This is What Happened On the Science Club Tour

It’s been about a week since the end of the Science Club / Sexy Teenagers / Pastries tour, affectionately dubbed (by me) the “This Is So Dumb” tour. I’m still not sure what to say about it. Here’s the background, I guess.

Let me start here: we had a lot of fun. Like, a lot of fun.

People need to be thanked, and at the risk of turning this blog post into liner notes (meaningful only if you see your name mentioned, tedious under all other circumstances), I’m going to try and remember them all here. If I missed you, I’m deeply sorry. A lot was happening, and I can’t remember it all.

Thank you to Envious Disguise for opening the Rochester show and playing “Hybrid Moments” during your set. It motivated us to play “Where Eagles Dare,” a song I think we’ve practiced once in 2014.

Thank you to Sarah, who shows up under a different name in the first ever Science Club song, for coming to watch. I’m sorry my parents didn’t recognize you. I hope you get that new job. I hope life gets easier for you. I always like seeing you, and am glad that you are doing as well as you are. Thanks for letting me play Nintendo in your living room.

Thanks to the people in Rochester who knew the words to some of our songs. That felt incredible.

rochester

Thanks to Lucky 33 for putting together the Pennellville, NY show, far and away one of the strangest, most endearing shows I have ever played in my music life. Playing Monirae’s is like playing a hunting lodge. It was a singular experience and I’m stoked you guys let us be a part of it. Fun fact: the bar we played also hosted Trapt, they of “Headstrong” fame. If that isn’t some shit to tell your grand kids, I don’t know what is.

Thanks to Red from Lucky 33 and, more specifically, thanks to Born Again Savages for making me feel like an asshole that I ever thought 28 was too old for punk. If I’m half as impressive as Born Again Savages are in 15 years, I will be a lucky man. Sometimes I get caught up in these antiquated ideas of what “being an adult” and “acting my age” is supposed to look like. Having people like you around remind me not be such a full-of-my-own-shit nightmare. More on this point later.

A hearty Fuck You to the dude working the New York State Thruway Burger King at about 3:30 a.m., somewhere outside Utica. You have a shitty job, I don’t deny it. I’ve worked shitty jobs like yours. You didn’t need to be such a fucker. You made that choice. I’m sorry life has put you in a place that you have to sell Red Bull to sleepy travelers, but even within that framework, there is room to be happy. You chose to be a cocksucker. So be it. I’m sorry.

nickdown

Thanks to the buff, handsome bartender at the Mexican restaurant across from ABC No Rio in Manhattan for buying us a round of drinks. We were far too underwashed for your restaurant, and it was cool of you to extend that olive branch to us sweaty sacks. Sorry we never came back.

Thank you to ABC No Rio for being such a great place. People aren’t just going to rock and roll clubs to see music anymore, so the fact that a place like ABC No Rio, which is just a room that people come to for punk shows, is remarkable, and only able to happen because of a tight-knit community. Thank you for sharing that with us. I know there are fewer of us around the fire now. That just means you have to hold whoever remains even tighter to stay warm. Go to there if you can, it’s a special place.

Thanks to Hopeless Otis for the following reasons: playing ABC No Rio with us, playing JR’s Bar the next night at the drop of hat, doing a CD swap with us, being such positive, fun dudes, swapping shirts with the Sexy Teenagers, talking about community and meaning it. I hope you guys make millions of dollars, or, failing that, get a good writeup on Punknews. I’m sure we’ll see you again.

abcnorio

Thanks to JR’s Bar for being the best fucking punk rock place in Philadelphia. The amount of time I’ve spent sweating and shouting in that dive is remarkable and indefensible. I wouldn’t take it back for anything.

Thanks to The Pastries. It was great watching you every day, great watching you get more comfortable as you played, great to buy soap from Matt. I hope you guys put out more music, because this isn’t enough for me. Watching strangers dance to your hits was one of the best parts of the tour.

Thanks to Drew for throwing up in Rochester, then disappearing to walk to Friendly’s in the morning. Your status as a man of mystery is cemented in legend and will never subside.

Thanks to Matt for doing this thing with us. You are clearly, obviously, glaringly too big time for this tour, and having you on it not only made us all feel a little more legitimate, but it made us smell better, too (buy some soap, you savages). You were much more kind than could have been expected, and yet. Thanks so much.

Thanks to Justin. I’m not going to get into it again, but I’ve never been more jealous of a songwriter that I personally know.

pastries

Thanks to the Sexy Teenagers (or, as Joey D called them all tour to my great delight, “The Sexys”) for doing this with us. Thanks for not being too hard-partying, for driving most of the time, for making us laugh, for playing punk in the van, for singing along to all our songs, for working the merch table, for helping us book the tour, for wanting to do it again, for treating us well. Couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you. I love you assholes. Buy their CD, alright?

Thanks for anyone who fed us, lodged us, bought a CD, bought a shirt or took a pin.

Thanks to everyone who sang happy birthday to me.

Thanks to Ray Ray, for taking these absurd photos of us.

sexys

*****

I have a full-time office job, a girlfriend I am crazy about, a car, a rental payment and various other trappings of what I have always, always, ALWAYS considered to be an “adult” life. In my head, I’ve always thought of “adult” as the same thing as “successful.” I thought, if I’m still 28 and just playing in a band and working some shit band, I will have become a casualty, another person Rock and Roll lied to. Fuck that. After this tour, being at work seems a little less vibrant. I’d leave again tomorrow if I could. Forget being “an adult.” This was so fun, I considered quitting my job, getting a retail job at Staples and doing this once a season. I don’t think I will, but I considered it strongly. This was unlike anything I’ve ever done. It destroyed my voice (one more thank you, to Nick, for singing lead at Jrs), robbed me of nutrients, and almost killed me somewhere between Syracuse and Schenectady. It was the most fun I’ve had in years.

Science Club Forever,

Nate

wholetour

  • April 6: JR’s Bar w/ the Sexy Teenagers, The Pastries, Hopeless Otis
  • April 5: ABC No Rio w/ the Sexy Teenagers, The Pastries, Hopeless Otis
  • April 4: Monirae’s w/ the Sexy Teenagers, The Pastries, Lucky 33, Born Again Savages
  • April 3: The Bug Jar w/ the Sexy Teenagers, The Pastries, Envious Disguise
  • March 22: Voltage Lounge
  • March 1: The Trocadero
  • Jan 11: The Lit Lounge
  • Jan 10: Voltage Lounge

Everything You Need To Know About the Science Club Tour

nicknicnickatthetroc

Science Club is going on tour next week.

Let me write that sentence again, in case it isn’t sinking in. You are forgiven for thinking that, maybe, I typed something wrong, or I am playing an early April Fool’s day joke, or I’m just flat out lying to you.

Science Club is going on tour next week. It’s going to be so dumb. It’s going to be so great.

As far as tours go, this isn’t a big one. Even if you look at through the lens of self-booked, go-nowhere regional punk bands, which is totally the correct lens to look at this tour through, it isn’t really anything to write home out. Three bands are playing four cities in four days. Thursday to Sunday. Basically an out-and-back.

That’s not how to look at it, though, not really. You’ve got to look at it is both a labor of love and an act of supreme triumph, because that’s really what it is.

Let me tell you about it.

Part 1) Find Myself a City to Live In

 

Here’s how the tour looks, with dates and all:

  • Thursday, April 3: Rochester, NY, @ The Bug Jar
  • Friday, April 4: Syracuse, NY, @ Monirae’s
  • Saturday, April 5: New York City, NY, @ ABC No Rio
  • Sunday, April 6: Philadelphia, PA, @ JRs Bar

The first thing to notice is that a lot of these dates, approximately half of them, are taking place in upstate New York rust best cities. There’s a perfectly good, perfectly boring reason for that, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like playing at places like this. I’ve long had a fascination with places built on industry, and how those places have carried on once industry leaves. Then you’ve got Syracuse, which is a town trying to build its modern foundation on the bones of a fallen titan. If you can’t admire the spirit in that, the idea of making a home out of ash in a place of ash, then I don’t understand why you’d listen to Science Club at all. This band is all about taking things that are shitty and trying to survive. We are a rust belt city.

The Rochester show is a special one for me, since it will make the first time I’ve played my birth city with a full band since I was 19 years old. Shouts out to Frank Burns, but I’d like to think I’m coming back better than I left. It’s not really my city anymore (in fact, it never really was. I left when I was 18, long before I ever spent any time downtown), but it means a lot to me to come to it and play some punk music. I’m going to be weird at that show. Sorry, everyone.

The New York show is special, too, because it is a day time, all-ages punk show, which, if you listen to Nick, is the kind of show we should have been playing all along. He’s totally right, of course. I can’t expect my friends with children and mortgages to enjoy a pop-punk band who writes sounds about not being good enough. Teens, though? Oh man, that’s teen bread-and-butter. I’m really excited about that NYC show.

It’s my birthday, too. I might get a tattoo.

Philly? Well, tour’s gotta end somewhere. Since we’re from Philly, it makes sense. Also, I love JR’s Bar more than you love your favorite bar, but I already told you about that.

2) These Are the People that I Group Together

The bands going on this tour with us are as follows: The Sexy Teenagers, The Pastries, and Hopeless Otis.

I don’t know a ton about Hopeless Otis. I found them on the Internet somewhere, they are from New York, and their songs really blew me away. They seem to be trying to pick up where Latterman left off. They make positive, feel-good punk for the bad times, and I think they’re gonna blow the doors off ABC No Rio. I’m going to buy one of their shirts, for sure.

Playing with The Pastries is great for me. The band has formed from the bones of two of my all-time favorite Philly bands, J.Fox and Algernon Cadwallader. A lot of digital ink has been spilled talking about how wonderful Algernon Cadwallader is, so I don’t feel the need to rehash it here. Suffice to say, if you aren’t familiar, you should get familiar.

J. Fox, however, largely went unheralded in its prime. The band was a three piece from Bensalem, PA, and they made some of the weirdest, shortest, most cleverly-worded, charmingly strange rock music I’ve ever heard (full disclosure: Science Club drummer Joey is a former member of J. Fox). Listening to J. Fox felt, to me, felt special and present the same way I imagine hearing Pavement in 1993 or Modest Mouse in 1994 felt to tiny crowds in nowhere rock clubs. When they played, it felt like an event. It felt like something was happening. They disbanded, for whatever reason, and, for a time, a great rock and roll voice was lost. So having it come back in the Pastries, and having the chance to hear them four times in a row, and to expose them to a new group of people, means the world to me.

The Sexy Teenagers. What can I even say about them? They’re the silliest drunk-punks around and they’re going to be incredible. They are the co-headliner for this tour, and without them, there likely wouldn’t be a tour at all. The band is fronted by my little brother John, and I can’t even really explain what it means to me to be playing on a tour with my brother. I could try, but you wouldn’t get it and I wouldn’t do a good job. Suffice to say, it’s important, and I can’t believe how I lucky I am that it gets to happen.

With this team assembled, we cannot fail.

3) Where Did All The Money Go?

Shirts

The last thing you need to know about this little excursion is that THERE WILL BE, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN EXISTENCE, SIGNIFICANT, ACTUAL, PROFESSIONAL-GRADE SCIENCE CLUB MERCH FOR SALE.

We’re selling our first-ever pressing of our latest EP, Aging Punks, at all the tour stops. We’ve got 100 CDs. I predict we will come home with 90 CDs.

The other thing we’ve got is t-shirts. There are only 20 of them and, if there is any luck in the world, we will come back with none of them. Rochester is probably going to buy them all on the first night of the tour, because Rochester goes deep.

4) Do You Like My Party Ticks?

We’re going to play some new songs on this tour. They might be on an EP that gets recorded later this year. They might be on an album that gets recorded later this year. You might never hear them again. I don’t really know what’s happening with them yet. We’ve got ‘em, and we’re going to play ‘em. If they stink, let us know. If they’re good, keep it to yourself.

If this goes well, I want to book another one. We’ll see.

I promise you this: we will not write a tour song about this. Nick has a song about traveling, but we will not write a song about being on tour. We aren’t Good Charlotte.

So that’s about it.

 

Thanks to ABC No Rio, JRs Bar, The Bug Jar and Monirae’s for letting us play at these places.

Thanks to John and the Sexy Teens for helping us book the Upstate NY part of the tour.

Thanks to our jobs for letting us take two days of from work to act like we’re 21.

Thanks to everyone who bought an online copy of Aging Punks, because that money helped us practice for these shows.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Trocadero show, because that ticket money allowed us to make shirts and CDs.

Thanks.

This is so dumb. This is going to be so fun.

 

I Know What I Want To Say But I Can’t Get it Out

trocstageI don’t think I’ve ever articulated it before, but after every Science Club show, I take stock of the performance and consider if we should be a band or not.

After our worst show, the massacre at Frank’s garage in Montgomery County, I had real reservations about being in a punk band. I left that show pretty convinced that we were, at best, a bad band that shouldn’t keep playing shows. I strongly considered quitting the band after Frank’s garage.

After most shows, like our recent run at the Voltage Lounge or the Lit Lounge, I come off stage thinking that we at least deserve the right to continue being a band. These shows, which are 90 percent of all out shows, leave me hopeful about our chances of developing as songwriters and confident that we can find a way to write songs that we like (and that, hopefully, could appeal to others).

After Saturday’s show at the Trocadero, far and away the largest and most-attended show of Science Club’s brief and stupid existence, I felt not only that we should keep making music, but that we were a good band. Science Club is a good band, and I’ve got the proof because I was there.

liveset

From a technical standpoint, the show was kind of a disaster. About five seconds into our first song, Nick blew through his bass strap, almost dropping his instrument right out of the gate. Our friend Joe called it “the most Science Club thing that could have happened,” and he’s kind of right. I’ll touch on that more in a second.

Not long after that, I myself blasted through my own guitar strap. So, for those keeping score at home, that’s two guitar straps in less than 10 minutes. Later in the set, my guitar pedal died mid-song, leaving Nick and Joey to play a bass-and-drum version of one of our new songs. After that, I blew through yet another guitar strap, bringing our band total to three and making for our most error-ridden show to date.

Here’s the thing about all that, though: even when everything started going belly up from the jump, we were never out of control or panicked. I don’t say that to brag, but just as a statement of fact. We were too jacked up about playing a real stage, too excited about our songs, too practiced to let something as little as “not being able to stand and play our instruments” hold us back. We had a plan and we followed through on it, and nothing short of physical harm was going to stop us, because this wasn’t just some other show at a dive bar. This was a chance to prove that we belonged, that we could entertain a room full of strangers, that we are a thing. We acquitted ourselves nicely. Call it bragging if you want to, but fuck it: we’re a real band, and we’re good at what we do.

undershot

A great deal of thanks has to go to any number of people. Steve from Mantis, the promoter / booker for the show, was an excellent guy to work with. He was up front and professional from start to finish, going so far as to scramble to help me find a guitar strap when my second one blew off my body. I would book a show with him and Mantis again in a heart beat. Thanks must also go to Mobius Trip, who volunteered to let us use their drum set and was very supportive while we were on stage.

The most thanks, of course, has to go to our friends and family, many of whom came from parts far and wide, who supported us at this show. A very, very large part of why this show was successful can be directly attributed to loved ones offering up their money and their Saturday night to watch what very well could have been a train wreck. I have rarely felt more supported in my life. To those who could make it out, I thank you a hundred times over. You are noticed. You are appreciated.

Breaking a strap seconds into the first song of an 11 song set is, in fact, the most Science Club thing ever. For a while, being Science Club meant trying to have fun, not taking ourselves seriously, sloppily fucking up and trying hard to not be boring. It still means all those things, I think, but after Saturday, it means something more. We’re not like we used to be. We’re better. I’m going to keep breaking strings and straps. Nick and I are going to sing flat and out of key at times. Joey is going to miss his fills on occasion. It isn’t going to matter. We’re going to be fine.

I’ve never been more excited to be in this dumb band. Our tour is going to be great (oh yeah, we’re going on tour. More on that later).

Science Club forever.

sclubcrowd

 

SETLIST:

I Just Want to Feel Some Rhythm

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If you are the kind of person who likes to listen to podcasts, perhaps you should check out this episode of Jonah Raydio, an episode that features the sweet sounds of Science Club.

Thanks to Jonah Ray for playing our song on his show, and thank’s for creating a much more interesting backstory than our actual one. Listen here.

Also, while we’re here, I suggest you investigate the following podcasts.

Who Pays for Their Fucking Bullshit? We Do.

Science Club is playing The Trocadero on March 1.

I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, either.

photo (6)

The story of how this show came to be is a boring one, full of all the mundane details one would expect if they ever tried to book their band someplace. An opening was presented. We sent an email. The email was responded to. Here we are now.

What matters, I guess, is what this means for Science Club and what this means for you.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR SCIENCE CLUB is that we get to knock something off our list. I never in a million years thought this band would last as long as it has, let alone did I think we’d ever play a show outside of the dingy, small Philly bars I know. I certainly didn’t think we’d get a chance to play (what is, in my opinion) one of the top 5 best venues in the city.

I wrote the other day that the Lit Lounge has history. The Troc has twice that history. I’ve seen dozens of my favorite bands play here (Face to Face, Hot Water Music, The Lawrence Arms, Ted Leo, The Hold Steady, dozens more), and now we get to sweat all over it and try to bum everyone out.

Us. The same band that wrote a song about Star Trek.

If bands can have bucket lists, this is getting crossed off ours.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU is that we are going to test all the friendships we’ve ever had.

We are going to sell tickets for this show. Odds are, if you are reading this, we’re going to ask you to buy a ticket.

Now, look. I get it, I really do. I’ve had friends in bands all the way back to grade school and, while I’ve loved all my friends, I haven’t loved all their bands. I’ve been asked to buy tickets to some truly horrible shows before, and it’s a pain in the ass. No one knows that more than I do.

The only way this is different is that now I’m the one asking, not the one trying to change the subject or politely declining.

So, if you know us, we’re gonna try and pitch you. Of course, if you’d just like to up and buy one, do it from us by clicking this link here and we’ll make it happen.

So, yeah. Science Club. The Trocadero. Saturday, March 1.

This is so stupid. This is so exciting.

Science Club forever.

Someone Said That You’d Be Back Today

The Lit Lounge, NYC.

If you weren’t driving on 95 northbound between Philadelphia and New York City on Saturday, you probably didn’t notice the giant black cloud that looked like a palisade in the sky around 4 p.m. I sure did.  Ever since I got new windshield wipers about a month ago, driving in the rain isn’t a problem, but I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little intimidated by the sight of the weather. Weather is usually something that just happens. When you can see if coming, it becomes so much worse than that.

I grew up in New York state, but I didn’t actually go to its namesake city until I was 20 years old, after a lifetime of telling people that I thought the place was a dump, sight unseen. Part of me probably resented being associated with the Big Apple despite the fact that Rochester has more in common with the hills of Vermont than it does with that place that James Murphy keeps writing songs about, but the reality is that I was just a shitty kid who liked to talk nonsense.

Since then, I’ve gone back and forth on New York (henceforth used to signify the city, not the state, Rochester for life, son). On Saturday, before Science Club’s show at the Lit Lounge, I liked the place. After our show, I hated it.

That makes it sound like we had a bad show. We didn’t. That said, the process of getting to the club, loading out stuff in, and getting out stuff back out was a goddamn nightmare. The Lit Lounge is located a few blocks away from NYU’s campus in lower Manhattan, wedged between a grocery store and what appears to be a nightclub. It’s a greasy little spot without a sign or any marker signifying it. As such, there’s nowhere to park a car and unload an amp.

This isn’t the club’s fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault, I guess. Still, after unloading in a bus lane, driving for 30 minutes to find a spot 30 minutes away, then having to make the trek again in reverse to get home, I’ve decided that New York can share California’s inevitable future and slide into the angry ocean. At least we’ll finally get that Atlantis we were all promised.

*****

Dan Mariska and the Boys Chior

Dan Mariska and the Boys Chior

The Lit Lounge basement is a very cool place. It’s all brick walls and black surfaces and shadowy little alcoves that look a little bit like what TV and movies keep insisting parts of 19th century London looked like. It’s a place with “history,” as they say. The bartenders were helpful, but dismissive. The sound guy looked like a survivor of 80s hardcore and, at one point, got into it with a drunken patron of the show (after reviewing the tape, I’m on the sound guy’s team).  The door woman read a book the entire time, but it’s hard to say if her detachment from the situation is based on personal issues or the fact that it was a show that Science Club was playing and, as such, there’s not a ton for a door person to do.

We played with three other bands. The first, Dan Mariska and the Boys Chior, were a four-piece rock and roll outfit from the Midwest. If there were any justice in the world, they’d be opening up for the Kings of Leon or the Alabama Shakes or whatever. They were as tight a band as I’ve seen, and their (oh, I hate this term but I guess it works) roots-rock sound reminded me how fun the guitar can be. They were talents as hell and, tragically, criminally, viewed by only the members of Science Club and one other girl. Watching them, I was reminded of the song “The Late Greats” by Wilco. Look it up. That’s more of less what happened at the Lit Lounge between 8:30 and 9:15pm. I suggest you purchase their music here.

The second band was equally talented, while having fuck-all in common with the first band. What can I tell you about Sursum Verbo? Well, firstly, I will cop to this: I thought their band name was needlessly odd until someone told me that its Latin and not just some gibberish. The lesson here is, as always, that I am dick.

photo 2

Sursum Verbo might be my new favorite band. They are a three piece from New York. Their sound is post-punk, I guess, though the lead singer would tell me later on that they don’t much like to pigeonhole themselves that way. They reminded me of Title TK-era Breeders. They reminded me Ticonderoga. They reminded me of the Talking Heads or Television or any other angular band that uses the tools of traditional rock and roll and tries to push something new out.

Their rhythm section was phenomenal. Their guitar playing was creative without being showy. The lead singer had three drinks on stage, because “you’ll never know what kind of thirsty you’ll be.” They were unlike any band I’ve seen in years. Listen to them here. Go see them when you can. We exchanged emails after the show. I fully intend to bring them to the City of Brotherly Shove this year. Come to that show.

*****

The Lit Lounge on Saturday was our second show in as many days. After Friday’s show, all members of Science Club came off the stage feeling pretty confident. I don’t think that sense of confidence was as prevalent after Saturday. Nick, especially, seemed shaken, after breaking a bass string during the second song.

Photo by Aunt Laurel. Dumb face and body by Nate.

Photo by Aunt Laurel. Dumb face and body by Nate.

Nick felt bad about it after the show, but considering that A) he was able to play every song anyway by adjusting the octaves in his head on the fly because he is a musician and his mind is sharp B) I break so many strings all the time and this is the first time in recorded history it’s ever happened to him, he had no need to feel ill about his performance. I guess no one did. Joey couldn’t hear us as well, crammed in the crawlspace that the Lit Lounge banishes drummers to. I played fine, but goofed up a bunch of chords and couldn’t get my FX pedal to make the loud grumbling sound I like.

Still and all, we did what we do, which is to say play stupid punk songs and look like we enjoy doing it, which is easy because we do. I blew my voice out with two songs left and ended up sounding like Tom Waits for the rest of the night. We shook hands with new friends (shouts out, again, to Sursum Verbo, the drunk guy who got into the with the sound guy, the sound guy, who sought me out after to tell me he loved our set, Claire, a friend of a friend who likes the song where everyone is going to die, and to Tom, Jared, Omar and Jules, the truest of all Science Club fans) and hugged old ones. We had a few drinks, watched the last band, and posed for the photo that now sits atop this page.

The rock show ended at 12 a.m. At 12:10 a.m., the Lit Lounge basement turned into the nightclub from the Matrix. It was as if someone open a fire hydrant in the basement and, instead of water, thin, attractive people from NYU came gushing out. We got our gear and got the fuck out of there.

*****

If you haven’t listened to Aging Punks in a while, why don’t you? While we’re at it, have you ever heard “S.E.I.” as God intended? What about “Funky C?” Go forth and reacquaint your self with Science Club. We’ve got some big news coming up this week that will explain why.

I’m Coming Back to Life Again / Resuscitation of the Year

 

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Happy New Year, people of Earth. Science Club is back at it.

The Club played it’s first show of the new year, it’s first booked through a new booker. Plently of room for stuff to go wrong, especially considering that we’re prominently involved.

The Voltage Lounge is described as being “next” to the Electric Factory. This is technically true: there is what appears to be an office / loft space separating the larger, established venue from the smaller club that is, by all reports, still trying to find itself (if the proper way to determine the age of trees is to cut them in half and count the rings, the proper way to age a rock and roll bar is to see how much grafitti is in the bathroom. I’d estimate that more than 80 percent of the men’s room remains unmolested by bathroom poetry and hastily scrawled band names).

From the street, however, it looks like Voltage is connected to TEF. The two story bar faces the street and boasts a similar layout to the larger venue that shares it’s space. The bottom floor has a bar, tables,  a small dance floor / mosh pit area, and stairs leading up to more tables that overlook the stage. It looks nice. It’s big enough, however, that a smaller, shittier band (you know, like the band I am one/third of) could potentially get worried about not bringing enough people and making the bar look even bigger than it is by the absence of paying customers. Addition by subtraction, if you will.

I need not have worried. Science Club had a pretty good group of fans come out to see them Friday night in Philadelphia. In return, we played a pretty good show in which I only lost my voice a little bit. It was a good start to the year. Shouts out to a group of teachers, a gaggle of dudes from Bensalem, PA, some shaggy West Philadelphia people and my roommate Brett for making it out. We even got paid, which has happened, what, less than six times? Pretty cool stuff.

When I say “we got paid,” I want to make it clear what this means. First, it means we made a little bit of money, enough money to pay for our practice space and not a thing more. We didn’t make enough money to fill a gas tank. That’s okay, though. For a band like ours, a band made up of three guys with other stuff going on, a chance to practice for free, even for a week, is a blessing. Secondly, not every venue will pay a performing band. I used to get way more upset about the kind of low-level screwjobs that venues will pull on small bands who scrambled to get a draw then get nothing back from it. Many venues won’t pay out until the bar closes, only to scrape out $10 out of the tip jar. Others will flat-out still a band entirely. I doubt this happens to Banner Pilot or Dillinger Four or whatever, but when you’re just some slapdick 20-something playing power chords to 10 people, it’s easy to get screwed (not that you really should be getting that much money anyway).

The other bands on the bill were all pretty great, too. The first band, Andorra, was a group of dudes who appeared to be just over 21 but played with a mastery beyond their years. Ariables is a prog three-piece who seemed to apologize for being a prog three-piece by covering “My Own Worst Enemy,” “The Middle” and “Baba O’Riley.” Jeanette Berry and the Soul Nerds were a full-fledged soul band with the vocals to back it up. All three were a party and fun to share / ruin a bill with.

All of this is to say that I enjoyed the Voltage Lounge. It was a good venue. The soundman, Lee, was helpful. The bar didn’t have any beer specials, but whatever, thems’ the breaks. We’re playing there again in February. It’ll be good.

Tonight, Science Club plays its second show of the year at the Lit Lounge in Manhattan. According to my cousin, it’s a pretty big venue with some history to it. I just hope no one throws anything too heavy at us. Lord willing, we’ll make a friend and get a little more money to spend at on practice.

Two big developments in the Science Club world are happening this year. Stay tuned for the full gory details.

You’re Too Old to Rock, No More Rocking for You

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Last night, Science Club held it’s first practice of the New Year and the first practice where I tried to use earplugs.

There’s a test you can take online. You plug in your headphones and listen to a series of tones. As each tone plays, the screen will list the age at which people can usually hear these tones. In essence, this test tells you how old your ears are.

I took this test. My ears are in their 50s. Not great, since I’m not even 30 yet.

Going deaf has never been a concern of mine. I’ve played in loud bands since I was a teenager, and I’ve been using headphones to listen to loud music since before the bands. I always assumed that I’d lose my hearing somewhere down the road and, when that happened, I’d just get a hearing aid and move on with my life.

That plan, for any number of reasons, seems much less feasible now than it did when I was 12 and my Grandmother was worried about getting me a diskman for my birthday.

So I tired to use earplugs at practice and it wasn’t great. There’s something missing when you play with plugs, a disconnect that I can’t really explain but would make sense if you played music. I took ‘em out about 2/3 of the way through practice. Looks like hearing aids for me.

I will say that they helped me hear myself sing, and, just as we all suspected, I’m a golden-throated angel.

The first hour of practice was a bit of a slog. The second hour went better. We’re ready for our shows.

OH YEAH, WE’VE GOT TWO SHOWS THIS WEEK. 

Come and get it. We’ll play a song for you.