I went to a concert tonight. Yes, that’s pretty much my evening in a nutshell.
It was a pretty good concert, though, all things considered. I work with the drummer, and its via him that I know of the group. He’s a nice guy and pretty laid back about everything, and is none too shabby of a drummer, so I was looking forward to the performance. This wasn’t my first encounter with this group (HotBox) nor the 8×10 in Federal Hill, so I figured it would be a pretty decent show based on my past encounter, but became concerned when I had to make my way down via the MTA.
The venue’s all right, they get some really good music, but the drinks are pricey (though, honestly, try to name me a bar/club where they aren’t). I’ve attended three shows there, one for a guy I played a run of The Fantasicks with back in the day (his group is Ayurveda and is awesome) and two shows for HotBox. Weirdly, the first show included a band with another drummer I know and went to high school with, called Pasadena, but due to circumstances out of my control, I have yet to see them perform. Aaron (the co-worker drummer) said they were pretty good, and I can believe it as Cory (the co-student drummer) was pretty good and I can’t see him easily associating with not-good-at-music types.
Now that I’ve gotten the name-dropping out of the way, I’ll say this: the 8×10 gets some quality guys in there to play (I may have mentioned this before). The first band tonight, whose name escapes me now as they did not receive billing on the website so I only saw them on the flyer in the basement once, was musically not bad. Of course, the lyrics were ridiculous, as they seemed to be covering a lot of Kanye West, and playing it like they were Dave Matthews. Comically, it worked, but I’m not entirely sure they meant for it to be funny. Also, I know Autotune is “a thing” these days, but is it really in any way considered appropriate to use it during live performances? Considering that’s where at least 90% of the melodic voice parts got their lines from, I’d say it was a bit much.
The Grilled Lincolns were up next, and though I distinctly remember thinking that they were quality music, I’m having a hard time recalling any specific songs. It may have to do more with the fact that by this point I’d hammered down a beer pretty quickly and was working on a 7&7, when normally I have a sip of Kool-aid and get a little bit tipsy, than it has to do with anything the band did wrong. Realizing I’d probably have to walk a few blocks to a bus stop, though, I stopped pretty quickly after that and stuck to water. Oh, wait, I lied: they played Super Mario Bros. music. I would have gotten up and whooped and hollered but I think it was the wrong crowd for that sort of thing. Still, I guess while they were playing the star music I should have done it anyway, it wasn’t like anyone could hurt me while I was invincible.
Finally, HotBox got on stage and did their thing, and I wound up running into one of the percussionists’ brother (they have two percussionists, the guy I work with and a guy wailing on the Djembe). He had looked familiar, and we struck up a camaraderie over two ditzy chicks who dragged bar stools across the venue and plopped them dead in front of the speakers. Sure, go deaf, it isn’t like you’re using the other organs in your head, apparently. Anyway, the band: in spite of HotBox’s hyper-sexualized lyrics, they’re a pretty good band. Like I said, the 8×10 pulls in some good bands and tonight was this band’s second round in under a few months. A staple of the show seems to be a djembe solo, which actually feels a bit out of place, like the guy’s just showing off, but he’s good at it so it’s hard to complain too much about it. One of my favorite songs I sadly don’t know the name, as it’s not on their page and they don’t announce, but it’s a radical departure from their normal live fare, and drops the djembe in favor of a keyboard riff, which is pretty awesome.
The main thing that stuck with me was the balancing issues. I’m not sure what about balancing a voice against a band is so difficult, having not spent any time behind a mixing board myself; but it’s apparently very difficult for HotBox for whatever reason. I singled them out because it seemed like the other bands balanced out fairly well tonight. On previous nights other bands have met with the same balancing issues, but tonight only one band did, and that stuck out. It’s my only major complaint on a night that went, interestingly enough, pretty well.
It was a pretty good night, and I am pretty glad I went, in spite of various issues (paying the tab after I ran out of cash with only one drink on it and a $15 minimum on credit resulted in a shot of Jaeger which pushed me into I-will-have-a-hangover territory being one of them). Funny enough, I meant this to be a retelling of all the hilarious things that happened tonight, but I guess I realized partway through the first paragraph that none of it would be very funny to read on a blog.