Saturday, April 5, 2014

House of Guitars and Albany

Rochester was a lovely surprise. There’s a lot of music packed into that town. Four vinyl stores including a really huge one called the Record Archive, (which we did not get to) the Eastman School of Music, and after the rather voluble denouement of several days of interpersonal friction, our tourist destination for the day: the House of Guitars. The store was organized like an Appalachian homestead, rooms seemingly tacked onto others, no real idea what of would lie around each corner. I’m not really in the mood to go into some reverie on all the obscure and rare models of guitars, amps, and ephemera there, but it was fun to see them in a Tantalus-like way. It’s not a store for people who can’t stand clutter though, especially the cavernous room with records and t-shirts. Shit was just everywhere; underfoot and stacked horder style. The truly cool thing was the owner, who became familiar from the hundreds of pictures on the wall featuring him posing with every artist you’ve ever heard of: Ringo Starr, Run D.M.C., John Entwistle, every metal band ever, and just on and on. As I made my way back to the front room I saw one of the rare instances where Chuck got to be all fanboy talking to him. His name is Armand Schaubroeck and he played drums in a band called the Churchmice, who put out a single in the late ‘60’s I believe, that Chuck still owns and loves. Super lo-fi, noisy garage rock. After that the dude was in a proto-punk band called Armand Schaubroeck Steals that was working a similar patch of ground as the Ramones around the same time. He told us a story of how they were sleeping in Grand Central Station and Andy Warhol got them a meeting with John Hammond II at Columbia Records. They looked and smelled so bad he was horrified and ask how they got into his office. After a bit Armand asked if we wanted to see the recording studio – because H.O.G. had had it’s own label for awhile, a la Shake It Records, and they had been recording bands there for 30 years. Neat to meet a guy, who seemed to be sincerely nice, who had experienced that much rock history.
            Still, we had to get our asses to Albany. We checked in to a hotel that served dinner buffet style to all its guests. God, I swear it smelled like beef stew laced with sterno and regret. (recent research claims humans can distinguish 1 trillion different odors – don’t tell me regret isn’t one of them) The main course appeared to be micro-waved grilled cheese but I chose the vegetarian’s delight of iceberg lettuce and potato chips made famous at wedding receptions the world over.

            The club was called the Low Beat and was in what we were told was a bad neighborhood. Seemed all right to me excepting the deeply disappointing eggplant parmesan sub I got across the street. The Low Beat was another cool little club (Rene’ did her homework well) of the dive variety. They were excited to see us, having somehow received the mistaken impression we were a big deal. They went so far as to tell the opening band they had to play on the floor in front of the stage so as to not disturb our gear. It took about an hour for us to convince them that we could easily push our equipment back so they could play on the stage. The opening band were really young and adorable, and when I told them they could use my bass amp the one kid said to the other, “I keep forgetting that non-New York bands are nice.” Lisa told him that’s the way it feels in everyone’s hometown scene.

So keep in mind this was a Monday in a town we’d never played, but it was our best night of the tour so far. A good-sized crowd of people were there who seemed really happy to see us. And finally, we played like ourselves again. Hell, we even got called back for our first encore of the tour. After the show I talked to a couple of guys who loved Ohio bands and used to go see the Dead Boys and Pere Ubu. I don’t know, I like our fans.

Tomorrow is Burlington:

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