Undercover Presents: Radiohead's Kid A and ReCardiacs Fly. (or, how to double book your self and live through a thousand deaths)
The weekend prior to last was easily the most stressful yet one of the more amazing weekends I've had since moving to the bay area almost four years ago. I was a part of an incredible event put on by Lyz Luke and Undercover Presents that entailed ten bay area bands all working together to perform a wholly unique realization of Radiohead's Kid A in its entirety. Each band selected was given one song, and we all packed into the Rickshaw stop for three nights in a row and played the album down.
The event was an incredible experience. Bandcamp for big kids. I met so many amazing musicians and watched everyone develop their music over the course of three nights. I was playing vibes with DRMS on these night and we covered the third track of the album, The National Anthem.
Two things about this weekend though; I was double booked on the opening night of the event with an super intense gig on the other side of the Bay, aaaannnnd I managed to misrepresent myself pretty horribly through this video that was made that was showed every night at the Rickshaw right before we went on.
The night of Saturday the 23rd. I had two shows that I was a part of. One was the opening night of the aforementioned Undercover Presents show at the rickshaw stop. The other was across the bay in Berkeley's Starry Plough playing with a group called ReCardiacs Fly. This is a band that was put together for a benefit for Tim Smith, the leader of The Cardiacs. If you are like me and most other people, and are unfamiliar with the music of the Cardiacs, please please check them out. The music is like nothing else I have heard, and it is astounding. The spirit of the music lies somewhere in the same realms as punk and progressive rock, and the songs are often long form pieces with really intense arrangements and beautiful (sneakily so) harmonic movement.
Just a quick aside about learning Cardiacs music- I spent a long time learning the nine Cardiacs songs that we performed from the records. My process for this gig was different than any I had done before. I was playing vibes and percussion at the gig itself, but I decided to learn all of the songs at the piano by listening to the recordings. I did this primarily because I am really interested in how the compositions work, but also because a lot of the recordings that I was learning from had no explicit percussion parts and I figured it would be best to have the largest possible frame of reference and come in with a full understanding of the harmony and the melody. (the words are still elusive for me with Tim's music). I came to rehearsals and set up my rig and just listened and did my best to fit a vibraphone, two tin cans, a seven dollar beer gong, and some clangy cymbals into these tight knit songs.
Why do I do things like double book myself?
I think what happened is this thing that has happened to me before, but never to this particular extent. When people are asking me about gigs and rehearsals, I often get an email asking me about dates that I am available according to what they have going on. What ends up happening to me sometimes, is that I'll respond to one email of that nature and give out a bunch of potential dates and times only to receive another while the original schedule email's questions are still in limbo.
This exact senario happened with DRMS and ReCardiacs Fly. I had received an email from Lyz with a wide range of date proposals for the Undercover presents show. If I recall, and I probably don't, it was a really wide range. I mean, she had to get ten bands together for three nights. No small undertaking.
I responded to the email with my dates that were open at the time and promptly forgot about it.
Meanwhile, I got an email from Polly Moller asking if I would be interested in subbing for Suki in the ReCardiacs Fly band on february 23rd at the starry plough. Dude! I get to learn all of these amazing songs, play with one of my heroes (Moe! Staiano) and get to open for Surplus 1980? Doi, Yes.
Somewhere down the line, I began to perceive that this Undercover Presents show that I was a prominent part of was getting a lot of press and selling out multiple nights and I should probably claw through the general anxiety that accompanies dealing with email and calendars and life and humans and put it in the books.
Ohhhhhh mannnnnn. yep. anxious for a reason. Opening night of the Undercover Presents show is the same show as ReCardiacs Fly. FFFUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!
Okayokay okay okay, okay, I can do both, I'll do both, I'm just part of one song at the rickshaw. The sets are scheduled at 9 and 10 30. Perfect. With this mindset, I proceed to tell no one about my debacle except my girlfriend and my coworkers. The DRMS set gets moved to 9:15 and the Cardiacs set gets moved to 10 sharp. I tell Rob from DRMS, but still don't say a word to DRMS's manager or to Molly, who asked me to play with ReCardiacs Fly.
This is the point where things really start to spiral out of control in my head to the point where I feel like it is too late to ask for help from either band leader and I start waking up at 6 am regularly, freaking out. I pulled this same stupid pattern in college when ever I had huge, grade defining assignments. I would freeze up, and wait until it was too late (in my mind) to do anything about it, and shoot my self in the foot. Classic example: I thought that I owed my school library 800 dollars upon graduation, and because of this, they withheld my diploma. The whole idea of dealing with this freaked me out enough that I didn't call for over a year!! When I did finally call, I was informed that I owed 73.80 or something silly like that, which I promptly paid off and a week later my diploma was in the mail.
So the day before the shows arrive and I have only given Polly mere hints that I might be a little late to the sound check because I have this other thing ect ect ect. Every one in DRMS listens to me leave her a message on our way to play a show in Chico, and I catch a general sense of "yeah, well..." They knew my situation well, and it effected them directly. They could only throw me so much slack and "poor guy", you know?
I drew out a pretty ridiculous map of how many times I had to travel across the bay to make the next night happen.
Oh man, one huge detail! I had just procured a new vibraphone the week before! Having two vibraphones was crucial to this happening at all. So with out blabbing too much longer, here is a rough rundown of how the day went.
This was not an entirely horrible experience. I just never want it to happen to me again. I really enjoyed both shows that I was a part of. I was lucky to pull of what I did, and things came together for me. I really owe a lot to my lady and my friends in my music community for supporting me on that day. They helped me stay calm and realize that all would be well. No more depending on luck! I have a strong suspicion that this specific brand of dumbassery on my part will not be tolerated by my own limited luck and karma again.