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Music Production: The Stem Cell Liberation Front
05/26/2002 The Stem Cell Liberation Front: Live at the Public Health Auditorium, University of Pittsburgh

Announcement
The Stem Cell Liberation Front (composed of me and ace drummer Ryan Sigesmund) continues to heat up the petri dish, and we're opening for Yume Bitsu (space-rock from Portland, OR on Ba Da Bing/K Records). There will also be sets by the Lost Weekend and Eric Fox. The show's NOW at the Public Health Auditorium, at the University of Pittsburgh. (Zoning issues have forced a move from Backward on Forward. Well, it's still a non-smoking room.) Come early, as we're likely to be going on first--things get rolling at 8:30 PM. It's only $5, and the show is all-ages. Winter is over and spring is in full swing--what better way to celebrate than getting your stem cells liberated? We need people to come to this one, so put it on your calendar (not that there's all that much happening in Pittsburgh on Sundays). So join us in this brief flickering of a cultural renaissance during which we believe we can make the difference that makes a difference.

Remember, new venue. See you there!

Report
Ryan and I had a great rehearsal earlier in the day--very good for getting motivated, but I was concerned about getting somewhat played out, as I was kind of tired going in. This turned out to be a justified concern, as--yep--I ended up not having as many ideas as I did in rehearsal.

The Public Health Auditorium is a pretty good room, compared to most other places I've played. Its main problem is...that nobody seems to know about it, and shows there don't seem to attract a lot of people. As it was, when I pulled up, there was nobody--nobody there. Doors were open, however, and there were a bunch of unattended instruments. I had seen a large group of people leaving the building, probably to get dinner, so it was unlikely that anyone got ripped off. After I waited around a little, Manny showed up, and then Eric Fox, who was also on the bill. Ryan and his friend Dana appeared, and we got set up.

Then we waited for an audience. The Lost Weekend guys and Yume Bitsu came back, but a paying audience didn't appear until 8:15 or so--I'm glad I'd thought to mention that we were going on first. So on we went. At the time I felt that we never quite got to that place where things were really clicking--we'd got there several times in rehearsal, but my tiredness and played-out state meant that I couldn't hold up my end of things as well as I would have liked to. I also think I wasn't giving Ryan loops with enough of a structure to follow. It's difficult enough to do it with the 2-second delay, but it's harder when one's concentration is off. There may also have been a monitoring issue for Ryan, as I had the amp pointed straight out at the audience, and while I assumed he'd be able to hear it over the drums, I think now that I should have angled it more toward him to guarantee that he could hear. (At several points, I noticed that he was watching my fingers to get a sense of the beat, and it just didn't dawn on me that turning the amp would have reduced the need for that.) If that weren't enough, I also managed to have BackToBasics (the sample player) take down the Classic mode it runs in while we were onstage. I opted to keep going while it relaunched, and no one was the wiser.

There were some quite nice aspects of the set, however: starting with the new sparse piece we'd tried in rehearsal, having Manny's little PA for the PowerBook, having the amp turned waaaay up and getting to hear how the Kalamazoo sounds through it at that level (very nice slight breakup), and Ryan asking me at the end to play with some of the Television-like tones I don't use much in our stuff. We did, and it was nice. At the time, however, I felt our set was less than optimal on my part, but the audience did applaud. As an added bonus, Eric Fox came up to us afterwards and said that we were great; while Adam from Yume Bitsu said we were "awesome." At the time, I was thinking, well, they're being polite. But it did soften the blow of thinking I'd turned in a bad set.

Eric Fox was up next, and had a one-man looping thing with a synth and two baritone guitars (tasty!) And at the end of Eric's very nice set (quite Papa M-like--I really dug it) he thanked us (the SCLF) from the stage for being awesome (that word again) and soliciting applause for us. Nice guy. We exchanged emails and traded CDs, and he very well might be a good addition to the Elastic Concept. I also traded CDs with Yume Bitsu. We talked about looping tools, and they gave me contradictory advice on what pedal to get as an upgrade.

Eric was followed by the Lost Weekend's last performance ever, which proved them to be five reasonably competent rockers with a Doors/Zombies-like keyboard stylist, plus (for a total of six people on stage) a vocalist with an affected an English accent who posed, mumbled, and slurred his way through each syllable--something like a Morrisey on muscle relaxants fronting an "alternative" bar band. They suffered some equipment failures, which somewhat impeded the flow, and pushed the show later than it ordinarily would have gone. I must admit that I found it amusing when the vocalist did one song by reading from the lyric sheet, in his accustomed style. I caught up with them later, and they were somewhat despondent, but there was entertainment to be found within their set, as Ryan, Dana, and I discovered.

Yume Bitsu might have been a quartet at one time, but here they were down to two people. Very gentle, spacey, echoey stuff alternating with some techno-noise skronk (now I see why they liked us!) Quite enjoyable, with looped "Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh...."s and trumpet from the guitarist/vocalist, and sparse ostinato playing from Franz, the guitarist/synth player. The quiet sections were very quiet, and the loud quite loud--rather than in the same song as one would find in, say, emo or math rock, they seemed to have two distinct poles in their ouvre, which was very interesting. During the noisy part of the set, Adam stood up on his amp, rocking it back and forth, getting really physical with the guitar--impressive. The CD I snagged was quite nice, but I'm eager to pick up the new one which should have more of the techno-like action that they do so well. It was quite a strong set, and we dug 'em.

The show wrapped up around midnight. I took Manny and the PA home, and he gave me more inside scoop on the Backward on Forward struggles, and said he liked the avant-funky parts of our set. When I got home, I listened back to our set, and damn if it didn't sound pretty good. Much better than I'd thought. OK, so not bad at all. It still didn't click the way we've done in the past, but it didn't sound like it was falling apart, either. So, cool. On to the next one.

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