Monday, November 02, 2009

School for the Dead Live on Halloween in Florence, MA

Halloween 2009. Bill Childs from the wonderful radio program Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child, invited School for the Dead to perform at the Florence, Massachusetts Rag Shag Parade. All week the weather forecast was sketchy at best. We were up in the air about the show on a day to day basis. Was it happening or was it not? I woke up to dark skies and wet leaves and messages from Max and Brian asking if we were really going to do this thing. "Let's just see what happens," I kept saying.

To escape from the uncertain weather outside the windows, Brian and I went down into the control room of Rub Wrongways Studios and recorded a piano part and a few vocal parts for the almost-finished-but-not-quite-yet Sitting Next To Brian EP. When we resurfaced, the air outside had gotten crazily strangely warm but the clouds were still spitting down the occasional drizzle.

Max, Brian, and I just decided we'd go to the thing and play it by ear. Upon arriving at the little triangular park where we were to play, I found Max and Bill carrying chairs down the street and into the park. There was a small WRSI tent set up. I couldn't believe how dark it was outside. It looked like a typhoon was blowing in, the sky was a sickly yellowish. Then I remembered I had sunglasses on as part of my nutty Halloween costume. I peaked over the rims and saw that it was much lighter out than I thought.

Still as we were setting up on the wet leaves, the drizzle was drifting in under the tent and coating the drums and amps with moisture.

When we were all set up, we just started to play. The park was empty. Would anybody come out on such a night? Brian asked where the thousands of people were. I said, "They'll be here," but I didn't even convince myself. Max was wearing a full body animal costume and was confident of an audience. We played Periscope as a sound test sort of and a few people from the neighborhood wandered in and asked what was going on. "We're playing music in preparation for the big Rag Tag Parade that starts from this spot in about a half an hour," the three of us explained.

We continued to play and a man walked his tiny dog past us. Then in the distance, I saw some brightly colored costumes and gradually, song by song, the park filled up with people. We kept playing, and were told that the parade actually was supposed to start a half hour later than we thought. We played on and more and more people filled into the wet little park, all the bright colors and smiles were dressed up as the sun and I forgot it was an overcast evening.

We played Soup of the Moment and during the breakdown I tried to name as many costumes as I could see. I didn't do too well, but I think it was funny. During the cacophonic ending of Omnivore I got the crowd to howl like animals. We handed out a bunch of free Yo Gabba Gabba CDs to audiences members courtesy of WRSI.

The sketchy show, where we set up in an empty park in the rain, turned out to be one of my favorite shows of the year. The people seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Everyone was in great spirits, it was, after all, Halloween! And these folks who came out, despite the threatening weather, were hardcore revelers and their kids were lucky for it.

Thanks to Bill Childs and WRSI for having us.

henning in crowd

florence rag tag audience

florence rag tag

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