Monday, January 03, 2011

The Fawns, School for the Dead, The Gay Potatoes First Night Concerts a Recap

New Year's Eve is always an exhausting day/night for me.  This is not a complaint.  I bring this on myself and I do so knowingly and purposefully.

The music began at seven o'clock.  The Fawns were back at Lyman Hall again.  Each year, for a lot of years now, we've played this venue as part of Northampton's First Night Celebration.  There are performances and exhibits all around town.  People buy special buttons and they can go to any of the events.  We had a show at 7:00 and a show at 8:00.  As Lesa and I walked into town (our equipment had mostly been brought in earlier) the fireworks were going off.  The explosions were directly beyond our destination, so our fifteen minute walk brought us closer and closer to the spectacle.  As we strolled, we passed several other groups of people gazing up at the sky, finding spots between the trees.  It was exciting.

The Fawns at First Night 2011
(photo by Ivan Oransky)
We loaded our stuff in and set up quickly in front of a growing crowd of revelers and before we knew it, we began our show.  These First Night gigs are always unusual and a bit surreal.  The audience is different than our norm.  It is comprised of people who don't often go out to see bands play.  It is comprised of people of all ages and from all walks of life.  The venue is also quite different than our usual haunts.  Lyman Hall is part of a large church in town.  The inside feels like the inside of a gingerbread house.

We played our shows and found a pretty good connection with the audiences.  These were our most crowded First Night shows to date.  There were not enough seats for everyone.  Nobody seemed to mind, everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Yay, First Night.

After the Fawns set, we lugged our stuff to the next building over where we had a later-night School for the Dead show scheduled.  We were playing at The Basement with special guests The Gay Potatoes (me, Brian, Philip Price, and Chris Collingwood).  We arrived with all of our stuff ready to load in, but of course, the place was dark and locked.  It was like an exact repeat of our Halloween show at the same venue.  We waited outside in the cold for about half an hour until we were let in.  Once inside, we quickly set everything up as people started filing in.

The Basement is a small venue, but I didn't have any idea what to expect for a crowd, there were so many other things happening that night.  It was a wonderful surprise that by the time we were about to start, the room was packed just about as full as it can get.  I felt bad for the crowd, since I know how uncomfortable it can be there, but overall I saw mostly happy, eager, and enthusiastic faces.

School for the Dead played a pretty solid, yet strange selection of songs for our first set.  The atmosphere was all positive in the room and it was great to be playing as the full five piece again.

The Gay Potatoes De-Naming Ceremony
(photo by Ivan Oransky)
When our first set was done, The Gay Potatoes took the stage and we played, musically, our best show to date.  We did the same nine songs that we played when we used to play shows seven or eight years ago.  At the end of the set we had our Official De-Naming Ceremony where we denamed ourselves.  This was symbolically exhibited by slicing a potato in half.  We are no longer called that name.  We currently have no name.

The band that used to be called The Gay Potatoes finished playing at almost midnight.  The room cleared significantly as folks left to go join the throngs in the center of town to watch the ball do it's thing.

School for the Dead began our second set soon after midnight with an unexpected version of Everybody Loves Martha by request.  Our second set was exhausted and crazy and musically it was all over the place, but mood-wise it seemed to fit the chaotic mess that New Year's Eves usually bring.

The audience was wonderful.  Happy New Year, everyone.

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