The Gentleman Loser

Thoughts and Musings of a Loser

FRIDAY NIGHT (or Saturday morning)

It’s 4am and I am driving around Madison. Too awake to go back home and not ready to call it a night. I checked out the official afterparty. It wasn’t for me. Immediately I was greeted by a drunk fratboy yelling “Brandon!” at me. Clearly I was in the wrong environment, and clearly, my name was not Brandon.


So now I am just driving aimlessly around Madison, the streets eerily empty this time of night. I’m listening to “I knew that you knew” by The Love Generation. I’d change the radio, but there wouldn’t be anything else on anyway. I want to smoke a cigarette, but I’m out of matches. Doesn’t matter though, Denny’s is on the horizon and I can start writing all this down.

Last night I had the singular pleasure of opening the Reverence Showcase of Forward Fest at The Frequency. We had been practicing and writing new material for almost two months leading up to the show. It was a success and I could now start enjoying the shows.

The Dark Clan played after us. Dan looked like a pirate. A far cry from the image portrayed in their previous album “The Vampire Wore White.” But perhaps a proper choice for their new EP “Goths on a Boat” which I was too drunk to remember to pick up.

As I am writing this, something like half of the performers for tomorrow night’s Reverence lineup walk into the restaurant, say “Hi,” and take a seat in the booth on the other side of the room. I am suddenly conscious that I am still wearing my “artist” pass.

Thursday night concluded for me with two more bands in the Reverence lineup. The Atomica Project brought their trip-hoppy sound and provided a nice segway from Dark Clan’s rock to glassGhosts’s dark atmospheric goth.   Atomica does a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “We’re In This Together” a nice reminder of the band who recently played their last show.   glassGhosts then wrap the night up with one of their strongest performances ever. Vocals were perfect, and the sound mixing was more balanced than ever. For their stage show, a man dressed as a skeleton appears to resurrect a dead lover by turning her into a marionette puppet, only to have her escape her bonds and do the same to him.

Tonite played out differently thought. Due to clusterfuckary in the festival schedule I was unable to see three of the bands I planned on catching: Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Sleeping in the Aviary, and The Gusto. So my home base for the night was mainly The Orpheum for the Reverence and Wongz Wok showcases.

Pezzettino stomps at The Orpheum Lobby

First up for me was Pezzettino, energetic accordion rock from Milwaukee.  Margaret Stutt stomps on the cement floor in her stockings while working the accordion like it were a living thing in her hands.  Needless to say, I was impressed.

The New Loud was, well, quite loud, though audio issues kept Jessi’s vocals from having their proper impact.  She was visibly frustrated by the problems, but compensated by screaming that extra bit harder.  I was about to leave to The High Noon to try to catch Margot, but was duly informed that I should check out the next band Terrior Bute and I was glad I did.  I have no idea how to describe them except to say that it was like a controlled fusion reaction occurring in a small corner of The Orpheum Lobby.  Bonus points to having the equipment cabling hang from the overhanging stairs down to the band.

Arriving at The High Noon Saloon, I was surprised to not be hearing any music.  Shortly thereafter I was informed that the band just getting on the stage was the first band, and the show had been delayed something like an hour and a half from it’s start time.  I stayed to watch the first band Princeton.   Wow, they sucked.  They were dreary and the singer seemed to be trying to emulate John Lennon crossed with The Weakerthans.  Then they finish their set with a cheesy synthpop wannabe song that made me lose faith in humanity.

I realized that I wouldn’t be able to stay here long enough to see Sleeping in the Aviary nor Margot.  As it turned out, Sleeping in the Aviary got moved to the end of the night anyway, and played a really weird long and possibly improvised song.  Margot played with only 2 of the band members present.  So basically both of the bands I had went there to see but couldn’t ended up played really unique sets that would have been a great experience to see.  It wasn’t a total wash, I picked up some vinyl from both bands at the merch booth as a consolation.

Terrior Bute 1

The second band, Archie Powell and the Exports were a breath of fresh air though.  I resolved to catch a few of their songs before leaving for The Corral Room.  I go up nice and close to the front of the stage.  Ra Ra Riot’s gear was piled up in front of me and made a nice place to stash my newly bought records and rest my camera on.  Archie et. all played good old fashioned rock with more than a few nods to classic rock roots.  The vocal styles reminded me The Selfish Gene songs where Webber did the vocals.  What ever happened to that guy?

I then went to The Corral Room hoping to catch a few songs by The Gusto before heading back to The Orpheum for Cyanotic.  Unfortunately I found that not only had none of the bands started, but The Gusto had been pre-empted by one of the bands from the showcase that got bumped over from that showcase running too long.  So my stop there was useless, though I ran into my brother which was nice, and was able to apologize to Jason at least for missing the show.

Back at The Orpheum, Los Bastardos Guapos was in the middle of their set.  Pretty much exactly what I expected from them, except louder and harsher.  Industrial beats, faux Mexican accents,  tequila, sombreros and calling cards for escort services.  Cyanotic’s set was intense.  Probably the most metal-infused I have heard industrial music be, while still being decidedly industrial-styled.  Lots of songs about society, drugs and decadence.


I closed the night out with YACHT out in the lobby.  A band with their own built in cult-like  belief system was a must see (though YACHT is not a cult and would like you to know this).  Arriving through the back entrance I immediately could smell pot smoke, something I would never have expected within The Orpheum.  Looking at the mass of bodies in the center of the lobby, it was clear that the audience was thoroughly indoctrinated.  There was trippy (often alternating) black and while video splashed across a wall.  The bass vibrating through the projector made the video stranger still, giving it a stuttering quality.  Jona is in the middle of the crowd holding a microphone dressed all in white like a preacher.  Earlier in the set he was dressed all in black.  The duality of lightness and darkness is a big deal with this band and more information about their philosophy can be found on their website.

And so, having now finished eating my Taking Back Sunday-branded Denny’s late night meal, I end this rambling scrawl, snag a book of matches, and head home.

SATURDAY NIGHT (or Sunday morning)

I’m tired.  I smell.  The rather cold night’s air has dried off all the sweat though, and a trip to Woodman’s (where I ran into fellow Reverence-goers) yielded some butternut squash ravioli that is currently in a boiling pot in my kitchen.  The day started out nice.  Slept in (as was necessary) and woke up hangover-free.  Relaxed.  Ripped video footage from my Thursday performance as well as footage from Cyanotic’s performance last night.  Then headed out to The Frequency to start things out with a little bit of Little Red Wolf.

Little Red Wolf 3

It was the right way to ease into things.  A beautiful sunny day, though merely warm, not hot, with a slight breeze.  Too calm to just jump into the Reverence Showcase which I would be spending the remainder of the day at.  Their music was mostly a mellow experience to soothe me into the afternoon.  Though that changed.  We saw Emily Mills play the accordion (hot damn, two accordion acts in one festival) and that eventually gave way into “Bella In the Elm” which saw the tempo and the volume rise considerably.   The band members all changed places and the closing track brought things back down, though only a little.  I did my best to help them move some equipment back to their van and then I raced off to The Inferno to catch Parasite Twin.

Parasite Twin put on a good third year Reverence performance.  The vocals on Twins of Pleasure seemed somehow improved, but only hearing the song once a year made the change hard to pinpoint.  Of course there was their new cover of Lady GaGa’s “Pokerface” which was a real crowd pleaser in it’s irreverence.  That lead into Captive Six’s first live performance.  Powerful basslines and drums meshed with distorted vocals and samples.  Sadly their merch box got misplaced by the airline and apparently ended up in Texas.

Perhaps CTRL, hailing from Austin, could have brought it back.  Instead they brought the noise (did you see what I did there, I am such a wordsmith).  CTRL brought your standard level of industrial harshness but the vocals were more melodic and position them to stand out a bit from the crowd.  Sensuous Enemy was up next with their seductive brand of electronica.  Near the end of the set they busted out a cover of Garbage’s “Push It” that appropriately pleased the Madison crowd.  Cover’s seemed to be hot that night, as  Null Device pulled out quite the surprise with a cover of Jace Everett’s “Bad Things,” best known from the intro music to True Blood.  In addition to that, Dan Clark from The Dark Clan got called up to stage and together they did a companion piece to Dark Clan’s “Lestat in Cuba” called “Lestat in Punjab” which complemented Null Device’s diverse middle east to eastern instrumentations.

Alter der Ruin 3

Alter der Ruin pretty much stole the show though.  Intense beats, samples, and unrepenting glitch made this band almost an endurance challenge.  Bonus points go to both keyboardists using apparent home made keytars with Kaossilator attachments.  Did I mention that they were wireless?  Yeah they were, and one of the keyboardists repeatedly bulldozed through the audience.

The Gothsicles started off their set with a little video making light of the fact that they had to follow Alter der Ruin, though they didn’t need to worry.  The crowd was wound up and ready to shout along to “Konami Code IV” and freak out to “Nine Dudes Freaking Out.”  They successfully debuted a song about a video game I have never heard of.  Then Matt Fanale of Caustic got on stage as his alter-ego “Sega Lugosi” to sing about balls.

Izoloscope finished out the set with brutal beats.  He would seemingly come to the end of a song only to punch you in the face with a full throttle return of force.  Following his set, Caustic announced that he would do a surprise performance since he was cut from the previous night’s lineup to do festival mishaps.  He debuted a new track called “Shrapnel Condition” and though my earplugs made his vocals less intelligible that usual, the crowd ate it up.

Click HERE to see photographs from the fest.

Old FakeLast weekend spent a lot of time at The Frequency watching some good acts including Cemetery Improvement Society, The Revolving Doors, Old Fake, Child Bite and Sally Grundy.

This was the first time that I got a chance to see Cemetery Improvement Society since they became a two band act. The last time I had saw them is when I was the opening act for one of their shows at The Annex, and I was (due to post show celebratories) incredibly inebriated, and only remembered how much I enjoyed the show but no details, except that the dude played the guitar like he was fighting with it. This time around, I enjoyed them, but I suspect for a very different reason. The effect of a second mind (new member Russell Paul) in the mix has resulted in something slightly different, but more solid, and the balance between rock and techno has been tipped (paradoxically, and probably for the best) a bit more toward the rock direction. I suggest you check out THIS LINK to The Isthmus to listen to the track “Sixth Severance” to get an idea of what I mean.

They have  a CD out called “Lonely Dog Island” and it runs the gamut of bleeps and bloops, guitar wankery (the good kind), and irreverent pokes at pop music.  Live, they performed a pastache’ of pop songs that seemed like an adaptation of their CD track “Drunk Up The Jams”.  This wouldn’t be a first for CIS, as the previous release, an acetate CD EP called “You Are Lucky”, contained a cover of Pat Benatar’s song “Love is a Battlefield” that was at once perverse and catchy.  I look forward to seeing them again at the MAMA’s Afterparty.

Child Bite 1

In the two nights of music that I had taken in, I had also seen The Revolving Doors and Old Fake. Both bands were enjoyable. However, and this is not meant to be a diss, I don’t remember much about them at this time (this article is, after all, written several weeks after the fact).

What I do remember, above all, is the band Child Bite. I had no idea what was in store for me with this band, and I still don’t know exactly what to call their music. It’s almost metal, but still good old fashioned rock, but with the energetic intensity of punk music without the trashy trappings. For possibly the first half of their set, I wasn’t especially reeled in, and made a few trips to the bar.  They were maybe a little bit too metal (not in that fortunately dead NuMetal sort of way, but in something more akin to simply really hard rock) or maybe their long scary beards distracted me.  However, after a little while they got the audience, and myself quite wound up.

At one point of the show, I was busy shooting photos of the lead singer and I looked up from my camera to see that the guitarist had disappeared.

Child Bite 3

Scanning over the room, I found him, with his wireless guitar, rocking out in the face of the guy who stamps your hands when you pay cover. On his way back, he was kind enough to tap me on the shoulder and pose on one of the bar stools (the photo is below). Their set ended with the lead singer climbing up and around the amps and rather dramatically falling off them, onto the floor, out of the sight of the crowd. Great fun.

The last band was Sally Grundy. Seeing that I had already made the acquaintance of this band via their bass player, I was long overdue to hear them perform. First off, the stage set up and the way the band presents themselves is very well tailored. The sodium flare of an old TV set flickers away in the background, while what sounds like a 70′s era hygiene instructional plays on an old record player.

Sally Grundy 2

The disembodied legs of a mannequin seal the deal. Musically, they seem reminiscent of early Nirvana, blended with a little bit of Sonic Youth which surprised me because I had listened to an audio tape demo (such a great, and sorely missed format) that they had produced of some of their songs and found it to have a very different quality entirely, something of a similar era, but altogether different.  The show was entertaining, slightly sleazy, and perhaps a little dreary.

They have an EP out, and it’s four tracks are dutifully performed.  It’s a pretty decent little record, probably good for listening to while smoking cigarettes on a porch during a rain storm, probably good to listen to while fucking as well.  Short EP aside, this band has an extensive repertoire of songs to choose from when playing live.

The live show itself was pretty standard (though since this show, I have seen them at smaller venues such as The Wisco, and they get ROWDY) and perhaps a little tame.  My only complaint was that the show itself seemed a little sloppy.

Sally Grundy 1

The stopping to restring the guitar, while affording the audience time to get another beer, or listen to the record player, was perhaps a bit much.  But hey, it’s a bar, it’s a show, and maybe it all was pre-planned in a ploy to make us all go “What the Fuck” right before dropping a sonic brick on our heads.

A nice long weekend.  Lots of shows, and a thirst for more.  Lots of Ale Asylum’s fantastic Ambergeddon (The Frequency has it on tap!).  All and all, I went to work the next morning paying for it, but not regretting one bit.

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As I walk in, I hear civilized gentry music as Alan! and Caustic take turns reading from books that could only have titles like “HTML & Javascript for Beginners”, “Bible Passages for the Elderly” and “New Employee Orientation Guide for Pasta A-Go-Go.”

This continues for about an eternity. People are talking about grilled cheese sandwiches, I can smell them, but I can’t see the evidence of one anywhere. Then we get what seems like it could be a screwed version of a Public Enemy song mixed with opera music. I’m not sure.

Around the entrance to The Inferno, is a battlefield of toy soldiers. To the left of them, a pile of contraceptives and lube with a sign next to them that says, “These are for Eating.” A deluge of 80′s pop and hair rock spews out of the speakers like bile. I just order more drinks. I curse Nick for telling me about this, and swear that I will murder and eat him. Just then Alan! dumps a pile of bacon off next to me at the bar, I want to partake, but I’m worried about the implications of doing so. I order more drinks instead. Someone is looping the lyrics “Brown Eyed Girl” over and over again while some other song entirely plays on top of it.

…and suddenly it sounds like Santana mixed with The Electric Company. “This is poetry,” I think as I drink my rum and coke and hopes and dreams for a tomorrow that just won’t fucking come.

Death metal becomes the predominate theme as I assume we shift into the “Death Metal Bingo” portion of the night’s entertainments. Bingo cards are handed out, though I do not recall numbers being called. I grab one of the sheets of “My Little Pony” stickers that are left around the bar and put a purple pony on my cell phone. Never question my sexuality. I need to drink more alcohol, so I do. At this point it starts to get a little hazy to me.

There is a Pepsi repairman or something testing the soda dispensers behind the bar. I was wearing a shirt with a faux Pepsi logo, so I thought this funny. This errant though leading me off onto a tangent.

This is a cognitive nightmare. We disseminate. We sort, organize, delineate. Then we masturbate. We classify the orgasm. Carefully measure the ejaculation. We record this. This is the new pornography. We are all the cartographers of the fleshy paths. It is human nature, the nature of nurture. Pixelized pollen from the stamen of the soul. Data, light, sound, static and harmony, the sweat of the subconscious.

Girls are on the dance floor fighting with inflated condoms as the bartender wears a sticker that says “huffing glue is cheap.” What does that mean? Does it mean that glue huffing is not costly or that only cheap people indulge in such pleasures?

I leave the party for awhile, drive down to the Bartell Theatre, get bitten by Pete who is happy with the opening of Compleat Female Stage Beauty. I step into The Mercury Lounge, douchebag DJs and a crowd of kids who are one Abercrombie away from being fratboys. Pipes are being passed around, I decline. I return to The Inferno.

“James Brown is Dead,” blares from the speakers. Indeed he is. All that and more.

I settle into a seat somewhere. I am almost out of cash, so I give the bartender two dollars and ask for whatever that will buy. I get a bottle of PBR. Brown Eyed Girl is played again, I protest. Deaf ears. Time goes by. I call Alan! a Barbecue Fetishist, because he, in fact, is. There are cards all over that ask if you would date, or fuck, Alan! and ask you to circle your answer. Some of them only have the option of “yes” while others lack even that basic facility. I want to smash the little toy soldiers.

The night ends. I sit in my car on the phone, hoping to catch an afterparty. Instead I go home, disappointed, and cook myself some eggs.

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