I never liked the band Guns and Roses. I first heard them on MTV when they broadcast a concert from some bar in L.A. I think the band had already broken by this point, but I wasn’t paying attention. The concert video was okay. The singer was annoying. The lead guitarist was all right. The rhythm section was decent. The songs were sleazy in a way the 80’s required, but they didn’t grab me at all. In a word, Meh. Then they really broke through. They had a hit with a song with a riff that reminded me quite a bit of a Rush song, and another hit with a song that reminded me quite a bit of a Robin Trower song. The bigger they got, the less interest I had. Most of my friends really dug that first album, but sort of fell off the wagon after that.
Last night, before the show, I was sitting at a table restringing my Les Paul when someone in the bar put a slew of GnR songs on the jukebox. As each new song played I was getting more and more frustrated and annoyed. I don’t like that band at all. It didn’t set the tone for the night or anything, it just ticked me off. Fast forward to this morning and I’m listening to a podcast as I cleaned the yard. The discussion spent 20 minutes talking about how one of the participants saw Guns and Roses the night before and how it was a four hour show and they played everything and yadda yadda blah. What the hell is it about this weekend that makes me not be able to get away from this awful band?
Anyway, the show. Big crowd. I mentioned on the band’s blog that it was probably the biggest crowd we’ve had. The stage side of Racks was pretty much packed. The only table that wasn’t full was the one off to the side that we tend to dump our stuff onto. Every other table and a lot of the standing room off to the side and in the back was filled up pretty nicely. The people were attentive, they reacted when we wanted them to. They applauded and yelled at the end of each song. They did not, for the most part, dance. That’s a new one for us. Songs that always get people moving did not last night. I can’t tell if the people were into it or not. Strange. Then at a little after 10:30 or so, about 60% of them all left at once. At least that was how it seemed to me. One minute: full room. The next minute: half full room. Strange.
In the previous six shows we’ve done at this bar we’ve played three 45-50 minute sets. A pattern developed where everyone was calm and polite during the first set. Everyone was bouncing off the walls during the second set (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration). Almost everyone who wasn’t an immediate family member of one of the band members was home in bed asleep during the third set. One of the guys suggested we try and avoid the third set exodus by playing two sets of about an hour and 15 minutes each. Maybe people would stick around until the end. Obviously that didn’t work. We were worried about this plan from a physical standpoint. Would we be able to go that long without having to stop for a breather? The answer to that was mixed. By the end of the second set there were issues developing that stemmed from being tired. The singer’s throat was sore, the guitar player’s (my) left pinky finger just decided it was done for the night. That was an odd sensation. Hey pinky, bend yourself into this position. Um, not thanks I would prefer not to. Huh. I managed to work around it, and it was only for the last 2-3 songs. I did have a colossal brain fart that could have ruined a song. We have one song where I tune down to drop D. I did that okay, no problem. When the next song started though, I forgot to tune back to standard E. Wooops. The first verse of the Cars song we do suddenly had the normal major/minor chords changed to 9th chords with the 9th in the base. Not good. I blatantly retuned after the first little keyboard solo that I cover on the guitar. It was only a few seconds of garbage and then it was all fixed. Dumbass. That was totally a Rob-is-asleep-at-the-wheel moment.
As for the new equipment, everything went about right. I used the Keeley D&M drive (Mick boosting Dan) for almost all of the dirt. I thought it sounded really good. I was very happy. We didn’t do a sound check so our singer, with his wireless mic, was out in the crowd checking our levels during the first song. Everything went really well. During the second song instead of using just the D&M drive I kept the Mick side on boosting my Wren and Cuff Tri-pi ’70, the greatest Big Muff clone known to humanity. As soon as I started playing, Greg the singer started signaling to me that I needed to turn myself way up. I figured that was going to happen. I was actually at close to exactly the same volume between the Muff and the D&M, but the scooped out mid-range frequencies that go a long way toward making a Muff sound like a Muff have the side effect of burying the sound in the mix. The D&M drive has a pretty pronounced mid-range boost so it cuts through the wash of the cymbals really well. The Muff does not. I switched back to the D&M drive right away, then between songs I cranked the volume on the Tri-pi and it came through a little better on the one or two songs I used it on later in the night. It sounds so good that I want to use it all the time, but I can say the same for the D&M Drive. Both pedals sound fantastic running between my Les Paul and my Fender Deluxe Reverb. The TC Electronic Spark Mini pedal also shined through. I used it as my volume boost for solos. The only issue I had there was late in the second set I stomped on it and the velcro holding it to the board let go a little and the pedal itself was sitting at a weird angle. It would not have been an issue for a bigger pedal, but with the mini it made it hard to switch it on. I had to wait for the song to finish and squish it back into place. After that, perfect.
Overall everything went well. There were a couple of moments where one band member wanted to skip a song that was on the list and another band member really did not. We eventually got everything in, but there seemed to be some annoyance that didn’t need to be there. We’ll talk that through before the next show. That leads to the question of, when is the next show? The answer is, we don’t know. We have nothing booked at all right now. The bar manager last night offered us the only two dates in 2017 that are left open. They were the day after Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. Yeah, we’ll pass on those, thanks. We will probably take a few weeks off and then get together for a rehearsal and try to figure out what we want to do next. I’m looking forward to it. Last night was pretty fun. Unfortunately, my beautiful bride, Jen was not there. She wasn’t feeling well last night so she stayed home. The enjoyment level when she is not there is about 95% less than when she is there. I missed her a lot.