My friend Tom had liked The Church from day one, and he had even bought the LPs in the pre-CD era. I told him about the show and he and his wife zipped into town for the show. They got in town on Sunday night and the show Monday was duly attended. We managed to find seats in the SRO club [Tom’s wife had foot injuries that made standing all night a no-go] and there was a friendly lady seated adjacent to us who used to live in the Tampa Bay area chatted amiably. Like me, she had last seen The Church on their 1987 tour and she asked us if we had been to old school Tampa clubs once she heard we were also ex-Floridians. Tom’s wife had also live in Tampa and I had attended lots of shows there when Orlando didn’t deliver. A small world moment.
The opening act was Helio Sequence and I kind of liked the Seattle duo. They sort of had a “two man Ocean Blue” vibe. Poppy, and with a geeky drummer who was moving around a lot as he played. Almost to his detriment as the best drummers are stone cold and don’t waste the energy, but let the kid have fun. So it was just drums and guitar but it was getting loud, and the bass frequencies [even thought there was no bass there on stage] was starting to make our esophagus vibrate. In other words, the dreaded bass fracking.
I don’t know about you, but when my esophagus was vibrating due to the bass being too loud at a show, it fells an awful lot like I was about to be nauseous. Usually that’s the only time I feel what seems to be reverse peristalsis. Do kids today find this pleasurable? Because it seems to be happening an awful lot. Helio Sequence seemed to win me, Tom, and his wife over, but my wife remained unconvinced. After their 40 minutes, the road crew got busy and The Church started their set not too much after 9:00 o’clock, as I recall. They opened with “Priest = Aura,” the title track of an album that followed “Gold Afternoon Fix” and as it began on an ambient note, the sound was fine. Then the intensity of the song built up to the point where the sound was once again starting to rattle our hollows.
My wife pulled her “give note to sound man” routine. The band had their own board, in front of the club’s mixing desk where their sound man was mixing. She handed him the note saying that it was “too loud” and as often happens, he moderated the volume back to passable levels. The band played another several songs and then pulled “Metropolis” out of their set bag. This was the only song that I had previously heard yet but as the concert continued, the bass levels were getting louder again. I don’t know if Tom was using earplugs [I have worn them at 99% of all shows for the last 27 years] or not, but he won’t put up with concerts that are too loud, and he left the room. My wife followed suit soon afterward as I was left there with Tom’s wife Elisa and I was not feeling the love. I went outside the club to see Tom and my wife chatting outside of the club entrance. Elisa soon followed suit and that was it about an hour into the show.
If a band sounds too loud, you should complain to the sound mixer. If the sound doesn’t get better, then we support leaving. We’ve done it for shows we’ve bought festival passes for and althought this was only a $20 investment, we had no trouble doing it. Maybe The Church had difficulty scaling their dreamy, guitar psychedelia sound into the small club, but the aggressive bass did their vibe no favors. Life’s too short to put up with this sort of hassle.
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