Get Yourself Some In-Ears, Drummers

Heading into the Mike Mills gig, I got some Shure In-Ear Monitors, knowing that a big wedge that would allow me to hear the rest of the band would be a real deal-breaker for playing on stage with a string orchestra. I got a set of Shure SE 535s and I drive them with a P9HW wired body pack. It worked great in Toronto. Currently, I'm using the big, squishy black foam tips that come with the SE 535s, but I have molds for custom inserts on file with the audiologist and I'm thinking about ordering some fitted inserts. The black foam tips provide what seems to be about 23-30 dB of attenuation (a purely subjective guess), which is good for getting things down out of the pain-zone. 

Over the weekend, Five Eight played two shows: Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta and the Mainstage at AthFest. Both shows had powered wedges for the drum riser, so I was able to simply disconnect the top wedge's XLR cable and go into my wired pack, then talk to the monitor engineer about my mix. These were my first rock gigs using In-Ear Monitors. Here's what I realized: It's much easier to control tempos and to navigate the gig if I can turn the volume in my ears up and down as I need to. The P9HW body pack has an independent volume knob and with the sound attenuation of the foam tips, I am not overwhelmed by the drum sound or the stage volume of the guitars, and I generally have a less stressful, more sane gig. Now I'm an In-Ear evangelist. I don't know why I waited so long to get some. 

I'm thinking of getting a Tama Rhythm Watch for gigs that require a click and using a small 4-channel mixer to put it in the Ears. That'll give me the perfect package: All pocket, no panic. 

 

 

Heading to Toronto with Mike Mills and a gang of rock stars.

As Mike said on his Twitter account: "Ok, folks, it's on. Rock band + violin + strings = awesomeness. Come see us." October 17th at the Toronto Symphony! 

Easily the most raw talent with whom I've ever shared a stage: Mike Mills (bass, guitar, piano), Robert McDuffie (violin), William Tonks (guitar), John Neff (guitar), and the string section of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. No pressure. 

Watch my Instagram account ( https://www.instagram.com/dontfeartheringo/ ) for photo updates and my Twitter account ( https://twitter.com/dontfearthringo ) for anecdotes from the journey. 

Hell yes, I'm stoked.

Albany, GA is a sweaty place. Yessir.

I don't know what kind of maniac agrees to do two sets outdoors in Albany, GA in June, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Powder Room and Five Eight played the 20th Anniversary BBQ for the Oglethorpe Lounge in bustling Albany, GA. I love these shows in small towns, no lie. When you bring a good rock band to a place like Albany, you get the whole town because there's not a whole lot going on to compete with you.

Also, I grew up in a little town like Albany. There's something both stifling and liberating about a place like Albany, GA. You spend your whole life bucking to get out of a town like that, then you get somewhere bigger, ostensibly "better," and you realize that the friends you had in your stifling home town were in some ways more diverse, weird, and interesting than the spit-and-polish, 9-to-5 zombies you co-exist with in a place like Atlanta. You have to hustle so hard to make it in the urban world, but a place like Albany, you can just settle into a genteel weirdness that can last a lifetime. 

The Oglethorpe Lounge is an interesting place. I suspect it's a great place to fall in lust and make other mistakes. The Oglethorpe was originally a bank, then a liquor store, then it because the bar that it is today. You can buy all manner of fine beverages there, and some not-so-fine, also Nekots and other Lance snacks (Southerners will understand), smokes, maybe a pig's foot. I feel like I'm in an episode of Starsky and Hutch when I'm in sitting at the bar there. The fact that it's no older than the internet is weird. It seems like a place to meet up with a smoky-eyed fallen woman who could give you the inside skinny on how to get the drop on that motherfucker, Shaft. I'm not saying a murder was ever planned at the Oglethorpe, but a smart man wouldn't bet against it.

The show itself was outside, in the drive-through that separates the bar from the storage area. It was sweltering and swampy out there. Powder Room crushed it. Playing with Gene and Bubba is sometimes like being in some sort of weird cross between Black Flag and the Marines. We write a set and rehearse it, then rehearse it again, then rehearse it some more. The set starts and it's like being strapped to the front of a locomotive, muscle memory and adrenaline combining in a blur. I remember a series of impressions: the crowd silhouetted against the white lights, the dinosaur sound of Gene's guitar, lightning flashing in the black sky as a thunderstorm rolled in. The rain really started coming down about halfway through the set, and there was black water rushing beneath the audience's feet and towards the stage. Fortunately, all electrical equipment was elevated, so no one died.

I absolutely soaked through my clothes. I may as well have been swimming. 

As soon as the set was over, I went and stood in front of the fan while Volt played a blistering set indoors. (Those boys never disappoint.) I almost got my shirt dry before Five Eight played. We opened with our version of the Velvet Underground's "Can't Stand It Any More" and I was soaking wet again. Five Eight must have played 90 minutes. It was great but also pretty tiring at that point. I managed to acquit myself with honor and to not blister my hands too badly.

The crowd was fantastic- attentive and generous and happy that we were there. Small town crowds are special- they introduce you like family when they bring their friends over to buy a t-shirt or get an autograph. I went inside to get a little air-conditioning, and the smoke was thick, the air cold, the people very drunk and happy. It was all very good.

Thanks to Alison and Jimmy for having us. Thanks to Volt, LaBete, and Pretty Penny for also playing great sets. See y'all next time.