Then, there were the sets…
Stochastic Theory went on – 5 minutes early, to get things rolling. They put on a damn fine set, probably thier tightest yet. Chuck was relaxed onstage, seemed to be having fun, and Ned and Kelly were grooving quite nicely. Sound was great, Chuck’s vox were just on…that was a blast.
Null Device was up second. That’s us. We ripped into our set with abandon. At this point there wee 175 people in the audience. I was also flying on a redbull and vodka, a lot of bottled water, and a few slipperyelm throat lozenges. I swear by those dang lozenges now. It was probably our most energetic set yet. The ever-stoic Chuck McKenzie even bopped aorund a bit. Dan shredded like mad, and during the bridge of “Easier” managed to get the audience clapping in time with the music. I lept about like a man posessed…it was great fun. During Footfalls, where I fill a dead bridge with a yank from “Night Riders” I had the audience singing along, and screaming “night riders in the western skies” which was absolutely bloody fabulous. All the new material went over well, people sang along which I found unexpected, and it was a lot of fun. During the last track I thanked all the bands and Matt and such, and announced we were doing a different cover to close the set. When the bass kicked in I said “this is Wicked Game” and was completely stunned by the crowd’s response. Nobody ever goes that crazy for our stuff – nobody! Whoopin and hollerin…it was a blast to blow through it to. I was afraid that the song would be too chill to end a set, but it went over really well. And thanks to the combined power of slipperyelm and vodka my vocal cords were nice and loose, so the sustained note at the end I managed to hold for several bars – longer than I had in rehearsal. Got a great response, I was really happy, and it was just loads of fun.
B00le was up next. These guys are nuts. Just absolutely out of their minds. An Industro-funk cover of the theme to “Sanford and Son?” Saxophones onstage? A cover of “Mr. Roboto?” They can really work a crowd. Their last song the opened up to requests, knowing full well that some yukster would yell “Freebird!” – and someone did. So they played “Freebird.” And dragged Matt Fanale, Brian from the Gothcicles, and myself up onto the stage to sing along. Well, none of us knew the words…
I missed the openeing of Voltaire’s set – At this point I was dying for food so I was stuffing my face with jerk pork when he went on. But I came in a few songs late and he was just excellent. He did a solo acoustic set, and has really great stage charisma. He played songs, told funny stories, made fun of Trekkers, it was great.
Iris came on after that. Matt Morris and Andrew Sega are the most enthusiastic keyboardists I’ve ever seen. I expected all the blippy arpeggiated stuff to be sequenced or backing-tracked, but nope…Matt and Andrew, playing that live. Blitz was just kicking it with the drums too. He has a very Larry Mullen Jr-ish quality about him. And Reagan has quite the set of pipes. The man can sing. He seemed a little beaten down by the heat onstage (it was blistering up there), though. He wasn’t sweating like Matt Fanale or anything, though – after all, he is from Texas. But they sounded great, played almost all my favorite tracks, and seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Stromkern rounded out the night, and just rocked the motherfucking house. This show was put together as a farewell to Ned, before he sallies forth to San Diego, so most of the 240+ crowd was there to see him, and he didn’t disappoint. He poured every ounce of energy into his performance. He pretty much played anything he could play live – all the way back to stuff from Flicker. He did some new material, too…and managed to close out the night with an encore of “The Mercy Seat”, the track which really got Stromkern started. During his final song of “Night Riders” the crowd was whipped to a complete frenzy, bouncing and moshing and leaping and screaming…even Ned’s mom was getting into the whole set. Andrew from Iris squeezed into thecrowd and pogoe’d like the rest of us. Great fun. It was completely awesome, Ned had excellent crowd charisma, the band was tight…it was a great way to end Ned’s Madison tenure.
Takedown was a bitch. We’d staggered loadin, so we could make multiple trips easily. We didn’t have the option on the way back. So we counted out the merch money (we sold our entire liveshow stock of CDs and a buncha tshirts), struck the gear, bundled gear into Dan’s car, Chuck’s pickup, my car…corralled band members into whatever vehicles we could find…
With that taken care of, I unloaded Ned and Chuck’s gear at their practice space, and drove home. I hit the pillow at 4am, dead tired, feelin great, and really sore.
It was an amazing night.
b00le and Friends