Monday, March 12, 2012

On the Road with Victory and Associates, Part 1: Berkeley

By Conan Neutron
Mon, Mar 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM

My name is Conan Neutron and I play in the Oakland/San Francisco rock band/crack team of smartasses Victory and Associates. We’ve been honored to write a tour blog for our favorite local weekly. What follows will be a day-by-day accounting of our trip to South by Southwest.

There are other stories, but this one is ours.

03/11/2012 — Berkeley, CA — Starry Plough
Hometown kickoff show! (How hometown? Try a block away from where half the band lives. I love the Starry Plough. People don’t understand that it is a good venue for loud rock bands. V&A loves you, Starry Plough!)

Your narrator at work
  • Your narrator at work
At load-in there’s a fellow in a multicolored patched jacket that could clearly be a leading candidate for the “How Berkeley Can You Be’ contest. Me? I just wish he could be a zany character in a place that would not involve blocking the entrance we need to load in. I get it Mr. Squibbles, you're local color — now can you please move about two feet to the right?

Down to business! I spend most of the pre-show set wondering what the turnout is going to be like, but my worries are quickly assuaged when folks start coming in, including the FAM contingent from Turntable.fm — very rad. I fret, I fume, and I am constantly concerned, but you rarely let down, Bay Area.

The Paranoids play first, kind of Crazy Horse-style indie rock. Cool! I feel like there are more current references for what they do, but I don’t have them. They have custom beer koozies, too. HOT MERCH ITEM FOR 2012! You read it here first.

Then we’re up, time to play. We do our thing, playing a set of mostly new material to a hometown crowd that has largely seen us play quite a few times before. Don't get me wrong, we'll still heave it up and put it down, but the thought is to focus on newer stuff. The first two songs (off of the record) go swimmingly, decent sound and good performances. We play a pretty new song, and lo! The power on all the amps shut off. Weird. It comes back on, we mostly shrug it off, I make a joke about PG&E not caring for our new material and we try once more … again, it goes off. The house engineer does everything in his power to find out what is going on, but these intermittent power outages happen throughout the set, and we have to cover for this abrupt change in dynamic range. We cut "Friend Rock City" two lines early; "Wildly Plausible" and "Plausibly Wild" both get lines in the choruses that are a appella by necessity; and we cut "You Can’t Stop the Signal out completely and call the set a touch early.

It’s frustrating, I won’t lie. Another band may have just quit or thrown a tantrum. We tried to keep it light and I made a few jokes about making blood sacrifices to the gods of energy. How we roll. I will say this: You can find the true measure of a band by looking at how they deal with adversity. If we’re going to have a show where there are these kinds of issues, it might as well be a block from where you live and the first show of the tour.

Here’s a rad video somebody took before the Gods or Demigods of power focused their rage upon us puny mortals — this is "Noise, Voices, You":

The Blank Stares close out the night with some revved-up garage rock. I dig what they're throwing down, and they're a good match with us. They're also playing through amps much bigger and more powerful that ours and pulling much more current. They experience no power outages at all. I am happy for them, but more than a little jealous.

Far too late we realize that the merch table is not very illuminated. Despite these preposterously unhelpful environmental factors we sell a few things and vow to buy a light for the merch table the next day.

Stuff we sold: 1 Party Savor/Thousandaire 7”, two vinyl copies of our album, These Things are Facts, 1 CD of These Things are Facts, two tour posters.

Setlist: Noises, Voices, You / You Can’t Eat Prestige / Exasperated., Inc. / For Serious / Funundrum / Friend Rock City / Wildly Plausible / Plausibly Wild

For more about Victory and Associates, visit the band's website, follow them on Twitter, or like them on Facebook. They'll be back with more touring escapades tomorrow, as they head to Merced and then South by Southwest.

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