Friday, March 24, 2006

Hero Worship

I don't think I've ever made any claim not to get my own case of hero worship every once in a while. After all, I did stand in line at the mall to get Jim McMahon's autograph (and, if I remember correctly, the Dunce stood in line with me, though he wasn't nearly as excited about it as I was). My meeting with Jim McMahon was very brief. In fact, I don't recall him saying a word. He reached out with his sharpie and signed my newly-purchased (overpriced) poster and, who knows, he might have said, "Next."

And when the Dunce and I ran into the Detroit Pistons (Bad Boys era) in a Chicago mall, I did stand around and get in their way a little bit, mostly so I could see how tall they really were.

But anyway, one of my favorite bands is the Violet Burning. I'm on their e-mail list, and I found out that they would be playing in Ohio, and that they had been playing for small crowds because the venue promoters hadn't been doing much work (since the Violets were simply getting a share of the gate). Being one to support independent rock n roll (when it's of the Violet Burning persuasion), I made the nearly 2 hour drive to Joe's Java in Wilmington, Ohio to see them play.

When I finally found the place (I didn't know it would be an old warehouse looking building with virtually no signage), I went in and found my way to the concert venue. First up was a so-so band, the Retail Age - if they weren't a nerdy version of Weezer, I'm not sure what they were. They were decent musically, but the singer's voice was rather whiney and annoying. And all their songs sounded pretty much the same.

OK, next was John Davis. Apparently Mr. Davis is usually accompanied by a band, but he was solo tonight. Eh. First he was on the piano, then went to electric guitar (playing the blues) and finished on the accoustic. He was ok, but not overly memorable.

Finally it was time for the Violet Burning to play. Oh, rewind to after the Retail Age finished. I went over to the product table (it was around the corner and if we hadn't been told that it was there, I would have never found it) and bought a CD. There were about 7 that I don't have, so it was tough to choose, but I picked Drop-Dead (the new one, which you can listen to for free online here). Then I went over to Michael Pritzel and asked him if he minded if I did the "celebrity hero worship thing" and got an autograph. He responded, "Yeah, I like to get autographs, too" and we talked a little bit about the tour and the troubles they've been having getting the promoters to actually promote. I also told him that one of my favorite concerts ever was their show at the IS fest in Atlanta in 1992.

We saw the evidence of that in Wilmington - there were 50 people there, tops. There were about a dozen of us standing and the rest were scattered about. That didn't seem to faze Pritzel and co; they rocked anyway. In fact, they bantered with the audience quite a bit. And this was the most Christian of a show I've ever seen them do as well. They opened with a song, then asked us to join them in praying for John Thompson (formerly of True Tunes fame), who has been hospitalized with serious internal bleeding.

I'd love to give a full review, but it's really late. Michael Pritzel told me to be sure to have a safe trip home (he'd asked where I was from).


Dunce said...

It's very frustrating to see bands you really, really like having such a hard slog of it. And it's very encouraging when the band/artist puts on a full-scale show even if the audience is disappointing (and equally discouraging if they just mail it in).

Buying merchandise is the best thing you can do for a touring band -- their income from the actual performance is very likely to be minimal (quite often a certain level of attendance is required before the band gets anything, and (in drinking establishments) the band almost never sees anything from the bar).

On this subject, there's a nice quote from Patterson Hood (frontman of the Drive By Truckers and one of my current favorites):
The records get the music out so people will come to your shows and buy T-shirts. So once you come to terms with being in the T-shirt business,” Hood said, “it’s better than being in a coal mine.

Paul said...

Brian, I just checked hear after your comments on YMX. Sounds like you are pretty old school like me. We definitely share a taste in music. Thanks for the comments and article. I'll be checking back on the blog.

The Sister said...

I AM SO JEALOUS! I know I am shouting. I would have LOVED to have dropped down to the violets' show in Indy (even close) but was pretty much flat on my back wednesday with this head cold (which seems to have passed now). GRRRRRRRRRR.
I also remember an amazing IS Fest show... Worshipful and rocking and WOWWWWWWWIE. Perhaps I should persuade the Noblesvillian to go to their website and buy EVERYTHING I DON'T HAVE (which is pretty much everything past 1992, right?) to support them....