Band Element of Surprise, Ventura County CA

Do you <3 classic rock? Strange pairings of music, such as Richie Valens & the Ramones meet Deep Purple? You may appreciate us. We're the band Element of Surprise! We may get thru the song-or it may go horribly AWRY. You pays yer money & you takes yer chance! We play a very eclectic mix of classic & alt rock...if you live in the SoCal area & listen to either KLOS or KRTH-101, you've heard most of our songs. We're a 6-piece consisting of Pat on vocals & percussion, James on lead guitar, Hector on bass, Rob on drums, newest member Danny on acoustic and electric guitars, and your humble scribe Rita on rhythm guitar/keyboard/harmonica and vocals. We've been together for 5 years (longer than some marriages!) and have had some memorable gigs. I started this blog to keep a list of them--and to chronicle our RISE-TO POWER! Well, not really--all of us have a day job, and we're all over 45 (except for Danny, who is young and impressionable!) so this is more of a hobby. But we all have an abiding love for music, and we have healthy self-images, and some of us are major hams, so here we are. Walking down the street. We get the funniest looks. From everyone we meet. Hey hey--no, stop, that's plagiarism. Anyways, I don't expect anyone (other than MY FRIENDS & FAMILY) to ever read this, but if you do and you have an interest in an elderly garage band on the first level of getting started gigging, welcome and well-met. If YOU have an interest in starting a band and are curious about equipment, etc-let us know. Maybe we can help you avoid a TON of trouble.
Well, cheers, and see you "on the cover of the 'Rolling Stone,'"
Rita aka MrsMMars :-)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 26, 2009 - The Tower Club! (cue ooh, ahh from crowd)

We were STOKED to find out we were going to play at the Tower Club-a very exclusive club in the tallest building in Ventura County (Morgan Stanley Building, 22 stories, in Oxnard, CA.) Hey, it may not be much to those who dwell in Las Vegas, or who live east of Earthquake Country-but we were very happy! For 3 of us, it was our first time in the club. We were impressed by the marble entryway, glass facade, and gruff security guard--til we found out what we would have to go through to get our equipment (a Honda Element STUFFED full of guitars, amps & gear, a Chevy Impala LOADED to the gills with 400 watts of Galen-Kruger Bass stack, and a Chevy truck packed with a 7-pc drum kit) up to the 22nd floor...when the freight elevator (Notice the EL VATO label, in case you had any doubts that you were in Oxnard) would only go up to the 21st floor. MEH. We moved our crap from the 21st floor to the 22nd floor elevator (which refused to stay open, necessitating the need to wedge it open while we hucked our crap into the elevator) then dragged it into the Sunset Room--which was absolutely breathtaking. As you can see from the pictures, the view was spectacular. Well, we unloaded, set up, did a sound check, then went to dinner at a Ventura County landmark (kind of like Norm's in Los Angeles.) The waitresses wore white uniforms (rather unsettling.) We were the only patrons in the restaurant, which was weird, considering it was 5:30 pm on a Saturday night, about 1/2-mile from the mall (in a city of around 200,000 individuals.) The upshot of the meal was, while it was tasty, the restaurant would not warrant a repeat (unless you happened to be starving and coming from said mall.) I had the fish and chips, which were absolutely delicious (and the waitress was generous with extra pickles.) The bass player, unfortunately, found a HAIRPIN (yes, one of those double-curvy old-fashioned kind) on his plate. Management comped him a pie (he chose dutch apple, and went away a happy camper.)
On to the evening. We went and changed into our "fancy" duds and then went back to start the show. Here's the Colonel and I in our "fancy" duds, in the "fancy" bar. It really was swanky, with waiters walking around offering crabcake appetizers on elegant plates. We got a couple of drinks and went to meet our public.
The first set was a bit rough. It started OK; we usually open with 'Big Me' (by the Foo Fighters) because, well, we know it pretty well & it's a cheerful little tune--and a couple of practices ago I got the bright idea of running it into Soul Asylum's 'Runaway Train,' since it starts in C (and'Big Me' ENDS in C! Brilliant!) so that went well. Running songs together makes you sound like you know what you're doing. ;-) The next song, 'I Should Have Known Better,' got two leads (inadvertently) but since I was doing them, I didn't mind. I don't think anyone noticed. Too much. So we plugged along, but into the 8th song ('Black Magic Woman,' on which I solo) I was distracted and left the acoustic pedal on...which led to the most horrible feedback trouble since the first time I had ever played it in public ('what do you mean, I have to be BEHIND the amp?') and the Colonel was hissing at me to turn UP, then turn DOWN! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! I had the deer in the headlights look, and felt like all 100 people were looking at me going, "WHAT is she DOING up there?" So I went and hid behind a fake tree (which shielded my guitar from the amp, thereby producing a passable tone) and we were able to finish the song. We had 4 more songs to do, and I had NO alcohol to kill the pain of the Black Magic debacle...but we soldiered on, and at the break, the Colonel and I headed straight for the bar, where I ordered a rum & diet coke--and knocked it back before you could say 'Abraxas.' The Colonel was amused and told me to slow down...but not before I ordered one more, 'for the gig.'
We had a relaxed 10 minutes, then went back to sing 'Happy Birthday' to the birthday girls, as they cut the cake. Someone had loaded the cake with those trick candles that reignite after you blow them out, so that was pretty fun watching the two gals trying to blow out their candles. I was concerned the singer wouldn't have any breath left, but she proved me pleasantly wrong as we went into our next set, opening with 'I've Got The Music In Me,' which she does very well. However, the fluorescent overhead lights were on and the crowd hadn't had enough alcohol to loosen it up enough to for the next number, 'Love Shack' (my personal fave of all the songs we do--I only have to sing and play tamborine on it) we asked if the management could turn the lights down a bit. They obliged--and left us standing in the dark. I could see the Colonel and the bass player exchanging concerned looks, the bass player more so because he wasn't wearing his reading glasses either, and so he was laboring under a double whammy. ;-) The lights were fixed by the next song, though, and the second set went much smoother than the first--with the exception of one song, 'Hippy Hippy Shake,' which starts off with me saying, 'For Goodness' Sake--' but the drummer forgot this. So we started that one twice. The crowd was much more lubricated by then, and in a forgiving mood. We then launched into 'I Saw Her Standing There,' and the rum & coke kicked in--and I was channeling Jimmy Page, and banging away on my Taylor solid body for all I was worth, and feeling like a ROCK STAR!
Well, the rest of the night was pretty much more of the same--we won some, we struggled on some. But we did get a lot of positive feedback.
The worst part was the lack of roadies...we had to stop at 11pm, and the crowd evaporated like beer at a Superbowl party. We generously told the singer to leave (since after all, it *was* her birthday) and spent the next hour deconstructing and loading our stuff from room to elevator to elevator to floor to cars (parked about 50 yards away--and those were the closest spots available.) Oh, the glamorous life of a cover band! But every gig brings lessons, and this one was no exception--probably the most important being 'Check the pedals, especially when changing from the acoustic to the electric guitar' and secondly, 'Get to the gig extra early to set levels.'
'Til the next show!

No comments:

Post a Comment