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The Spits at Chaos In Tejas, Red 7 6.2.11


The Spits


TV Ghost


Cambridge, MA – 5.12.11


Chuck is Damaged Goods

Kelly has a lead foot so we made great time through New York and western Massachusetts.  The weather was amazing, and the three of us had some good catching-up conversation all the way.  I also fixed up a couple videos that had glitches in them when I ripped them from our old VCDs, technology is wonderful.  We got to TT The Bear’s Place near Union Station in Cambridge before they were open enough to load in.  Bowling For Soup was playing downstairs at the Middle East that night, I need to tell my #1-BFS-fan friend Lindsay about that.  Patrick and Kelly and I got some time to wander around and we spent it at Weirdo Records (I went on a CD bargain binge and got some Lost Sounds, Arrington de Dionyso and more, plus full price for the Urinals comp), then got a pint down the street at a pub that P & K manage to hit every time they’re in town.  About an hour after we got there, we were back at TT’s.  Load-in and soundcheck were a breeze, and we went to meet P & K’s friends Richard and Sabi.

Richard and Sabi’s apartment was really cool, including an Atari nook with Space Invaders painted on the wall!  They took us to a great little diner that had slightly eccentric but very tasty food (I went for the Dog Of The Day, a salsa hot dog) and drink options (I had something with jenever and grapefruit that I shouldn’t have ordered and then a very good “deconstructed rum and cola,” with rum and cola bitters).  We met some more friends for dinner, including one friend of Patrick and Richard’s who was living in Syracuse and was at the show the night before.  Patrick knows everybody cool.

At the club, we got there in time to chat a little with some of the members of Ghost Box Orchestra, a really good psych band just returning home from a tour to…Austin.  They’d played at Austin Psych Fest 4, and even though I couldn’t go to the festival, I loved the music they had online.  I was really excited when man-behind-the-curtain Brad Searles told me that GBO would be opening up for Karaoke Underground, and it turned out to be as great a match as I hoped.  They finished off their mostly-instrumental set with a cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” and a friend from the audience got up on stage to join in.  More people really should have jumped up…*I* should have, dammit.  But it was fantastic.

KU sound was all set, and I just had to plug in to the projector that the band was using (run by an awesome guy named… John/Jack/Pete?  this is why I shouldn’t wait three weeks to write these).  Knowing we had to stop at 1, I think the singing started by 11 o’clock, and we flew through as many singers as possible in a short 2-hour show.  We definitely ran into the same problem as at the Matador party, where we had way more singers than time.  I’ll have to find a way to get back there soon, because it was just too great to not do again.  Anyway, TT’s had the best sound of the whole tour, and the huge projection screen made the photos look great.  I got some great video clips, and here are some other highlights:

– “The Ice Of Boston” got sung, by Shannon.  Way to take care of business!

– Chuck (photo above) really got into “Damaged Goods.”  He owned that song, well done sir.

– Terrance was on a Stooges kick and followed up his live band karaoke stint accompanying GBO on “I Wanna Be Your Dog” with “Loose” on our list.  He was all over the stage and I think he got in the crowd a bit too.

– Susan sang Okkervil River with some kind of maniacal giddiness that fit “Westfall” perfectly.  She got down on both of her knees and rocked that performance, it was absolutely amazing.

– Dan sang Miracle Of 86‘s “Every Famous Last Word,” which is his brother Kevin’s band and never ever gets sung, so that was a big treat.

– “Deceptacon” inspired another dance riot, courtesy of Sarah, followed shortly after by another great dance song sung by Maris: “Parentheses” by The Blow.

– Someone sang “Adopduction”!  Taleen sang it, to be precise.  I like it when girls sing Les Savy Fav. A lot.

– Dennis, the bassist from Ghost Box Orchestra, sang the karaoke debut of Superchunk’s “Detroit Has A Skyline,” and he killed it.

– Right before he sang Silkworm’s “Couldn’t You Wait,” Evan’s friends sang a quick “Happy Birthday” to him, which was very cute.  And he fucking nailed the song too, even inspiring some fly girl dancing by someone who I’m not sure he knew.

– All through the last half hour or so, several friends of an Evan K. kept insisting that I push him to the front of the queue.  I don’t do that, but when it came time for the last song of the night, he was next on my list and he lived up to the hype by taking over the club for Black Flag’s “Jealous Again.”  He was jumping on and offstage, getting in people’s faces and trying to start a pit, it was great.  I let the music run into the next song, which happened to be “TV Party” and he continued to rage, with me more or less playing straight man.  After that when the music finally cut off, he kept the mic and tried to get everybody singing “Fight For Your Right To Party” for another minute.  Pretty damn epic, well done Evan K.

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros “At The Border, Guy”


I’m way too late to the game with The Mescaleros, but this song from the excellent Global A-Go-Go is bubbling right along today and I need to gush about it.  This is a great example of building a propulsive groove out of the simplest parts.  The guitar/keyboard riff is incredibly basic, but matched up just so against the constantly shifting beat and BAM!

RIP, Joe Strummer, your music lives forever.

Syracuse, NY – 5.11.11


more photos on the Karaoke Underground FB Page

Touring by airplane turned out to be a great choice.  As my flight arrived in Syracuse, I was finishing up the fourth new Karaoke Underground video of the day, and my friend Patrick was there to pick me up.  So much better than spending two full days on the road and paying for all that gas and not being able to do anything but drive.  And seeing the city of Syracuse kept me in a great mood: Patrick said it was the first day of really good weather all spring, and the buildings and trees reminded my of my hometown of Stoughton.  There were tulips!  I hadn’t seen those in years.

Patrick helped us out a lot in the first year of KU.  In addition to DJing before quite a few shows, he made a couple dozen videos for us.  The coolest thing about his videos was that he downloaded the public domain Prelinger archives and used a bunch of those clips in his videos.  These are the ones where we have footage of industrial workers or stock commercial images from the ’50s and ’60s.  I am extremely glad that he and his wife Kelly not only hosted me and sett up the Syracuse show, they drove me all the damn way from Syracuse to Boston to New York.  This tour would definitely not have happened without them, so thanks again y’all!

We left for Spark shortly after arriving at Patrick and Kelly’s house, loaded with a PA and about three cases of beer to sell at the space.  It was a really cool old DIY space, old floorboards and extra high plaster ceiling.  The main drawback was the lack of a PA, and we had to act fast when the PA Patrick had lined up didn’t work.  With no other options that seemed remotely reliable, Patrick had to go buy a new cheapo PA from Guitar Center (which he later returned for a full refund).  Crisis averted, we got everything set up and were ready to sing pretty close to the promised start time of 8:30. That was very early for a karaoke show, even on a Wednesday night, but we got a pretty good turnout, almost 50 people.  I know Patrick was spreading the word that this was the after party for a Noam Chomsky speech going on across town that ended at 9, and we did see quite a bit more people come out after that finished.  I paid a little tribute to that by leading off with Gang Of Four’s manifesto “I Found That Essence Rare.” Some highlights:

– A man named Ranjit came all the way from Oswego to sing all the old punk favorites.  He started with “Corona” by the Minutemen and worked through the catalog, including seldom-sung classics by the Big Boys and Hüsker Dü.  I hear the man’s a professor by day, but he rocked that night.

– Patrick’s friend Jason helped out setting everything up and I had a great time talking to him.  He and his wife Emily both got in a few songs (that’s them in the photo up top), and Jason took on the second Minutemen song of the night “It’s Expected I’m Gone”.  We get a lot of questions about having so many Minutemen songs, it was great to hear some justification from other people!

– A woman named Julie sang a ton of songs, first taking the “I don’t know many of these but I guess I’ll sing ‘Debaser'” angle but then getting more and more involved, including a duet of The Fall’s “Victoria” with an Englishman named Damian (who may have been Julie’s husband) that told me he saw so many of these bands back in his hometown of Manchester and was having a great time.

– Though he smelled of curry, a singer named Michael had a voice as sweet as sugar, crooning a fantastic version of “Femme Fatale” and following it up with Love’s “Alone Again Or.”  Great stuff.

– Tim got up and did the best Britt Daniel impersonation I’ve ever seen, getting the crowd dancing with “I Turn My Camera On.”

We had enough singers to have a really crazy busy show, but people were oddly reluctant to sign up in advance so I had to throw myself on stage a few times.  Knowing I probably wouldn’t get the same opportunity the next few nights, I took the chance and had a lot of fun, including singing “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” for the first time, I think.  I bugged Patrick to sing a lot too, and he came through with a good version of “She Cracked” and an awesome duet with Jason on “Work Hard/Play Hard.”  Kelly sang for the only times on tour too, solo on “Do It Clean” and with P on “What Do I Get?”

We wrapped it all up around midnight, cleaned up the space and then stayed up another hour or so talking with Patrick and Kelly getting ready for the rest of the tour.  Since I just mentioned the Darling New Neighbors in the other post I wrote tonight, I want to mention that Patrick and Kelly are still using the board we got for the balloon darts as a hallway key organizer.  CONNECTIONS, MAN!!!

Darling New Neighbors LAST SHOW at Skinny’s Ballroom


Catherine Morris playing Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”


The Midwives opening up.


Darling New Neighbors (w/ brass)

Hannah and I have known the Darling New Neighbors since just about the beginning.  We met them at the Carousel Lounge in early 2004 as they were preparing the kickoff show for the Hot Wet Deep South tour.  Hannah was there with mutual friends before I arrived, and she excitedly handed me the flier for the carnival-themed show while introducing me to Elizabeth Jackson, the violin/accordion/bass-ist and lead singer of the group.  I was in a good mood and jokingly demanded that there better be some balloon-dart action there.  Elizabeth said sorry, but I immediately volunteered Hannah and I to do it, and we followed through.  It was a great time and raised an extra $80 for their tour, mostly because of one person who kept feeding twenties to a 10-year-old girl at the Church Of The Friendly Ghost where the show was.  Our fingers were sore, but it was a great experience and we made some of our first music friends in Austin.

Fast forward to 2011, and DNN are tied to some of my favorite times here.  Christmas dinner, house-sitting and many parties at Elizabeth’s, a few short stints in the band as a JV trombonist, my surf band recruiting Amy and Elizabeth to play great covers of “Telstar” and “Shockwave”, and getting to know a ton of amazing people.  This last show was characteristic, my friend Catherine Morris led off the night with a few sweet accordion-led songs, followed by Stanley Roy’s flamboyant ukelele covers.  The Midwives were a little shaky to start their rockin’ girl-group set but got a lot more solid by the end, and I’ll definitely look for them again.  And Darling New Neighbors’ set was as confident as I’ve seen them.  Latest drummer Karl has an easy-going vibe that fits perfectly, Elizabeth’s vocals showed the great nuance and strength she’s developed before our ears, everybody’s playing was great and that was accentuated by the addition of excellent brass players Amber, Lee and Rashid.  I can’t say they played my all-time favorites (“Piece Of Ass” and “Ph.D. In Misery”), but there were a lot of favorites, new and old.  I picked up their new EP and after listening to Freakers On The Spazmonaut Train today, I think it’s safe to say that they went out on top of their game. Long live Darling New Neighbors!

Poster Children “Sleep”



Been on a Poster Children binge all night, with a Karaoke Underground show sandwiched in there. This is as close as they get to a lullaby. Someone please tell me another band that sounds close to this, because the PKids are the greatest ever.

The Road To Surfdom “Too Big To Fail”


On a surf kick so here’s another shot of my band. This song started back in Japan as a couple riffs over a Casio bossa nova beat, and it’s mutated into a bunch of parts, mostly variations on E. The Mermen were a conscious influence but I’m not half the guitar player that Jim Thomas is.

I should explain a little about The Road To Surfdom… The name is obviously a riff on the book and our sound, and I wanted to expand that by giving all our songs names that had to do with economics and/or politics.  “Too Big To Fail” was a good one for this song, we also had a “Peter Gunn” styled spy song called “Toxic Securities” and others like “Moral Hazard” and “Unregulated Market In Esoteric Financial Derivatives”.  We are definitely not Tea Partiers.  Elena and Jon were a lot of fun to play with, and they got into the naming too (Jon wrote Toxic Securities).