When you’re an electronic band, playing acoustic is risky. Sometimes it feels risky to the point of lunacy. But when has that ever stopped me? Besides, I’m playing in a band with a guitarist inafmous for singing uffy-shirted songs about vampires while pantsless, and a bassist known far-and-wide for his ability to sleep through loud noises (and most of central Indiana).
A few months back, after we had started recording the acoustic version of “Walk in London” for the London EP, we were playing a gig with a few sound problems. That’s being generous – the mains kept cutting out on us. After the final death-throes of the house sound system, we decided to fill some time by playing what we had written for the EP.
It sounded okay, and garnered a fair amount of approval from the crowd. Shortly thereafter, Matt Fanale came up to me and asked “how would you guys like to do a whole acoustic set at an upcoming show?” Before really thinking about what this entailed, I said “Sure!” I of course cleared this with Dan and Chuck, they thought it’d be cool. So we put our normal rock-star rehearsals on hold, Dan dove into rearranging the songs (which I think he secretly relished, gonzo recomposer that he is) and we started practicing.
It was immediately apparent that this was not going to be just simple transcription of a keyboard part over to acoustic guitar. Pretty much only “Footfalls” made that leap. Still, it was obvious after a few rehearsals that hey, we can write actual songs, and hey, we actually function as a band instead of three guys and backing tracks all doing their thing at the same time.
Last night, everything came together as we played our first all-acoustic show. Sandwiched between the spellbinding Bloodwire and the deservingly-famous Hungry Lucy, I was a bit trepidatious. “Good evening Madison and we’re here to suck the energy out of the room!” Sound check had left me fearful that we’d just be too quiet. There was the nagging fear that the audience, there to see a bunch of electronic bands, would find the unplugging of our set a clever novelty whose cleverness and novelty quickly wore off.
(In a frankly brilliant move, the floor had been set up with tables, chairs and couches instead of the usual dance floor. This kept people up by the stage, instead of standing in the Semicircle of Apathy, which would be death for a bunch of downtempo acts. )
But the show must go on and we took the stage, and ripped through “Sad Truth.” I couldn’t tell if the violin was being heard out in the house, nor could I tell for certain if my A string had drifted flat relative to the guitar. But nevertheless, the song sounded solid. The crowd liked it, and bolstered by this we plowed through the set with some confidence.
I did my little gypsy violin cadenza to open “Travelogue” and was quite frankly a bit stunned at the response. I mean, it was me showing off a little, showing that I haven’t entirely lost all the violin chops I had in college. The crowd gave up applause and some hoots and hollers, which threw us all off because we were used to just running straight into the song from there. It was kind of hard to get over the flummoxing that resulted. Chuck rocked the upright hard on that song.
After Travelogue, Dan made a few wisecracks about grandstanding violinists, in what was to become a running gag for the night. I mentioned at one point that if he’d wanted more solos he’d had two months to bring it up in rehearsal. Some heckling from Matt Fanale resulted in an impromptu cover of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, and as long as we’re on the subject of roses, there was one between my teeth for Dan’s flamenco solo in “Hourglass.” Ahh, whimsy. Can’t let things get too serious, or it stops being fun.
So all-in-all it was a pretty kickass night. Solid performances by every act, a show I felt really good about doing, once again some fine promotion by Mr. Fanale, two other bands who were really friendly and engaging (War-n and Christa are probably the nicest people ever, and Shawn and I-Li are equally friendly).