The Most Objective Blog Post Ever
First off, the drummer they'd been rehearsing with all summer got called away with two weeks' notice, and they scrambled to find somebody to sit in. That somebody turned out to be Jay Tiller, who was pretty much the perfect drummer for this band. And he didn't sit in at the last minute and just phone it in, either. No, beyond blisters on me fingers, Tiller is a hard drummer who played it 110%, breaking sticks that flew into the audiece from physics, not showoffedness.
Second, due to other unavoidable issues, the first time all five of them played together was, well, Saturday night.
Third, well, I can't say I've seen Rick Franecki on a stage since before I started dating Brian.
I was actually a touch late. I missed the first two bands, locals Mutt Junction and Hoss. The verdict from everybody else I ran into there was that they were good. Mutt Junction was "prog, kind of spacey, kind of metal" and references to Uriah Heep were made. The word on Hoss was that they were good as well. Were you there? Please comment. I kind of feel bad that I didn't get in time to see them myself, but frankly, I was at the company picnic at the Zoo with my kiddos. When the choice is between "spend some quality time with Sammy and Stella at a free event at a wonderfully educational place that they love" OR "check out some local band that, if any good, will be playing out again soon enough" I'm going with my babies. Sorry Hoss and Mutt Junction. Next time.
And on top of that, I was still late for the beginning of F/i's set. "This is only their first song," Darrell "The Brains" Martin tried to assure me, but with F/i, "only one song" could be anywhere from 2 minutes to a half hour. Still, they were spacey, they were loud, they looked assured, but that comes from the self confidence of having been a band for some 25 years, and spoken of in the same sentences as phrases like "founding fathers of space rock" "krautrock rancouteurs" and the like. They weren't there to prove anything to anybody, but more to reassure us all that they're still out there, making music.
To that end, it was a good "Beginner's Guide to F/i" session. A couple of cuts from the most recent CD, "Blanga," a couple of early experiments, and of course they played the hits. "Looking For My Head" was, in my opinion, the only weak spot. If you didn't know the title of the song, you wouldn't have been able to understand it because they just weren't getting the effects to come through the PA right. It's a distorted effect on Franecki's voice that Grant Richter puts through his electronics, but I'm not sure if it got lost in the electronics or the sound board. But it really didn't matter. Between Tiller's relentless drums (that still managed to remain elegant in their precision and passion) and my husband's rhythmic lead playing (or is that leadish-rhythm?) keeping relative newcomer John Helwig's bass in line (Helwig couldn't make that last rehearsal and managed to wing it beautifully nevertheless), I found myself all over the room, taking it in (and taking photographs) both visually and aurally from all angles.
Still, after such a long time from the stage,
there was an unspoken "Phew" at the end of the set that followed another unspoken "Yeah, we're back!" and a wonderfully improvised encore called unanimously from the small but appreciative crowd that was there.
Look, this is my husband, and you really can't expect me to be objective about this. Still, these guys pretty much, if not invented their genre, took it further than anybody else did and laid the foundation. I liked them before I even knew what they looked like, much less suspected I'd ever sign over all my property rights and make babies with one of them. I think the big difference between F/i and many bands that use synths and electronics and effects and such, is, if you took all the noise and electronics out, you'd still have five people who think about experimenting with sound, but remain musical about it. That's a task a lot of would-be spacerockers or progeers still don't get. I wouldn't have wanted to follow them on this or any night, that's for sure.
But Austin's My Education did, and they were massively up to the task. They suffered in the beginning from some technical difficulties, and there were a few false starts, and nobody in the audience could tell if this was staged or not until they finally crashed into their first song, and then it was obvious that the false starts were indeed technical issues. Because, once they got going, they were simply majestic. The drummer is center stage and often stands up to hit his instrument, especially since he's a drummer who has to follow Jay Tiller. The violinist is upstage, and at the Miramar, that means bathed in diffused light that made him seem like some kind of prophet with his instrument. Bass and keyboards flank the drummer, and on the wings are two guitarists. Heavy on vintage pedals, effects, amplifiers, and looks. Heavy, period. Good heavy, as in, "Wow, man, that's some heavy tunage, maaaaaan." Chord progressions and dynamics smack out of "Lord of the Rings -- The Final Battle" or some other epic soundtrack straddling between antiquity, fantasy, and futururism, with a little punk rock attitude thrown in to counter their genuine passion for the music. I found myself both relaxing and headbanging to them.
Yes, there should have been more people there, and I probably would have promoted this differently then they did, and readers of this blog know I'm usually not shy about tounge-lashing people's self-promotion skills. But the way I would have promoted this would have been a lot more shameless, bordering on sensationally tacky, and that's just not their style. I had a hard enough time shooting F/i as a objective photojournalist as it was. Remember, I've always said that getting involved with your SO's band is a recipe for disaster, so I'll stop writing now. The last person Brian needs to be married to is Jeannine Pettibone-St.Hubbins.