|The Plus is probably my favorite Eau Claire venue to play at.
So it’s been a month since my last entry. Here’s a quick catch-up:
- December 19th I returned to Wisconsin for ten days or so to hang out with my family. Played an open mic at the Plus and it was rad, as always.
- Returned to Moberly, don’t remember what day, talked with the folks I was staying with, and I moved in under a month-to-month rent agreement.
- The new semester started and I found out that the I.T. department only has a limited amount of student worker hours still available to give me through the end of June. I picked up a couple Saturday shifts in the cafeteria dish room to make up the difference and conserve my I.T. hours.
- The semester itself has been rather busy and less-than-satisfying after having a semester chocked full of counseling classes with two of my favorite professors. I have some young hotshot professor who thinks every student’s life revolves around this one class and that nobody has other time-consuming responsibilities to take care of. Needless to say, if I wasn’t on such a tight academic schedule, I’d be dropping the class. Another class I’m less-than impressed with, even if the professor is pretty cool. The rest of my professors and classes are awesome.
- Oh, and that “older mic” I was talking about in my last post? It’s an Audio Technica Pro 37, and it works like a dream. I used it over break to record a collab project with a friend and record a concept that I recently re-mastered. I think I’ll use a SM58 in the future for vocal recording, though. And the SA-M20 gave me hiss like none other, so that’s out for recording (which is fine, since some online talk alludes to the idea that it’s horrible for recording).
|Abbi tracking vocals for her song collab. Again in the background, the noisy Tapco.
Okay, enough boring stuff that nobody cares about. Last week was Revival Week here on campus, and Thursday was Day of Service, which is a pretty big deal. It’s an even bigger deal if you’re in student council (which I am). Ironically, I skipped Day of Service to drive back to Wisconsin to get an early start on the weekend. See, I wasn’t going back for Valentine’s day. I don’t even have a girlfriend, and am still questioning whether I even have an interest in something like that at this point in my life. No, I wasn’t going back for Saturday the 14th; I was going back for the night of Friday the 13th.
The event’s name was Unlucky in Love, and it was a pre-Valentine’s acoustic show which I was invited to open for. So, away I went on Thursday. Hung out with the dudes from Stay Strong on Thursday night and went home just before noon Friday when my dad got done with work for the week. I figured I’d go home and work on some academic things for a few hours and then head downtown for the show, but my dad had other ideas. He wanted to fill out a punch card that required buying drinks at different establishments to enter to win a collectible New Belgium bicycle. So, we went out. A few hours and a few bars later, we made our way home. And I managed to get a little pre-show practice in before heading downtown to the Plus.
Rad, the guy hosting the show, wanted me to go in the back door. So I went in, and immediately went back out because it looked super creepy in the back; I thought I had the wrong door. But, as it turns out, I did have the correct door, so in I went. Making my way around the corner, past the kitchen, and up a short flight of stairs, I came through a door that put me right next to the stage.
Oh, so this is why he wanted me to come in the back. They moved the stage. That make sense. A little further back so traffic between the dining room and the bar would be less condensed.
There’s something you should understand: the bars in Wisconsin are generally pretty nice. I didn’t realize just how nice they are until I came to Missouri. The places around Moberly are dingy, smelly, hazy from smoke, and generally not places I want to hang around. Around Eau Claire, they’re generally fairly nice, clean, well-kept, and of course, they’re not full of smoke, thanks to Wisconsin’s statewide public smoking ban. Yes, in Wisconsin, you can go out to a bar and not come home smelling like smoke. It’s absolutely fantastic. The Plus, in particular, is one of my favorites (mostly because of its place in the local music scene).
Anyway, even though I was on time, I was ridiculously early. For a show that was slated to kick off at 9 and sound check around 7:30, I ended up sitting and hanging out with Andy Elwell for a solid hour before the rest of the performers started showing up. My dad and stepmom showed up around 8, and the restaurant side of the Plus was starting to fill with people who were coming for the show. My glass ran dry and I walked over to order another drink, and turned around to see my mom and her fiance standing right there. She was pretty upset that I didn’t tell her I was coming up to Eau Claire, but she was excited to see me.
What the heck. You didn’t even tell your own mother that you were going to be home?
See, in cases where I’m only in town for a weekend, I figure I only have time to hang out with one set of parents, so I have to choose in advance who I’m going to inform of my plan to return, and who I’m going to leave in the dark. It’s just easier for all parties involve that way, because I don’t want to try to budget one weekend between two sets of parents, and I don’t want one parent to feel short-changed if I spend more time with the other.
This has generally been pretty easy for me to handle, too. Even though my parents only live a mile apart, they’re worlds apart it’s pretty easy to compartmentalize my trips home, keep family matters separated, and pretend that everything is okay. I’ve learned to not ask my parents for advice because they give me such widely varied opinions that I’m generally left to fend for myself anyway, so when I do visit, it’s usually pretty cordial. And of course, when I leave town again, I don’t tell anyone about it. It’s a complex and volatile situation, so I have to keep my family relationships as simple as I can. My parents have been separated for 20 years, so I try to keep them separated in my personal life. It’s just easier that way.
But the simplicity of keeping the two apart and adapting to being around either one or the other broke down on Friday night. I still feel guilty that I bought a drink for my mom (even if it was a guilt drink for not telling her I was in town) and not for my dad, and I still don’t know how I managed to keep myself together as I went between their tables to talk to my parents and hopefully retain their individual approval, but when they did leave after my set, I kept my glass full. I went slow and didn’t go too far, because I wasn’t really wanting to spend money on a cab, but I definitely wasn’t going to let this fluke (and strangely emotionally taxing) incident plague my mind and lock me inside myself for the rest of the night.
Of course, there’s one thing I find myself oddly grateful for: Jenn wasn’t there. This isn’t to be angsty and say I’m not over her, or that it would have been particularly emotionally difficult to see her. To be frank, there’s not a chance in the world that I’d go back to be with her. But, having expected her to be there (her name was on the guest list), it was a pleasant relief that I didn’t have to add one more thing to my plate which was already full with my parents being there. Had she been there, would she have talked to me? I certainly wasn’t in a state to deal with that. Not to mention, two of the songs in my set were related to her, and I wouldn’t want that to be stuck in her head. As much as she hurt me, I still respect her as a human being.
Anyway, coming back to the show itself, I had taken my cameras to the Plus and set them up (one above and behind the stage, and one down and in front of the stage) to record my set for some people who couldn’t make it. The show itself was pretty great, and my set went without setbacks. There were a couple points where I had to back away from the microphone because of reverb feedback, but Sean (the guy who was running all of the tech) fixed it pretty quickly. The rest of the acts were solid, with F.M. Down and Andy Elwell being my favorites. Pets With People Names were fun to watch, and I give them creative points for using two acoustics and a cajon. Heat of the Heart was interesting to behold, and they were so talented and meshed so well as a group. I feel bad that they were the last group of the night, because by the time they took the stage, most of the crowd had left and only a handful of people were still around.
Eventually I made my way back home and the night was over. It was a long drive back to Missouri on Sunday, but it was worth it for the chance to go up and play the show. In fact, I have a couple videos from that night for you to see. Here they are:
And I can’t forget F.M. Down!
Anyway, enough of my ranting about the show and family and such. I made it home safely, the show went well (despite some social-familial hiccups), and I made it back to Missouri safely. That’s enough to get me by.
Stay tuned this semester; I hope to continue writing.