That's How Summer It Is

Buckethead faithful
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Well, you can spend a beautiful weekend perched upon the banks of the Milwaukee River watching an array of fine musicians, or you can spend half of it restoring the data from a dying hard drive. I suppose the alternative -- cursing everybody in the world because you don't do backups -- is a lot less palatable, but if I was going to spend almost all my Saturday babysitting a restore job, couldn't it have been a crappy, rainy Saturday instead of a picture perfect one? Still, I'm glad I've become a backup devotee in my old age. One hard drive crash a few years back taught me a lesson (and even then, I had the really crucial stuff burned onto CDs -- I only lost two "rolls" of really nice shots). So this morning I spent a couple of hours at the Genius desk at the Mayfair Apple store, going over my restore plan and then my subsequent new backup schema, and making sure that my plan and new schema were solid and based on my needs and uses, and then came home and got started. I didn't even have a full-on crash -- but I know a dying hard drive when I hear one, and I heard one. Today I ran errands, worked with Sammy on his new bike, even put in a few hours at the office between tedious 100-gig file transfers, but now I have a smooth running system once again. And this is how summer it is: even though I missed a lot of today by spending it in front of a computer, I'm confident enough that this won't be the last beautiful day for seven more weeks, like it has been lately.

Friday, as I knew I would, I went and checked out Substitute - Tales From the Who at Riversplash, in Pere Marquette Park. I should have known what would come later, when it seemed like four security guys approached me on my bike and barked out "You'll have to walk that" that something was going to be tight. I met Brian and the kids, who'd already sampled some chicken fried rice, some gyros, some ice cream, but only a couple of songs from Mark Shurilla and the Greatest Hits. I had a gyro myself from Aladdin, and settled in for a few sets. God Bless 'em, Substitute still does the entire "A Quick One While He's Away" suit, and the hardcore Who fans in the audience (wearing old tour shirts from when Keith was still alive) appreciated it as much as I did. Spotted in the crowd: Mark G.E, whose kid and Sammy rekindled a friendship they had started about a year ago when we'd run into each other at the Downtown YMCA. Last night, they found they had quite a bit in common: "We're both four year old boys! We like to run around! Let's party!"

That 1 Guy
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
The big draw Friday night was Buckethead, with an appropriately named act -- "That One Guy" -- opening for him. That One Guy turned out to be this one guy who you could tell got his start as a street performer, complete with floppy hat, stringy hair, interesting facial hair, and a scraggly voice that suggested he'd listened to more than a few Tom Waits records in his lifetime. His main instrument was this part percussion, part harmonic thing that looked like it had a former life as a vacuum cleaner extension. It was then electronically amplified and produced a sound that Mark G.E. nailed: "It reminds me of something the Blue Man Group would do." Sometimes That One Guy would sing along in a very Waits-like style, sometimes he pounded on this instrument like he was wishing it was a bass and he was Bootsy Collins, sometimes he'd break out a saw and play it, and he had plenty of other electronically-amped and distorted sounds. It was very cool -- for about 20-25 minutes. Then, frankly, it started to get old. It was the kind of set that should go no longer than 30 minutes, but this guy seemed to go on forEVER. And it wasn't because I was waiting for Buckethead. Except for a bit of big-band style slapping at the end, he really didn't vary his dynamics or tempo or delivery, and while i really liked him, I got tired of him. I'm sure John Frankovic wasn't the first one to say this, but he was the first one to say this to me and That One Guy would do very well to take Frankovic's advice: "Never play a set too long. Always leave them wanting."

And on top of that, you'd think the pope was about to play, given the security that was thick in the park. The whole dance area became forbidden -- something I've never seen at Pere Marquette park, and I've seen some legendary acts there. Get over yourselves, Buckethead and people.

Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So Buckethead takes the stage. He's blowing me away for about 10-15 minutes and then I realize, "This is it." Like That One Guy, he could play, and he was quite amazing. But then after a while, I realized this was going to be it all night. It was just shredding and shredding and shredding over a bunch of tape loops. The bucket on his head is just that, a bucket on his head and that schtick got him his fame but it would be OK if he dropped it. Brian put it best: "Whatever. I've seen Steve Vai and I've seen Yngvie Malmsteen." Yes, the guy can play. Yes, he's got a great bag of licks. Yes, he's got a bucket on his head. Because after about 20 minutes, we got the point. You can play, Buckethead. Good for you. Now move me. At least That One Guy put some variety into his overly long set; Stella preferred him overall and I agree with her. I'd probably pick up That One Guy's CD when I get a chance, but I think I'd pass on ol Buckethead, or stick to the stuff he collaborates with other, live musicians.

I'd ridden my bike to the fest, so Brian drove the kids home, and I rode my bike, and I have finally declared it Summer. Not because of the temperature, and not because the first festival is kicking in, and not even because I hear the wonderful "tink" of a bat hitting a ball at the park across the street from my house. No, this was because on my way home on my bicycle, I'm stopped at a traffic light, and a pack of bikers (that's motorcycle guys) files up beside me, all of us waiting for the light to turn green. "Great night to be on a bike, eh?" I said to the bikers. "Yes, maam," the 'leader' acknowledged, smiling back at me in agreement, clearly as happy as I was that nights like this are finally here. Yes, it's summer. Finally. I'm going to the sold-out Brewer game tomorrow, that's how summer it is.


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