Sunday, December 5, 2010

WEGO: Shipwreck #2 (Nov 20th, 2010)

Woody's Set (42 megs)
WEGO Set 1 (51 megs)
WEGO Set 2 (56 megs)

Here are the recordings from WEGO's November 20th show at the Shipwreck Tavern in West Seattle. The evening started off with a super strong opening set of guitar and voice by Woody. I don't think I had heard him play solo-acoustic in at least 2 years, and it felt like he had shockingly come into his own in the meantime! This tradition of opening sets by a different WEGO member each time is turning out to be a damn-good idea. I'm already looking forward to a Ian's set next time we get to play a full night.

After that it was two full sets of the Woodland Experimental Groove Orchestra. This was the show that convinced us that we needed to try switching to a more acoustic format for a while. We *almost* followed our new amp-aiming rule (see previous post) and it *almost* worked. (As testament to its potential effectiveness, notice how the one amp that wasn't tipped up monitor-style is much louder than the surrounding rumble.) However, by the end of this show, it felt like we might have a bigger problem than just balancing the volumes. After some thought, it seems that there's just an inherent expectation-problem when you've got 3 or 4 instruments all running through 12-inch cabinets. Generally, that sound works pretty well for really loud volumes. A full drum-kit and a large bass-amp can keep up with that and make it sound appropriate, but with hand drums and just another 12" cabinet for the bass, it ends up feeling like you've got two completely incompatible bands playing on the same stage because they were double-booked and are trying to get along. Because the sound has a "rock" timbre, but is under-supported, the guitars tend to try to play more to fill things in, which only makes the sound more unbalanced. It's a vicious cycle. On the other hand, acoustic instruments and hand-drums marry quite well, with no reduction in the ability to dance.

So, I'll definitely miss the sounds of my new synth rig (perhaps it'll return eventually, even in the acoustic format), but last night's all-acoustic rehearsal was perhaps the best WEGO yet, and really has me convinced that acoustic is the way to go. Plus, it'll give me a chance to focus on the possibilities of the newly-improved acoustic bass-box and even dabble in some sporadic trumpet action.

But back to the Shipwreck show! In addition to the paradigm problems touched on above, we also had some pure physical musician-placement problems (and possibly some beer-problems ;) that exacerbated the effect of some sloppy signaling. If you listen carefully, you'll definitely hear us trying to verbally work out the intended meaning of a signal several times throughout the night. But these kinds of train-wrecks are all part of the potential of the group and from what I can tell from the audience's perspective are far outweighed by the fun of watching us try to program the music on the fly. There were a couple of previously-unknown guys in particular who showed up near the end of the night and for whatever reason immediately understood and enjoyed what we were doing. It was a nice synchronicity when one of them shouted out "Tom Sawyer" -- one of our regular Lyrical Standards until quite recently. So Tom Sawyer it was!

(text from sometime last week during the winter storm in Seattle ... image from Kona, Hawaii this morning ... nut-stick-and-leaf boat sculpture by Ketil Jonsson ... sand castle by Tina and Lucy and Ketil (and here's how Ketil wanted the colors to look))


robert said...

image from Kona, Hawaii this morning

Does this mean you are current in Hawaii right now?

F R E E L A B said...

Full on! :))) Flying back tomorrow, which will of course be an exile from climatic paradise, but am looking forward to our show on Friday. (more on that soonly ... man, I better get on that!)

dennis said...

did anyone ask about the sound in the audience? it sounds like the recorder isn't getting the vocals or drums. placement? it sounds like one guitar is in the center. But i liked the energy and the tunes. of course i have yet to hear set dos.
stay tuned

F R E E L A B said...

yeah, the recorder was on the floor at the front of the stage ... probably not ideal, but probably not tooooo far off of what was happening out in the house (most of the comments I got were that you couldn't hear the vocals or the drums)