Bonjour mes amis!
Versus Them played an incredible set last Friday at The Rockit Room. Thanks to the many of you who made it out to enjoy a great evening. Special thanks also go out to The Stages of Sleep and Citabria for co-rocking all the faces in the crowd. For those of you who were unable to attend either because of incapacitation or because you have never heard of Versus Them (which would be the only two reasons for not going to an amazing evening of music and frivolity, such as this last Friday), in the near future there will be a couple of videos up highlighting some of the songs played, and in the not as near future, there will be more Versus Them shows in a town near you.
Let’s Get Genuous
-As you may or may not yet know, “VsThem” has recently become “Versus Them.” I will discuss this in further detail next week.
-As I mentioned above, there are some videos on the near horizon of Versus Them live in concert. You can catch pieces of some of the previous shows in convenient recorded video form here or by clicking that Youtube button that sits under the band logo on the left side of your screen (while you are there, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future videos). I will be putting a “Videos” link on the navigation bar soon, so when you check back you can find everything conveniently placed on what will become the Videos page.
-Any of you who attended the last show may have noticed the giant “VsThem” emblazoned, painted piece of wood that sat dutifully behind Matt as he shredded, slapped, and bow-ed away at his strings. Extra thanks go to local Bay Area artist Yannick Pigois-Braunschweig for his work on that.
That is all this week. The high I get from seeing this band live has taken me and left me in too much of a buzz to get my wordiness on this week. Stop by next week, we’ll talk.
Friday July 8th, Versus Them returns to The Rockit Room in San Francisco. 21+
After an overly-long hiatus, I am back… with news!
-VsThem return to the Rockit Room in San Francisco on Friday July 8th!
-Album creation, although time-consuming, is on-going. (I keep telling myself that the wait just makes the end result better)
-Although nobody will be able to see them until later this year, a couple episodes of VTTV, the VsThem webseries are in the can, as they say. The plan is to start releasing these episodes so that the second to last one (episode 5) coincides with the EP release later this year. Get your eyes and ears ready.
The Local Locale
Compared to the people I hung out with in my youth, I was late in attending my first live concert. But, as the saying goes, you never forget your first. I was 15 and just beginning to hone my liking for certain musical sounds. My father was concerned- as fathers are- about allowing me to venture into such an unknown world by myself (or with my newly-licensed-driver friends). So, he came too. My first concert was the inaugural “The Family Values Tour” in October of 1998 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The line up included Korn, Limp Bizkit, Rammstein, Orgy, and Ice Cube. For my young, impressionable eyes, this was the equivalent of concert-going love at first sight. The huge swaths of people sweatily mashing each other around, the unbelievable loudness pounding out of the exaggeratedly displayed speakers, anything and everything that is included in seeing Rammstein live, and the ability to share the whole experience with my peers. All of these factors bore in me an insatiable craving for similar stimuli.
Not long after that epic first show, I found that, due to lack of personal transportation, personal funds, and varied musical knowledge, though I longed to again be one minor morsel among the many, I was limited to live shows within my local locale. I slowly began to foster an appreciation for the stylings of the local Marin county music scene. Bands like Liberation, Ear Ache My Neck, Protoculture, Drop, Natt, Nuclear Rabbit, Bumpin’ Uglies and others took up large chunks of my weekend evenings. The local music was never necessarily better than music that was more widely available, but it was close and cheap and good enough. At shows like this, instead of being just a faceless crowd member, a fan could establish a rapport with the bands. I could wave at the guys and get waved back to. I could feel less like they were untouchable gods of the stage and more like guys I went to school with who happened to love playing music (which was true for a lot of the bands I liked). While mollifying the desire to attend more major tours, these local shows simultaneously attracted me to the idea that in any city at any time there could be a genuinely rocking local music scene. This idea has stayed with me for years. It is, for me, one of the driving forces behind my belief in the potential that VsThem wields. As a young person, whenever a band was nice enough to swing through my local area and play a place like The Phoenix Theater in Petaluma or The Oasis in San Rafael, or the Corte Madera Community Center for an all-ages show, and that band was just minutely more kick-ass than one of my local heroes, I was a fan for life. Luckily for me, the internet was becoming a useful band-following tool at the time (not nearly as useful as it is today), and I would be able to excitedly await these bands’ subsequent arrivals to my locales. VsThem are majorly more kick-ass than many of Anytown’s local acts and with luck and commitment, will be able to export their brand of badassery to numerous people’s home stereo systems. I look forward to that day, and although I have stopped attending all-ages shows (for fear of being “that guy”), I still love me some local music (and the venues for people over 21 are way more interesting anyway)!
While we patiently wait for more live shows, VsThem keeps moving forward with EP, music video, and web series creation. If all goes well, you will be treated to all of these things by year’s end.
Facts are Go!
-The final pre-production meeting for the 6AM Salvation music video will occur this week. Filming will begin shortly after that. We may need some volunteers to be in the video when it is in the filming phase, so please be ready to heed the call when it comes (Notice how I used “we” there. I get to be involved in band stuff sometimes, and I still get kinda giddy about it, you know, in a serious-handling-adult-business way.)
-I am attempting to get some pictures up from the April 23rd show with Endoxi at 19 Broadway. I hope to have those ready asap.
Some Non-Band-Related Fun
Sometimes we play it
Sometimes for inspiration
Other times for
Music connects us
Music divides us
Our inherent curiosity
Beckons us to search out
Or old ones
Like birds know to fly
We know to move
to the rhythm
It funks us up
And we break down
a part in all our lives
Even when we can’t listen
We still hear it
Let’s get right to it:
-The band spent the weekend (or at least part of it) recording brass and wind instruments for the 6AM Salvation EP. Matt loves himself some quality orchestrated tunes and the songs on this EP will be nothing short of that.
-VsThem’s entire debut album “A Sunny Day” (plus one bonus track) is available to listen to on Last.fm. The service doesn’t make it entirely simple to listen to the full tracks all in a row, but it is fun to add the band to one’s library and pretend they are playing on the best, most personalized radio station ever. Try it out.
We Have Always Been at War With Eastasia
This post used to contain some content. Apparently that content had the potential to ruffle too many feathers. In the future, you will be able to rejoice in the news that was announced here previously. For now, we can all just rejoice in the news that VsThem rocks. That’s still some pretty good news!
PS. I decided to change the naming scheme for these posts. It was going to get tiring putting numbers into each one. Instead, I decided to make it even more tiring by having things that reference numbers as the title. For example, this week’s post is titled “Major Input,” which is a line spoken by a character named Johnny 5. This is the 5th blog post. You are all bright people, you get the picture.
Isn’t some good live music on a Saturday night just awesome? VsThem + Endoxi + 19 Broadway = an incredibly good time! Thanks to everybody who made it out.
-VsThem are on live show hiatus for the immediate future (Boo!). This time away will yield some real goodness, though, so not a total loss.
-The above fact is the only actual fact in this post’s facts section.
A Fan Can
Because I am lacking in VsThem related topics upon which to expound this week, I figure I will just talk some more about myself:
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am not a member of VsThem. A little over a year ago, I was merely the band’s number 2 fan and a friend of the lead singer (The semi-official number one fan is considered to be the multi-talented woman who wrote this brief review). I owe my promotion from fan #2 up to band manager to Matt’s faith in my ability to bring people together and a book called “The Indie Band Survival Guide.” Around the beginning of 2010, Matt had decided that he had some real potential with this little band he had put together (which at the time had Matt on keys and vox, pre-nickname Isaac Yates on Drums and The Worm Jon Bush rocking the bass. Oh how they rocked). VsThem had released “A Sunny Day,” which had fulfilled Matt’s desire for a zombie-apocalypse-inspired concept album (I know, sounds awesome. It is). The band had fiddled with some new songs, but The Worm was focusing on the hugely more successful Judgement Day and Matt and Isaac were busy working their day jobs. So, despite Matt’s intentions for greater things, there were obstacles (as there always are) to achieving more than a show here and there in Fairfax. I am unclear on the exact circumstances as to the acquisition of “The Indie Band Survival Guide,” but I know that as Matt started to read it, it became clear to him that in order to move beyond the casual level VsThem was accustomed to and into the category of “greater things,” he would have to utilize a network comprised of those around him who possessed skills both complementary and supplementary to his own. He contacted Alex Hendriks about heading up VsThem’s art department, which would include flyer creation, logo development, album artwork, videography, and things of that nature. Then, I got a call.
I was under the impression that dinner at Millennium in San Francisco was merely an excuse to dine fancily and eat insanely delicious vegan cuisine. But part of the way through, Matt and his wife (who I have yet to ask about revealing her name, so will, for now, remain “his wife”) turned the conversation toward business. Before long I realized that they were presenting me with an opportunity to do exactly what I wanted to do for the band. You see, previously, when I had watched VsThem perform, I would spend time trying to find a way to attach myself to such a talented group of individuals. I was painfully aware of my severely insufficient musical ability, so I had relied mostly on keen observation. I had been to a large number of concerts, and was eager to provide feedback from those experiences with regards to VsThem as a concert goer. Things like song order, staging, banter, audience engagement; I had started to administer (unsolicited) advice on these topics from a fan’s perspective. I believe that advice influenced Matt’s decision to choose me for this role, which has expanded greatly from mere show notes. I believe that being an active and engaged fan (with the slight benefit of already knowing someone in the band) is a stepping stone toward having tangible impact on future band developments. I believe that a fan can. I am honored to do my part. I see wonderful things for VsThem. I can’t wait to be instrumental in making those things happen. I can’t wait for all the fans to get a chance to hear what this band will deliver to your senses. ARE YOU WITH US?
This has been a relatively quiet week for VsThem-related news. A minor exception being a little bit of music. A tune called “6AM Salvation” made its debut over on that side bar to the left of all this text. Now, this is just a demo-style version of the song, but it should present itself as a more accurate portrayal of the current VsThem rockitude. The two other songs on that bar over there, while excellent in their own right, represent a VsThem of a bygone era. “6AM Salvation” being posted on this website is merely one in a series of recent steps forward:
One Foot In Front Of The Other
-The Scarecrow Isaac Yates, drummer for VsThem has recently actually learned the names of nearly all of the songs he plays for the band. Prior to this achievement, Scarecrow referred to songs by their more unconventional titles like “Funk Tune” or “Punk Tune” (aka “6AM Salvation,” conveniently located on the left side of this page for your listening pleasure!), or “Muse” or “John’s Tune.” I don’t bring this up to pick on the Scarecrow, I see it positively as a shift forward in band mentality, with him at the forefront.
-In addition, the band as a whole have somewhat moved the recording process to a less urgent place and brought the idea of working on live show rehearsals prominently to the front of the stage. As some of you may have noticed, the live show has undergone some remarkable changes and tweaks in the past few months. Songs have been altered, old songs have been brought back from the dead and given new life with a collaborative flair, new instruments have been added, and the energy… well the energy is the same high level that it has always been. These live additions and alterations have bred new confidence into the band members themselves, as they are clearly more comfortable busting out their kick-ass tunes with increasing frequency. One of the best things I find about the live VsThem show is that they have song parts or tweaks that differ from the recorded material in such a way that it benefits those who love the live show without leaving behind those who still enjoy a professionally recorded album. Just enough to keep me coming back to the shows to see what fun things the band has found to do with their songs next (well, that, and VsThem freaking rocks my face off and I would follow them across the country to see them live)
-After the April 23rd show, there will be a minor lull in live performances (I know, I just wrote all that stuff about VsThem kicking live ass and now we have to wait longer to experience that ass kickery, sorry) while the band works on creating awesome new tunes, new fun live additions, and setting up future shows with varieties of musicians.
-You can look forward to me explaining the nicknames in the near future. But for those of you who aren’t caught up on them at all, here is a primer:
Isaac Yates, Drummer: The Scarecrow
John Varn, Keys: The Man Child
Matt Montgomery, Violin, Guitar, Bass, and Vox: Matt The Knife
Last night, April 10th, VsThem rocked out a gig at Kimo’s Bar and Penthouse Lounge in San Francisco. Thanks to New Noise Records and their artists TimL, Lucas Young, and Praying For Greater Portland for a fun evening. And special thanks to all of you who were able to make it out on a Sunday!
-Check out the Pics section of the site for a few photos from the Rockit Room show. Once again, these come to us courtesy of Brandon Lo. There should be more photos on the way soon.
-Merchandise is in the planning and design phase right now. There will be more news on that front later.
A Side Note: Sleep Is Wrong
As a lover of music, and not just VsThem music, I find it appropriate to utilize my space here as a platform for my pontifications on music happenings. I will try to limit this to special occasions, of which this is one. Last night was the farewell show for Oakland, CA based Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. For those of you who have never heard this band, I tend to describe their music as “the soundtrack to your nightmares.” Their arresting tempo changes, violent screams, and nails-on-the-chalkboard-like violin scratches mesh with beautifully layered percussion, enchanting vocal stylings, kick-ass guitars and a bevy of home-made instruments to culminate into a marvelous musical terror. At their past concerts, I have borne witness to a puppet show, interpretive dance, a biology lesson, a parade, and a man dressed like a goat. While watching them perform, it is difficult to not be inspired; to want to achieve something magnificent with one’s own talents, whatever those may be. SGM were a spectacular gift to music and to simply say that they will be missed would not fairly capture the feeling that their leaving produces. I hope they rest well and I wish them luck. Goodbye Sleepytime, I look forward to seeing you in my nightmares.