I couldn't keep my jacket on through the whole set, and Wayne called me a 'pussy' or 'quitter' or something. I made a lot of jokes about Meg Whitman, who was losing the election to Jerry Brown.

AV club is fronted by Austin Eastlee, a friend of mine. Sean Guerin plays keys. They have a good band.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

#49 Pierce College Halloween Harvest Festival on 10-22-10

(I really had misgivings about including this photo, taken by Vivian Lovell.)

I was eager to see what this show would be like. I realized that we hadn't brought a box of CDs to sell, and this was the very type of event that people would probably be buying them. I managed to dig up 4 from the van and luckily one of the attendees had some backup copies. We played on a gigantic outdoor stage, facing benches and several concession stands. We were all so spread apart that we couldn't really hear each other's amps. (The sound men kept telling us to turn down so as to not drown out Castro's drums.)

I felt a bit performance-unsatisfied, and turned to Francis to say "one more." He shot me down.

We had friends who brought some people, and plenty of children watching our set. Children intrigue me as audience members, because they pretty much like it or they don't, and when they do it's pretty magical.

Friday, October 8, 2010

#48 Central on 10-8-2010

(photo by Amber McCandless)

Central Social Aid and Pleasure Club is in Santa Monica. It used to be called 14 Below. (I once played there with an earlier band and our attendees were not counted correctly so I was screwed out of $140.) We had been invited to play by Holy Rolling Empire, a Tucson band.

We were set to open the show, and we were going to share drums with some of the other bands, and I was borrowing a bass amp. We set up for what seemed like forever, and the sound men were having some technical issues, so it was actually longer than forever. I didn't remember the stage being so cramped. We played to a modest crowd, but they seemed into it. It would be a shame if I didn't comment on the lights in the room, which were pin-laser-psychedelic-spiral-dance-club madness. They were definitely in competition with us.

The crowd filled out as the night went on, and I must say there is nothing like playing shows with bands that are your friends. This was our 5th (6th? 7th?) show with the Monthlies, and the 2nd show with new friends Cola Cola, so the environment was warm and inviting. It reminded me a bit of shows on tour.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

#47 The Terrace on 9-29-10

The Terrace is a Japanese restaurant in Pasadena with a good stage. We got the show thanks to a referral from artist Melissa Knowlton. She also borrowed an ebow for Wayne for the show.

The booker Vince was a very down-to-Earth guy. The bands who played with us were a bizarre assortment of sludge metal, surf-garage rock, indie pop, etc. There was a definite 'white trash' element at the show, and I'm not entirely certain which band(s) brought it. I don't know that that 'fans were shared' between the bands, but we did our work and enjoyed it. Good friends came to the show and we celebrated afterwards at the Yard House.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#46 La Bries on 9-28-10

(photo by some guy walking by)

La Bries used to be called 'The Scene.' I don't know if there was ever much of a scene there.

I raced to get things together for the show and get to the venue. I arrived at 7:20ish to set up for our 8 o'clock set time. Castro was already there, waiting outside the locked club. We all stood there and waited. The person who we booked the show with called and said we were supposed to be at the Rainbow Club in Hollywood. However, she was joking.

The owner arrived, and we quickly set up our equipment. There were no microphones set up though. The sound guy was 'on his way' and was 'never late before.' We waited. When he did arrive, we decided we would cut our set down so as not to drag the night on and on. After all, there were 3 bands after us and it was now almost 9:30.

The sound on stage was FANTASTIC, and the concise set worked quite well. Sadly though, Wayne broke his ebow.

We played with Julian Shah-Tayler, Charles and Model K.

Friday, September 24, 2010

#45 Mountain Bar on 9-23-10

We were confused about where to park, and where the club even was. We went around the and Francis opened the side door of the van. We changed our minds and went back around the block. The door was not fully closed, so it slid open when a left turn was made. My Ampeg SVT-3 pro bass head went flying out into the street. After a stunned exchange of looks, Francis dashed out into the street and watched a car fly over it, no damage. Then a second car ran over it. Thwack.

The casing had been crushed in on the side, but it worked fine for the show.

We played with Hot TV and Cola-Cola. A couple gents from Casxio came to watch, which was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Video: Let The Games Begin

Yes. The video has arrived, and this is pleasing to us. "Let The Games Begin" directed by Israeli director Lior Molcho. Perhaps a tribute to our fine city.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

#44 The Mezz on 9-8-10

(photo by Amber McCandless)

The Alexandria Hotel is currently (apparently) a low-income apartment building. The second floor is a bar called the Mezz. The ceiling is rather low, having originally been the ceiling for the lobby below. However, this makes for a nice atmosphere. We played without any monitors, so much of the sound was generalized throughout the room. We played with Julian Shah-Tayler (who was releasing his double album) and the Clouds. The crowd was mostly there to see Julian. Despite being a cool night, it got rather warm in the room.

Monday, August 30, 2010

#43 Vu Ultra Bar on 8-29-10

I got a haircut before the show. I decided to 'try some stuff out' on my hair, and let my girl go for it with the clippers. The results were amusing and pleasing.

This trip back to the 'Vu Bar' was very nice. As said before, the art community up here in Santa Clarita is very supportive. It's an odd place, kind of remote, allowing for a lot of time to kill. I envision more metal bands popping up here than anything else, but I haven't confirmed this is the case.

We had a few deodorant samples with us (for reasons we'd rather not say here) so we gave them away, although Castro had wanted me to engage the audience in a 'dance contest' in order to 'win' the deodorant. The crowd was even more supportive than last time, and we received nice compliments on our tone choices on the Micro Korg.

Besides the art on the walls, and the art battle we played with the Oceanographers.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

#42 The Joint on 8-28-10


I have a preconceived bias against a club like the Joint. I feel it is one of those 'sceneless' clubs, where bands think they will 'make it' by booking a 'showcase' where 'industry' will attend. We were pleased to be playing two nights in a row though.

The stage is very high, and this is great. The sound man was direct and to the point, and delivered FANTASTIC sound on stage.

This was the first show incorporating the Micro Korg. It made me feel like ditching the bass altogether and just playing keys.

I closed my eyes during the bridge of Sea Legs and when I opened them again most of the crowd had left. They were there to support the previous band.

Some of us lingered to watch the final band of the night, a thrash/metal band. They all looked the part except for their bassist. Not only did he stand there mortified, staring at his bass most of the time, he was wearing an bright red Incredibles shirt and baggy jeans while the rest of the band looked street/metal.

We played with A Flavor Of Love, Creature Company, Great White Buffalo and The Arsenal.

Friday, August 13, 2010

#41 Downtown L.A. on 8-12-2010

This show was supposed to be at an artspace downtown. The night before the show we were informed that the building owner did not want a show to occur, so lots of scrambling took place to have it moved.

The new place was the bottom floor of another building, one that already had its own art and vendors. So, the 'stage' was located just inside the door, and art was squeezed in wherever it could fit. If I'm correct there were 3 separate fresh-baked cookie vendors, which is probably 2 too many for one small cramped location. There was no power to most of the building, and the one working outlet was behind the DJ, and we were told not to use it. Instead, we got our power from a gas-powered generator, rented from Home Depot. There were 2 people who were in charge of the event, but it was difficult to get things answered resolutely. I decided to assume the 'stage manager' role, just to make sure everything went well, at least regarding the live music.

We had parked a couple blocks from the venue, so we had to roll our gear down the street.

The first band was Stepfather, and I made sure things were set up as well as possible, with monitors, etc. I was reminded how long setting up sound equipment takes. Stepfather were in the middle of what might have been their 3rd song when one of the coordinators said the music had to stop. Apparently a man playing acoustic Spanish guitar had to play NOW. Bands would be permitted to resume after 9:30, and could "play as long as they want." I rushed in to tell the singer before they started up again, and he was less than pleased. He yelled into the mic, "We're done, come see us at a real venue. Fuck you." And then he stormed out. I was bummed.

So, Spanish guitar man played his set in front of the DJ table, and it was time for us to play.

We were in the middle of our set and a trio of colorful dancers came to the front and danced for a song or two. It was amusing at first, but I started to worry that they were going to dance between us and the audience for the rest of the show. They didn't.

After us was Vanaprasta, who we invited to be a part of the show. They started to play, and were stopped almost immediately by the coordinator, the one who made Stepfather stop. She was worried about the noise and cops, as it was now after 10 pm. I was outside for this, but when I found out I was pretty annoyed. We were told playing wouldn't be an issue after 9:30. So, we closed the doors, and this coordinator went on and on about the complications of having moved the show, and running the event, and worrying about the cops coming any minute. Michael and I did our best to continue talking to her so Vanaprasta could finish. We succeeded.

I was quite relieved, and had pulled of some kind of show. In fact, I must have handled something somewhat correctly, as the singer from Stepfather has invited us to play a show at his gallery. And another guy who saw us play offerred us a show as well.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

#40 The Echo on 8-3-10

This show was part of the International Pop Overthrow. It is a yearly music 'festival' put on by a man named David Bash. There were 13(?) nights of IPO at various clubs around Los Angeles. I'm not sure what night we were. What I do know is that there were 7 bands on the bill, and that's a lot of bands.

I had misgivings about the show, which is probably why it went the way it did. We were using mostly their back line, to assure quick transitions between bands. I couldn't get the bass rig to sound quite right though. Wayne was smart and brought his own amp.

Our set felt a bit rigid to me, and I was having trouble loosening up. We were on our 4th or 5th song and Mr. Bash gestured 'one more song.'

What? Huh?

Yes, I had failed to realized that the back to back listings of the bands meant we had a 20-minute set. A short set. Uncomfortably short. The only shorter set we'd played was at SXSW in 2008, which was maybe 17 minutes.

So, we finished our last song and I stumbled off stage a bit shellshocked. I stood near the merch tables, not quite angry, not quite sad, but feeling very odd indeed. An older man came up to me and said, "Great set, but that's a terrible name. I'm sure I'm not the first person to tell you that!"

What? Huh?

I was caught completely off guard, as if in slow motion. I mumbled something about Wayne having questioned the name once or something or something. He said, "Good set though" and walked away. I shouted some vaguely confrontational, "Did you just say that to me?" but he was out of earshot, and I felt even more defeated. I went for the front door, and took a walk.

The rest of the night was dispersed, but when leaving I was handed an envelope with money for the CDs we'd sold (we did?).

I don't ever recall feeling quite like this at a show.

Monday, July 26, 2010

#39 Vu Ultra Bar 7-25-10

(photo by Matthew Stolarz)

Vu Ultra Bar (or 'the Vu' as the locals call it) is in Newhall, CA.

I was invited to play by Stephen Shepard, who was once in a band called Little White Lie, who played shows with me when I was in a band called I Decline, that later became The Briggs. In other words, we go back a ways.

Steve is an artist, and has a collection of artist friends who are part of a community up there. This was mainly an art show, and we were some of the entertainment. Many people stayed outside on the smoking patio while we played, but those that watched us were very supportive: they shouted, danced, etc. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

The night concluded with an 'art battle,' two artists sketching on a giant canvas based on a theme of the audience's choosing. This battle was 'pandas and the apocalypse' if I'm not mistaken.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

#38 Wolf Gallery on 7-24-10

(photo by ?)

We were tracked down and asked to play this show by East Los Angeles new wave band LeTras. We drove down to Whittier and were greeted by an apparently very tight-knit group of Latino fans and friends. I was reminded of Briggs shows back in the day, where we would find these hard-core Latino punks who absolutely lived for the scene and the music. It's such a nice contrast to scenelessness. (Yep, I just coined that.)

There was a middle-aged burnout white guy who lingered around the club before we played, and he asked us if we were going to play some 'Anglo-Saxon music' for a change, instead of all this 'Mexican shit'. We were annoyed/amused. During our set this guy kept giving half-assed Nazi salutes, and eventually left. I thought this was very smart of him.

After the set, feeling like we didn't necessarily win this crowd over, LeTras invited us to come back to their studio/practice space to hang out and drink. We joined them, and it turned into a great dance party, and we were quite happy to join them. We danced and it was fantastic.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

#37 rooftop poolside show on 5-30-10

We were invited to play this thing by Leila, who got our number from Becca of Dramaturgy Presents. It was to celebrate the release of the Waveriders movie, or to fundraise, or something.

I was being paid to bring and run the PA for the bands. We set up the stuff under a tent. Various members of the band showed up at various times. There were two acoustic acts who were going to play in addition to us and The Downtown Train. Time started ticking on, and I nudged the acoustic acts to go on, but nobody wanted to play yet as 'the vibe' wasn't 'right.' One of these was the super charismatic Bradley Riot, who has very large holes in his ears, and plays a fine thrashy acoustic song.

Downtown Train were a dirty dirty blues band, that were tremendous. Young guys, but they played the crap out out of the blues and I was super impressed. They played for a long time, and I was getting agitated as we were now in a countdown as to how much time the bands had left to play. I said one more song, and they played a looooong one more song, and then burst into yet another 'one more song.' I kept my cool, and thanked them.

We played a good set to entirely the wrong crowd, who couldn't care less it seemed. (Girls kept trying to plug their pop-filled iPods into the PA throughout the day.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

#36 Casey's Irish Pub on 5-28-10

(photo by Bret Rigney)

This show was a gift from the Monthlies, who have a residency here. Casey's is a great pub below street level in downtown L.A. There is even a fantastic freight elevator that comes out of the sidewalk. The show was sponsored by Jameson's, so they were paying for the entertainment. Nice.

We were the only two bands playing, so we really had time to set up and lounge before the show. A LOT of people showed up for us, and it was a very supportive crowd. The lighting was such that Wayne was kind of in the dark, but I don't think he minded. The performance was enjoyable. I caught the kitchen in time and enjoyed a shepherd's pie, while a cellist played with the Monthlies.

Wayne's birthday had been two days prior, so this was a bit of a 'Birthday Show.'  We surprised him with a cake and shared it with many of the people at the bar. Wayne later commented that no one had ever done something like this for him.

Monday, May 17, 2010

#35 Dakota Lounge on 5-16-10

This show was booked through Fancy Animal Productions. They are a nice couple who seemed to put a lot of care into this show. We played with The Monthlies, as well as Holland Greco.

What made this show special was not the dinner at the Vegan restaurant nearby, but the East-Coast one-legged security guard at the club. He was truly one-of-a-kind. He was dressed in a suit, and walked around on a crutch, and managed to make sure you knew you were in the way every chance he got. Whether it was equipment backstage or your own body against the bar, it was a night full of "Excuse me, can you just move that closer to the wall? We need to keep this area clear" or "I just need you to leave this path open. I'm not trying to be pushy." And yet, he WAS pushy. All night long. Even when things were not really in the way, he would seek out people to move and things to 'correct.' It was a unique and amazing experience.

Being our first show back in many months, we all agreed that we had evolved to a new plateau of live performance. We felt good. We even covered INXS

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Single - Let The Games Begin

Sooooooo, the first of our new singles is up. It's an optimistic story-song called Let The Games Begin. It's been a long road, but we're on to something good. It's quite possibly a sequel to Better Brigade, in theme. You can listen to it or download it here.

We will be at Coachella today to spread the message about this brand new song. Say hello if you see us.