Friday, June 13, 2008

LollapAzusa '99 and After

Since it's Friday the thirteenth, with doom and morbidity as the attendant traditional preoccupations, it seems appropriate to delve into the band's latter days. Not really appropriate, because the "closing overs" weren't really dramatic in any Friday the thirteenth kind of way. More "whimper" than "bang." But then again, maybe it is appropriate, since Friday the 13th is just a bunch of hooey! (Oops.)

But hey, enough of me yackin'. Let's boogie!

I would say during the last half-dozen times the “classic” stickmen actually met, goodwill generally prevailed but there was a loss of excitement as the illusion of the band’s commercial viability was quickly slipping away.

  • LollapAzusa ’99 (early May 1999)
  • Jam session/casual performance in the Fischer backyard (4 July 1999)
  • 2-3 Rehearsals for the UCI Quad show (December 1999 – January 2000)
  • Lunchtime concert at the UCI Quad (early/mid January 2000)

LollapAzusa ’99 was the pivot between the “My New Invention” tour and the band’s final days. It was a college outdoor festival, which we had “rocked” the previous year (with a photo of our performance headlining the local paper). This time around, we had a CD to sell. We were “rested and ready” musically, having wrapped up a grueling series of pub dates, followed by several weeks off. Unfortunately, the crowd was disappointingly small and placid.

We turned in a good performance, along with notable baiting of the crowd by Matt, but in the end, we forgot to mention our CD, and accordingly sold none at all. The situation was socially uncomfortable for Don because of my sister’s presence, and the lingering romantic ambiguity with another “ex” who was performing on conga drums with a goofy jazz combo for a few minutes between sets*. The whole experience was less than thrilling, and perhaps slightly overshadowed by a backpacking trip in Joshua Tree that Don, Victor, and I began the next morning.

I guess we were a bit jaded by then. From that point on, I never saw the whole band get excited. Come to think of it, the last time I remember universal, genuine excitement was the “Antiradio” concert in December 1998.

As I’ve said before, the very last time that Matt, Vic and I practiced together was a highlight, a fun memory, in which the "holy trinity" had come full circle, and were at last returning to the Shire (only not ruined!) for a victory lap. It happened on a weeknight at Vic’s apartment – after we had learned that Don would miss our upcoming performance at the Los Angeles Chiropractic College. It was not a scheduled practice, but we telephoned Matt who came up "on the spur" to join us for a run through the planned set, without our usual instruments. Vic, being at home, had access to his normal stage gear: Warwick 5-string bass (british racing green) and Trace-Elliot amplifier. I happened to have my black Fender Squier electric guitar in the trunk of my Cadillac, which I played either unamplified or through a tiny practice amp. I wanna say Matt borrowed Vic’s Seagull acoustic.

It was a heck of a lot of fun, interrupted by a trip to In-N-Out (I was a bit of a pill, and pushed for that destination, which cost us valuable practice time). For me, it felt like a time warp: same comedy as the good old days in Vic’s freezing garage in early 1992, but with better music. As we packed up to leave, I distinctly remember Matt saying “I wouldn’t mind doing that once a month until age forty.” Of course we never did it again, and only played together one more time, at the LACC concert a few days later (5 October 2000).

Come to think of it, scratch that! We did play together again, when we auditioned Ashley Pigford to be our replacement drummer! But that’s “a whole nuther story.”

* The noted ex-boyfriend later went on to limited music-industry success with an outfit called “Hobo Jazz.”

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