So as usual after attending a SG101 convention I am on cloud nine for the first week or two after returning home but then I dive into a deep depression and get buried in real life stuff after that. So I'm afraid I can't continue on with detailed reports now that we are 3 weeks after the fact. I'll just hit some general thoughts and impressions for the day of the convention and Sunday.
Brian's trip report part 5: SG101 Convention!!!! (Saturday)
Upon entering the Starting Gate in the morning I can already tell attendance is going to be higher this year. There were so many people there from the start it was very encouraging.
The member's jam is always very fun. Carol did the cat herding again this year and she did a great job. Perhaps some day I'll start playing the guitar again so I can participate. I particularly enjoyed hearing Siboney played by my old midwest surf band pals Steve and Phil from the Cocktail Preachers teamed up with Duff on drums and Carol on guitar. Phil now lives in Las Vegas so it was great seeing the CP's core team in action again together. It was also really great to hear Laika & The Cosmonauts' "Spyda's Web". Great song and not one you hear every day.
The Atlantics tribute was indeed amazing and I was so proud to see the guys perform so well for everyone after I had gotten to see sneak previews from their rehearsals. The tribute really reminded you how incredibly amazing, unique, and ahead of their time the Atlantics really were. I got goose bumps during the opening of War of The Worlds. The middle part where the lead guitar comes in after the bombs and birds always gets me right in the gut too. What an amazing song, and it really is so incredible to hear and see it performed in front of your eyes (along with the other amazing Atlantics songs). I never would have guessed I would ever hear live renditions of some of those songs.
At this point Jeff had me help present Danny his certificate and the surprise guitar. Once again thanks to Paul Wayne for making that truly generous gift possible. See Danny's Guitar Thread for a pseudo-transcript of what I said on the stage. Danny has been a big friend to SG101 and to me personally so I was quite honored to be involved. I'm so glad we surprised Danny so well with this. After that I went back to the vendor room to talk to Danny and I remember him grabbing me and saying "YOU FUCKER!!!". So ha-ha, Jeff and Paul, you guys did good!
Paul Johnson was doing his set next with original PJ & The Galaxies member Steve Pugh on bass, the amazing Matt Quilter on 2nd guitar, and Duff on drums. I'm not sure these guys even had a complete band practice but they sounded amazing. I could listen to Paul Johnson play for hours. I remember telling Rick Selby that I would fly out to California just to see Paul Johnson play Mr. Moto, it doesn't get any better than that!
Okay so now it starts getting hazy. So many people to talk to, so many friendly faces, and so much great music. I have to say personally that I feel quite isolated from a lot of you being in Iowa. But by now, after my 6th convention, it is like walking into a family reunion (the family you actually want to see!). You guys really make me feel welcome and you all are so cool.
Anyway I remember The Surf Kings blasting Out of Control by the Crossfires and me smiling a lot. I remember the Super Tones taking the stage and I couldn't help think to myself "If a band came from New York how could they not look more like they came from New York" So good to see Tim Sullivan rip it up and wow his bass player Simon Chardiet is amazing! So much New York attitude!
It was great to finally see a full set by Threesome and they really blew everyone away. Jonpaul did a fantastic job and I can't imagine how he learned all those songs for both Threesome and The Atlantics (and didn't he play with the Insects the night before)! Threesome's music is not, I imagine, easy to fake. The songs have lots of stops and starts and crazy fast parts, so again kudos to Jonpaul. Of course it was great seeing Uros and Jovanna play as well. I was just transfixed watching Jovanna beat the hell out of the drum kit. I think they really blew a lot of people away judging by the wave of people who hit the Double Crown merch table after their set.
Frankie & The Pool Boys did another great set. They had really hit their stride and I think performed even better than the previous night in Pasadena. I was quite distracted at this point however as I was given the Macbook we were going to present to Jeff and I was trying to hide it in one of the t-shirts I bought and look nonchalant. My cover was almost blown when Jeff came up to me and told me to follow him back stage to talk. Oops!!! I quickly handed the t-shirt wrapped laptop to Ivan and Jeff wasn't the wiser. Phew. Frankie & crew played the same set from the previous night (as Ferenc explained they didn't have time to re-learn a lot of songs with Dusty) but I was not complaining. Again, I loved the cover of Moment of Truth. The real star of the set though is the songs. Ferenc can sure write 'em!!
After the Frankie set we did the surprise for Jeff. Kristena and I were supposed to prevent Jeff from getting on the mic so Ferenc and Lorenzo could start the surprise. However you can't stop the Bigtikidude once he is in motion and Kristena had to interrupt him on the mic. This was a tremendous thrill for me and Jeff really deserves the outpouring of love and respect from everyone in this little community. You can watch what happened on video, thanks for capturing it DaveF. So cool! And Ferenc really put it over the top with the giant novelty airline ticket. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
It gets hazy again here as I was high from the whole Jeff thing but I remember the Kilaueas getting on stage and just killing it. Ralf was climbing over chairs, flopping on the ground, and just in general hamming it up. The new Kilaueas tracks are soooo good! And once again we got to hear The Fathom's Getaway Car. Just an amazing trad surf performance.
I can't quite remember if the Boss Martians or the Surf Coasters were next, so I'll just start with the Surf Coasters. Everyone was anticipating this set and wow did they deliver. I was standing in front along with a big group of folks and I just remember getting blasted by the big performance by the band. I was standing near the center but primarily in front of Morley. So yes, as Ferenc noted, Morley is quite the guitar monster himself, I was following along as he doubled Shigeo's insane playing on Bumblebee. The crowd just ate them up. I remember Ferenc coming up to play a song with them. And also Ruiko (sp?) from the Whys had flown out just to see the band and played Black Sand Beach with them. Beach Monster had everyone laughing and cheering. Intruder almost tore the roof off. Everyone was high fiving the band and screaming for more when it was all over. WOW WOW WOW. I have to say though whenever I think of that set I see Kozui's smiling and just BEAMING face from behind the drum kit.
Okay onto the Boss Martians. I was really anticipating this set as they are one of my favorite 90's bands and I had never gotten to see them, and never thought I would EVER see them (in surf mode at least). (Thank you again Jeff!). I don't know how to even describe what I saw. My mouth just fell open and I was just stunned their entire set. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Evan is just a phenomenal and effortless guitarist. Not only that, but he has incredible stage charisma and showmanship. He's up there with Dick Dale in that regard. His younger brother was playing bass and backup vocals and he was also just INCREDIBLE. And the drummer! Wow, what happened! My mind was really blown by this band and performance. They immediately got everyone up in front of the stage and dancing. I remember watching Norm go crazy and pogo-ing in front. Good times! Anyway, I eagerly await the videos from this performance, I can't wait to relive it. I truly hope they perform in this surf mode a few more times and maybe even do a tour.
Finally Slacktone was the last band. I was actually wondering what the guys were thinking, having to follow the Surf Coasters and Boss Martians. I have been fortunate enough to see Slacktone a few times despite living so far away, and I'm sure many of the locals in the room have seen them dozens of times. But WOW, these guys just stepped up and OWNED the place. I stood right in front of Dave and I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing. Dusty especially was just going nuts, pulling out all the stops, it was absolutely insane. And this was despite the fact I believe he was still recovering form his motorcycle accident and was due for surgery soon. Steve Ryan's playing was also quite remarkably solid and in the pocket. Dave weaved this incredible music all around me it was quite hypnotic. This was the first time I had heard the spy medley and I really dug it. But of course the highlights were the Slacktone originals brought to life in front of me by these three amazing musicians. I was already blown away by the previous bands and this was almost too much. I have to say I had a few tears well up at some points. The crowd was equally blown away and I remember seeing a lot of very happy people around me. It was truly an amazing way to end an amazing day.
And then, as always, the bottom drops out. Jeff gets up and says a few closing words and announcements, and then the Starting Gate staff cranks some wildly inappropriate song to clear their establishment of the surf nerds. This year I think it was Tone Loc's Wild Thang. Yikes. I immediately felt sad it was over and actually a lot of disbelief that I had witnessed it all.
So it can't be said enough that Jeff rules the universe for putting on yet another amazing convention, quite possibly the best and most attended so far. I don't know how he does it or how it can possibly continue to get better every year (because even the first one was unbelievably amazing and worthy of legend) but it does. Thanks also to everyone helping Jeff: Maxx's mom and Marie for helping with the door, Kristena's daughter and Ran's daughters helped with the raffle tickets, Carol with the jam, The Quilter brothers for the sound and some loaner amps, Dusty for the drum kit, and Ran for doing so much with the amps, guitars, and sound. What a guy!!!
Even now I really can't describe what I saw and felt that day, I only scratched the surface. Even now I am still processing it all and I still smile widly when I think of some random event. I think Jonpaul summed it up quite nicely in his writeup a few posts back.
Anyway, again, thank you Mr. Bigtikidude, sir, for the memory of a lifetime.
Site dude - S3 Agent #202
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