Ok, Best Halloween Ever.
This year the "real" DNA halloween party was on Saturday, Nov 1, and it was just great. Those nutty kids from the Spectacular Spectacular crew put together an absolutely hilarious 50s-horror-movie themed vaudeville show. Zombies, vampires, wolf-girls, oh my. They also passed out many "tomatoes" (red and yellow plastic balls with felt leaves glued to them) with which the audience could express their opinions about the acts. There were many fabulous costumes. The evening is mostly a blur, though I understand my evil twin had a really good time.
Monday we had a live show with Genitorturers, Hanzel und Gretyl, and Blue Period, which was also a great time (See photographic evidence.) I've been a fan of both Hanzel und Gretyl and Blue Period for years (and they've both played here before, in July 2003 and Aug 2002, respectively) so it was great getting to see them again. I hadn't seen Genitorturers before, but they put on a very entertaining show: lots of costume changes, bizarre characters coming out on stage throughout the night, and of course, the requisite bait-and-tackle show. They have a very devoted fan-base: it looked like the whole front row knew all the words to every song.
But I must warn you against ever accepting a lollypop from these people. Let's just leave it at that.
One of the bartenders had a customer who tipped exactly sixty cents every time: two quarters and a dime. Now it's odd enough that people use change here at all (all our prices are multiples of $1) but such... O.C.D.-ish precision! Then I did the math and noted that 60¢ is exactly 15% of $4...
Last week, we moved the lounge DJ coffin to the other side of the room. The new position seems like it's going to work out a lot better. Before, when it was in the south-west corner, there was always a traffic jam there, between the people trying to move through the door, and the people chatting with the dj. We moved it to the north side of the dance floor, blocking the archway. This works out ok, because it turns out that people rarely walked through that archway anyway: people always went around instead of cutting across the dance floor.
Also, the front of the building now has lights! Yes, you can now actually tell that we're open from more than 30' away. Does this suggest to you that someday we might actually have a real sign? Stop that crazy talk! We do have electricity up there now, should someday a sign appear. But given that our current sign is still the "temporary" one we put up in May 2001 (two months before we opened!) I'm not holding my breath. Well, I had been, but I turned blue.
- A couple of weeks ago, Thump hosted a clothing/jewelery sale during the day before their party began. It was kind of strange to see this place filled with racks of clothes...
- This band played at Meat last week. It was a good show. They were pretty theatrical: lots of synchronized movements and spinning and so on.
- All four acts were really good! This was a great show all around. It also unfortunately, set our low-attendance record, previously set in August: this time we got just over 20 people total, and about half of them left after Scar Tissue. The bands were good sports about it, though, and really put on a show despite there being so few people there. I think there were like 5 or 10 people left by the time Railer played, but they still totally rocked out.
Emulsion was one guy behind a stack of gear doing good trancy electronic stuff. Scar Tissue do excellent breaksy industrial with wacky noisemakers and live drumming. High Blue Star were a gothy/triphoppy band with a girl singer and a combo of electronics and guitars. Railer were a really energetic rock band, leaning toward the "electroclash" side of things a bit.
The Railer folks were also using their tour as an opportunity to campaign against the Diebold voting-machine fiasco that you've probably already heard about: Railer got a write up about this in Wired News, and there's a QuickTime interview of them at musicforamerica.org.
And you missed them! Shame on you!
- At Flavor on saturday, DJ QBert was the headliner. He came out with a single turntable and did all kinds of crazy scratching tricks on it. It was pretty impressive -- for the duration of his marathon 30 minute set! That's right: people paid $25 to see this guy, and he performed for 30 minutes. And that was a rarity: apparently he normally only does 15 minutes!
Still, it was quite an amazing display of skill and dexterity. Not much to listen to, though; after the first few minutes of wukka-wukka scratching noises, the thing it made me think of most was "what if Eddie Van Halen's guitar only had one string, and he was the only person in the band."
- Another good show... The Fixx played mostly newer stuff, but also did the requisite hits (fairly different arrangements of them.) They were really tight, and seemed like they were having a great time. He can really sing.
Oh, and house band Sunshine Blind were great as always.
I don't get to build things around here very often any more, so this gadget I hacked together made me happy: one of the webcast cameras sits on a tripod up in the dj booth (it's the one that is generally pointed at the DJ or zoomed in on the singer, since they tend to not always be in the same place.) Well, there's not a lot of room up there, so it gets bumped a lot, and it's hard to adjust because the tripod legs don't quite fit on the counter... So I took an old, broken tripod and converted it to a monopod, which I then bolted down! It seems to be working out very well (though the camera does vibrate a little more than before.)
Tomorrow night is the New Model Army / David J show.
New Model Army + David J photos are up now. Man, what a fantastic show! David J was alone on stage, and played some new songs, but also quite a few accoustic numbers from his Bauhaus and Love and Rockets days ("Who Killed Mr. Moonlight", "No New Tale to Tell", etc.) But the high point (for me, anyway) was that one of the CDs he had on sale at the show was him performing live at DNA Lounge back in January!
New Model Army also did a (mostly) accoustic set, and I was very impressed. I'm not real familiar with their music, but they were really, really great live.
The downside to the show was that a small percentage of the audience seemed to be completely oblivious as to what is appropriate behavior at an accoustic performance. There were two or three small groups of people who spent whole show being boisterous and screaming and cackling at each other, ensuring that the 200+ other people who actually did care about the show had to hear the quiet parts of the songs punctuated by the mating call of drunks. I mean, sure, this is a nightclub and not a church, but seriously, this went way beyond "bad movie theatre behavior."
Even better was that one of the louder groups was up on the closed-off half of the balcony: which means that all those people were friends of club staffers. So that means that not only were they screwing it up for the people who actually cared about the show, but also almost certainly meant that none of them even paid to get in.
For obvious reasons, I find it interesting to read about other clubs and how they came about. Caroline loaned me a fascinating book called This Ain't No Disco: The Story of CBGB. Recently someone pointed me at a very long (and interesting) "oral history" of the Minneapolis club First Avenue (you may know it as "the club in Purple Rain.") Also good reading is Working on a Building of Love, a history of The Hacienda, the Factory Records club in Manchester. This was also the subject of the recent movie 24 Hour Party People, but that article is a lot more interesting (and believable) than the movie was.
There are some interesting parallels between CBGB and First Ave. You can pretty much sum up both their histories like this: open a dive; have live music all the time, with no customers to speak of; it becomes a place where most of the customers are also members of the bands who play there; squeak by in poverty for five years, then BANG, something happens and suddenly there's a vibrant music scene and the place is packed all the time.
Sounds like a good plan: the piece we're missing here is "low overhead." Sadly, our overhead here could more accurately be described as "astronomical."