Wait For The Impending Colossal Doom

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Science Club has tried to play roughly one show a month since 2.0 kicked off in July 2013 (more on that in a bit). By and large, we’ve stuck to it, or at least come close. Maybe we do two shows in January instead of one in February, some shit like that, but it’s all part of the plan to stay active, and we take it seriously.

We didn’t have a show lined up for June until a man from Korea named Nick reached out to us via Facebook and asked if we wanted to play something called Philly Freak Festival. Having no show lined up for the month, and want to spend as much time with freaks as possible. We said yes. And that is how we, a normal-ass punk band with nothing below the surface going on, ended up playing an Art Show.

When I saw we played an Art Show, I don’t mean we played at some gallery with painting and shit. What I mean is that we played a show with some honest-to-god musicians / insane people, trying to make motherfucking ART with their music, which is more or less the complete opposite of what we do (no one is getting a grant to be in Science Club, you know?).

So, considering we were the only punk band, and, considering that we really couldn’t fail, since we’d be totally out of place no matter how the show went, I decided to do something I rarely do and play drunk.

All in all, despite everything I just said, and despite what you assume happened, it was a pretty good show.

*****

The venue was a bar located at 3rd and Girard in Fishtown, somewhat densely named 3rd and Girard. I’ll say this for the place: you’ll never forget where it is.

The bar is fine. It is a bar. It has a pool table. I got in a disagreement with the bartender about whether or not Red Stripe is a “summer beer” (even before I got drunk). The show was upstairs in a small room above the main bar, and, since that room as loaded with air conditioners going full blast, I loved it.

The first performer was a very nice man named Steven who, under his monicker oficiodetinieblas5, played some of the most upsetting music I’ve ever heard performed on a cello. He plugged his electric cello into this sound rig and proceeded to make some crunchy, dense, haunting sound collages that ended up feeling very cinematic and, in their own warped way, beautiful. I can’t say I want to hear it all the time, but two beers deep, it was striking. His music is here and you should listen at your own peril.

I really don’t know what to write about G.T. Arpe. Watching it was kind of like watching a puppet show for children, except we are all adults. At one point, everyone in the crowd was given plastic bottles with pennies in them and told to provide the drums for a song called “I Like Junk.” Nick, the one-man band that is G.T. Arpe, at one point in the show, put on gym shorts, had someone hold up a Nerf basketball hoop sang a song called “Slam Dunk,” which ends exactly the way you think it would. It was unbelieveably stupid, except it wasn’t, because nothing about it was insincere or self-aware. It was all fun for fun’s sake, and it totally worked on me.

Then again, I was drunk

So then it was our turn, and we actually played for longer than we usually do. We did 11 songs: 5 from Aging Punks, 1 cover, and 5 new songs that will likely be on an upcoming Science Club album. My voice was actually better than it usually is (my little brother in the Sexy Teenagers says he always gets drunk before he sings, because it makes him feel less conscious about his singing, which there might be some truth to). Playing the new songs was huge, because they all went pretty well. There’s a new one that Nick sings that is especially promising, and we dusted off a very old song and closed the show with it. It was pretty exciting, actually.

After our set, I watched Mike Amerika and ate some mozzarella sticks. I left the bar around 1 a.m., sober, tired and feeling sick from shitty cheese sticks. I didn’t really do anything freaky. Sorry, Freakfest.

*****

There’s some stuff coming up that I want you to know about. A few shows with friends old a new, a radio spot I did for some station in Florida. Some news about our friends in the Sexy Teenagers. But the most exciting thing right now is that we’re in the beginning stages of planning to record an album this fall. It will likely be 10-12 songs, most all of them written within the last two years (except one, which I wrote about a million years ago but we never used it). It doesn’t have a name yet (I’m going to push for “Marathon,” but I’m not going to push that hard), and, if the lord is willing, it’ll come out better than our last album. But more on all that to come. For now, here’s the set list:

SETLIST (maybe. I was pretty loaded):

  • Modern Problems (Sad Song) NEW
  • Bad at Parties NEW
  • More than a Man
  • Beach Song (editor’s note: I really need to name this song something else) NEW
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Blood Ghost
  • No Ghost
  • Marathon NEW
  • Free Pimp C
  • RPGs NEW (to you)

 

June 13: 3rd and Girard, Philly

May 31: Kungfu Necktie, Philly
May 24: Ding Dong Lounge, NYC
April 6: JRs Bar, Philly
April 5: ABC No Rio, NYC
April 4: Monirae’s, Syracuse
April 3: Bug Jar, Rochester
March 23: Voltage Lounge, Philly
March 1: The Troc, Philly
Jan 11: Lit Lounge, NYC
Jan 10: Voltage Lounge, Philly

 

Can We Please Take a Second Now?

I’ve referenced Frank’s Garage a few times on this blog. Those intimately familiar with the legend of Science Club know that Frank’s Garage is the nadir of the band’s existence. It was a show in which everything that could go wrong did, a show so bad that I seriously considered quitting the band and forgoing music altogether.

In retrospect, the colossal failures of the show were no one’s fault but our own, as they always are. The show, which was held in Frank’s detached garage in Montgomery County, was an unregulated, drunken DIY slopfest. We played with some garage-rock band I cannot remember and our eternal bro-dudes in Scatterbrain (back when they were still The Next Big Thing, not just now when they are the next big thing). As was Science Club’s style at the time, we had not practiced for the show outside of one, maybe two, hurried sessions in my Conshohocken basement and an unplugged practice in my living room.

(Looking back on it now, I can’t even fathom how we kept calling ourselves “a band” when we went roughly 15 months without playing a show, practicing at all, or even doing anything outside of occasionally getting together to play music in someone’s living room. We were such jerkoffs.)

Here is a picture of a much younger Science Club, totally fucking eating it in every regard, at Frank's Garage. Nick looks the same. Joe Pelone looks fantastic. I look like Lord of a Asshats. Jesus, even thinking about this show makes me sweat.

Here is a picture of a much younger Science Club, totally fucking eating it in every regard, at Frank’s Garage. Nick looks the same. Joe Pelone looks fantastic. I look like Lord of a Asshats. Jesus, even thinking about this show makes me sweat.

Rather than walk through every minute detail (both for your sake and for my own mental situation), I’ll just catalog every issue with the show.

  • Because it was being playing in a garage, the sound was very bad, both for the people listening to us and for us to communicate with each other what songs we were playing.
  • We played for 45 minutes which, at that point in our existence, is about 25 minutes too long for a band that doesn’t practice
  • We played mostly new songs (most of which have been recorded or chucked altogether). Please see the pervious bullet point for why that was an issue.
  • Right at the beginning of our cover of “Dancing the Dark,” which we can usually use to bring disinterested audiences back to our cause (which is often because, come on, we’re Science Club), I broke a sting. As a result, we played a 5-minute long, totally guitar-free version of the song.
  • Once the show was over, not a single person clapped. Everyone just continued talking, which is always the telltale sign that you just ate it hard.

Looking at it now, it really doesn’t seem that bad. In my memory, however, it is a big failure, an ever-present reminder that I ain’t shit and, if I don’t work hard and try my best, I will never even be a forgettable, pleasant entertainment, I will only be a joke everyone gets but me.

I write this because, a few weeks back, I had my worst performance since Frank’s Garage.

*****

KungFu Necktie is a cool venue. It’s on Front Street, a block up and away from the Frankford Avenue corridor in Philadelphia, the number-one spot to be a cool young person in the city (at least right now. It’s quickly turning into Graduate Hospital 2.0, what with its writeups in The New York Times and its Brooklyn transplants and its bikes and its counter-culture casualties and all. Pennsport and Point Breeze is where cool shit 3.0 is likely going down. So ends this edition of “Nate’s Hyper-Specific Philadelphia Gentrification Breakdown.”). It regularly hosts top-notch metal and punk shows, drawing bands as buzzed as Japandroids and as criminally forgotten as Pilot to Gunner.

It also has an upstairs where scene punk bands can play. We were up there.

Playing upstairs at KFN is like playing a house party: the layout is kind of weird, there’s a dirty couch you can sit on if you’re brave, the “bar” is just a fridge with some pounders in it, and it’s so loud that even the dude with the neck tattoo will say “fuck, that’s loud.” It’s a perfect place for our bullshit.

The first band of the night was Cheerbleeder, who was playing their first show. I can’t find too much on the Internet about them, but they ripped. They sounded a little bit like, I don’t know, White Lung? If White Lung was a garage rock band? It’s hard to say, but it was cool. Their lead singer had some crazy moves: she did a lot of squatting, like she was trying to take a shit in the woods, and, at one point, did a move that Nike described as “being like a baby and making me uncomfortable.” They were loud and fast and great. Go see Cheerbleeder.

We also played with All Bad, which, upon further research, features members of The Weaks and Amanda X, which explains why they were so fucking great. All Bad is an example of what pop-punk can sound like when everyone in the band is simultaneously excellent at their instrument and not giving a shit about it. Listen to them here, and then check them out when you get a chance. They don’t know this yet, but I’m going to try and book another show with them this summer.

The linchpin of this whole operation was Rochester’s Secret Pizza, who were finishing up their tour in Philly. Secret Pizza is some space-rock wildness. They sound like Yo La Tengo. They sound like My Bloody Valentine. The sound like Sonic Youth. They sound like pot smoke. They sound like a guy who was an asshole to everyone before he had a formative acid experience, and now just wants to be friendly to everyone. Tim, the lead guitarman from Secret Pizza, set the whole show up, and was cool enough to include us (fun fact: Tim was the guy who booked us at The Bug Jar in Rochester). I liked them so much that I bought one of their tapes, and I don’t even listen to tapes. Go listen to Secret Pizza now, please.

As for Science Club, we did fine as a band. We tried this thing where we played without a set list because it was cool in practice the week before, but it really didn’t work live. No one know if they should clap, or when they should clap, and while it was cool when everyone went nuts at the end of the set, there were a few moments when I was tuning my guitar or whatever when everyone was just standing quietly in a small room, and that was … uncomfortable.

Nick and Joe did great, per usual. Nick got to borrow someone’s bass amp, so his bass sounded great. Joey nailed all the drum parts. I sucked a big fat ass. Broke a string 1 song in. Blew my voice out like King Dipshit on the second song. Put new strings on my guitar that were a gauge too light, so strings kept jumping out of their correct lane and merging with other strings. Basically, I sounded like total shit, and, since there are only three of us in the band in the first place, I brought the team down. No one seemed to notice, which has now made me afraid that I sound like shit all the time.

Still and all, it was a good show. I saw some great bands. I got to see Tim, who is high in the running for “Friendliest Guy.” The booker at KFN is going to work with us again. We sold one of our dumb shirts and a few of our dumb CDs. I was kind of an asshat, but whatever. Our ride to the middle continues.

Setlist (maybe. This show was 2 weeks ago and I don’t remember)

  • Molly
  • More Than a Man
  • Song in the Sea
  • Beach Song
  • Pimp C
  • Blood Ghost
  • Train in Vain
  • A Future Sure to Come

May 31: Kungfu Necktie, Philly
May 24: Ding Dong Lounge, NYC
April 6: JRs Bar, Philly
April 5: ABC No Rio, NYC
April 4: Monirae’s, Syracuse
April 3: Bug Jar, Rochester
March 23: Voltage Lounge, Philly
March 1: The Troc, Philly
Jan 11: Lit Lounge, NYC
Jan 10: Voltage Lounge, Philly