03/14/2012 Rogue Bar, Scottsdale, AZ
This van does not run on hugs or high fives. I write this in the hopes that we will make some damned money tonight. Look: It’s a sad fact of nature that bands do not make money anymore, at least little bands. It’s not like “oh, it’s not a lot of money.” It’s laughable. The petroleum companies get paid for the gas, the fast food places get paid for their failure food, the bar staff gets paid (as well they should), the sound people, the door guys, but the bands getting paid? Nah man. Rock and roll is a pyramid scheme. So yes … money. Everything in life always revolves around it on some level, whether you want to or not. It’s something that’s weighing on me even as we drive through the pastoral open landscape of the American Southwest. It’s somehow never cool to talk about money when you are a band. You’re suddenly mercenary or careerist, instead of just trying to be able to keep doing what you want, or even arrive at your designation safely. Gauche, dude! How bougie of you.
That said, I should mention that we spent the morning exploring one of the most beautiful and strange areas on the planet and not thinking about money even a bit. Joshua Tree National Park. You see pictures of these amazing otherworldly trees and landscapes, but until you are actually there and looking at this landscape that could very well be Mars, it’s hard to get the scale of it all. We spent a good amount of the day climbing on rocks and hiking about, just taking it all in, before getting a leisurely start east, out of the safe confines of our beloved California. Oh yes, and I got wicked sunburned. Occupational hazard.
So, Arizona. Amazing that we roll into the state on the day that it’s announced that there's legislation moving forward here stating that a lady can be fired for using birth control. Trying to wrap my head around that, Arizona being an “at-will employment” state at that. Amazing.
The bar itself is cool though, central casting for “punk rock bar” to be sure, complete with wall-collage art featuring a bit of semi-tastefully exposed breast and fliers for punk rock shows from yesteryear. You can smell the leather from the studded belts before you enter, and the door to the toilet in the men’s room is comically loose on its hinges.
We call this character. Anyway, cool place and there are people at large, which seems promising. First band Manual Sex Drive appears to set up, making this an earlier start on the night. Awesome! Wait. No, that was a sound check. Time to wait another hour. Time passes, some old friends wander in the door and conversations begin, then Manual Sex Drive begins in earnest. Difficult to describe, there’s a lot going on there, but they manage to balance the sound of two guitars, bass, drums, keyboard and trombone(!) pretty well. Adorable female keyboardist is a plus. Murder City Devils, mixed with Mr. Bungle and Brian Setzer Orchestra maybe? Anyway, they really go for it, hats off.
So then our turn.There are some shows that are like religious experiences, some that you etch in your mind as war atrocities, and then there are the ones in the middle. That’s what this one is for us. I break a string on my primary guitar at a key part, so the sound never is quite right. We connect a few times with folks, and it’s decent-plus. But during the most rousing parts of "Plausibly Wild," I don’t see even the remotest inclination of anything other than noble indifference from the folks at the bar. I cut the last song, and we wrap it up. For fuck’s sake, it’s a Tuesday you know? Thanks, Arizona.
Plainfield Butchers round out the night with some good ol’ street punk, just like Mom used to make. Thanks for hosting the show, gents, and helping replenish our depleted gas tanks and coffers a touch with those two Jacksons.
Jams in the van:
Minutemen — Double Nickels on the Dime, Jesu — Conqueror, Beach Boys — Pet Sounds, B. Hamilton — Everything I Own Is Broken, Of Montreal — Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Dr. Dre — The Chronic (skits and all), Os Mutantes - Jardim Electrico.
Stuff we sold: one vinyl copy and two CDS of These Things are Facts
Setlist: Get Tough, Get Through It / Brothers Doing it For Themselves / Damaged Goods (Gang of Four Cover) /Exasperated, Inc. / For Serious / Funundrum / Doubtbreak / Plausibly Wild
This is the fourth installment of Victory and Associates' South by Southwest tour diary, which will continue to be published right here this and week. For more about the band, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook. For the first three parts of the series, click here.