Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wood Burning Cat and the Decemberists; or, My Friday Night in Bangor.

Right now I'm listening to Wood Burning Cat practice for an upcoming gig (a wedding reception, actually. I hope they get free food). I'm up in Orono with Jason, staying at Tony's apartment. Together, they are Wood Burning Cat (well, together with their drum machine) so the fact that they're practicing at the moment isn't actually that incredible. The whole band is present so why not? I'm sitting here at the table, bleary-eyed despite two cups of makeshift coffee that I brewed from a coffee maker in Tony's kitchen. He said "we have a coffee maker and coffee in a can but I don't know what to do with it," so I cobbled together coffee maker parts and made two cups worth of brown grit. For a former barrista I do think it's odd that new coffee makers throw me for a loop in terms of the correct proportion of water to coffee grounds.
I have just witnessed the birth of the Wood Burning Cat theme song, whose lyrics are simply: "we are wood burning cat, we like invisible maps." At least they're up front about it. Behold their practice set-up:


Last night Jason and I saw The Decemberists at the University of Orono Collins Center or whatever that building is called. Laura Veirs opened for them and was quite good. I was surprised because I didn't know she was opening for them and also because I'd heard her name several times but didn't know that she played the type of music I like. I told her afterwards that she was awesome and she shyly said thank you. I like girls with glasses who are otherwise shy but get themselves up on stage and knock everyone over with their talent. I hope to be one of those types someday. I'm partway there since I already have glasses.

During the intermission I spotted my ex-boyfriend. I wasn't terribly surprised because he is from the Orono area and he was the one who got me into the Decemberists in the first place. I was sitting under the balcony at the back of the orchaestra section and he was in the aisle chatting with someone or other so I had a strange disconnected experience with it. It was like observing him from behind one-sided glass. He still had the same awkward mannerisms that I had picked up from him during our relationship, the autistic facial expressions and posture. Jason had gone off to buy a soda so I sat by myself fascinated by the fact that, for once, seeing an ex-boyfriend wasn't giving me a panic attack. When Jason returned I pointed the ex out and it turns out Jason had actually talked to him a few times through mutual friends before the move down to Portland this past summer. Maine is a giant small town. I think I wasn't bothered by the ex's presence because, well, it's my only relationship that ended because of my behavior not his. Normally my relationships end because I'm fire-y and I date fire-y people and we burn each other out. This guy was a sweet, if awkward individual who just had no earthly clue what to do with me. Aside from feeling bad that I confused him so utterly and caused him deep frustration on more than a few occasions I'm okay with it. I don't feel anything about or for him. After the show there was a weird moment where the girl I'm guessing was his girlfriend dragged him over to where Jason and I were standing with a few other people to say hi to someone she knew and I said hello to him and he, deer in the headlights, squeeked a quick hi, grabbed her hand and said "umm, well, we have to be going" and they walked off. The end. I suppose that's closure.
Enough text. Pictures! The Decemberists's stage set-up was simple but pretty. They had awesome lighting effects. It looked like they were inside a microscope view of muscle tissue. Case in point:


I try not to pick favorites in bands because in most bands every single member is vital to the sound. I do, however, have a soft spot for Jenny Conlee. She did not disappoint last night, either-- she danced around, played the accordian and keyboards and basically confirmed all the reasons I find her endearing.


Also, having not seen the Decemberists before, I was pleased to see how active Colin was on stage. He could have, in theory, been the type to just stand in front of the microphone and strum his guitar and be folk-y. Instead he has a more refined version of why I love watching Alex perform-- hopping, jump kicking, contorting himself around the notes he's playing on his guitar. It's breathtaking when that's done right and he does it right. I was and am impressed by people like that who aren't self conscious on stage. This is because if I even begin to rock out on stage I immedietly worry that I look stupid. It's silly. I hope to change that in the future. The show had several highlights to it including a discussion of the mispronounciation of "Orono," a shout out to MACOF (Musicians Against the Calling Out of Freebird), a jam to The Chimbley Sweep that included members of the audience being brought up to play Chris and Colin's guitars while Chris and Colin ran around like mad. It ended up with Colin helping to rip Chris's shirt off in a moment that looked like a modified scene from Flash Dance. It was, of course, awesome. I danced so feverishly that I got a dehydration headache. It was worth it.

At the moment, I have to go and figure out what I'm doing with the rest of my time in the Bangor area. I think some on-location forest video scenes are in order. The video isn't going as well as I was hoping so far. I covered Wood Burning Cat's song "Literal Walls" with the acoustic help of Jason. The song is gorgeous, but it's about (in my mind at least) the feeling of being stuck in a small town with nothing outside your windows to even stimulate your mind. So you watch the history channel instead and escape through that. I hope it will work out. If all else fails I can ask for some help at this store that I found in downtown Bangor


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