Sexy, nerdy friends are the bestest.

So, I love my family and all… but after three months in Indiana with barely seeing any of my friends, I’ve been going a little stir crazy.  In fact, if it wasn’t for the internets (gchat, twitter and facebook), you’d probably see me buried under my covers, rocking back in forth in a fetal position.  It’s enough to scare the cats.

That’s why Friday night was very much needed.

I got my nerd on and saw my favorite marching band ever, Mucca Pazza.  Elanor called me a few days before and asked if I’d come out and sell merch for them again.  Why would I ever say no to seeing my very talent friends put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen?  Not to mention, nerds are hot.  I’ve got some sexy friends (who happen to also have some attractive fans too) …  Anyway, sexy friends, see:

Mucca Pazza playing at the Mayne Stage, 3/25/11(all these amazing photos are by Ellen Prather)

Though I was in the lobby for the whole show, it’s more than easy to hear Mucca from there — not to mention they had a feed into the area with a tv set up as well.  So I did get to watch a good bit of it from the table.  It was a good night.  I got to talk with a lot of different fans, and even had one ask me — yes, me — for an autograph. Erini CS, merch girl. The time to chat with and get many hugs from my friends erased any loneliness I’d felt in the past three months.

I even found time to be a fangirl as well.  Ellis, one of Mucca’s trombonists, also plays for Jon Drake and The Shakes.  As I’ve mentioned before, they’ve quickly become one of my favorite bands.  So I couldn’t miss an opportunity to tell Ellis that 1) I love that band, and 2) his part in Margie makes me all swoony.  And fangirl-ness pays off.  I now have a Jon Drake and The Shakes pin, thanks to Ellis.

After we’d loaded up, merch was all counted and packed on the bus, and then finally unloaded at the studio, it was time to head over to Elanor’s for the night.  Having a tiny girls’ night was great.  I’ve definitely missed chatting it up with a ladyfriend face-to-face.  (And I’m definitely looking forward to the massive ladyfriend-fest that will happen in Seattle this week for the Nintendo 3DS trip.)

Lesson? Sexy, nerdy friends are the bestest. So.  How was your weekend?

joining Mucca Pazza in the Danger Zone!

Saying this weekend was full of win would be an understatement.

Possibly one of the biggest highlights of this weekend/ever would be running off to the land of beer and cheese with one of my favorite bands, Mucca Pazza.

They had some cancellations and needed someone to sell merchandise for them.  I got the call on Thursday at about noon, agreed, and found myself at the studio the next day at 9a.  After some running around, the van was loaded, and I was in a car with 3 Muccas (Elanor, Steiny, and Jeff) and we were on the road!

The band was performing at UW-Madison (a parade and then a concert by the lake), and then again the next day in Milwaukee.  I’d been to Madison once before, even the student union, but that was before school started and it was practically deserted.  That was not the case this weekend.

However, despite the crowd, having downtime by the lake was great.  I took the time to play a little Mario Kart on my DSi for a bit, and also relaxing with some of the band…  Others took the time to enjoy the lake before the show…

[singlepic id=105 w=320 h=240 float=center]
Nick & Steiny canoeing…

[singlepic id=106 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=107 w=320 h=240 float=center]

The concerts were amazing.  But really, I find that to be expected with a MP show.  I always have a great time, they’re always entertaining, and I always leave more in love with the band than before.  It’s just a given that Mucca Pazza rocks.  Sitting at the merch table, I didn’t have the best view of the band.  Not to mention the whole being distracted by people wanting to buy stuff.  A very welcome distraction.  I kept a tally going of how much we’d sold, but after the show that was impossible.

[singlepic id=108 w=320 h=240 float=center]

The festival in Milwaukee had merch people for everyone there… leaving not that much for me to do during the show.  Typically, I’d do what I always do at Mucca Pazza shows — get right up front and dance my ass off.  However, I did something strange and completely out of character.  I stayed near the back, in the sound booth with Elliot.  I still got to see them rock out, but also got to get an amazing crash refresher course in live sound.  (Last time I did audio? Probably high school… But I was the production director and on-air talent for WGCS a few years ago…)

Anyway.  The weekend was awesome.  I saw so much of Mucca Pazza.  SO MUCH.  Seriously.  Also, I smelled a lot of Mucca Pazza… I mean, I love them, but yeah, that wool-polyester blend combined with sweaty band nerds?  Eh, wow.   But even with the fresh smell of marching band, the weekend was great.  They’re great people and just a load of fun.  I can’t wait to see them again.

Oh, if you’re wanting all the dirty, stinky details of Mucca Pazza behind the scenes… well… You’ll just have to hang out with them yourself!  I will admit though, they joke a lot, sing a good deal, and they can definitely drink.  (But hey, I held my own with my four or so things of whiskey… until Justin accidentally tossed my cup across the rooftop patio — they were a more than a shot, but then again, hotel cups are great for measuring.  And no hangover.)  They’re just awesome and I truly enjoyed myself this weekend.  Not to mention I’ll probably have “Danger Zone” stuck in my head for a week.

Oh, yeah, and I found batman.
[singlepic id=110 w=240 h=320 float=center]

I had a great little “welcome back” from that trip too… 😉  Just another highlight from this weekend…

don't worry… I'm okay…

Not to raise any alarms or anything… but I’ve run off…

[singlepic id=104 w=320 h=240 float=center]

I’m getting in a van with these people.  Band nerds.

But don’t worry… I’m okay…

[singlepic id=103 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Send cookies… and booze…

euphonium rockstar

Last night’s concert went well.  Playing at the Hideout seemed all big and scary previously.  I mean, dude, Mucca Pazza plays there — heck, at least one of them works there too (hi Jeff!).

So, nerves aside, um, I rocked last night.  As did the other 13-15 people in my band — I’ve yet to stop to count how many of us there were that night.  I think 15 was our guesstimate.  That includes Maestro Messing too.

I have to say, I’ve got some very talented musician friends in that group.  Like, crazy talented.  And standing there with them, well, I don’t give myself much credit.  My musical education was lacking.  I don’t know most of the major-minor-diminished-whatever scales.  Sight reading isn’t my strong suit.  And improving and soloing? Yeah, you can forget that.  I was taught how to be a little performing monkey.  We worked on the same songs growing up and we had them perfected.  They’re the same songs the middle school band still plays.

My bandmates know better than to ask me to solo…  It’s sort of a joke now.  Euphonium solo?  HA. YEAH. RIGHT.  I’ll just go back to my  oom-pahs now.

But, honestly… I wish I had that musical ability.  I know I don’t suck.  I’m over that.  Especially after Mark called me an asshole for my bad band attitude.  But, I want to solo.  I want a little euphonium rockstar spot light.  I’d like a little more than just off-beats.  It’s part of the reason why I was planning on arranging some pieces that I could sing on… I may not be confident on my horn, but — given some pep talks and liquid encouragement — I can get my rockstar moment singing a little…

Anyway.  It’s mostly an ego thing I think.  And as a euphonium player, I’m quiet used to this…  Personally, I think Tabs and Ert should get a shot at a tuba solo.  That and I’m still fighting for a bongo solo.

So, um, I don’t have any pictures or videos from last night… hopefully someone does.  If I come across them, I’ll post them.  But we rocked last night.  And I looked hot.  Just FYI.

ALSO: Thanks to everyone who came out and supported Dennis Dixon!  It’s an amazing community around him, and seeing so many people come out to help this amazing Chicago activist in his time of need has been truly… well, awesome.
More at: www.dennisdixon.org

Barnyards, Barricades, and Balkans

So it’s the 4th Tuesday of the month… and normally I’d be at the studio by now for band practice. However, I’m obviously not there. The flu is stupid.

Missing band practice generally isn’t a big deal.  We meet twice a month and we realize that life happens.  But we’ve got a show next week.  That’s right, next week.  And this show is sort of a biggie.

We’re joining with some other bands and a DJ to put together a little show for you…  All of the proceeds will be benefiting Dennis Dixon, an amazing Chicago activist who was attacked on the transit system in late June.  He was hospitalized with some major injuries without insurance.  The mere $10 you pay to see 3 bands and dance your ass off with a DJ will help over Dennis’ living expenses.

If you’re in the area… you should definitely check us out!

From my awesome bandmate, David:

Hello Friends,

On Thursday, September 3, starting at 8:30 p.m., some of Chicago’s great performers will be coming together to support activist and musician Dennis Dixon with some dance and some noise.

DJ Jacob Ross will get your feet twitchin’;
Renegade Brass Brigade (I’ll have trumpet in hand) will rouse you to the barricades;
Golden Horse Ranch Band will have you swingin’ your neighbor with a dosey-doh;
Black Bear Combo will get a whole lot of folks in a frenzy.

The cost is $10, proceeds going to Dennis’ living expenses in this period just out of the hospital.

Would be great to see you there!

David

belated! concert update: My Gold Mask

I had the amazing pleasure of getting to see My Gold Mask yet again last week.  There’s been so much going on in my life lately, that well, the concert sort of slipped through…  Don’t get the idea that this concert wasn’t anything special or note worthy — it was awesome.  I love Gretta and Jack and wish I knew the words to describe their music and the amazingness that is My Gold Mask.  It’s just awesome.  (It’s probably a good thing I do write music reviews for a living…)

Anyway… Jack & Gretta had a surprise for us: a completely awesome cover of Betty Davis Eyes.  And to cover a song with just two musicians, and have that cover work and sound great — that takes talent.  Also, this song demonstrates why I love Gretta’s voice.  (More videos can be found on my youtube channel.)

Another new band that caught my attention that opened that night was the New Canyons. They’re unique and fun… and I’ve seriously never met another band that has used a bow on an electric guitar…. (something I didn’t video tape — a goal for the future maybe?)

on audiences and concerts (it's okay, I'm with the band part 2)

Last night, my friend and bandmate David threw together an amazing benefit concert for the Latino Union… And my favorite band was among the few participating — Mucca Pazza.  No, unlike my last concert, I wasn’t on the list this time… but I wouldn’t want to be given that I wanted to support the Latino Union as well as see the show.

But continuing on from the previous post…  It’s true that an amazing audience can totally make the show.  Tony (one of MP’s percussionists) and I talked a little bit after the show about this.

Personally, I think it’s damn near impossible to stand still, let alone sit, during a Mucca Pazza show.  Last night I probably danced more than I have at previous shows.  A lot of this had to do with the amount of dancing around me.  Among some of my favorite dancers were my bandmates: David, B, Susie, Alex, Chantal, and Oliver…  All of us were up in the front rocking out and showing our love.  At at least one point I was actually dancing with Elanor (MP trombone player) and at another David was trying to push me into her… Just some concert fun.  In the end, we were all a hot, sweaty mess.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And again, I have to say I love seeing them rock out.  I could probably ramble on forever on how awesome I think they are, not only as musicians but just as people and friends.  This was my 8th Mucca Pazza concert since I first found out about them last June.  I have still yet to see a better live show.  (However, there aren’t too many shows that I’ll 1) dance that much, 2) make faces at the musicians — and them joke back, and 3) shout “I LOVE YOU RONNIE!!”)

During my own show — our debut show at that — I can attest that, again, the audience can make the show.  Tony said that you can have a crap performance but all killer audience, or you can play perfectly, but if the audience is just sitting there the show just doesn’t cut it… I think if B hadn’t gotten people out and dancing during our first song, it would have been rough.  But having the audience get into the music just gave us that much more energy — and I for one am very grateful.  In addition to having the audience out dancing and just showing their enjoyment, seeing my friends in the audience was a total treat.  To have their support means a lot.

So as I said last time, if you love the band, if you like their music… show it.  Have a blast, dance, cheer, shout… The musicians will love you for it — again, remember my warning about being a drunken dickwad… After the show, if you see one of the musicians, just a “hey, great job tonight” goes a long way.

it's okay, I'm with the band… (my gold mask concert)

Back in February, Dani and I stumbled upon a concert while joining up with some friends at the bottle…  Through the wonders of the interwebs, I have been able to sort of keep tabs on one of the bands and then recently found out they would be playing in my neighborhood… last night…

No worries though.  Not only did I make it to the concert, but my name made it on the list…  Though it was only my second show, My Gold Mask has been a joy to follow musically and online.  After that first show, we became myspace friends, and then there was some blog stalking, and then some twitter following… and then it all culminated in meeting last night after their set.

I can definitely say that Gretta and Jack (and their friends) are good people.  And having met a few musicians, and then finding that we get along, that’s made some of these experiences so much greater.  I love getting to see them preform, and to know that not only are they awesome performers and musicians, but also just kick ass people as well… it’s just too much, really.  (I can’t listen to my Lyon & the Notary album without smiling when I hear some great drumming, knowing all too well that it’s my friend Andy T playing… For me it makes me love the album more…)  Who knows, maybe it’s just that whole “artists are people too” thing…  I’m not saying that you should go out and bombard your latest aural crush and become besties with them.  There’s a good chance that may freak them out.  I think basically, what I want to say, is that if you like a band or an artist, tell them.  If you’re enjoying the concert, rock out.  Your energy and excitement will feed back into them and only good things can happen.  (Just don’t be the drunken dickwad who ruins it for everyone else… Please.)

Oh and fear not.  I accomplished what I promised to do… Behold, videos…. (more can be found via my youtube channel)

Also, I’ve added a new feature to the blog… There are a lot of happenings going on here in the Second City and so I’ve made my date book public.  You can check it out by the link in the upper left sidebar, right under “ticket stubs”…or right here.  I’ll only post “Wench Approved Events”…

so excited I might just explode

It has arrived!  After months of waiting, the day has finally come!

I’M GOING TO SEE FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS!!! FROM FIFTH ROW!!!!

[singlepic id=38 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Yeah, I’m going to be doing what Bret’s doing — leaping and bounding my way to my loves.  Go a head and say it.  I know what I am.  I’m fine being a fangirl.  I’m truly not that obsessed, but well, Mennogirl might report differently after tonight.

I lucked out, really.  Mennogirl and I had been talking about seeing the show, and she was able to get us access to presale tickets.  So at our respective computers we worked away until finally, after two failed attempts (one of which was losing 2 seats in the second to last row), I got them.  I got 2 fifth row tickets.  I nabbed them as soon as possible, not even really consulting with Mennogirl.

So now it’s here.  Mennogirl and I will be driving to the concert, since she has a further way to go back home.  Unfortunately, cameras aren’t allowed… at least from what I remember.  Either way, I don’t have my camera on me.  I actually don’t really know where it or my flip mino are… but that’s whatever.  It doesn’t matter now.  I will indeed document as much of the pre- and post-concert going with my lovely little camera phone.  So expect some low quality images.

Anyway… here’s a little bit of what you’ll be missing…