Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tapes 'n Karma

I checked out Tapes 'n Tapes last night after an interview. Now, I'm blogging about it all on a "sic" day.

First of all, let me share some things about this very unique interview. I drove forty or so minutes outside of COMO on a long, winding road to a little K-12 school under a water tower and just past the smell of recently spread manure. The building actually holds the entire community's school children from the ages of 5 to 18. The school itself was built in '39 and refurbished with computer labs, office space, and a new gymnasium about ten years ago. The average class size is about 17 or so, and that's the entire class, not just a classroom. There is a ton of technology in the building; every 3rd-5th grader has 1/2 a computer to share. I know all this because the admin gave me a tour of nearly every classroom, restroom, and custodial closet. Nice place.

I met with t
he superintendent and principal. These two were characters. The super was this older lady who was extremely positive about everything. She liked to get started on a story about schools and her alma mater and Macs and such. The principal was actually in-charge of the entire k-12 staff and student population. She had career small-town jr. high teacher (which she was) written all over her. She was high energy and probably a little over-caffeinated. They were both very Missouri (which may mark the first time I've ever called it "Missouri", not "Misery").

Sounds like a fun place to work, doesn't it? Here's the kicker: The pay for a tenth year teacher with a Master's is just over $31k. That's right. I felt as if I did one of those Scooby-Doo "huh" things he does when something confusing happens. That translates into no home-improvements, no new Prius (to compensate the hour+ daily round trip), no going back to school, and no babies anytime soon in our household.Needless to say, I hopefully will not have to take this job. I may not have a choice, but I'm holding onto some hope.

Fast forward to the evening...

After R and I wallowed in our Misery (it's baaack), I headed on over to the Blue Note to catch Tapes 'n Tapes. It's really what I needed to put things into per
spective. Indie rock does that for me. The songs are generally depressing which makes me feel better...maybe at the very least, I feel Minnesota. Additionally, when groups rawk-out like the Tapes do, I can dance some of the sorrow away. The fact that Tapes 'n Tapes began their tour in COMO was a sign that maybe some of my karma was returning.

I arrived at the Note in time to catch the end of the opening act that I never bothered to get the name. I think they might have been a local-yokel band. It was very, very cheesy. Not cheesy in that naive Thermals/White Stripes/Moldy Peaches way, but more like that Billy Joel/Meatloaf way. This style of indie rock died out when Ben Folds Five became old. I think that I've already wasted too much of my life on this band.

Moving on...The Harlem Shakes came on next. This Brooklyn band was entertaining. (Alert: I hate that I compare every band to other bands in my blog, but I continue to do it out of pure laziness.) I heard pieces of Pavement, the Walkmen, Pixies, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Duran Duran (yes, that's no typo or ironic jab), and Phil Spector in their poppy set. However, the entire time I remember thinking that I didn't know whether I would like their records. The songs were dance-inducing. The band was tight. The singer was a little annoying, but he had this falsetto, nasally, Ira Kaplan-like voice going and some naive dance moves. To answer my question, I checked out their MySpace page. I was right to suspect. The recorded stuff wasn't nearly as good as the live show. I asked them to be my friend anyway.

Before I try to describe Tapes 'n Tapes' set, I want to make a few observations. First, they will never return to COMO. The last time they did, more people chose to watch the Cards in the LCS instead of the band. Then, this show was poorly publicized. There were none of those cool hand-pulled posters in storefronts, and the Note was rather empty. Plus, the ATM in the venue was broken down, so no one had money to buy their pink t-shirt.

Second, I'm not certain that their mullets were ironic. The band is from Minnesota. The frontman Josh Grier and the keyboardist Matt Krenzman had sort of shaggy versions of mullets. The shagginess kept them from being too-much-business in the front, but there was plenty of party in the back. I'm not sure about bassist Erik Applewick's hair; it was close though.

Third, the most hipster member was drummer Jeremy Hanson (lost Hanson member?). He had the black-rimmed glasses, spiffy duds, and skinny physique. I only mention this b/c most indie bands have a former jock or burnt-out hardcore relic banging the skins while the rest of the members are nerdy, hipster types.

Fourth, for some reason my sister doesn't like this band. They sound like Pavement and Pixies and every other 90's indie rock legends. They're at least better than Fiery Furnaces.

Fifth, the apostrophe in their band's name is incorrect. There should be two around the "n".

Unlike usual, I didn't keep track of the set list. The band played most of the material off of The Loon. The new songs sounded good but not particularly memorable. Tapes definitely rawks more live than they do on record. I now understand how they fit with the Cold War Kids on a previous tour. It was fun.

After worrying all day about somehow finding a decent job with decent pay (I found one of these things, I think) and what to do about our future, it was good to end the day with Tapes 'n Tapes. The band from Minnesota summed up my feelings about Misery when they hollered, "You don't move/When you don't move, you don't away." I'm not moving. I'm not moving away. Misery is wher I'm at. (That was done on purpose.) I guess I should just make the best of it, and maybe the karma I'm owed will come around.

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