Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Love Letters' holiday highlights, overdue

At this point, it's been two weeks since Thanksgiving. Two days after the holiday, the Love Letters climbed onto the stage at Gooski's for show number two. Since we had a few weeks between that night and our previous gig, we got a number of practices in and things were really starting to click. The songs were starting to sound more comfortable, the comfort brought new arrangement ideas or experimentation with how parts are played. You know, all the usual band stuff that I kind of forgot about during my time off from playing.

So by the time we were ready to play, I felt some eager anticipation. The first song we did was really new, built on one riff (though I cheated and threw a simple break in the middle of it, so it's more like 1 1/2 riffs). The words are kind of a work in progress, about some things that have been going on around me lately with people and things. But it was a good bring-them-to-their-feet opener, especially because for the first 20 seconds or so, we just stand there (me with my face in hands on that night) until Erin does a couple cymbal crashes. That song (known at this point at "One Riff Shanley") went so well that when we charged into "The Last One" immediately after, the tempo got pretty fast and Husker Du-like. I can use them as a reference because a friend from work said that song reminded her of the Huskers.

During one song I could see Erin out of the corner of my eye behind the drums and the way she was playing seemed so in tune and in command of the moment that it really energized me for the rest of the set. Later on I realized that the stage volume might have been loud as hell but everything was perfectly balanced. Aimee had bought a new amp for her keyboard a few days earlier, so I could hear what she was playing. Buck was pretty loud during his solos but didn't drown anyone out. He always seems to know right where to be. When Aimee and Erin sang together it hit you really hard and it made me a little relieved that my mic wasn't as loud, just in case I wasn't hitting the notes. I didn't drink until after the set so my voice would survive, and I chugged lemon juice with club soda to keep my throat strong.

The Four Roses played one of those sets that sounded strong from the first note. They're kind of countryish, but the opener almost had a Mersey beat riff to it that I loved. The impact reminded me of a night about six or seven years ago when Shopping played a show with the Mofones and Shopping just killed as soon as they started.

The Crow Flies ended the night with a reunion set that didn't seem like they were under-rehearsed. But they've been playing together off and on for 20 years, so they can go on instinct. They segued a bunch of songs together and played with the kind of focus that I admire. I've told the Love Letters that my goal at this point at least is to get us to a level where we don't have to wonder, "What should I play here, where are we? What do I do?" and instead just play something knowing that the rest of the band can follow along or guide us towards an alternative idea. In other words, get to a point where we can work together musically and not worry about verbal stuff.

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