I needed a little Chicken Soup for the Soul.... except yanno, my style. Meaning it's vegan, but also not lame, pat on the head, this fuzzy little cliche should make you content. As usual, I relied on music to make things better.
I had a little bright light in my two weeks of suck when a lovely girl named Tiffany tweeted me about seeing my book chilling at the merch table at a show she went to. She thought I'd like to see a picture and that I'd like the band. I always like seeing my book in the wild and I always like music recommendations, so I asked her about the band, Farewell Continental. She said she wasn't the best at describing a band's sound, which I totally get. If I were to describe them, I'd probably generically say "Indie," meaning it's not on the radio (yet... and maybe it is since I don't listen to the radio much anymore), it's not punk or heavy, it's got a bit of that Sonic Youth experimental sort of vibe. But that totally doesn't do the band justice at all, so I'm just going to do what Tiffany did and show you a video:
I was instantly smitten and since I was having an ADD-not-doing-the-90-minute-writing-challenge-like-I-was-supposed-to sort of day, I went to their record label's website and downloaded all of their music. I put it to the ultimate test and went running while I listened to it. I have a love/hate thing with running and need really good music to enjoy it. Generally this means a band that is tried and true and I am currently obsessed with, but even though I didn't know Farewell Continental's songs, they were so catchy, I happily pushed through my run. What can I say, I'm a sucker for girl and boy vocals and songs I can dance to. While posting a dorky, fangirly comment on their facebook page, I saw that they were playing a show at Schuba's, a smaller club in Chicago on a Sunday evening. Sunday's are writing group day for me, but since my writing group is basically just me and a friend who loves discovering new music as much as I do, I proposed to her that we write during the afternoon and make the trek to see Farewell Continental. She was game. I almost bailed after the car window smashing incident the night before, but decided that since the tickets were already bought and paid for, why not go?
I can't tell you how happy I am that I did because I got my vegan faux-chicken noodle soup for the soul in the form of a half an hour of unexpected headbanging.
Hopefully you watched the Farewell Continental video. If not, do that. I'll wait.
Now, picture the band you imagine opening for them.
Did you expect face-melting guitar riffs, pounding drums, throat-shredding vocals, and a frontman banging metal garbage can lids together?
Nope, neither did I. My friend and I were sitting down when Wilson started. Thirty seconds in, we were on our feet because you do not sit down when there is real hardcore on the stage. At the end of the song, the singer instructed us to come closer. He didn't have to ask, we would have anyway. I was awestruck. Suddenly I was back in eighth grade, the year that my best friend moved away and I'd spent a summer at theater camp being bullied and everyone thought I was suicidal, which maybe I kinda was but mostly I was just pissed. That was also when I started discovering bands like Motorhead and early Social Distortion and hardcore punk when it was actually hardcore, pre-guyliner and emo and boys whining about their broken hearts. I had this long, long hair back then and I shaved it underneath, inspired by Mike Patton from Faith No More. It felt so good to whip that hair around to metal and hardcore songs.
Although my hair is short now, that is exactly what I needed and exactly what I did last night. I headbanged my way out of my funk to this beautiful fucking noise, which I think my friend described best by calling it "feral":
Hands down this was one of the best shows I've been to and I've been to hundreds of shows since my very first in 1989. (Janet Jackson, my tenth birthday present, it was so loud that I asked my mom to leave after four songs. The next show was Soul Asylum and Screaming Trees in 1993, the summer before freshman year. Same venue, but I was on the lawn and my eardrums had been damaged by blasting music on headphones for a few years so I didn't wuss out that time.) My first two shows were at a huge outdoor amphitheater in Tinley Park, Illinois that has gone through more names than I have musical phases. My next was at the Aragon Ballroom (or Brawlroom as we lovingly called it), an indoor venue with a 4,500 person capacity, that bands tend to play right before they reach the sports arena fame level. The next was at the Metro, a smaller 1,150 capacity venue that quickly became my favorite place to see shows. Eventually I was spending every weekend and as many weekdays as I could get out of the house at the Fireside Bowl, which makes an appearance in both of my books. It's a bowling alley that let punk bands perform. (I guess it still does, but I don't know. I was constantly hearing that the Fireside was closing/not having bands anymore and then lo and behold another show.) Those Fireside shows were the smallest shows. They were also some of the best.
If I really love a band, I'll go see them wherever. I'm not one of those people who decries sellout once a band I like is playing the Aragon or the Whatever Bank It's Named After Now Amphitheater. At least I'm not anymore. When I was sixteen, I did have a "I will not listen to anyone on a major label" phase. Who doesn't? Now I may make snarky remarks about the other audience members or complain about the sound quality at the I Used To Be Named For A Town But Now I'm Named After An Insurance Company Arena, but I go and I have a good time, an amazing time usually.
But I'll always prefer a small venue and when I went to the show at Schuba's I was reminded why I like the really small ones. Not only does the music sound best, you are more likely to get a bill of bands that are all amazing instead of waiting around through some crappy opening act. I'm not sure why this is, but it's true.
The act between Wilson and Farewell Continental was called Into It.Over It and I say act because it was a guy with his guitar singing those acoustic songs I've been craving lately:
All three performances were stellar. They were totally wildly different, but that is what made the show so perfect.
I used to do this more often, go see a band in a small venue that I'd just started listening to or heard was good. In fact for a few years in high school that was my life. There is nothing more satisfying than discovering a band before they get big and turning your friends on to them. I don't get much of an opportunity to do this anymore, so I wanted to do it with these bands.
I went in knowing that I loved Farewell Continental and that I wanted to share them on the blog so I bought their very last copy of their newest CD. It's kinda beat up because it was taped to their merch table throughout the tour, but Justin and Kari signed it. Then I realized that since Wilson had saved my fucking soul, I had to share them too, so I uploaded the CD of theirs that I bought to my iPod and now I'm going to give it away too. Unfortunately I had this brainstorm on the way home or I would have forked over my last dollars to get something from Into It.Over It too, not to mention I would have asked the guys in Wilson to sign the CD because I did talk to the lead singer and he was super nice. I think he'll be pleased that I am spreading the party.
So what I'm trying to say is...
This is your chance to win either:
"Standing On The Reel" by Wilson
"Hey, Hey Pioneers!" by Farewell Continental
As usual you get one entry just by commenting. Tell me about your favorite show or a band you discovered, whether you like big venues or small ones, whatever.
Then you can get additional entries as follows:
+1 for following Farewell Continental on Twitter
+1 for liking Farewell Continental on Facebook
+1 for following Wilson on Twitter
+1 for liking Wilson on Facebook
+1 for sharing either band's videos on Twitter or Facebook (and the more you tweet/post, the more entries you get)
+1 for sharing the link to this blog entry on Twitter or Facebook (again, the more you tweet/post...)
+5 for writing your own blog entry about Farewell Continental and/or Wilson
Yeah, that's a lot of ways to enter. That is because I like these bands a hell of a lot and as a fellow struggling artist (writers, bands, we aren't that different), I like to help spread the word.
When you enter, note your additional entries, leave me an email address to contact you, and tell me which CD you would prefer or if you would be okay with either.
Oh, because I have broken car window bills, I can really only afford to ship to US Mailing Addresses only. Sorry, but that's the way it is right now.
I'll draw a winner on Tuesday July 5th. So that's two weeks. Get entering!