Let's say you're in a band. From Seattle. You've been on tour, in a van, for nine weeks.

You tell us this.

You're playing for a small crowd of several totally fired up teenagers, a guy who looks like he might be one of their parents, a bartender, a door person, presumably a sound person upstairs, and me. Your style of music is a slightly listless non-update of the Strokes' rock-is-back tautness and Dandy Warhols' decades-dulled Mick Jagger impressions.

You have one (pretty catchy) song that people like in Seattle, France, and Chicago. No place else.

You tell us this, too.

You're a power trio-- except for a ski-capped fourth person hidden on the side of the stage as she sort of half-heartedly bangs at the tambourine.

You played here at least once before. Last time, you told jokes poking fun at the town you were playing.

This time, you start to speak. You say something like: "Uhh, could you make this town a little less big? I think more bands would feel comfortable coming through here if you did. There are too many people here. Like, when we drove into town I lost my 3G. Also, saw lots of homeless people."

Seattle is bigger than here, it's true. But you're playing here.

"[Something about corn!]" "[Something about sexytime with cornfed women!]" (Cheers from the few, super excited male teens!) (The even fewer, somewhat less excited female teens are probably underage, ya perv!) "[More banter about corn and cornfed women!!]"

Hey, when I have a band can I play the Crocodile in Seattle and talk about all that RAIN you guys have? And grunge? And heroin addicts? (BTW I still recommend local people check out Seattle/New York radio station KEXP, especially DJ Shani. John in the Morning works well in this time zone, too.)

Anyway, not trying to be a jerk any more than necessary on this blog, just want to be honest even though I'm blogging about shows in a city that could still use more shows. I was at Vaudeville Mews again last night not for the Blakes, but for Montreal's Winter Gloves, who I only caught for a couple of songs (an opener canceled so they started early) but thought sounded pretty good. Melodic, collegiate, slightly twee, keyboard-upholstered indie pop. They record for Paper Bag (Sally Shapiro, CFCF). The lead singer reminded me not in a bad way of the bartender at the restaurant we used to go to the most often back in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Sunday night I went to a listening party at the Lift for the new cassette-only third album from Des Moines-Minneapolis duo Olives, entitled Trembles (Moon Glyph). Comprising Ross Nerving and label chief Steve Rosborough, Olives do sort of a Liars-y lo-fi/noise art rock thing. Their previous tape was apparently inspired by Jorge Luis Borges' The Book of Imaginary Beings. Their latest has booming vocals, occasionally, kind of looming in the shadows, plus some shrill and metallic guitars. Trembles is a surprisingly broad-ranging listen, with funereal tribal drones and spacey drilling guitar figures and dystopian chants but also a delicately gorgeous ambient/electronic track. Olives say the effort "is an act of hymnal disassembly ... a subversion of traditional spiritual song structures and lyrical tropes." But even more than, say, such experimental noise dudes as Excepter, who I really like when they're on, these guys don't sound as pretentious as all that. They sound like they're having a blast. Their album is still goofy enough to include a line that at least SOUNDS LIKE this post's title. Comes in a limited run of 300. It wasn't martini night!

Download "Michael 'Dracula' Goldberg" by Olives as a free mp3 here.

REMINDER: Cursive on Dec. 12 at the Vaud!


  1. The Blakes played VM once prior with Clint Curtis's short lived band, The lives of John C. Reilly, to a nice sized crowd (100ish) and they still pulled these stupid quips. I guess they really want to show off the snotty sass that we all just love! The listening party was a lot of fun and I think Ross was pretty happy with it. I really enjoyed myself and got a pretty new red tape. I may check out Bamboo Shoots, I am going to Leopold and His Fiction, Dustin Smith Cd Release Party, Cursive/Capgun Coup, Wolves In The Attic of course, a night in the box, and pieta brown...a fine chill Dec. Norah Jones and Black Eyed Peas comin... danG!

  2. I didn't catch The Blakes either time...but this is the type of attitude that DM used to get all the time (it has actually gotten a lot better in the past few years...I think part of it had to due with Slipknot and Stone Sour showing that we aren't a bunch of hicks or something).

    I just can't respect a band who acts like that - why would you disrespect [possible] fans and the town they live in? Plus the badn is playing HERE - if your band is so good and above Iowa, why make the stop?

    Sourness like this has turned me off of several bands that I thought I would like. I just don't need to feel like a second-class fan because I am from Iowa. And the corn and cornfed women jokes? Do you really think you are the first person to make that joke? It just shows that you and your band are small minded and ignorant about my state. Put your heart into your show and be appreciative of anyone that comes - that is how you gain fans.

    BTW - Marc, started reading in July...it is exactly the type of blog that I had been thinking about starting myself (but haven't been in the mood or had time for many shows this year)...keep it up!

  3. thanks, guys! i wasn't as sure about this post because (a) i was being weird and stream-of-consciousness and (b) i was being negative when it seems like everybody i've met here is always so nice and positive. so i didn't know how people would react to it. i guess the lesson is the same one i always have to keep telling myself: just don't be afraid to be yourself and be honest and people will understand.

    missed you at blakes/winter gloves, ladd... hope to catch you at another one of those shows soon.

  4. Yeah, if Des Moines gets this kind of lame, insulting attempt at humor, you can only imagine what places like Waterloo/Cedar Falls get.

    Then again, bands that are actually willing to play the smaller towns often hve a much cooler attitude about it. We'd get some pretty cool up-and-comers before anyone knew who they were, then once they start getting some clout we'd never see them again. For example Murder By Death played there back in their early days when they were called Little Joe Gould - I have a copy of "Like The Exorcist But More Breakdancing" that has the original band name on it. I hooked Parts & Labor up with a gig playing in someone's garage on a cold night in the middle of December with about a week's notice because they found my email in the online Book Your Own Fuckin Life and actually managed to pull a crowd of about a dozen - back then P&L were still doing all instrumental, and were touring begind their first album "Groundswell" with Tyondai Braxton, who was doing the one-man Echoplex-looping stuff he was doing before Battles. All the aforementioned were very gracious and put on great shows. Whereas Des Moines is just big enough to be the small town that makes it onto the tour itinerary of a band that thinks they should only be playing big towns.

    This Olives thing sounds right up my alley, I haven't found my way into the noise/experimental end of the Des Moines music scene as much as I'd like just yet, or even figured out if there is much of one. Where might I be able to pick this tape up? Also, fuck martini night.

  5. Hey Chuck,

    That's crazy about Parts and Labor. I know their former drummer, a music critic who now is on Twitter as @1000TimesYes and doing really well for himself. We'll get people excited to play Des Moines yet, if I have anything to say about it. Maybe bands better than the Blakes, though.

    As for the Olives tape, it looks like you can order it here: http://moonglyph.asymm.net/

    Or if you don't know Ross, you really should meet him. He probably could just sell you a tape in person and save the shipping hassle. He works at Half-Price Books in Clive, so you might try looking for him there. And buy some books while you're at it...

    Martini night is just bad news. That's all. It's good to see Clint there, though.

  6. I didn't realize @1000TimesYes had been the drummer of Parts & Labor! I've been following him for a while now.

    I should definitely try looking up Ross.