I crowd surfed for the first time ever in Strasbourg, France. And I did it in a hot dog costume.
Man, I can’t wait to tell my grandkids this story.
The hot dog spawned from a Facebook Messenger conversation before we even left. As we were preparing for the trip, the group bought me a glow in the dark skeleton onesie. It proved far too comfy and warm for it to be a nightly outfit in dirty, sweaty bars. I know this because I happily wore it around my house on several occasions.
Through the conversation it was eventually decided that I needed an Elvis outfit to wear during shows. I agreed and took a trip to a local Spirit Halloween in search of my tour uniform.
I was quickly disappointed.
Not only did they not have any Elvis costumes, the employee told me that the only place she knew that had one was a costume rental shop across town. The price put the costume way out of my price range. So I had to come up with something just as American (i.e. over the top and ridiculous). I browsed around, shot down the idea of a German beer girl costume — no one needs to see that much of my upper thigh — and stumbled across an area of cheap, lazy costumes. One of which was the hot dog suit. I snapped a picture, sent it to the boys and was met with joyous approval. I was still under my assigned budget so I picked up a Flavor Flav-sized dollar sign pendant and made my way to the register. Now, I was truly ready for Europe.
The hot dog costume has made an appearance a handful of times at shows, typically during the last song of the set or the encore. Sometimes I’ll put it on and rush to the front of the stage to get the guys to laugh and mess up. Being the consummate professionals that they are, they’ve never flubbed a song as far as I can tell.
But recently, they’ve been requesting the hot dog from stage, meaning I have to quickly dig it out, throw it on and run out to the crowd. They usually do so for their own amusement or to drive sales at the merch booth by proclaiming they have the würst merch guy in history. I never said that these guys were comedians …
Now, the majority of crowds just look confused by the sudden appearance of a hot dog at a Rock show but some get it and boy are their reactions spectacular. You haven’t lived until you’ve headbanged with two long hairs in a sweaty Halloween costume. But the crowd reaction in Strasbourg takes the cake.
The show was Punk Rock all the way — the sound was awful, the fans were packed in like sardines and the beer was flowing freely. The crowd had already spawned a crowd surfer, which is an admirable feat due to the fact that the venue is in a basement. Crowd surfing and grazing the ceiling of a club rarely go hand-in-hand. When the band called for the hot dog, I pushed through and found myself in an open pit in the center of the crowd. The final song started and I began my “dancing” and headbanging with the crowd. Pictures were taken, laughs were had, and I thought that was the end of it.
Then I saw the universal “You want to go up?” hand signal. Apparently crowd surfing crosses language barriers. Before I knew it, I was on top of the crowd trying to simultaneously avoid being dropped to the floor or bounced into the ceiling. It was awesome and scary and ridiculous and unbelievable all at the same time. If that’s not a great commercial for Spirit Halloween, I don’t know what is.
Now I really can’t wait for our Halloween show tonight. We plan on having a merch guy who’s all skin and bones, a blinged out bassist and the würst drummer you’ve ever seen.
Hey, I never said I was a comedian, either.
Halloween shows abound tonight. Elsewhere on our site you can read about several of them, including 500 Miles to Memphis' release party at Southgate House Revival and Gov't Mule's tribute to Neil Young at Taft Theatre. In the Spill It column, find out about tonight's Injecting Strangers' release party at MOTR, as well as two great, free local music double bills in Northside — The Hiders/The Perfect Children at The Littlefield and The Pariahs/The Cincinnati Suds at The Comet. Another great double-bill free show is on Fountain Square. The 5 p.m. Rocktober on the Square happy hour concert tonight features The KillTones and The Sundresses.
There's also a fun show at Over-the-Rhine's The Drinkery; RamonerHead (a tribute to the Ramones and Motorhead), ThoseWhoCannotBeNamed (a tribute to debauched punks Dwarves) and Standinavian Leather (a tribute to Norway's Turbonegro) team up for the club's Zombie Prom. (Another fun tribute band show goes down Saturday at Silverton's MVP Sports Bar & Grille — The Rocket Queens, an all-female Guns N' Roses tribute band, headline.)
Here are a few more options for tonight and the rest of the weekend.
• Endlessly creative veteran L.A. rapper Murs first teamed up with Miami Rap group ¡Mayday! (featuring a pair of MCs and a full live band) on the latter’s first album, 2012’s Take Me to Your Leader. The two entities (both signed to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music imprint) connected so well they decided to reteam for this summer’s ¡MursDay!, an electrifying, high-energy album with an eclectic musical palette and dynamic live-instrument additives.
The album received positive reviews, with many noting that the music should translate incredibly well in a raucous live setting, meaning the collaborative’s show at Thompson House in Newport could be one of the more entertaining concerts to hit the area this fall. Showtime is 7 p.m. and tickets are $20.
• Successful Canton, Ohio Pop Rock band Relient K plays Bogart's in Corryville tonight with guests Blondfire. The band is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of Mmhmm, its breakthrough LP. The album spawned a pair of hits, including "Be My Escape," their most widely recognized track.
Doors for tonight's show open at 6:30 p.m.
• Austin, Texas' The Bright Light Social Hour have built up a nice following here in Cincinnati thanks to regular visits, though it's been a while since the group has graced a local stage. That all changes Saturday when the band comes back to MOTR Pub for a free, 10 p.m. show with Cincy Indie Pop masters Darlene.
The Texas indie psych rockers are gearing up for the release of their second album. In a recent interview with Fayetteville Free Weekly, BLSH's Jack O'Brien said the full-length is due early next year and will be titled Space is Still the Place.
• The Funkified Hoedown Tour featuring Zach Deputy and Hot Buttered Rum comes to the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre on Sunday. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance/$25 day of show.
Deputy, a South Carolina native, describes his sound as "Island-infused Drum n’ Bass Gospel-Ninja-Soul." CityBeat's Charlie Harmon explains more in his preview of the show from this week's paper:
"When (Deputy) gets up on stage to start one of his infamous dance parties, it’s just him. He is the definition of a one-man band, usually donning just an acoustic guitar, four microphones and the pedals to handle all the looping and layering he does with them. Using the microphones, he creates drum and bass sounds, beatboxing almost all the percussion, as well as synthesized choir noises and soulful vocals."
For more live music options this weekend, click here. And feel free to plug other events in the comments.
In this week’s CityBeat we review Patience, Child, the debut full-length from Cincinnati’s theatrical Progressive Pop madmen Injecting Strangers. Given some of the album’s playfully spooky tracks (including the two-part horror story “Nightmare Nancy”), it’s fitting that the band is celebrating the album’s release tonight at a free Halloween spectacular at Over-the-Rhine’s MOTR Pub. Nashville’s New Wave Rebellion opens the show at 10 p.m.
Here is a track from Patience, Child that would make a great addition to your Halloween mixtape. From the review: “‘Haunted Heavens’ also fits the (Halloween) vibe perfectly, with its sinister spoken-word passages and eerie choral background vocals. It’s like Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ filtered through Queen, Public Image Limited and The Nightmare Before Christmas and then re-filtered through a modern Indie Rock mindset.”
For the past two and a half weeks, Arnaud’s van has been home for five full-grown men. While we’ve been lucky enough to not have to spend the night in it at any time, we’ve done pretty much everything else. We’ve eaten in here, we’ve slept in here, we’ve emptied bladders (well, only one … Nick was desperate), it houses all of our possessions on this continent and we’ve had far too many inappropriate conversations in here. It has all the comforts of home … except for TV, Internet, showers, a kitchen or any sort of privacy. But then again, some of our non-moving accommodations don’t have any of those things either, so it’s fine.
We even have our own “rooms.” Arnaud usually drives with Ryan copiloting. If you move one bench back, Nick sits in the farthest seat from the door so he can lean against the window to nap. The next seat is empty and holds our various jackets, water bottles, candy and other items a touring band needs. Next to that is me; my seat offers no real advantage other than the ability to get out fast at rest stops when the call of the wild can be heard. Aaron has claimed dominion over the back bench, but two of the seats hold two overnight bags and random stuff (mostly scarves that Aaron has bought along the trip).
The ride is rough; it seems like the shocks were an afterthought and you can feel every bump in the road. Turns make the van shift and roll and the seats don’t adjust from their full upright and locked position. This all adds up for a ride that isn’t very comfortable or relaxing. If you’re wondering how we can sleep in here under such conditions, all I can say is that touring Europe is a very tiring experience, no matter how fun it is.
Of course, the real reason we needed the van is to not just transport ourselves, but all of the band’s gear from show to show without the need for a trailer. And that, my friends, is an experience all it’s own. Arnaud and Nick have set up a system to load and unload the back of the van efficiently at each stop. While I play Tetris at shows, those two play Tetris in real life. Just take a look at this setup and tell me that isn’t almost artistic to see how much crap can be fit into such a small space.
This van has been a constant in our lives for almost a month now; while I can only speak for myself, I have to say that I will almost miss it when I get back home. While the ride might be rough, there was an element of comfort and familiarity in crawling into this thing as we headed towards our next show. And it’s the place where we all really bonded as a group — being stuck in a tin can with four other dudes for six hours will do that to you. It’s been a special spot for all of us.
But, man, I really wish the seats reclined.
CityBeat contributor Nick Grever is currently traveling Europe on tour with Cincinnati Rock band Valley of the Sun. He will be blogging for citybeat.com regularly about the experience.
The show by Trigger Hippy (featuring Joan Osborne and members of The Black Crowes) scheduled for tonight at Newport’s Southgate House Revival has been postponed due to a death in Osborne’s family. The band is hoping to reschedule the show soon. But there are plenty of other solid live music options in Greater Cincinnati tonight.
Reflection Eternal, renowned Cincinnati-based producer/artist Hi-Tek’s collaboration with legendary MC Talib Kweli, headlines the 8 p.m. concert, marking a rare appearance by the duo. The lineup also features Cincinnati heroes Mood, who took Cincy Hip Hop nationwide in the ’90s, Buggs Tha Rocka (who’s prepping a new album release for early December), Trademark Aaron (whose new video for “The Best,” featuring Easy Lantana, recently premiered on Vevo’s home page), Clockworkdj (Mac Miller’s official DJ), Valley High, Eddie Vaughn, Aida Chakra and many others.
Tickets are $30 at the door while they last.
• Dynamic, groovy and fun rockers Automagik are putting out a limited edition, Halloween-themed EP, Monster Party, for the holiday. The five-track collection features appropriate tracks taken from the group’s two albums. as well as the new title track.
The band will have Monster Party available at its show Thursday night at Newport’s Thompson House (purchasers can “name their price”). The 8 p.m. event (with just a $5 cover) also features area acts Dark Colour, Motherfolk, Celestials and Young Colt, plus a live art performance by Kara Mitchell. Costumes are encouraged — those wearing the best ones will be rewarded with a piece of Mitchell’s artwork.
Here’s one of the previously released Automagik tracks included on the Monster Party EP:
• Also playing Thompson House tonight (in one of the other rooms) is Jamaican Reggae fave Cocoa Tea. Tea’s fellow countryman Louie Culture also appears, along with soulful Folk/Soul/Jazz/Reggae singer Etana, Cincinnati’s The Cliftones and others. Showtime is 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $25.
Cocoa Tea began making waves in the mid-’80s before busting out internationally in the ’90s. Tea scored some major U.S. press in 2008 when he released a song in support of the man who would become our country’s first African American President (in case you’re unclear to whom I’m referring, the song was called “Barack Obama”) and this year he released his 30th LP, Sunset in Negril, on his own Roaring Lion label.
• After adding to their already huge press kit at the recent CMJ festival in New York City, Cincy Trash Pop trio Tweens has been added to the bill at Over-the-Rhine’s The Drinkery tonight, making an already great show even better. The band is joining Brooklyn trio Nude Beach and excellent Cincinnati-based newcomers Leggy. Making infectious, classics-influenced Pop Rock, Nude Beach is touring behind its just released album 77. Here’s the album’s single “For You”:
The free show kicks off at 9 p.m.
• British rockers You Me at Six play Corryville’s Bogart’s tonight. Doors open at (of course) 6 p.m. The U.K.’s Young Guns and L.A.’s Stars in Stereo open.
You Me at Six is beginning to make waves in the States after building a large and loyal fan base in the U.K. The band is currently touring behind its critically acclaimed latest, Cavalier Youth, a big hit in their homeland (it became the group’s first No. 1 album when released early this year).
Here’s the video for You Me at Six’s “Room to Breathe”:
Click here for even more live music events tonight in the Cincinnati area and feel free to plug any other shows going on tonight in the comments.
On Monday, Cincinnati's Foxy Shazam, one of the Queen City's more successful musical exports in recent years (and one of the city's best ever live bands), announced on its Facebook page that it would be disbanding, effective immediately. The extremely hard-touring band has canceled all forthcoming shows, including a hometown New Year's Eve appearance at Oakley's 20th Century Theater.
The band says the split will be for "an unknown amount of time" as the members spend some time with their families and other artistic endeavors. "We truly believe there is a future for Foxy Shazam, that our best art is yet to come," the message continues. "We don't know how long this will take but we plan on someday returning more powerful than ever."
CityBeat has written many articles about Foxy over the years, including a 2010 cover story (read here). The band first caught our attention in 2005 after the self-released The Flamingo Trigger, which we reviewed and talked about with the group.
Hopefully they'll be back sooner than later. I don't like that one of my favorite Foxy tunes is now "ironic." (This still deserves to be co-opted by a local sports team … or better yet, the city's tourism board.)
(Foxy in 2005 and in 2014:)
Over the Rhine is releasing its third Christmas album, Blood Oranges in the Snow, on Nov. 4, but The New York Times’ website is offering an early listen through its “Press Play” website. Click here to listen.
The album, which follows previous “reality Christmas” efforts Snow Angels and The Darkest Night of the Year, is available now for pre-order here. Pre-orders of the CD will instantly receive a digital version of the album.
OTR’s Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist will do some acoustic dates after Blood Oranges’ release, beginning next week in Washington state. The duo’s “Acoustic Christmas” tour officially begins Dec. 5 in Virginia and culminates with OTR’s annual hometown holiday show at the Taft Theatre on Dec. 20.
This summer, on-the-rise Northern Kentucky-based Hip Hop artist Trademark Aaron released his excellent EP Act Accordingly, which included a bonus track titled "The Best," a collaboration with Cincinnati MC Easy Lantana, the RCA/Polo Grounds Music recording artist who made waves nationally last year with his single, "All Hustle, No Luck."
The track about hard work and perseverance now has an accompanying music video. The clip, directed by Franco Mudey and Mark Merkhofer, had its premiere yesterday on the front page of popular video site Vevo.
Trademark Aaron's next performance is part of what could very well be the best local Hip Hop show of the year, this Thursday at Over-the-Rhine’s Rhinegeist. Reflection Eternal, renowned Cincinnati-based producer/artist Hi-Tek’s collaboration with legendary MC Talib Kweli, headlines the 8 p.m. concert, marking a rare appearance by the duo. Thursday’s lineup also features Cincinnati heroes Mood, who took Cincy Hip Hop nationwide in the ’90s, Buggs Tha Rocka (who’s prepping a new album release for early December), ClockworkDJ (Mac Miller’s official DJ), Valley High, Aida Chakra and many others.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $20 in advance (through cincyticket.com) or $30 at the door (if there are any tickets remaining). There are also $60 advance VIP tickets available, which include a meet-and-greet with the artists.
Our night in Milan did not have one of those types of promoters. Hell, to even call him a promoter is an insult to the concept of promotion. Let’s dive in a little bit and discuss just what potential promoters should and shouldn’t do when bands come a’callin.
First thing’s first — it’s always helpful to be at the venue by the scheduled get-in time. When bands like us arrive, we’ll generally have some questions for you about our lodging for the night, dinner, load-in and load-out logistics, etc. This is especially pertinent on tours like this due to the fact that we aren’t even from this continent; a little extra handholding is appreciated.
What you shouldn’t do is show up at the venue at 9 p.m. when load-in started at 6 p.m. and not even introduce yourself to anyone.
Second, please follow the agreed upon terms of the contract and make sure that the obligations you have are completed satisfactorily. On this tour, Valley of the Sun has two major requests in their contract: a hot meal every night (or a 15 Euro buyout) and accommodations after the show. These accommodations have varied from a promoter’s floor to nice hotels.
Ian McLagan, who performs at Southgate House Revival on Wednesday, is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. And for good reason.
In 1965, he replaced one Jimmy Weston as keyboard player in Small Faces, one of the two great Mod bands (the other was The Who) who captured the youthquake mood and sense of liberation that swept the Swinging London of the mid-1960s.
In Britain, Small Faces had hit after hit featuring vocalist/guitarist Steve Marriott — “Sha-La-La-La-Lee,” “All or Nothing,” “Tin Soldier,” “Lazy Sunday,” “Here Come the Nice,” “The Universal” and more. Their one U.S. hit, the psychedelicized “Itchycoo Park,” has been a Rock-radio staple from the day it hit the charts in 1967.
When Marriott departed, the remaining group members — McLagan, bassist Ronnie Lane and drummer Kenney Jones — decided to carry on by recruiting two members of The Jeff Beck Group, singer Rod Stewart and guitarist Ronnie Wood. Called Faces, they became one of Britain’s most successful bands of the early 1970s with their rough-hewn, pub-friendly style of rowdy-yet-tender acoustic-electric Rock. Among their classics are “Stay With Me,” “Cindy Incidentally” and “Ooh La La.”
With all the talent in that band, it didn’t stay together too long. Stewart’s concurrent solo career got too big, while Wood was wanted by The Rolling Stones and Jones by The Who. McLagan, whose vocal duties were limited in Small Faces and Faces (who were simultaneously inducted into the Rock Hall in 2012), became an in-demand session and touring keyboardist for Bonnie Raitt, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and many others.
He also began occasionally releasing his own mostly small label albums, solo and with The Bump Band, that showcased his ruggedly naturalistic voice and songwriting talents. He has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1994, after moving to the U.S. from Britain and living in L.A. for 16 years.
At the time of his Austin move, Lane was also there. But the latter’s worsening multiple sclerosis soon prompted a move to less-humid Trinidad, Colo. In fact, Lane already was planning that move when McLagan told him he was coming to Austin. So their time together in the same town only lasted for one and a half months. Lane died in 1997.
McLagan’s solo career took a great leap forward with 2009’s Never Say Never, filled with sometimes-rueful, sometimes-redemptive songs, melodic and rhythmic, prompted by the loss of his wife, Kim, in an auto accident. The songs have some of the majesty of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” another high point of early-1970s British Rock.
That album, in turn, inspired the label Yep Roc — home to still-vital veteran singer/songwriters like Nick Lowe, Dave Alvin and Robyn Hitchcock — to distribute his follow-up, this year’s fine United States. It’s been getting rave reviews and is helping McLagan finally emerge as a bandleader.
The album is bringing McLagan (with Bump Band bassist Jon Notarthomas) to Southgate House Revival in Newport Wednesday. As far as he can recall, this is his first show as a headliner in the Cincinnati area since his first solo album, Troublemaker, came out in 1979.
“This year I’ve toured as much as I have in last 10 years,” the affable, sunny-dispositioned McLagan says in a phone interview. “Now I have a record company that wants me to tour and that’s great.”
It’s also a little strange. McLagan, 69, is a member of British Rock & Roll royalty — of the same generation, and often friends with, those who have been arena-filling superstars for six decades and counting. Yet his Cincinnati area date is surprisingly low profile, with little advance publicity. (For a variety of reasons, Southgate House didn’t announce it until just two weeks before the show.)
It’s an odd situation. He’s been making music professionally for 50 years, yet is still establishing himself as a touring attraction.
“The funny thing is, if I’d made several albums in the 1960s and had some success, the people that like my albums now would have grown up liking them,” McLagan says. “I didn’t have that, and I realize I’m stumbling around this wonderful world trying to attract attention now.
“It’s pretty funny, really. But I just love what I do,” he says. “I am so blessed that all I’ve done in my professional life, since I was 17-18, is play music and somehow make a dollar here and there.”
One thing that remains constant in McLagan’s shows — in his psyche — is his love for his late wife. He met her when she was estranged from husband Keith Moon. He always performs several songs from Never Say Never.
“I sing to my wife; it helps me,” he confides. “She was my muse. I’ve written so many songs about her, to her, with references to her, and still do. She’s a big part of my life. We were together for 33 years. It actually does me good — she’s with me all that time in that way.”
Even though McLagan isn’t that famous as an individual, he was in groups whose records sold millions. So shouldn’t his royalties afford him such a cushion he can treat work like a hobby?
“Ha, ha, ha — you’re very funny,” he replies.
He explains Small Faces were on a modest salary that was paid by their manager, Don Arden, with knowledge of their Immediate record label’s head, Andrew Loog Oldham. They never got royalties during the band’s lifetime.
McLagan joined Small Faces in 1965 after original keyboardist Weston left following the group’s first British hit, “Watcha Gonna Do About It.” Although it wasn’t why original Small Faces keyboardist Weston left, he had been the only member of the original lineup who wasn’t actual small, height-wise.
McLagan, who was, had been gigging with more Blues-oriented groups, including one led by Boz Burrell (future King Crimson and Bad Company member).
“They got me because they read a review of a show I was in with another band that said I played Hammond organ and I was really good, and it had a photograph with my name under it," McLagan says. “But it wasn’t a photograph of me, it was of Boz Burrell. So when they saw me, they laughed and Steve picked me up because they hadn’t known I was short. How cool is that? They said, ‘He doesn’t look like his photograph but he looks all right.’ ”
Arden asked McLagan how much he was earning and he said five pounds (the British currency) a week, a very small sum. So he offered McLagan 30 pounds during probation and then an even split with the others.
“He was showing off,” McLagan says. “I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m a millionaire.’ Eventually, I asked Ronnie Lane, ‘What’s going on? Am I still on probation?’ They knew nothing about it. We went up to the office and Ronnie said to Don, ‘Hey, Mac’s in the band, all right?’ My money went down to 20 pounds a week — that’s what they were getting! We never got anything other than 20 pounds a week for two years and then it was 50 pounds a week. Since 1997, we now get our royalties. Of course, Small Faces albums are not selling in the amount they were when we didn’t get paid, but we are at least getting something.
“But you know what? It didn’t fucking matter,” he continues. “I’m earning every day, Don Arden’s dead, Andrew and I have made up and we’re friends. The money’s gone so move on.”
As for the Faces, McLagan says their record label — Warner Bros. — does pay. But it’s been slow to release archival product. The four-disc Warner/Rhino retrospective Five Guys Walk into a Bar came out back in 2004.
“The Faces sell a little bit but Warner Bros. are such a bunch of idiots because they didn’t realize if we haven’t got records out we can’t make any money,” McLagan says. “It’s taken a while, but there should be a Faces live album … out next year.”
The album was recorded in the States during the Faces’ heyday.
“We’ve just discovered this recently,” McLagan says. “We recorded it and completely forgot about it. I heard a couple tracks and it sounds really good.”
McLagan then reveals an enticing possibility.
“Hopefully we’ll tour behind it,” he says. “Rod’s keen, I’m keen, Kenney’s keen and Ronnie Wood is keen, so I don’t see anything in the way of it.”
In the meantime, McLagan’s Wednesday show at Southgate House is a rare chance to see this great Rock & Roll musician in an intimate setting. (Click here for ticket info.)