crowdsourced couture: hoboken, brooklyn & the mill party (and how we got jiggy on getglue)
and the days did pass, and lo there were shows to be beheld in the greater new york area, and so it was that they were ready to be a band.
we spent a few days in brooklyn, practicing in a bitty rehearsal space in prospect heights.
me, chad, michael…and some accidental musicians.
i brought my songs in, mostly finished after my boston-based-scurry to finally finish this shit what had been sitting relentlessly UNfinished since ever, and arranged them with the band.
michael on drums, chad on guitar & taurus pedals & trumpet & synth & dancing, me on piano and synth, and everybody on screaming.
and arranging everything was pretty easy…
….except this one:
this one was a fucking bitch.
we re-arranged it 5 times.
and i still wasn’t happy with it, but i think we finally nailed it when we recorded the demo.
actually i’m lying. it’s still not right. but whatever. i’ll fix it when we record it for reals.
here’s michael and chad in a little brooklyn urban garden during one of our rehearsal breaks acting like bunnies:
speaking of rehearsal breaks, we went to eat middle eastern food for dinner before the inevitable slave-away at the next round of arranging, and one of the waiters came up to us and told me he was a fan. from iran.
so we got to talking, and fifteen minutes later, he was signed up to play trombone at both of our NYC-area shows. that happens to me all the time. because i can’t help it.
his name is salmak and he’s in a great band from iran called 127 that’s been roughly squatting in new york ever since they came on tour here, and one of their members got detained upon returning to iran. the rest of them were like “fuck that, we’re staying here.”
so we adopted him.
we also adopted shawn setaro, an old friend of mine who’s a slamming bass player. i ran into HIM at alina simone’s book release party a few days before rehearsal, i told him i was in town to rehearse, and he volunteered to come play bass on “mass ave.”
but then one song turned into six, and he wound up rehearsing his ass off and doing all three shows with us. i couldn’t help that either, because i like making music with everybody.
here we are in the first few minutes of our first soundcheck together (playing in front of others, even):
and here’s the whole assemblage, right before our show at the bell house in brooklyn – which was a FANTASTIC venue, btw – doing some strange voodoo variation on the YMCA.
from right to left: chad, salmak, me, shawn, michael (on handstand):
photo by the amazing kyle cassidy, who hauled ass up from philly to shoot both shows, and who rocks always.
and here’s photographic documentation of how experiment #1 went getting dressed in crowd-sourced clothing.
if you missed it, i put out a call on the blog and via twitter for people to bring costumage and jettison stage-ward.
what do we actually call it? scavenger styling? crowdsourced couture? freegan apparel?
kind of….vera lynn meets pavlova meets debbie gibson:
hoboken WON over brooklyn in the throwing-sparkly-shit on stage department.
this is chad in the jacket that he now insists on wearing at every show:
and here’s the lot of us, on stage in hoboken, right before we brought the rock:
if you look closely, you will also notice someone threw a painting on stage, but we had a difficult time incorporating it as wardrobe.
the shows were…..epic. EPIC. i haven’t been that happy to be on stage, ever.
this is chad and shawn doing that thing men do when they rub their guitars together – i’m sure it has a name but whatever – and my sparkly freegan dress.
in the middle is a guy on crutches who tweeted at me that he wanted to get on stage. sort of as a joke. but we insisted.
this is during “oasis”.
photo by constintina trainwreck (via flickr)
i love this picture. it’s chad having a drink before the brooklyn bell house show.
the background painting kind of makes it:
a moment here to remark on how fucking amazing lady lamb the beekeeper was.
couldn’t source any fantastic photos, but she fucking FLOORED the crowd at both shows, sounding like a cross between billy bragg, janis joplin, bright eyes, neutral milk hotel, and something from another planet….hopefully we’ll see more of her.
…and then then then we went to do the secret boston show. i’ll get geeky about how we gave away the tickets below (after some pictures).
the whole bash was, in actuality, a going-away party for a space that’s been near and dear to our hearts.
“the mill,” as it’s come to be known, has been the private pirate photography/art/band-space of our friend ron nordin, and he’s finally giving it up.
me, the dresden dolls, michael pope, humanwine, fluttr, and tons of other local bands have done countless photoshoots there.
the dolls shot the video for “night reconnaissance” in the same space this photo below was taken.
picture here: an art/to-be-filmed installation that michael pope (with help from bri olson) created that night.
i don’t know who all the hot models were, but the one in the middle is sarah patterson:
then the music:
the irish singer julie feeney hopped up for a few songs and astounded everybody:
photo by david aquilina (from his awesome set of photos, here)
and here’s me and sarah borrello, doing a cover of “personal jesus” by depeche mode. sarah has been blowing me away since i first caught wind of her a few months ago:
i’ll talk more about her later. that night, michael sat in on drums and played along with her, and they got on so well he’s going to record with her later this summer.
hopefully she’ll kickstarter a record, and i’ll help her out. the girl is going to go stratospheric if there’s any justice.
the crowning moment of the night, though, was SUPERKATE…BELLYDANCING.
she’s balanced a SWORD ON HER HEAD, FOR FUCK’S SAKE. it don’t get sexier than this:
and then? we played. we played LOUD. people DANCED. and the band killed it until the cops showed up.
then we stopped killing it, and switched to wine.
in general, the new material was sloppy in hoboken, on fire in brooklyn, and so good it was INVISIBLE by the time we got to boston.
the next day, we slept.
then we hit the studio and recorded the demos (six of them), and we’re still mixing. shit sounds hot, girlfriend. i can’t wait to unleash.
chad and michael will be at all the UK and european shows coming up….london is SOLD OUT, but there are still tickets (hurry) for edinburgh, glasgow, amsterdam and vienna. get them HERE.
oh, one more…
michael pig-piling on the rest of us during curtain call in boston. it’s not pee. it’s sweat. he swears.
note: all the paintings in the background of the mill space done by the ineffable cassandra long.
that hungover face you see painted in the background is christopher thomas, who some of you will recognize as “bobby” from cabaret.
and if you’re feeling dorky….on a tech note:
after mack collier’s awesome blog – “Think Like a Rockstar: Create something amazing for the people that love you“ – i thought it’d be good to give some insight into the whole way we did the contest for the mill party.
when i was on carson daly back in march (which STILL hasn’t shown up on youtube but that you can download HERE on amazon or HERE on itunes), we did a very-last-minute push on the usual suspects (twitter, facebook, etc) but also dug into a new entertainment-based social media site/app, called GETGLUE.
there’s a good read HERE on inc.com which delves into the whole thing, or for the TL/DR crowd…….
it’s similar to scvngr, foursquare, gowalla, and facebook places in that you’re CHECKING IN, but it’s about what you’re listening to/reading/watching/etc…and if you like it, love it, or think it’s shite. not only are you going to be able to earn stickers (which you can literally get mailed to you…in REAL LIFE), but it’s got a “what’s hot” chart and you may discover some cool other shit that’s up your alley. fans seemed to dig it, and we got in touch with the getglue peeps who helped us throw together a really cool promo for 8in8.
while neil, ben, damian, and i were in the studio, folks at home were watching the whole thing unfold live on youtube. sean and getglue put together 5 stickers that you could ONLY get if you checked in at specific times. the RETHINK sticker was for if you RSVP’d you were going to watch, and then every two hours a sticker would expire and another would become available.
here’s what they all looked like:
it was the bomb.
skip ahead to june.
we knew we were gonna play a teeny tiny private show in boston, and say goodbye to the mill in style…and we also knew we could only invite about 50 people, and we wanted it to be free. and that there was no way in effin HELL we’d be able to accomodate everyone who wanted to come. the whole joint only fits about 150 people, and we wanted to leave room for 75 of our own guestlist friends and family and have a buffer.
in the past we’ve done flyering/street team and RSVP-related contests, but this wasn’t something we necessarily needed to promote. this was just a party, we wanted people there, and we didn’t want to make a lot of noise about it. and i love doing twitter-giveaways when i can, but – especially the more i do and the more time that goes on – a lot of people tend to respond, win, and then not show up. most of the time it’s that they “didn’t expect to win” and live 1,000 miles away from a show that’s happening in 2 hours, sometimes people just flake. c’est la vie. but we didn’t want that, we wanted to make sure that people who REALLY wanted to come would have a chance, and that you’d have to work for it a bit. i mean, hell, open bar=a few minutes of creative writing.
so, we told people to check in to my profile on getglue. but not just check in, tell us their favorite AFP-related concert memory. and if they’d never seen me (all the more reason to give them a chance to at such a cool little event) we told those folks to post their favorite live clips.
first of all, the entries were AWESOME. motherfuckers told some beautiful stories. and not just stories about me or the dolls or the twins, stories about traveling with friends and hard times. special stories, stories that showed they really cared.
we went through, read entries, tried pick some people who’d bring the rock, and contacted everyone telling them to email our special getglue email and RSVP. mind you, no one other than my team and the mill folks knew WHERE the gig was going to be at that point (you’ll notice, if you’re an avid-blog reader, that i barely mentioned anything about it: just that we were going to do a “secret show” and to RSVP for details).
we hadn’t met a LOT of these people, and we needed to know they weren’t going to be too young (we needed to make sure everyone was 21+, because we had an open bar) or cause a ruckus (READ: bringing the rock in the wrong way). so….doing the RSVP/email thing ensured we’d have contact info (read: ACCOUNTABILITY) and not have a bunch of people crashing the gig because we’d plastered the info everywhere.
meanwhile, we had a running tab of winners/confirmed names rolling HERE on the shadowbox (the band forum), and any time someone said they weren’t going to be able to make it, we picked a new winner. we did our best to keep everyone in the loop so they could plan to travel, but also know if we’d cut off the 50 or so spots we had to fill.
the day before the show, everyone started getting directions (where to go, what to bring, and when to get there) and then we checked IDs against our list outside the tent.
oh, the days of the rave. how i miss them.
here’s what our invite looked like:
things get messed up at shows all the time. people bring friends, or aren’t of age and want to sweet talk their way in.
for the record: we had ZERO problem and everyone CAME, proving once again that you people are the best people EVER.
well, there were some people who got so drunk that they forgot who they were, but that actually should prove it was the right kind of party.
everyone had a grand fucking time, lots of people brought and donated food, cheered til they were hoarse for sarah and julie, and i felt like it was the perfect gift for the people who really care about what we’re doing.
what did we learn? well, it takes a little bit of extra work to do this kind of thing – i’m clearly not going to bring my team out to every show and have them fielding twitter at the eleventh hour to help people find the right bus or let their spot go back into the ticket pool – but it WORKED. really well. the fans that came were respectful and awesome (and DANCED), many bought merch (and a few even just flat-out donated some money on our square reader to thank us for doing something cool, and we got some awesome fan-connection and getglue buzz from it.
not to get all acceptance speech on your asses, but a moment of thanks: to getglue, square, mack collier, my team, casey long, lady lamb & the beekeeper, sarah borrello, julie feeney, ron, and everyone who came and proved this crazy shit WORKS. we did it.
don’t dream it, be it, fuckers.