Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Hero Cycle & Fire the Cannons | Positive Pie II | May 19th | UPDATE

Let me right up front say I'm a moron. I had taken pictures of the show but just accidentally deleted them rather than downloaded them. I've never made that mistake before. Oh, well. I'd rather have it happen with concert photos than shots of the kids or something important. But it's still frustrating and rather stupid.

Thankfully, jds is more on the ball and has loaded a bunch of his shots from the show to his flickr account. Plus, he's been kind to let me use a few. So, the pictures here are his.

Now I have that out of the way, let's talk about the show. After a music filled day of the VPR meeting in the morning, recording a brief interview in Burlington for a super double-secret project by filmmaker Bill Simmons of Candleblog fame and swinging by the Smalldog Electronics showroom to check out their weekend sale on used and refurbished iPods (my 20 GB is maxed out), it was time to cap such a fine day with a good local show.

I wasn't 100% positive what time the show was supposed to start because I had heard both 9:30 and 10pm. Since, my main interest of the night was catching The Hero Cycle and Fire the Cannons and they were supposed to be the second and third bands of the night, I decided to get down there around 10pm. I had been up until 4am the night before and was running on about 2 1/2 hours of sleep. So, I didn't want to get down there and wait around a long time.

I got down there and found a few friends including local bloggers k, jds and bobby domino. It's funny to go to these local shows now and finding a bit of a "scene". I'd guess there were about 100 people there which is pretty good; it made the room feel active.

Overall, I had a great time during the show. However, I have two complaints right off the bat.

The first is that the show didn't start until about 10:40. The fact is that it wasn't a late arriving crowd. Everyone that was in the room when the bands started had been there since 10pm. Just get on with it for chissakes. Perhaps, I was just being cranky since I had slept so little the night before but if you have four bands to play and the room is two-thirds full, just start playing. Then to exasperate the situation, Sharron Van Etten came on first. She plays solo with an acoustic guitar which I'm sure works well in certain settings but not when it's late and there are a lot of bands to get through and I'm running on fumes.

It reminded me of the Amnesty International concert at Giants Stadium when I was in high school. After a long day in the sun listening to a dozen or so bands, there were only two bands left to perform...U2 and a Police reunion. So, the only energy the fans have left is andrenelin in anticipation of the two big acts. So, what do the organizers do???? They send Joni Mitchell out as a surprise guest with just an acoustic guitar. After about two songs, Mitchell was booed off the stage by tired and annoyed fans.

Van Etten wasn't booed off the stage and didn't deserve anything like that. In fact, most people there seemed to enjoy her. However, for me, it was draining to hear her folk songs after waiting a long time on little sleep.

After a few songs, Van Etten left and The Hero Cycle started. I am completely in love with the tunes they've put up on their myspace page. Great textured sound with lots of hooks to pull you in. However, this was their first show ever so they may not have been aware of how their sound would work live. Because they cranked that sound system up SO DAMN LOUD! It was so loud that it was actually funny. I just started laughing. However, then I realized I couldn't hear myself laughing which just made me laugh even harder. It completely overwhelmed anything they were trying to do on stage. The only thing I can compare it to is the sonic blowout that Sonic Youth does at the end of their sets where you feel the vibrations against your innards.

Towards the end of their six-song set, the owner of Positive Pie seemed to tell them to turn it down a little which helped. By the time they closed with "You vs Them", it actually sounded pretty good.

After another brief set by Sharon Van Etten, Fire the Cannons came on. For their set, I moved from the back of the room to the side of the stage. I could certainly see better since the column was now out of my way. However, their sound was poor also. The drummer just overwhlemed the guitar bass and vocals. They seemed to have gotten rid of their drummer since I last saw them in January and this guy wasn't any better. He had a boring style and was so loud that it dominated their sound. I enjoyed them more in January but I'm not going to hold this show against them because it was hampered by sound problems. They still have good songs. We just couldn't hear them because the drummer was mixed too loud.

I think Positive Pie is a tough room to get good sounds out of because bands can't sound check while people are eating dinner and the room is filled with bricks, glass and cement. Nothing absorbs the sounds excpet for all the fleece in the crowd.

Around 12:30, I called it a night. So, I missed Carrigan's performance. However, I heard that they showed their experience by cleaning up the sound problems and playing a good set.

UPDATE: I received an email from Frank Smecker of The Hero Cycle explaining the sound problems and the delay. His comments support the issues Shawn raised in the comments.

By the way, The Hero Cycle and Fire the Cannons will be playing together again on Thursday, July 13th at Club Metronome in Burlington. I'm guessing the sound issues they dealt with at PPII won't hamper their set there.

Thanks for making it out to the show in Montpelier and we apologize for the antagonizing antics of the night. You werent the only one feeling frustration though, as every member of each band felt the same. First off, we arrived at 7 being told to get there so we could rewire a PA to handle the night's worth of music. At 7 the promoter was no where to be found and the owner of PPII said not until 8 30 could we set up. It wasnt until 9 45 when we were given access to set up, on top of Sharon who arrived 2 hours late from being stopped at the border from a previous show the night before in Montreal. As for the sound, we realized at 10 30 we couldnt wait any longer and still had more setting up to do with the PA, decided to say fuck it and just get up there. We were frustrated as well as Carrigan , because they relied more on the PA than we did. So frustration was in the air. However as the night went on, each band kind of learned from each others mistakes and by the end of the night sound gradually got better. Again thanks for coming out and taking pics, do catch us next time.



K. said...

"...the room is filled with bricks, glass and cement. Nothing absorbs the sounds excpet for all the fleece in the crowd."

Zing! Nice. Very nice. Too bad we missed the Wombaticus Rex show.

casey said...

Ah... I had been waiting for your report!

I wasn't there, but my guess is that you completely nailed it.

Too bad you missed Carrigan. Those dudes know what they're doing.

kingdomforavoice said...

I can vouch for the Hero Factor, i caught them in Tulsa last year and they sounded great but then again they were in the Cain's Ballroom one of the best places in Oklahoma for live shows.

kingdomforavoice said...

Oh crap you were talking about the Hero Cycle not the Hero Factor... Well if the Hero Factor makes it up your way check it out.

Shawn Flanigan said...

Thanks for coming buy...sorry the sound sucked so bad. We tried to get in early to get things set up on time, but noone was there to help us.'s really too bad you missed Carrigan though, by the time they had gotten on stage we had all figured out what exactly needed to happen and they played an incredible set.

Anyhow, it's always nice to hear an honest review...

casey said...

I've only been to one "show" at PPII and it was hip-hop, so I have no idea what the room is really like. But I know how it can be when the stage volume doesn't equate to what folks in the audience are hearing. It's very frustrating.

I hope to hear Hero Cycle closer to home at some point soon, and in better conditions. I would've gone to this show, but I had to get up early on Saturday to literally write ALL day!

bobby domino said...

you nailed it flaty, that place sucks. i look forward to seeing the hero cycle again. even though the sound was uncomfortably bad throughout the night and the drummers seemed to only know how to chop wood, there were hints at some intresting sounds. I must ask, why do drummers feel the need to play as loud as they can every second of the show? when did "dynamics" become so unimportant in the local band setting?

Flatlander said...

I don't know if the place sucks. I like hanging out there. Plus, anyone willing to bring live music to town (and good pizza) is AOK in my book. Plus, they're showing the World Cup games there this summer which should be fun.

But, to Shawn's point, someone from the club definitely needs to be available to help the bands with the sound. It's proving to be a tricky room for sound. So, Positive Pie should have an employee there to help the bands. Just to give some tips on the best way to set up the sound for the room.

bobby domino said...

sorry flatlander,
i should have said...

you nailed it (show review). i think that room can be quite difficult at times (sonically speaking).

Thirtyseven said...

Yes, it is too bad you missed the Wombaticus Rex show.