Friday, November 16, 2007

Shilling for some great band and a great group of guys

So, if this is my essay on why you should go see The High Strung play.

Things that make a great band that I will go see all the time: Awesome music, awesome performance, awesome people.

And today I'm here to admit that I'm a sucker for a nice band. Good music, yes, good performance, also good, but a big key to a great live performance for me is that you feel like the band wants you to be there enjoying the music as well. I'm not saying audience members are entitled to something, but it is about atmosphere and the fact that live performances are an experience. That's why I love when it's visible and palpable that a band is having a good time. Who wants to be around people who always seem miserable about everything? It's the same thing with bands. If they can't get happy and enthusiastic about what they're doing, why should you? And sure, it's just an added plus when it feels like they want people to be there and share the experience with you. And it doesn't have to be all happy good times. Even if it's a spectacularly melancholy mood, you can tell when a performer is keyed into what they're doing and are passionate about it. All the reasons for why I love good stage banter, or something as random as drumface or guitarface.

Anyhow, my story about The High Strung. Most people I know know this story because it's come up before when I've discussed live shows and how even the little things can matter when it comes to first impressions.

It was about...4-5 years ago in Chicago. I had bought my ticket to see The Weakerthans at Logan Square Auditorium. I had never been to this venue before, but the directions I got online made it seem like a piece of cake. "Just across the street from the Logan Square L stop!" the site proclaimed.

While not entirely incorrect, it wasn't entirely correct either. When I made my exit from the stop, there were actually four different possible directions I could go "just across the street." This was exacerbated by the fact that Logan Square Auditorium's exterior is slightly tucked away. There wasn't a large marquee or even storefront to tell you, "Hey! Venue here!" It was an intriguing outfit, where it was one of those old-school buildings you'd see where a private eye would have an office. You'd go up a narrow flight of stairs and the hallways would be dotted with frosted glass doors that showed who owned that space and did what in it. Before entering the venue, waiting out in the hall, I noticed one of those offices belonged to a dentist. The venue space itself was kind of huge, which makes me think it used to be a dance hall/studio. I could see the hardwood floors would've come from such a previous incarnation. Of course it could just be they knocked out a bunch of walls on that top level or something, but it's such an old building and it maintained so much of that old-school appeal, I kind of find that hard to believe. Or I guess, I didn't want to believe it.

Anyhow, that's not the point of the story, let's rewind back to me sort of standing around trying to figure out my next move. I could've picked a direction and just walked, but like an idiot, I didn't write down the number/address of the place I was looking for, and with four different directions I was trying to figure out the smartest way to tackle this problem rather than to walk down several paths. Then, at a distance, I spotted my way out. A group of guys were approaching and my first thought was, "They look like guys who might know where a venue is."

An unfortunate case of profiling, but come on. I was lost and I needed help. I just figured maybe they were going to the show too or something. I flagged them down and asked if they knew where Logan Square Auditorium was.

Long story short, the group of guys I ran into was The High Strung, who were playing with The Weakerthans that evening, and Josh was nice enough to give me directions. As I scampered off into the correct direction I thought to myself, "Wow, those guys were nice."

Of course it also helped a lot that they indeed rocked my face off when I saw them play a short while after that, but they're OK guys in my book for helping out an embarassed bundle of college girl nerves who had funny colored hair and who was dressed a little like a homeless Vietnam War vet. They probably don't even remember that happening, but that is my story on why they are awesome. They played a great set, but that niceness was the little extra something to make me loyal. To this day, I remember that story and I go see them whenever I can.

Right now, they are touring with The Teeth, also an excellent band, I've seen them play before and I heartily approve. If you have awesome shoes, one of the guys from The Teeth might trade with you. It's happened before. Besides the possibility of getting new (well, maybe not new new, but definitely new to your feet) kicks, they make fun music.

You should go see The High Strung play because they are awesome, and they are nice. I mean, I'm not super best friends with them or something like that, but at least that's the impression I got from my brief encounters. But, don't take my word for it (insert 'Reading Rainbow' "Duh-nuh NUH!" sound effect here). Go to a show, don't be scared, say "hi," and damn it, buy them a drink. They put on a great show and They make interesting and good music. They've got good chemistry, and they should considering how much time they spend on the road together (another positive point for them: dedication). Josh will give you directions if you're lost, Derek's stage banter will make you laugh and Chad is the band's resident bass god (A GOD I tell you). At the very least, you will have fun.


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