Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Gizmos World Tour 2014 hits Ohio Halloween weekend

For the 3rd trek of the Gizmos world tour, the guys and gal hit Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio for a Halloween weekend filled with plenty of tricks'n'treats. Everyone - myself, Kenne Highland, Eddie Flowers, Ted Niemiec, Davey Medlock, Craig Bell, Sam Murphy and Kelsey Simpson - came to town on Halloween night, and, in true Gizmos' style, once again the airlines conspired against us and Eddie (again) got to Columbus at the last minute - missing sound check and getting to the club as the first band was playing! The rest of us made it there with a little more time to spare - we were able to go straight to sound check and even get a nice dinner (courtesy of our patron saint, Gene Mullett, who also set up the show and much, much more) before the gig began. The venue for the evening was a cool little dive bar called Cafe Bourbon Street, run by super nice folks who were extremely hospitable and who even had the Gizmos CD (along with plenty more greatness, including Pere Ubu) on their jukebox!

Opening the night was the Sick Thrills, with two lefty guitar players (the photo is not backwards!), bass, drums, and animated singer, who blasted out a set of short, fast, chaotic punk rock songs about drugs and more drugs! Stand out for me was "I Don't Give a Fuck", which was a little less frantic and had some cool guitar licks.

Up next was the 6-piece garage/r'n'b/soul machine called the Hexers, featuring singer Eric Wrong (who we met at Gonerfest), along with John Rice, Tim O'Dell, Michael Hodgkiss, John Stickley and Mark Wyatt (at least that's the line-up listed on their FB page - I'm afraid I don't remember everyone's names as I was introduced to them). These stylish cats threw down an amazing sound with lots of energy and fantastic playing! The guitars both smoked - loved the twin leads they did - the keys (he moved out of town and had to leave the band, but came back for this show, much to our appreciation!) added lots to the sound and the rhythm section was wild and monstrous! Eric's frenetic stage presence reminded me a bit of Peter Zaremba, without being derivative, and he blew some mean harp, as well - especially dug it when he ran it through some tremelo and echo. I admit that I'm still a sucker for well-played garage rock'n'roll and these cats were definitely a highlight of the weekend for me!

Mike Rep and Last Call were up next with their two guitar/drum action, sounding like a mix of the 13th Floor Elevators and Velvet Underground, with plenty of other influences thrown in. Some psych, some garage, some country, some lo-fi punk and lots of attitude. Mike's first record was on Moxie as the Quotas, and was recorded in 1975, so the man has been around! His last song was a reminiscence about 1973 and he even mentioned Steven Tyler and the Gizmos in it!

In between bands, fab DJ Pizza the Hutt was spinning vinyl and playing very Gizmos-appropriate music, from Alice Cooper to Silverhead to Vom and countless more hep grooves. Definitely a big addition to the night - as opposed to the dance club next door whose soulless thump kept seeping through the walls!

The Gizmos squeezed onto the tiny stage and played to a relatively small but appreciative audience of merry-makers and costumed crazies and had a great time running through our set of oldies as well as several new tunes for us - a Ted Niemiec original that they crowd pogo'd along to ("Around"), an Eddie Flowers' Crawlspace tune ("The Devil Talks in Tongues") and the closer, a song co-written by bassist Craig Bell (when he was in Rocket From the Tombs), "Final Solution". Everyone was super cool and hospitable and a big thanks goes out to Gene Mullett for setting this up and being a perfect host!

The next morning we headed out and stopped at a diner for brunch, which unfortunately ended setting us back a couple of hours due to slow, slow service. Went straight to the Cleveland Public Theater for sound check for that night's WCSB Halloween Masquerade Ball that we were headlining. Quite a change of venue from the night before! Everyone here was super accommodating, as well, and treated us great and we had a fine check, despite a little technical issues here and there.

Got to meet the gentlemen from X____X, who Craig was playing with this night, as well, and they went off to an undisclosed location to practice (it had been several months since their last show) as the rest of the Gizmos headed to My Mind's Eye Record Store for an in-store and a short acoustic set. We had no idea what to expect, but owner Charles was super nice, the store was great, and people were actually there to see and talk to the Giz-men. We didn't have a lot of time so we (Kenne, Ted, Eddie, Sam and I) saddled up to the acoustic guitars and mics and ran through a few tunes as a taster for the night's events, with Kelsey providing percussion off to the side and Davey Medlock singing from the audience. The folks that arrived for us were quite appreciative and we hung out and talked a bit before having to run back to the theater.

Even when we returned, people were starting to fill out the auditorium and many were decked in amazing, elaborate costumes. There was a costume contest this night and plenty deserved to win - you can see some of the top runners-up below, though I heard that the winner was the person dressed as a life-sized tree! Have no idea how he/she even moved around!

In any case, the gig began with the Counter Intuits, with members from Great Plains, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Times New Viking and Obnox (drummer Roseanna), who provided a kinda new-wavey, droney, no-wavey, pounding soundtrack. Kinda hard to describe, but a fine start to the evening. And yes, there was yet another lefty guitar player!

Dressed for the occasion was All Dinosaurs, although I did not get very clear pix of them. They were LOUD, fast and technically very proficient thrash punk and got the crowd slamming as if this was an 80's skinhead concert!

Right before the Gizmos was X____X, featuring bassist among men, Craig Bell, along with John Morton from the electric eels, and guitarist Andrew Klimek (founding member of X___X from 1979, I am told, and currently also in Scarcity of Tanks) and drummer Matt Harris (who drove in with John from New York for the gig!). Unfortunately, right from the start they were plagued with a couple of technical difficulties, exacerbated by Morton's temper tantrums, which was the main reason why they barely played 4 songs within their 45-60 minute set. I'm told that this is his schtick and he looks upon it as a confrontational performance piece, but for people who come to hear music, this gets a bit tiresome. Many people left for fresh air or drinks while John complained or just wandered the stage, and those who stayed just became restless. It's all too bad because the few minutes of music that they did play was quite good and noisey, and there was some cool theremin work, as well.

But, thankfully, Craig was fine for the Gizmos set, as we played for hundreds of crazed fans who were singing along, grabbing at us, slamming and generally going nutz for our entire set! This was one of the most fun and best attended gigs I have done since touring Europe a couple of decades ago. As always, the Gizmos tend to be a bit... "reckless" has been used, though some may say "sloppy", but we are energetic and try to give the crowd a show. We truly appreciate the reception that these old men impersonating teenagers have been getting! Hopefully, we will continue to have nights like this one.

After the set we reunited with DJ Lauren (Pizza the Hutt) from the night before, along with meeting tons of new people before heading out exhausted and exhilarated.

Next up for the Gizmos is Chicago for Thanksgiving weekend for the Good Vybes Fest at the Empty Bottle!