January 23, 2004 - Space - Portland, ME - with: Hot Tarts and Spottiswood

Ken Says: on friday night the school for the dead splinter group (henning, brian, ken) played space in portland, ME as part of jose ayerve's fifth "coaxial festival." the set consisted of:

space is a beautiful place. a cross between flywheel's li'l back gallery and a one-room mass MoCA. they had an exhibit going called "touch," which featured a lot of interactive art. for example, there were pizzas on the counter before the show and henning and brian and i touched them. they'd been sliced! so we ate a lot of the slices. mmmm, spinach and garlic.

the evening's bill included a local band called the hot tarts, then us, then a solo acoustic set from mr. spottiswoode from england by way of NYC. the show was wrapped in the cellophane of performance art...our man ayerve came out in snorkeling gear and stomped around the concrete floor in his slappy plastic flippers, and got hoisted by four folks and carried around the room while he pretended to swim. also he stood in the center of the crowd and poured a cup of water over his head. stuff like that.

i'd played the festival the previous night (thursday) with spouse (a TOTAL blast for me, one of THE best spouse sets i've ever been a part of...the band lineup was jose, j.j., mark schwaber and me...we headlined, and ended the night with jose's soon-to-be-released song "space," on which i get to play bass. it has a cooler-than-shit coda, and while we were rocking it i noticed out of the corner of my eye that mark had thrown himself to the floor against his amplifier, wringing psychotic howling feedback from his guitar. he was going nuts! the rest of us followed his lead, or rather got happily drawn into mark's inspired vortex of chaos...wow.)

my point was going to be that the thursday night coaxial had so-so attendance, but the friday show had twice as many folks, the room was hopping. opening the night was the hot tarts, a punky/groovy trio whose lead singer flubbed lyrics, broke a string, and acted scattered and amateurish between songs (my most lasting image of her is her screwing her face up and sticking her tongue out of the side of her mouth, as in, "ooops, what a dummy i am!")...yet, when she sang, she had a great charismatic voice (very kim deal); she had that "special something."

the trio was really good. cindy, on drums, kicked ass. she had a jazzy element to her playing, and also a little max weinberg-ish poise, all the while keeping everything solid and indie go-go-rock. she often used a cowbell as part of her beats, and not in a cock-rock way. anyway, the hot tarts should play in northampton some time, i think they'd go over really well at harry's.

they definitely went over well at space, with a lot of fans in the audience, hooting and dancing. plus, we found out later, they were featured in the portland phoenix with a front-page photo and very positive review.

henning, brian and i, i got the vibe from the crowd, were uncool by comparison. it took a bunch of songs before people seemed to warm to us, and eventually there were some dancers for us, too. we played well, though i had mysterious monitor drop-out troubles, which made me feel sort-of removed from the performance.

we played about as rocking as we could. henning began "one lady dancing" at the fastest clip i've ever heard for that song, but brian and i kept up and bashed through it, hyperspace sonic-slam polka style...same thing with "thug" -- the tempo was off-the-rails. nutty fast. very fun breaknecky stuff.i was sloppy but happy. i forgot the stop-short ending of "omnivore" so i screwed that up...but it was overall a strong set.

afterwards we drove by wimpy's, a take-out window on a side street that jose hipped me to, telling me they had great french fries. he was right! (fat crinkle cut, very tasty (russets?), fried to near-perfection) i'd had my fill the night before, and it was too damn cold for henning to care about getting out of the car and standing waiting for a burger, so we headed out toward the hotel.

we searched for warmer (indoor, for a start) late-night eats, but it was 11:58 p.m. and everything was closing in our faces (friendly's, tim horton's non-drive-through), our attempts made more comical since henning's car's back doors don't currently open, i guess debbie broke them (joking!! they'd been pre-broke and henning forget to mention it to her)...so everytime we stopped and got out at a new restaurant, i had to climb over the front seats and clamber out of the car that way. you wouldn't think it'd be so hard, but i flailed and floundered over the driver's seat every time.

so once back to the motel, henning and i made a vending spree in the ice machine hallway, buying various bags of junk to bring back to the comfort of the room. we watched dave attell's "insomniac," which was really funny. he's a likeable guy, which is refreshing in this television age.

it was a great time in portland...thanks, jose!

Brian Says: Friday: I got up at 6:40 to be at work for 8. I worked 8-2:15. I was home by 2:25. Fed the cat, packed my bag, and at 2:40, was putting my stuff in Henning's car. Phew.

No wonder why I fell asleep as we were turning on to route 495. I woke up 15 minutes later, refreshed and ready to listen to the new SFTD for the second time. We were making mental notes and anyway, driving is the best way to listen to music. I think I shall always remember that ride to Portland.

In Portland the big building displayed the temperature: 8 degrees.
We found the Space, greeted Jose, met some folks, ordered pizza, soundchecked and hung out in the green room while Jose told us all about the planned hijinx: the raffle, the scuba wear, the smurfs...

I won't repeat any of Ken's commentary, but I will agree that The Hot Tarts were very enjoyable. Cindy the drummer was great, and she also complimented my playing. Ken says "Weinburg" I say "Watts". No upstanding drummer would enjoy being compared to Weinburg. (There goes my chance at being a late night talk show drummer--that's fine, I can't smile for that long).

Our show: energetic (when Ken and I are a rhythm section, there's a lot of egging on), loud, probably a little sloppy. Though Jose said that mine and Ken's harmonies were dead on. I was tired and not feeling all there. But I loved, loved the vibe in the room. People laughing, hugging, smiling....I so wish it was warm out because Portland is a nice walking town.

Cut to: Days Inn. Sharing beds, watching TV, lights out.

Cut to: morning. Room is way too hot. I turn down heat. First one up, I shower and dress. Others follow. Ken and I go down to the contintal breakfast. SO MUCH MORE than a waxy apple, a green banana, grey coffee and a hard bagel. This was a feast. I had a nice banana, an english muffin, oatmeal, juice and coffee and a danish. We watched the news on a big screen TV. Henning soon joined us.

We regrouped in the room and checked out. Good byes in the parking lot, pictures taken, and we're off on a chilly chilly sunny morning.

Cut to:

Portsmouth: Campaign '04. What excitement! I'm fairly wrapped up in this election, though I haven't chosen a favorite. I had 24 hours of Edwards-mania after hearing him on the Press Club or something. I initially liked Kerry (like months ago) but, but... I began to really like Dean, but now the press is treating him like he's insane...and Kucinich is too cool for the mainstream. Wanting him to be president is like wanting (name your cult band) to sell 12 million records.

So we went to Bull Moose and I bought wimpy, lush Brit pop of yesterday and today: the aforementioned latest Belle and Sebastian and "Idea" (1968) by the Bee Gees (Nice Price!)

Henning Says: It seems like forever since Brian and I went on a road trip to a show. Back in the day we use to travel a lot more. These days even when we do have a an out-of-town show we usually take two cars, Brian's and mine, so we never ride together. It was fun. We listened to Ken's improved order of songs for The New You twice. Once in almost complete silence and the next time we talked about it as it played. We listened once more on the way home with Ken and I think we came to some good decisions about two songs to leave off. We'll talk about it with the rest of the band soon.

This weekend I felt more focused musically than I have been for a while. We played two great shows, reviewed our almost completed new album, had a bin of brand new T-Shirts, and got some very nice press in a town we had never played in before. Also, in Portland we spent some quality time with Jose Ayerve who is always a well of inspiration and motivation.

Ken did an impressive job picking up the bass for our show in Portland. We were our original touring trio from two or three years ago when we went south down 95. He even filled in some of the missing Tony riffs here and there. Whenever we play as anything but a five piece, I always miss the missing ingredients but it's also nice to hear the songs in a new light. Keeps you on your toes.



1. photobooth curtain
2. soup of the moment
3. back to school
(raffle for "telecaster")
4. disgruntled lover
5. uncomfortable
6. one lady dancing
7. something's taking over
8. thug
9. wichita train whistle
10. omnivore