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Philadelphia, PA – 5.13.11

07/06/2011

The rockers at Tritone

The Boston to Philadelphia trek turned out to be a little more complicated than anticipated. The plan was to catch a 3:00 bus to Philly from Penn Station, and we got off to a good start but then ran into difficulties trying to find a gas station near the Connecticut/NY border and later exited onto the Saw Mill Parkway about thirty miles too early. I ended up catching a 5 o’clock bus and made it to my friend Maria’s by about 7:30. I was without Patrick’s video monitor, but Maria let me use her small flatscreen and grabbing that from her nice little apartment was about all we had time to do before loading out and catching a cab to Tritone.

Once at the club, Sara the promoter and Scott the soundguy were there ready to go. Setup was pretty quick, though there was a bit of weirdness with the main microphone. Scott had some kind of effects running for the vocals beyond simple reverb and it was getting all sorts of horrible feedback. At one point he was able to cup his hands around the mic and change the feedback tone, sort of like playing a theremin.  After switching out to another model, things seemed to work better and everything was pretty smooth from then on.

Some old friends from Austin, Priya and Jamie, were there early with friends and cookies.  I got to chat a little, both before and after Maria and I made a sandwich run.  Priya and Jamie aren’t singers, but their friend Christine was the first one up after me, and she had another friend who I believe sang.  More ex-Austinites (and KU devotees) Alexis and Amy were there a little later and brought a crew of great singers. Overall, it felt more like a house party than most of the shows I’ve done recently and that was extremely cool. Turnout was a little lower than my Facebook-inflated expectations, but it was still a big crowd, especially given that we were up against what sounds like a great monthly party, England Belongs To Twee. It was also interesting with a lot of the crowd being veterans of Karaoke Obscura, a similar show to KU that we’ve traded tips a few times but never worked together much. They added a bunch of Top 40, especially hip-hop, and when the vocals don’t come out of a song then they just made a singalong version. Karaoke Obscura is on indefinite hiatus, but I talked to Keith who was part of the group running the show and they’re thinking about bringing it back.

On to the highlights!  Briefly because I waited too long to do this.  Here’s the YouTube clip and here are the pics on Facebook, both brought to you by the color red.

– Sheel was a hero, he’s good friends with Chi Chi, who we’ve been borrowing a PA from for the last few years in Austin.  He sang The Impossibles(!) and Okkervil River, plus the Mountain Goats, and was all over the stage every time.  More Austin music this night from Alexis’ friend Ned, who sang “Fun Fun Fun” by the Big Boys.

– Matt was excited to sing Stereolab as soon as the event was posted on Facebook, and he sang that as well as a few more, including a great duet of “Lazy Line Painter Jane” with Vicki.

– Alexis’ friend Dennis rocked out Hüsker Dü and Le Tigre, it was awesome to meet him.

– Justin was probably the MVP of the night.  He only sang one solo song – “Hyper Enough”(!), but got up for a few duets and totally owned.

– Alexis and Amy sang a few favorites from Austin – “Head On,” “Astrozombies,” “Rebel Girl” – but no Crass or Cock Sparrer!  They were responsible for re-introducing me to those bands, and I’ve listened to them quite a bit more since they got added to the list.  Cock Sparrer, at least, is great karaoke music and I should have gotten up to sing “Take ‘Em All”.

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