Monday, November 29, 2010

ATS anniversary show

This past Saturday was ATS' 25th anniversary show, and the Love Letters got to open the evening, although the mainstream media in town neglected to mention that in their articles. Nevertheless, I felt lucky that we got on the bill to play with them, because it was a big deal show that would bring a lot of post-holiday people out of the woodwork and also because the band was starting right as I was graduating high school way back then, so that was something of a significant period of my life (not exactly the happiest time, but oh well). As a side note, my high school reunion took place on the same night, but naturally I blew it off.

To be honest, I might not have made the reunion if the show wasn't happening because I got sick with some sort of stomach virus that day. I left work early and ending up getting really sick later in the day. But I was determined to play the show. It must go on, etc. Erin, our drummer, went through the same thing the night before, which made me think that something must be going around and that it wasn't just food poisoning.

We rallied what strength we had and got everything rolling in a timely manner. The sound man there was really good. He gave me a lot of vocal monitor which is good because I feel like if I can't hear myself I'll end up veering way off key. Buck used two amps to make sure his guitar projected, and he really got a Bob Mould wall of sound going. Sometimes it was a tad too much. Then I got used to it.

The setlist was written in a way that we managed to segue maybe about half the songs together, and even when we weren't jumping from song to song immediately the breaks were kept pretty brief. I think that kept the momentum going on our end and kept us focused. This followed a practice earlier in the week where we played for a lot longer than usual, running through half the set and then playing the entire set all the way through. By about midway into the proper set, I felt like we were really warmed up and clicking. So that carried over.

To pay tribute to ATS, we covered their "Scarecrow," a great song from their early days that they never play anymore. When Buck thought it was a good idea, I knew we should do it. (His brother Evan wrote the tune, so Buck should know.)

One of our songs, which still has the working/joke title "One Riff Shanley," was written about a year ago as a serious open letter to my friend Pam, who passed away a few months ago. We haven't played it out since she died and I wanted to give it an appropriate intro that tied together the idea of appreciating friends you still have around (the way I try to cope with loss) and the scope of the evening and playing a song like you might not ever get to play it again. I thought I had flubbed the intro and rambled in circles, despite having written down what I want to say. Then last night a friend forwarded me a note that another friend had written about the show, saying how much she liked our set and quoting specifically what I said about the song! Guess I wasn't too far off base.

Between sets, a guy approached me and said our set reminded him of something that he might have heard at the Electric Banana around 1988. He's pretty much on the money, since I'm still writing songs in a similar style to what I wrote back then. In fact the whole evening took us back to '88, really.

Steve Heineman, ATS' original drummer and one of my musical gurus from 25 years ago, wasn't able to make the show because his son got sick at the last minute. Hopefully that'll all work out with his kid. I was looking forward to seeing him again.

By the time ATS went on, I was feeling physically okay, but starting to get tired. I couldn't leave right away because I wanted to check them out so I saw 30-45 of their set. A friend of mine put it best when he said they could play the pants off of any band half their age. Who'd'a thunk it had been about five years since they played together? I didn't see a set list but they were going from one song right into the next.

1 comment:

barb said...

ATS played an amazing set- it was so much fun to shout out all the words and surprising that I remembered so many. They are great players. I too was bummed that Steve was unable to make it, would have loved to see him!

There were also some pretty cool tunes in you guys set as well- Buck produces an incredible guitar sound. I liked Aimee playing her band-type instrument (forget the name) and the drums sounded great as usual.

The only problem with Howlers was the smoke -yuk- had to throw all my clothes into the washer the minute I got home. Can't understand why people still smoke so much. Sigh.