Things From Our Past

Our first show…

…was at at Border’s Books in 2006. The set list: Forgiven2, Evil Eb, and a song that usually ended in me chanting “I’ll fucking kill you,” which I censored because we only knew these three songs. We performed during an awards ceremony for graphic design students at Penn College–now our alma mater–with two other student musicians. I didn’t have a guitar, so I borrowed one from Alex Boyce (Keystone Ska Exchange), who attended along with our parents, younger siblings, Sean Steward, and my best friend, Kara. Before that, the only “fan” we had was Erin Karpich, who supported us at Penn College’s sparsely-attended open mic nights, clapping and hooting from behind a round, Formica covered table with other students we didn’t know. It was nerve-wracking and encouraging–I could hardly feel my hands on the fret board let alone form a different chord. Alex Boyce said it was necessary, and I believed him, because he knew more about being a musician than anyone I knew. The things I knew came from Mtv, though I was sure I was deeper than that. Yet  I wore sun-glasses on stage and gulped shots of whiskey before our sets. Because at least I was like the deep, misunderstood Mtv artists at the open mic night.

P.S. Erin Karpich bared through all of this, still comes to our shows, and doesn’t tell anyone I used to wear sunglasses on stage. Thank you for that, Erin. I really do appreciate that gesture.

In 2007, we somehow landed a show opening for the Uptown Music Collective‘s rendition of the Blues Brothers at the frigging Community Arts Center, though we had never been students at UMC and didn’t know a DI box from a monitor. I learned by listening to the sound techs there not to do a thing they called “sandbagging,” where you hold back during the sound check and then rock out during the performance–making everyone cringe and forcing the sound person to try and bring your level down gracefully so they don’t get bitched at. The only sense I can make of the metaphor is that it’s like damming a flood with sandbags: there’s no way to do it gracefully and you’re probably always getting yelled at for not doing a good job even though there’s a frigging flood and you’re trying to hold it back with goddern sandbags.

And lastly, here is a video of a song called “Ode 2 Teena,” from our first-ever very own show, at Williamsport’s former creative hub, The Coffee and Tea Room. I’ll save the lengthy caption and just mention that a.) yes, I was wearing white face paint, and b.) the ending shout-out to our fans still stands entirely relevant–increasingly so! Thanks to everyone who came out, comes out, reads the blog, etc. ‘Cause if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, I’m sometimes unsure whether it fell or not…

-Val

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