Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fending/Matis tour: "Malibu Death March"

I just finished up a little mini-tour with Brian Fending. Last summer, we recorded an album in Minneapolis. It's being released on a local label called SocketsCDR. So, my thinking was, we'll get the album ready to go and then play a few shows to announce the cd release. Things didn't quite work out so smoothly. We started booking the tour about three months in advance. Two venues that were lined up right away were in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Two weeks before we hit the road, we learned that both of those shows fell through. Our friends in Philly scrambled to get us booked at another venue, and we removed Pittsburgh from our itinerary - and played a last minute show in DC instead. I opted out of our Buffalo show and Brian got a sub for that night, which made the logistics much simpler and cut our losses significantly. Oh yeah, and the CD isn't quite released. We made a small batch, but the packaging isn't quite as nice as I'd hoped. But at least we had something on-hand to take on the road.

Brian's Chevy Malibu had a few troubles. The check-engine light gave us a scare while we were in Manhattan, but it went out the next day for no apparent reason. Before heading to Philly, one of his tires went flat. Fortunately he just needed a new valve stem which took ten minutes and under twenty dollars. Otherwise, logistics went smoothly. Brian and Rachel are shopping for a new car.

First stop was New York City. We haven't played there since 2001 (as part of Gray Code at the Knitting Factory) so we made up for lost time by playing two shows in one night. One very warm Sunday night. First show was 8pm at ABC No Rio, part of their COMA improvised music series. No a/c in that place, so it was warm. Our set was ok, not our best, but we hadn't played together in a year so we got reacquainted. Audience size was about 8 or 10. Loaded out and headed up the street to CBGB's Gallery for our 11pm show. Another audience of 8 - 10. Only two of them in the actual gallery, rest at the bar in back. Cameron says the people at the bar were listening and enjoyed it. This set was much more "rock." Louder, darker. Our only paid gig on the tour - we made $4.25. Seriously. Another load out, and off to Cameron's friend Amy's parents' home on the upper west side. Nice to have friends who have friends in New York whose parents summer in the Berkshires. Load the gear out, into the apartment. Park the cars.

Next morning (Monday), shuffled the cars and gear. Checked Brian's check-engine light. Quick breakfast and drive back to DC. Much less traffic on Monday. Made it back in time to cook some dinner before heading off to the show at The Red and The Black - a new venue in northeast DC. John Berndt generously agreed to come down and play a double bill with us, and brought his new band, "Death in the Maze." Two people in the audience for this show. Music was good, though.

Tuesday, off to Philadelphia. We stayed with a friend of Brian's from grad school, Elton, who lives in Suffolk, New Jersey - about 30 minutes outside of Philly. Elton was awfully nice and a generous host. We piled all the gear into his truck and the three of us headed into the city for dinner at Gianna's Grille (vegan steak and cheese. mmm.). Then off to the venue, The Avant Gentlemen's Lodge. The neighborhood made Elton very nervous about his truck (with good reason, I think). We opened the show, which was very well attended thanks to the rest of the bill: Satanized, Mary Halvorson and Jess Pavone, and The Flying Luttenbachers. The venue seems to be a group house with a large garage that's been turned into a venue. Audience was really listening. Such a nice change (to have people in the room - and then to have them listen). A real treat. Interesting scene up there in Philly. We didn't stay for the Luttenbachers so Elton could get his truck safely returned to the 'burbs.

Wednesday morning, Brian and I parted ways. I returned to DC (Hyattsville) and he drove back to Buffalo. Zero CD sales, and we lost a bunch of money. Looks like this kind of DIY touring may not be the best model for Fending/Matis… In any event, it was great fun to play with Brian every night for a few days. Hopefully we'll get the business side worked out a little better - and we'll be letting you all know when the CD is "officially" released. For now, you can hear a few tracks on our myspace page.

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