Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Meeting expectations

I started to write a blog on Monday about the Provincetown Rocks festival. Right as I neared completion, the Boston Herald wanted to talk about it. So I sent them some thoughts. And it became an article, a bit sunnier than the one they ran a couple weeks back:
Glenn Yoder of Cassavettes said he experienced “the best (or something close to it) and worst (or something close to it) of what this festival had to offer.” Cassavettes’ Friday night show at Good Times was rough, but the show the next night at the Vixen made up for it.
“It was sort of scatter shot - we expected that, too,” Yoder wrote. “It was a first try at something like this in P-town and, if it happens again, I’m sure there will be a different approach and different pricing, etc. But no use in trashing it - it was an honest try at something new, and you can’t fault anyone for that.”

Here is the full text of the thoughts I shared with Michael, in a more concise form of the blog, which follows.
I think we saw the best (or something close to it)  and worst (or something close to it) of what this festival had to offer. We had a great set Saturday night at The Vixen that made up for one of the worst shows I can ever recall being a part of Friday at Good Times. But while we had a bad time at Good Times (major paradox there), my guess is that the Bon Savants had a worse time. After all, while the amp the festival provided crapped out on me mid-song and I finished the set through a dull keyboard amp, the Bon Savants lost power altogether mid-song. They covered it well enough, but there's not much you can do in that situation. Either way, they killed it -- it was an awesome show once the power came back (the alleged culprit was a cell phone charger in a jack not permitted for patron's use, according to the club's owner). And the Bon Savants guys were chilled out about the whole episode. I really mean it when I say they covered with as much humor and poise as one can when all the power goes off...and a dude shouting at everyone in sight about a cell phone charger causing it all. We were saying that the whole night seemed to be held together by duct tape and little else -- and maybe the whole festival seemed that way at times, since word was that the clubs weren't exactly receptive to the bands and the audiences were pretty small everywhere we went to see shows. We didn't encounter anything super crazy, though. Our expectations were sort of met:  We expected to have a good time out on The Cape, hang out with some cool folks like The Shills and Sidewalk Driver, and play a few fun shows. Check, check, and check. If nothing else, it's a beach vacation. What's there to complain about? So, yeah, it was sort of scatter shot -- we expected that, too. It was a first try at something like this in P-town (to my knowledge) and, if it happens again, I'm sure there will be a different approach and different pricing, etc. But no use in trashing it -- it was an honest try at something new, and you can't fault anyone for that.

I will say that there was nothing about this festival that scared me off doing it again, presuming Martin tempers his expectations by making it a much more affordable, viable option for locals (it's not going to draw a huge crowd from Boston, just to see locals in a different environment). After all, the thing is, P-town doesn't NEED this festival. They are a bucolic Cape town in the middle of summer! These "clubs" (if you can call them that) don't NEED bands to draw in people -- they already have regulars (which they were pissed that the bands were scaring away with high door prices/loud music). So, if Martin wants to bring music to P-town, that's all well and good. But he has to do it by fitting into the flow of the town, rather than trying to CHANGE the flow for a weekend. You know what I mean?

Anyway, back to the blog I was GOING to write...

The Provincetown festival this weekend was about what we expected. OK, it was worse than expected, but just a little. The shows went like this, in this order: so-so, awful, pretty good. So at least we ended on a high (or higher) note. But when everything wasn't falling apart at the seams, it was being held together by duct tape and little else (metaphorically, and in some cases, literally). Beyond the clubs putting up a stink about even having music going on, and the town's seeming disinterest (and lack of need) in the festival at all, the prices were too high to interest anyone into stopping by. And the backline equipment was on the verge of explosion -- as the Bon Savants lost all power mid-song following our set (when my amp crapped out entirely, and I had to play a five-string guitar through a keyboard amp -- hey, maybe it was in the spirit of famous low-stringers Presidents of the United States of America). So, yeah, there were a bit more than technical difficulties. But add the entire weekend up, and you've got a good time. Lots of cool people, some nice weather, and six friends squashed in a surprisingly spacious hotel room. It was a good time.

The first night I played solo at Old Colony. It was a cool nautical-themed bar with low ceilings, and a completely disinterested crowd. I never got comfortable, rushed it, and generally regretted it. But whatever, it was the first night and there were five people there.
SET LIST (from memory): Til the Wheels Fall Off / Broken Beaten & Blue / Golden Fleece / Light Under the Door / A Thousand Ways / There's a Reason / Comes a Time / You Led Me Into Your Love

The next night, the band met up with Mike after a cold, wet day at the beach in Wellfleet (next to the Beachcomber). We did have a sweet race up the dunes until a stoned lifeguard told us to quit it. Nevertheless, we made the most of the gray day. That night, we played Good Times, easily the crappiest spot we saw in P-town, with low ceilings and no decorations beyond a few beer signs on the dry wall -- like someone's idea of a "man cave." The owner was a lunatic who went berserk at me, when I was an innocent bystander to two minor altercations (someone plugging a cellphone charger into an unauthorized jack, and someone spilling a Narragansett behind a guitar amp -- I used a keyboard amp and didn't drink Narragansett anyway). And of course, there were the aforementioned technical difficulties. I did, however, buy a new leather jacket (when in Rome) and have an awesome dinner, so it wasn't a totally wasted night.
SET LIST (from memory): Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / There's a Reason / Shine a Light

The final day, we checked out of the hotel and headed back to Wellfleet for some actual fun in the sun. Creamer took us to a nice beach (one of the top 20 in the world, he said, though I disagree -- not to sound ungrateful), where we joined the Family Creamer. Matt fit in quite naturally, with his red locks and swear words (that's just with Creamer himself, though, not the wife and kids). Creamer actually looked overjoyed when Matt tossed him around in the waves. We then got a sweet lunch in town and met up at the Creamer's cabin. Quite quaint. For the show, my main objective of the evening (seeing The Neighborhoods) didn't happen, since everything was running behind schedule. We also missed Sidewalk Driver's set. But we did, at the very least, play a pretty good show, which was a major relief, after two subpar performances in a row (dating back to July 4 in Vermont).
SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Madeline / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / On the Lam / Seek Cover / Shine a Light

For those keeping score, yes, every set was cut short. But the whole thing was running behind schedule. At times, I was surprised it was even happening at all. But it was what it was, and it's a memory now. Like I said, I'd do it again, presuming changes are made to accommodate the locals. If there's a lesson to be learned, it's that you aren't going to change the culture of Provincetown, Mass., even for one weekend!

UPDATE: Photos just posted at Playground Boston by Pete Legassey. Check them out, you'll have to go toward the middle of this pack. I'm hoping you agree with me that Mike's beard so, so siqq.

On the record front, I'm PRETTY sure the latest master is going to be approved. It has been sent as the "promotional copy" for Creamer to work his magic, and has a cool label. It appears likely that "Shotgun Wedding" will indeed be on the record, unless Todd makes one final push for "Glory Son." Also, more shows are coming together for the fall tour, thanks to the Tenderhooks. Those boys get stuff done!

Anyhow, tomorrow night, I'm playing at McGann's in the Back Bay as a sidekick for my buddy Tod Shaffer (he of Barn fame). Come check it if you got some time.

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Anonymous Mike said...

Those boys and GIRL in the T-hoox (which I will now call them) get stuff done.

Also, I know you're always getting peeved at me for never letting any error in speech squeeze by without comment, but I have to say I laughed really hard when I first read "Todd Shaffer (he of Barn fame)". It's not even funny, but it tickled me. So, thank you.

29 July, 2009 21:25  
Anonymous glenn said...

it's funny, i actually thought of the gal thing right after i wrote that, and considered correcting, but work constraints didn't permit it. a good catch, either way, as we don't want the t-hoox getting t-o'ed at us.

oh, speaking of speech correction, to illustrate my point about champing at the bit:

i have always read it as champing, hence i use champing on this here blog (and this site says it is ONLY champing, which is odd because i did think it was a two-way phrase, champ and chomp). just one of those things, i s'pose.

29 July, 2009 21:41  
Anonymous scott said...

speaking of martin as well as speaking of strange word choices (i myself have never heard "champing" at the bit, but i believe you.) remember when you called martin a chrome dome? in a blog or email or something? martin has platinum blond hair, which i assume you were referring to, but a chrome dome is usually a bald person, you know? also the ninja turtles always called shredder that in the cartoon, possibly because of the large chrome dome he wore on his head. anyway, i was just remembering this all weekend and every time i saw martin i thought about calling him a chrome dome, laughed to myself, and then left him alone. it was a good weekend.

29 July, 2009 22:01  
Anonymous scott said...

hold on, slightly further research yields this informative but maybe not so authoritative result, but if you enter "champing at the bit" in a google search bar, it asks you if you meant to search for chomping at the bit, but not vice versa. however i'm beginning to lean your way. either way, the most important thing to come from all of this is the list at the bottom of that page which holds alternate questions such as "do pibulls bit people?" and "why do hamsters bit people?"

29 July, 2009 22:13  
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