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December 30, 2005 - The Elevens - Northampton, MA - with: Mark Mulcahy and Bourgeois Heroes

Brian says: Ok, then. Haven't written a gig diary in many moons.

We knew the night would be special for a variety of reasons.
First off was the return of of our favorite borgeoise heroes, The Borgeoise Heroes!
Since their move to Austin, they seem to only return for a week here and there. And luckily, we caught them in time to do a gig.
This may have been the best gig I've seen them do. I heard some great new songs, and I've always been a fan of Jason's voice. His between-song stuff was funny too. They had a guest bassist for half the set, which complimented Elise's drumming, and on the last tune, Henning played bass (a Hofner--or at least a Hofner copy. That's the "McCartney bass").

Next, SFTD. The first 5-piece show in well over a year. SFTD is very verstile and can play with any old lineup and pull it off, but I realized during the gig as well as the rehearsals, that I've missed Max's energy--more in an abstract, aural way. So it was great to have him back for a night.

The set list was all over the map--the very new, and very old. Plus 1.08 covers.

A complete version of the Dead Milkmen's 80's alt classic "Punk Rock Girl" and the insane first 20 seconds of YES's 11 minute "Heart of the Sunrise". I think Tony may have sat it out, as I would have if I wasn't the drummer. Max, Ken and Ning were all fans of Yes in their youth, but I always steered clear. Prog/math rock is just not in my blood. If I wanted a 20 minute song when I was 16 years old, I'd be reaching for St. Stephen>The Eleven. I've never been in it for precision for precision's sake.

And yet, who am I to shy away from a drumming challenge? It's alls I gots. And it points the way out of ruts. I fear being one of those musicians who stopped evolving at the age of 24.

OK, speaking of an inspiring presence. A man who has not only never stopped evolving, but has never stopped just getting better: Mark Mulcahy.

On this day, the Daily Hampshire Gazette rightfully gave MM a huge story with huge photo. I was honored to be asked to play drums for a couplathree songs on this night. Ken's been his gig drummer since the UK tours of this summer. But I played on two groovy covers: Bowie's "Life on Mars?" and the Flaming Lips' "Waiting For Superman" as well as the Miracle Legion chestnut "Ladies From Town", the end of which took a tragically wrong turn, I'm just remembering. Was that me? If so, sorry.

I feel like there was something else, but I can't remember.

I almost didn't make it up. I was back at the bar chatting with a Butterfly, while digging the show, and ordering a drink. I noticed the Fleetwood Mac they were playing and was saying, "Shit, I can't believe they're covering Fleetwood Mac! Awesome!" and digging the awesomeness of it. Suddenly a couple people around me were saying, "Brian, they're calling you to the stage" I tuned in to the vocals and sure enough, they weren't singing about a Welsh Witch, but an Italian Jew Drummer.

Besides my drumming cameos, Dave Trenholm was up there the whole time switiching between bagpipes, lute, stegasaurus, soy milk and baggage claim. Henning played acoustic guitar, keyboards and slide whistle, and at the very end, Al Johnson shredded and ran around the stage like the heroic nut that he is as the night swirled around me and the promise of a new year began to show its first blinding rays.

Update: 2 memories of the gig that just popped back after 16 hours of regressive therapy at $200/hr:

1) the name I came up with for Mark and his basic band: Mark and the Beardos. I think I was so pleased with my self that I didn't tell anyone.

2) Henning's alt. lyrics to Punk Rock Girl: they order some hot tea and the waitress answers "no, we only have rice".

Tony Says: So last Friday night, we played a set of music bookended by those utterly charming alt-universe teen pop mag heart throbs Jason & Elise and the smoove sounds of Markmellifluousmulcahy. It was a strange delight to hear a Flaming Lips chestnut sung so perfectly on-key. And what a band. Having Ken Maiuri playing drums is kinda like having a guy who can throw a 95 mile per hour fastball straight over the plate pinch-hitting in the 9th inning while the Jewish Italian .350 hitter sits at the bar but it's all good. Kennie does it all. Add Kevin O'Rourke to that impressive list of fellas who can play bass and sing well simultaneously. And the versatile Trenholmenbusch to fill out the sound in any way imaginable and you can't go wrong. Well, you can have a monitor melting and emitting a burnt plastic odor and take 80 minutes between each song but when the music starts, it sucks

Well, that's what happens when Ken is involved in the set list generation process. He keeps us sharp, always poking us in the ribs with whynots? and whatifs? I can't say I made it through all of 2005 without breaking a string but I came pretty close and it was hardly traumatic. Dave Trenholm graciously lent me his guitar and I missed only half of "She's Getting Anxious," a song that could've sounded fine without my part anyway. I did sit out the manic romp intro to "Heart Of The Sunrise," not because I dislike prog-rock, though. I probably do dislike it but the truth is- I just don't know it. I've never heard this particular piece and admit it would've taken me much time to learn that little bit, only to be doubling what Henning already could do. Maybe in the future if we play 15 seconds of some Lynyrd Skynyrd song (now that's my cuppa classic rock), I'll be down but I was outta my element with Yes. My own 15 second contribution, "Here Comes Subordinate Clause" delivered whilst Henning was in the process of fetching a capo, spoke to SFTD's geeky side, which was all but obliterated by the 15 seconds of prog. Leave it to a teacher to be uncool. In case you're wondering:

Here comes subordinate clause, here comes subordinate clause
Right down sentence structure lane
With dangling participles and double negatives
Is it lie, lay, laid, or lain?
Be careful of your tenses
Watch out for run-on sentences
Your pronoun should have a clear antecedent
Placing commas within quotations is the correct punctuation
And make sure your subject and verb are in agreement

-Anthony Westcott (1971-)

Henning Says: The week between X-mas 2005 and New Year's Eve was full of music. We had two School for the Dead practices (with different members at each), on Fawns practice, and one Mark Mulcahy practice. Also, during that time, I was learning the SFTD covers and a number of new Mulcahy songs and covers. All this with an annoying burn blister on my guitar-pick-holding-finger.

It was a great focused week. I had the Friday of our gig off from the day job and I spent some of it learning the bass part for the Bourgeois Heroes song, "Judy". The rest of the day I spent gathering all of the equipment and notes and merch and miscellaneous folderol that we needed for the gig.

I arrived at The Elevens at 6:30 (I think) and turned on the lights and unlocked the doors and let Ken in. We set up the drums and keyboards and amps and the rest of the band came in and we were all amazingly delighted to see Dan Richardson walk in with all his magic sound-mixing equipment. Yee! Dan was doing sound for the whole night! Makes sense, since he's worked with all of us before by mastering our recordings and what-not. My night improved greatly, once I saw Dan I stopped worrying about the sound system entirely.

Once everything was all set up, the Mulcahy band did a nice extensive sound-check. It's always so good to be able to play a little on the stage before the crowed comes in, instead of the usual rushing and panic leading directly to singing in an unfamiliar situation.

A whole mess of people showed up at the show. Thank you, everyone. I'm not so good at mingling and thanking people in person at shows since I am always so consumed with taking care of details and logistics, and running through lyrics and chord changes in my head. But, thank you very much for coming.

It was really nice to see Jason and Elise (Bourgeois Heroes) again. They looked well, you can stop worrying. Their show was excellent and I was wonderfully delighted to get to play a song with them. Thanks, BH.

Our set was super fun, from the corner of my eye, I could see Max jumping around (I think he was out on top of the monitor at one time, too - was that real or a dream?) and from my other ear I could hear all the sparkle and melody from Ken's double keyboard synth attack. The set flew by in what seemed like seconds. At one point, Tony came over to my side of the stage and I somehow ended up switching guitars with him twice, mid-song. Brian, during the breakdown of Omnivore (one of the break-downs), made Dan erupt in a fit of laughter with his shotgun-falling-down-a-staircase drum fill.

I loved playing "Punk Rock Girl". I've said it before and I'll say it now. I wish I had written that song. Perfect in so many ways. Word was that upon the first few notes of it, the crowd let out an audible "awwww" sound.

"Heart of the Sunrise" was surprisingly powerful and the audience's reaction was far greater than I had hoped. I have to take acception with Brian's "precision for the sake of precision" take on that song. To me, that music is all melody and atmosphere. I can understand how being thrown into it from out of nowhere and being asked to learn it could force one to dismantle it into mathematical pieces, but I don't believe it was written that way or intended that way. Again, like most music, it all comes down to the situation of your introduction to it. Either way, it was really fun, and I got a lot of nice comments on it from people afterwards.

The Mulcahy set was good fun, too. His songs are so good and the music flows so freely and man oh man, so I love playing "Waiting for Superman".

Thanks everyone again, for coming to this show - it was the best possible way to end the year.


Set List

Pick A Gripe
She's Getting Anxious
Disgruntled Lover
This Time It Looks Good
Punk Rock Girl (Dead Milkmen cover)
Photobooth Curtain
Back To School
Journal Of Lies
Something's Taking Over
Heart Of The Sunrise (Yes snippet)/ Omnivore


photo by: Dan Richardson

photo by: Dan Richardson

photo by: Dan Richardson

photo by: Dan Richardson