Saturday, November 24, 2007

MDC, Citizen Fish, Knitting Factory

Another night in paradise.

Team Spider rocked the Knitting Factory, with punk Legends M.D.C. and Citizen Fish, with a special appearance by Stza from leftover Crack. The show, which took place on “Buy nothing day,” / “Black Friday”, (a.k.a. the day after thanksgiving), kept all the Spiders in NYC for the holiday weekend. A time that maybe would normally be reserved for family, but a good band is really a family, and we spent it with each other.

So, after a summer-temperature Thanksgiving, and belly’s filled with $am’s mom’s cooking, and French houseguest Benoir’s apple crumbler, the Spider welcomed Old Skull Original Spidersta GEORGE (s)MACK, all the way from Austin Texas… one of the founding members of the TEAM, George was probably as excited as any 3 of us put together to be playing Knitting Factory. George is a long time fan of avant garde jazz, and spent many many many many nights in the knitting factory rockin’ out to John Zorn and countless other experimental players. Ironically, our merch table was set up where “his seat” is located. He’s spent so many hours unraveling the mysteries of the mathematical possibilities of the limited musical scales of human consciousness in that very spot, that I suggested he find out what the GPS coordinates are for that chair, and write a song based on the tablatures within that number. George, looking surprised, responded, “Xris, that’s very ‘Great Atomic Power’ of you.” ( G.A.P. is George’s side project, an amazing instrumental/ experimental band composed of various benched spiders, Geoff/Drums, Robbie Seahag / Gtrs, George / Bass and Sax). I replied sincerely, “You’ve had an influence on me.”

So, with Mack the Knife in town, we had some nice Sax playin’ within the Team. We executed an oft planned never realized idea to cover Operation Ivy’s “Bad Town.” The only song Op Ivy ever put any wind instrument on. So, with no practice together, due to George’s Thrift store flight which arrived at Midnight on Thanksgiving day, we hit the stage w/ the Mack, and rocked out BUSH BUSH BUSH, BAD TOWN, and LILLY’s TREAT with some ripping smooth sax. George also tweaked the knobs on our little sampler with various police rants, new reports, and other interesting sounds signifying our decimated civil liberties.

We had pretty good sound I thought, but I was dancing in the crowd most of the night so I was getting the full blast of the PA cabinets.

On- stage I am not sure what it was like, I know I couldn’t hear the samples when I hit ‘em. And Dave Dictor from MDC was non-stop complaining about the monitors, which I’ve never heard him do before, and we’ve done some ghetto-ass shows together. So I am not sure what’s up with that, Knitting Factory is supposed to be a top venue, the Main Space, ( which I still am not sure how the hell we weren’t playing up there, the ‘tap room’ was busting at the seams) , supposedly has the board that Pink Floyd’s dark side of the moon was recorded on. Not that that necessarily means anything in practical terms, but it does indicate a love and effort towards great sound. Why not in all the rooms?

So, who knows what went on, all I know is I somehow seem to have lost my new mic. A little while back I decided I am going to treat myself to a nice mic. Not just show up and rely on whatever beaten, bruised and germed up Shure mic I am handed by sound people, or in many cases, just whoever brought the PA. Well, my bring my own mic plan lasted one night, because though I clearly remember being handed the mic buy the sound-lady at the knit, I was focused on giving her back the house mic, and about 20 other things, so at 1 am, when we were loading back in to the practice room, I noticed, I had NO mic. So, unless one of the other bands, or the MY PUNK ROCK RADIO guys, who I was doing video with, produce it, I’m out 167 bux, for a 167 dollar paid gig. Even steven strikes again!

That reminds me though, that I have to point out how amazingly cool Citizen Fish were about letting us use their gear. Being a van-less bike-punk band, we often are thankful to play a place like Knitting Factory that has a ‘backline.’ That is, a general assortment of amps, and cabinets, drums etc. that are up for use. But upon load-in, the Fish’s road guy started upgrading the gear we were settling for with Citizen Fish’s monster sized cabinets and amps, then drums, then cymbals, till by the end, we were more like Citizen Spider, with nothing of the Knit’s gear, or our own, up there save for my little doomed Audix microphone.

So, big props to the Fish! Great guys. As are MDC. Talked to MDC drummer Al Shvitz about when I was a wee under-aged spider, and saw MDC in Reading Pennsylvania, the closest town to my little Pa. town to have touring punk bands. Al’s 4 year old son sang some of MDC’s set. Though it was long long long time ago, in a strip mall far far away, and that night I was drunk-off of beer bought for us (by MDC ! ), I clearly remember this little 4year old belting out “knucklehead”, and “chicken squawk”, and as AL pointed out “he also sang Dead Cop.” Al informed me his little anarchist toddler is now 22 years old, ha. Time flies.

We also talked about who is not with us, including Mikey "Offender" Donaldson, who was an original member of MDC, and a member of DRI during the DEALING WITH IT days, (one of the greatest records of all time in my humble opinion). He passed away a couple weeks back, as did Nick Phillips, the Leftover Crack friend, family member, and merch guy. Another tragedy.

Nick and I used to joke that we were in competition for seeing Leftover Crack more than anyone else on the planet. I was first for a while, having seen probably every single show they played the first few years of their existance. But when the national/international touring machine kicked in, and Nick became the Merch guy, he eventually lapped me. Oh well. Everyone who knew Nick had great stories to tell, and many are still dealing with the shock of losing Mikey and Nick. As Dave Dictor put it , “I still haven’t had my big bawl yet.” Stza came up during Citizen Fish’s set to sing the ole Choking Victim classic MONEY, and sent it out “To Nick, my best friend.”


Sunday, November 04, 2007

FREEGAN BIKE PARTY !!! brooklyn. feat. "Bread Mountain"

LAST NIGHT.. a bizarre night indeed. Played the FREEGAN BIKE COLLECTIVE’s Second year anniversary party. Good people, dedicated to rescuing bikes, getting them into the right people’s hands. FREE!

The FREEGAN BIKE PEOPLE even helped build the infamous SMOLKA CRUISER, the bike we presented as a retirement gift.
to chief Smolka (architect of the harassment of critical mass).

Well the night started w/ us jamming out at the rehearsal room on Stanton st. and A$$KER heading over to the Freegan space first. He was playing in 2 bands that night: of course on DRUMS w/ the team, but also playing GUITAR with the cute as hell newbie band “BUST THE CLOCKS” ( name change probably comin’)

“B.T.C.” were playing their first gig and their excitiement was contagious. Everyone had a good time and Justine brought cheat sheets in case she forgot the lyrics. A good, time and I sure we’ll hear more from them.

Prior to their set, $AM and I were in no rush to get to Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, so we hung out at the room making spoke cards for the night, waiting for AHSKER to report back on what sort of gear was there, so we didn’t break our backs hauling extra stuff on our bikes all the way to brooklyn. We basically were lied to, misled, and betrayed by evil ASSKER and his co-horts who conspired to insure Team SPider would sound like absolute shiznit. "ahsker, pic'd here as the joker"
Part of their evil master plan included a drum “kit”, with no snare stand, no stool, one cymbal, a bass drum found in the trash, and drywall paste buckets to fill in any gaps in hardware and/or actual drums.

Also included in their agenda / conspiracy were bedroom-sized practice-amps, from the “under 100 dollar” line of amps from PEAVY and FENDER. The type amp you give your deformed loser kid who is going to quit this ‘music hobby’ just like he quit everything else in life !!#$%^! A small investment destined to turn L0$$ when he trades the little transister radio sized hunk-o-junk for Crack in 2 years when Warped Tour doesn’t seem cool anymore. N0T the proper amp to rock a show with! Especially for rock godz like TEAM SPIDER!

Even DAYV got in on the destruction by bringing his DS-1 pedal ( $29.99 ) for $AM, which, despite trying 2 dif batteries, actually made $am's Distortion sound quieter than the crappy clean sound available on these amps.

So, as blame was unaccountably passed to people who no-one ever bothered to talk to in person, yet were counted on as sole providers of the gear, the ever adaptable TEAM SUCKERZ had to make do, even constructing a snare stand out of 2 drywall buckets, and using the only channel on the lil “P.A.” that actually had reverb for vox… and we were off!

Despite the recurring deafening scream of high pitched feedback, falling apart drum ‘kit’, and overloaded toy amps, I think we actually sounded ok. At least for the little basement space we were crammed in and rockin. Aparently the piles of bike tires in the corners and adorning the walls helped dampen some of the high pitched “tinny”-ness. Of course you cant have too high level of expectation when playing borderline squats, run by dumpster divers. Ya just have to lower your own level of tolerance and adjust the zero point of your fun level, and start hurting some ears.

Which, I must say we did.

A good time, with video projections by VLAD of GLASS BEAD COLLECTIVE, that I am not even sure were seen amongst the chaos, but a good dress rehearsal for our upcoming KNITTING FACTORY GIG ( Nov 23. 07 w/ MDC. And Citizen Fish ) nonetheless.

We also had a great freegan meal to start, including pasta, great sauce, entenmans cookies, muffins that were either stale or vegan, and dumpstered Hawaiin Punch. Mostly Tasty. And FREE. And of course all the bread you can eat, and then some. Bread seems to be the most wasted food in this city, also the most rescued, and also the most underconsumed by the rescuers.. the result:

In the back yard of the freegan bike warehouse lies a GIANT mountain of leftover bread, Some of it becoming sculptures, some of it becoming sporting equipment, but most of it becoming a giant Matterhorn of bread, inexplicably rat-free!

For me it became my drunken bed! At one point I was actually laid-out with a posse bread be-yatches! Rolling around in the cushy delicious smelling shag-a-rific bread-tress with some bike hotties, who can complain?

By the end of the night I think I lost my Carhart jacket, my scarf, and maybe my innocence. Can’t remember thanks to a failed experiment involving organic vodka, and allergy medicine.

Rock on

Fun sightings of the night: the band -STOCKYARD STOICS- seen waiting for a bus on broadway in BK, -FREE STUFF- an anarchist band who rocked the bucket drums hard butchering Beatles and Animals covers, -GWACK (sp?)– an accordian led band of instrumental rockers that made all the late nighters dance. Hope to play again w/ all of them! ( for real, all total fun )