Friday February 26th, 1999 at The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS

MK Ultra, Heroic Doses, Sunny Day Real Estate

I'm a flake. I knew about this show for months and never bothered to get tickets. As everyone would expect, SDRE sold out The Bottleneck a few days before the show and I was left scrambling for tickets. Vince was able to come through with a pair for me so with a few hours warning I called Nessa at work telling her we were going to the show.

There was a nasty traffic jam on the interstate even though I purposely took a secondary route to avoid Friday rush hour traffic in Overland Park. Oh well no matter what ya do it's gonna get you. It was actually kinda nice sitting there with the car turned off, the windows and sunroof open, the seat laying back, the Southern/Tree/Polyvinyl comp playing and Vanessa and I having time alone.

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After pulling in to Lawrence around 8pm (the start time according to Ticketbastard) we were happy to hear SDRE on the radio mentioning a 9pm start time. Just enough time to stop by Vince's, nab the tickets, return his Jets to Brazil CD and let Nessa drink a cup of coffee while Vince and I played air hockey on their newly stolen table.

The club, as expected, was already pretty crowded, and I had trouble finding anyone I knew. The tables and booths had been removed from the club to allow more space and to allow a space for video tapers. This never happened with the other big shows (Archers, Built to Spill, Sleater-Kinney etc.) so I guess SDRE are/were bigger than I thought. On the upside (as far as I was concerned) the drummer for SDRE had bronchitis and requested the club go non-smoking that night. Kick ass! It would have been hell in that crowded hot little club with smokers. We found a bleacher seat and felt uncomfortable.

Up first was MK Ultra. They were lovely I thought (having only heard the album before last) and smarter than I remembered. They are certainly a breezy SF Pop band but at times there are witty elements that will remind you of Camper Van Beethoven while other times disjointed guitar work will snap you to more current reference. They definitely have their own thing and they worked things well. I thought the singer looked like Tommy Shaw, and mentioned to Nessa that I bet he "gets all the chicks". Sometimes Nessa and I live in different decades.

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I sat down after MK Ultra and felt even more out of place. The club had an odd edge to it. Everyone was just on the verge of doing something, but it wasn't there. It bugged me. Nessa said it was just because there were so many regular college types there all sharking for someone to shack up with that night. I just know that normally it isn't that way and there is a bigger camaraderie amongst the folks at a show. I guess that's just the difference between "a show" for "the scene" and "a concert" for kids who listen to the radio. Nessa snapped a blinding picture of me and it annoyed me. I was just kinda freaked by the whole situation.

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Next up were Heroic Doses from Chicago. I had never heard of them though they kicked my ass so hard. Forget math rock, this band was straight up instrumental prog rock. Nessa thought it was yawn music though I hung on every tempo and time change. It was heaven and incredibly well orchestrated by a tight threesome of incredible musicians. The guitarist was so effortless with his SG even dancing around while pulling off incredible fingering feats. When I play the stuff they do I sit in one place and count to myself. "1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2-3-4 1-2 1-2 1-2 1-2-3-4". The guitarist looked like Kevin McDonald of "The Kids in the Hall" but I doubt that would get him any chicks. They said they had vinyl with 'em but I had found my way to the stage and gotten trapped (but trapped with a view) and couldn't go venture to find it. Hopefully I'll be able to find the 7" and even better hopefully convince them to do something on URININE.

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I sat and stood alternately on the corner of the stage while the soundman constantly had me moving out of his way so he could set up the special stage for SDRE. There were a ton of techies and other SDRE support people there. It was bizarre. I guess I'm just bothered when I see someone come out and put picks on the mic stand for a band. How bizarre is that though? Are they a band or royalty? Again I was out of my element.

SDRE started up with a fury of layered sound and energy. The sell-out crowd (ahem) were packed up front and singing along to every word and then banging their heads and lurching to the big building choruses. It was neat to see, especially from my supreme vantage point. About 2 songs into their set I was tapped by a bouncer who told me I couldn't be on stage. I had no idea who he was, and I'm on stage for every show I go to so I kinda blew him off, About 30 seconds later he told me again and I moved to get down and got one leg down but couldn't get another. Eventually he just pulled me down. Fuck a bunch of him.

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I made my way through the incredibly thick crowd to Nessa who was holding her ground on the bench. However for the minute or two I could stand it we were constantly shoved around as folks tried to make their way to a better viewing point. I couldn't handle the crowds, the lack of space and was feeling pretty xenophobic so we split reluctantly. I would have loved to see more of SDRE but this wasn't the way to do it.