The two-piece indie rock band, Sleepy Kitty, is currently on their 2013 summer tour that will be hitting many U.S. cities. While they’re on this tour, they will be writing an exclusive blog for us. You can check out their first entry (with pictures), after the break.
“August 23, The Pageant, St. Louis MO
The summer’s been a busy one for touring, and the fall’s going to be even more so, so we’ve been looking forward to a rare hometown show in St. Louis. Tonight we play The Pageant, the biggest room in town, with our friends The Incurables, The Blind Eyes, and Shooting With Annie. We’ve all been working up some tricks just for this evening, including a borrowed horn section and some shared songs. Sleepy Kitty also invited some friends to join us for a few songs—Natalie Huggins of Wax Wine, and Jason Hutto of, well, South Side music royalty. We recorded a big chunk of our last couple of records with him, and he’s one of our favorite guitarists on Earth. He hasn’t been onstage in a while, so we’re psyched to have him helping out.
The stage setup is awesome—the stage is already at least five feet tall, and then I’m on a drum riser so they can wheel me out of the way when needed. My riser’s right at the edge of the stage, though, so I loom even taller above the pit—feels like I’m on the roof looking down. I’m so amped up that I break three sticks in the first two songs! But what the hell, sticks are cheap and tonight is fleeting. Finally we pause so that I can announce our next event in STL: on September 14, the Planetarium at the Science Center will be doing a laser show of our upcoming album! I’ve been dreaming of doing a real, true laser show for one of my bands since I was in college, and it’s going to be happening in just a few weeks! We dive into an apocalyptic version of “Godard Protagonist Inflection,” which is the toughest but also my favorite song from the new album, and I can’t help but think about laying back and watching the laser-show version pulsing overhead.
The Incurables join us for “Nothing = You,” a song we have a tough time playing as a two-piece because there are parts for multiple guitars including a twelve-string electric and some close harmonies. With three guitarists, four singers, a bassist, keys, and two drummers, though, we absolutely shred the song—it sounds incredible! We head right into The Incurables’ “Famous Last Words,” and the harmonies just light up the room. It feels like pure decadence to have so much musical capability gathered on one stage. After that Paige sticks around to add some extra vocals here and there, but I’m done and ready to hang out with some Blind Eyes! We make sure to be out front for The Incurables’ climax, a cover of Jellyfish’s “Joining a Fan Club,” a byzantine pop labyrinth of a song that Paige and I have been listening to for days so she can perfect her harmony parts. The live version slays: each guitar gets its chance to shine, and the chorus vocals are stacked like a Queen song. It’s positively majestic.
At the bar after the show, with all four bands comparing notes on assorted invisible mishaps and highlights, it feels like a clean victory. These are some of my favorite musicians to see perform, much less play alongside on the Pageant stage. We have to leave early tomorrow for Des Moines, but the aftershow is as rewarding as the show itself, after all the prep we’ve been doing. All is well in the hometown tonight. I hope Des Moines can keep up.
August 24, Shoot The Chutes at Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines IA
We’re loading into the dark, cool air of Vaudeville Mews, and the overhead soundtrack is a hit parade for people like us: “Tractor Rape Chain,” “Bottle Up and Go,” Camera Obscura, Big Star into Replacements into Silver Jews’ “Advice to a Graduate”… The soundguy responsible turns out to be Patrick Fleming of the Poison Control Center, a band we already dig from having seen them play with Bunnygrunt in St. Louis. We talk as we load in. I mention one of my all-time favorite obscure albums—Heatmiser’s “Mic City Sons”—and he knows not just the songs but the players in the band. Patrick also mentions that he’s got Bob Nastanovich singing on one of his new recordings, which can only make me jealous in a good way. I just want this guy in the tour van with us—not least because when we do get onstage and play, the sound is aces.
The only downside is that load-in causes us to miss Torches’ set on the outdoor stage. We heard them soundchecking a little as we came in, and they’ve got super smooth three-part harmonies, McCartney bass tone, and stylish drums. Plus, it turns out later, they’re all good guys. They’re on tour from LA, where we’ll be headed in a little over a month, so we make plans to meet up over there. Right on—tour has its rewards, and knowing good people all over the map is definitely one of em.
The festival is called Shoot The Chutes, and even though it’s in its first year, it feels like everyone knows what they’re doing. There’s none of the panicked running around that I associate with festival chaos—the staff is helpful and relaxed, the bartenders are doing good business, and it looks like everyone’s enjoying themselves comfortably, inside and out. The sets are spaced out just right so the crowd has time to gather at the next stage, instead of getting pummeled with wall-to-wall music all day. We start our set and everyone steps forward and pays close attention. One guy with a great mohawk positions himself directly in front of my drumset—also right in the cone of Paige’s amp—and rocks his head to the songs, which I love and appreciate. Each time we finish a song he says, “Louder!” At first I think he’s looking for us to be a different band (and we’re plenty loud tonight), but then I realize he’s being enthusiastic. Bless his soul, we crank it up a little more.
After our set we sell some copies of our new single and do some hanging out. One couple decides to get a matching pair of our shirts because they’re on a volleyball team called Sexy Kitties; more evidence of good people in Des Moines. We catch up with Anna from Annalibera, who played the indoor stage before us and who made a righteously pretty racket, and the sun sets but the night air stays warm and breezy. I run into Dave from Maps & Atlases, minus his famous beard (who knew he had such a great jawline under there!) and say a quick hello before I have to run an errand with the van that causes us to miss their set entirely—curse the minutiae of tour! But then we do catch Prissy Clerks (best band name of the night) from Minneapolis and both Paige and I are separately smitten. She hears the front of their set and I hear the last part and we both want to play with them again. Clara’s voice is heart-stirring, and her stage manner is completely adorable, somehow both cute and no-frills at the same time. The band squalls politely, and their final song in the set has a drum part that gets me all revved up. Paige and I find them as soon as they’re done, and it turns out they’re also interesting people to talk with. We talk about posters and all the killer postermakers from Minneapolis—Little Friends of Printmaking, Aesthetic Apparatus, Landland, the dude from AmRep—and talk about maybe Sleepy Kitty Arts doing a screenprinted poster for Prissy Clerks, which would be an honor and a pleasure. We’ve been trying to find time to get to Minneapolis, so hopefully we can get a show together with them.
Inside, a beautiful girl named Alison is wearing long, graceful earrings made of pale cloth and dancing with her friend to Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. The crowd is solid and paying close attention to the songs, as the drummer and guitarist swap places a couple of times and work out songs from their new album (available “as a bootleg” at the merch table, they say) as well as older songs that the crowd has clearly been looking forward to. Their t-shirt features a cat peeking out of a cardboard box, so obviously I have to get their last medium.
I tell Andy, the booker, how much we’re enjoying ourselves, and he looks Midwestern proud. The whole city’s putting itself on show, really—when we step out to get food, all the neon is glowing and you can see the light glinting off the gold dome of the capitol building even in the dark. The crowds are all in a good mood, and I realize that this is maybe the best week of the year for touring college towns, because students are back in school but they’re still feeling the summer. I walk up to the outside bar to get a drink and a guy points at the big metal necklace I’m wearing and gives me some friendly hassle about it, then declares that we’re going into business together making male jewelry to ward off girls. He buys Paige and me a shot of some foul-smelling dark stuff that we sip instead of shooting. Sacrilege! But I don’t care, I make the rules, and if I’m in an all-girl band tonight, so be it. Men’s fashion has no fashion. Des Moines has taken us under her wing, and the hotel’s a gentle stumble away.”
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