I’m going to make a brave and possibly futile attempt to document some of the more interesting things that happened to me in 2015 (the busiest & strangest year of my life) over a series of posts. I hope you enjoy them.
It’s approximately 2 AM on the morning of Sunday, February 1st, 2015, and I am wading through a a group of roughly two dozen women who are making out with each other, shouting “Look out for those knives!”
Clearly, some backstory is called for. ..
Back in October of 2015, my friend and fellow DJ Neska came through in a big way for the Dead Milkmen by setting up a show for us in Baltimore (Due to a miscommunication, we’d had some other shows canceled, so this was a godsend…technically a “Neskasend”). During our messaging back-and-forth, Neska informed me that Bryan & Christof from Velvet Acid Christ would be attending the show. I thought she was joking. I think it took her a couple of weeks to convince me that she wasn’t.
I’ll get to the knives (they’re really more like swords) and the massive all-girl lip-lock fest in a minute, but right now I need you to understand that I am really huge (and not just because I’ve gotten fatter) Velvet Acid Christ fan.
I think VAC are one of the best examples of “No Bullshit Rock”. By this I mean that there’s not a wasted or showy note on a VAC song. John Lennon once said that the best way to make music was to say what you have to say and then just put a beat behind it (then he got shot). VAC songs basically consist of a simple pad that’s the right pad, a simple beat that’s the right beat, and lyrics that are basically chunks of Bryan Erickson‘s stream-of-consciousness. “Inhale Blood“ from VAC’s Maldire album is a perfect example of this economy of songwriting.
Once I was convinced that Bryan and Christof were really going to be at the show, I decided that I’d work up a cover of my favorite VAC song – “Lust” and play it for them. Because what does any musician want to hear more than me butchering one of their tunes?
Long-story-short-because-we’ve got-Lesbains-and-huge-knives-to-get-to, Bryan, Christof, Christof’s wife Laura, and I ended up meeting at the show and getting along exceptionally well. Bryan gave me a copy of their new album, Subconscious Landscapes (I would later rework bits of “Dire” for “The Prisoner’s Cinema” – see Part 1). I was even invited to collaborate on a remake of “Lust” for Dire Land as well as a cover of the Dead Milkmen’s cover (huh?) of “Big Time Operator”, Mindcage Rick from Ego Likeness & Mindless Faith played guitar on the BTO cover. You’ll learn plenty about Rick’s colon in a future post.
When VAC came to play Mojo 13 (now Bar XIII) in Wilmington and Santos Party House (owned by Andrew WK, who sang this amazing song about the McLaughlin Group) in NYC, Mindless Faith was the opening band. And to further muddy these musical waters, one of my best friends, Steven Archer of Ego Likeness played drums for both Mindless Faith & VAC [that’s three fuggin’ hours of drumming per night], and another of my best friends, Donna Lynch of Ego Likeness sang on both “Slut” & “Dilaudid” with VAC.
Lesson for Musicians: If you’re asked to join your friends onstage, do it!
As Donna was getting up on stage at Mojo 13 to sing with VAC, some puppy-molester in the crowd said “This bitch?” I guess he’d seen Donna perform with other bands before and thought that there was a limit on how often you can be on the stage.
Musicians, please take note that there’s a guy muttering the equivalent of “This bitch?” in every crowd; ignore him! If you’re asked by a band that you respect to perform with them, do it! Even if Donna weren’t one of my best friends, I’d thrilled to hear her sing with any band and so would anyone… accept for that dude (who has since died and is buried beneath a tombstone which reads simply “This bitch?”)
Also, ever since this incident, whenever Donna walks into a room, I roll my eyes and shout “This bitch?”
Oh yeah, the kale thing! About a week or so befor VAC played Wilmington, Gabe from Mojo 13 messaged everyone to ask what what sorts of food we liked (my friend Rachael of Feed the Scene fame – one of the best cooks I know – provided the backstage grub). As it turns out, Bryan for VAC is really into kale. For the next three fuckin’ days my phone kept lighting up with messages going back-and-forth between the involved parties about kale. After a while, these messages had a sort of “nightlight” effect; I couldn’t sleep if they stopped. I think there were over 300 of them in total.
Here’s a video [I don’t know why embedding was disabled on this video] of VAC, Mindless Faith, Ego Likeness, and me (or as either Joe or Dave from Metropolis Records dubbed us “Mindless Velvet Ego Dead Christ”) performing “Lust” & “Big Time Operator” .
.. later that night, we all appear in this fund/Hell-raising video. SPOILER ALERT: Some of these people may have been drinking…
The next day, I rode up to NYC with Bryan, Christof, and Laura. The trip turned into a bonding experience as, about 5 minutes outside of Philly, we all expressed our mutual respect for the Great Comedy of All time EVER…
I should also point out that Bryan is one of the few people who can talk, non-stop, as much as I can. much love to Christof and Laura for not stranding the two us along the New Jersey turnpike.
We rolled into NYC a little, and even though the temperature was hovering around 19 F, we need to score some kale. And we need to score that kale badly. We ended up in what can best be described as “The Walking Dead Whole Foods”. This was the only practically empty Whole Foods store that I had ever experienced, and I planned to take full advantage of that! For the next 45 minutes, Bryan, Christof, Laura, and I engaged in the kale version of “I’m Waiting for the Man” as we stumbled around the nearly vacant store desperately asking anyone, employee of customer, where we could get some goddamn kale chips! Thanks to Bryan’s keen eyesight and all-consuming kale addiction, we soon not only had bags of kale chips, but we’d also found a guy behind the juice counter who made us massive kale drinks to go. From his eagerness, we were left with the impression that he’d been working there for about five years, and that we were his first customers in all that time.
The show itself was great (made better by the fact that I also became good friends with Jason from Mindless Faith as well. You’ll learn more about Jason when I finally get around to writing about the Shit Show Tour, which took place in June). One of my favorite memories of the night was of Donna singing singing “Slut” with VAC. Somewhere there’s a great pic of the lyrics floating out into the audience.
Shortly after the show ended we set about breaking down the equipment…
Lesson for Musicians: Break Your Shit Down As Soon As Possible!
The stage is not a secure place to store your equipment. I can’t emphasis this enough. One of things that made performing with VAC, Mindless Faith, and Ego Likeness such a joy is that they have their shit together. And one key component of having your shit together is not leaving said shit laying around where the public has access to it.
Look; I know that after a show, you want to hang out backstage with your friends and anybody else who has spotted your delicious deli tray, but while you’re explaining to your enthralled thralls how you invented the key of G minor, someone is slipping out the backdoor with your amps.
However, just a matter of seconds after we had exited the stage, it had been repopulated by many, many sexy dancers. You have no idea how happy this made me, at first. OK, I don’t want to express my glee in the appearance of the World’s Most Touch-Friendly Dance Troupe in any way that might come off as pervy, but what you need to remember that I’m in the Dead Milkmen. The only people to climb onstage after our shows is usually a group of slightly-deranged middle-aged men…and that’s us.
While I was watching the local fertility ceremony, it suddenly dawned on me that Steven’s knives hadn’t been packed away yet. Steven has about a half dozen three-foot long knives that he uses as part of his percussion kit, and there they were, glistening menacingly only inches away from a group of women who had left most of their clothing elsewhere that evening. So, I bravely rushed upon the stage and began flailing my arms about while screaming “The knives! The Knives!”
And that’s how a brand new dance was invented.
I now gift you with one minute and forty-four seconds of a Southern Baptist’s worst nightmare…
Coming up: Libraries, feral cats, and Red Bull sponsors a BDSM night. Stay tuned!