February 24th, 1999 at The Bottleneck in Lawrnece, KS

Paraquat, Supperbell Roundup, Saturn 138, Believe It Or Nots

For once I rushed to Lawrence to see a show and didn't wind up three hours too early. In fact I came in to Paraquat already playing. I guess they started the show at 10.

The audience of around 15 sat at tables and passively watched as the lone guitarist who is Paraquat played to his four track. At first I wasn't sure if he was playing at all actually. It took a while for me to distinguish what was coming from the four track and which noises were coming from his ovation acoustic and microphone (pumped through a delay or twelve). I stood up close (the only one standing) and snapped a few pictures and tried to listen in. Very indie rock and very lo-fi but at the same time it reminded me of Bauhaus more than anyone else. A overdriven, overblown rhythm track and his low droning and echoing vocals pretty much dominated the nearly empty club. I know I enjoyed it, I think it was good, but I'm still not sure what it was.

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Very quickly Supperbell Roundup set up as the guitarist stepped back behind a minimal drum kit (high hat, snare, kick & crash) to accompany Brandon Massei and his guitar. Supperbell Roundup's music was much more minimal, and although Brandon was occasionally accompanied by tape or drums, most often it was simply one guitar (a solid body metal knock-off actually) with no distortion and his soft voice. On his CDep he generally plays banjo (as well as Mandolin) but there were no signs of them tonight. The songs were slow, somewhat country and more often than not, about loss and dispair. I suppose you'd have to put 'em in that small catagory that Hayden lives in.

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It was a little after 11 when Saturn 138 got the stage set up and got a mini soundcheck out of the way. The stage looked like my old house actually with shit lying everywhere. A keyboard and amp were set up with a tiny keyboard lying up against another two practice amps hooked up to a sequencer or some other electronic doo-dad, a standard Fender hooked up to a Mesa Boogie combo, a guitar effects bank as well as two external pedals, a toy megaphone, a yamaha fretless bass, a trumpet, two turntables and a fairly large drum kit. Someone needed to clean up.

I hadn't seen Saturn-138 for over a year and didn't remember them being quite this busy. It turns out the DJ did very little and actually left the stage after a few songs and the trumpet made an appearance only once (but quite effectively). Essentially the band was a three peice even though I seem to remember a full time vocalist at one time.

The band is a noisy, groove-orientated space rock band. I wouldn't have thought they could coexist but they can. The guitarist/seldom vocalist spent most of the night playing with gadgets, samplers and effects only occasionally dedicating himself to the Roland keyboard or his guitar. The bass player had a hell of a groove and was really into it and the drummer seemed really good. Original beats and stuff. The problem was simply they aren't a live band and don't create a rock show.

Friends of the band provided a video show on three TVs which they added to the stage allowing some of the bar crowed (around 45 or 50 at this point) to trip into the video and get absorbed into the music but it wasn't quite enough. The band ended by inviting a friend on stage to sing a more traditional, somewhat Cocteau Twin type song, which was really nice.

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It had been a long night of slow and plodding bands so I was sitting back at my table between bands tip typing away on my lab top trying to jot some notes down about the show when I reminded of something I had forgotten since college. If you're uninterested and in your own world people want to talk to you. I had three or four folks I never talk to come up and ask what I was up to. When I sit at s show normally I'm bored to death and ignored. Bizzarre.

Despite my earlier fears, The Believe It Or Nots drew a pretty good crowd of 60 or 70 folks. 40 or so came up front and were very enthused about the band, chanting "Franklin" (Greg's lastname) and shouting song titles. The band opened up with "Frere Jaques" calling it the unfinished children's trilogy and it smoked. Played in typical round fashion but fairly speedy. Greg's guitar work was great and reminded me of Doug Marsh from Built to Spill. It was pop and noise and swirl and energized the crowd even more. They quickly launched into "Terra Incognito" and had the crowd singing along. Mike was grinning most of the show and Greg was jumping around and going crazy providing a great stage show. In fact I'd say this was the best TBION show I've been to. The band played for about an hour and then after a long pause for tuning and what not, they returned with "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey and had the remaining audience (after 1 on a school night) singing and even dancing. The club pulled the plug and the fans wanted more but it wasn't to be. But worry not folks, they're playing again next Wednesday night with Proudentall.

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