So i left Chicago around August. In September not so much happened. Actually quite a lot of time passed before i played the open mic the first time, since that was March 7. I went home for Christmas for a couple weeks and composed the first movement of a piano sonata but still haven't recorded that yet, and i spent some time working on music, but mostly i was just practicing guitar over this period and trying to stay sane.
A few things happened over this period however:
I moved into a new apartment, a large loft space where i had no neighbours.
open shower in loft that people always seem to end up dancing in during parties!
This ended up being a great decision.
I also bought a drum kit, even though i don't know how to play drums; i figured if i did this it would be extremely tempting for drummers to come jam with me even if they were flaky and didn't necessarily think i was any good; if you play drums, it's gotta be hard to find a place where you can just wail for a couple hours without getting noise complaints or even roommate complaints.
Over this period i spent a bunch of time hanging out with some McGill students who were in bands of various descriptions, most which had been playing a lot longer and were a lot tighter than the sort of stuff i was messing around with. Although their music was far more indy rock / student style music, they had some motivated people in them so seemed to get quite a lot of gigs, playing basically anywhere (lots of student art gallery or fundraiser stuff, they hosted the open mic at the bar Gerts i mentioned earlier, etc).
The two main bands in this group were the Pinyin Pals and The Argyles. You can check out their music videos here:
this is The Argyles on top of the roof of their place. There's a giant octopus on the roof made of sheet metal that is quite impressive, but no one really knows where it came from so i guess they decided to use this as the focal point of their music video which is made by another buddy, Arthur.
this is The Pinyin Pals; i don't really know wtf is going on with the music video, but i like it and the song is catchy.
You can see the Argyles self produced album here, its great given that they're all young and its recorded with really basic gear by Greg McCloud (@loudgreg
on twitter if you like it!).
I mention these bands because it's really because of them that i ended up finally being absorbed in a musical community of some kind. It instantly became significantly easier to find people to play music with, these guys were creating regular opportunities to play to audiences, they were cool to hang out with and always supportive. It's through them that i met the guys who are in the band that i am most serious about now, ALEXEIMARTOV.
Since these guys had their own bands, they would regularly hold 'HOOTENANNYS', Facebook events where about 50 people (their friends) would come and just listen to each others bands etc and bring friends, hang out, and get really drunk in someones living room until the cops came. It's at these Hootenanys i met the Dorfmen brothers (THE DORFMEN RHYTHM SECTION) who i am currently playing with.
The first show we played was for someones birthday. A local venue. Trois Minots. Great location, but it never seems full. The owner basically just lets bands play for free but doesn't pay them. You just have to organize a set list and you can usually play there. If you want to charge a door, thats up to you.
This is the Argyles playing there.
Anyway, i lived next door to Trois Minots, and the Argyles and Pinyin Pals had both borrowed my drum kit a lot to play there since it was so convenient (actually i had sat in with them on the unmiced piano at one point lol!), so since this was a pretty open gig, they invited me and the Dorfmen to play if we wanted to, which we did. That was our first real gig together. We played some originals and Manic Depression by Hendrix (obv) and it went pretty great!
I had long had on my bucket list "play a guitar solo to a wasted audience in a bar' and this was the time i achieved that goal:
Ask me thread from 2008.
I'd like to say that as i played a masturbatory guitar solo with my guitar held behind my head and my drunk friends screaming YEOWWWW that i had a moment of clarity and suddenly realized that i was ticking off number 1 on that list and really the only one i was very serious about but i didn't, i was very much immersed in the moment, and after the show i didn't realize it either.
I started thinking about this recently though, after the most recent Hootenanny (which ended up having well over 100 people) and it came to my mind that my first thought after playing this event, in which i was truly immersed, the conduit of the music i had been obsessing over for weeks before was 'hrm, i really have to improve my guitar tone, i haven't been practicing enough, i've been to focused on our arrangements, otherwise how will i ever deserve anymore success? MARTIN GET YOUR **** TOGETHER!!!'. I quickly dealt with these thoughts by consuming a large quantity of space juice, a beverage i found on the internet and had provided many litres of for the party, that is made from Absinthe, Blue Curacao and Lemonade and looks a little like what you would imagine a swimming pool in Chernobyl to look like, but that is besides the point.
The point itself i feel Jim Jeffries can sum up much better than me, so i would simply recommend watching this link:
So anyway, after pondering this for a little while recently i zoomed out a bit and realized things were going pretty well, i had found a band, we were having some pretty epic parties, and that i should just enjoy myself more. I still have trouble doing this, because it is clear that for me happiness definitely involves a lot more than just enjoying being a pig enjoying the squalor of its muddy confinement, and that i put a lot of value in the work->payoff process (I mean my whole poker career up until now has been about that and i have achieved the huge pay off in the last few years of essentially having unlimited freedom) but if you're not getting anything out of the payoffs either, what's the point? It's just a masturbatory quest to see how high you can climb the stakes of life but if you're never enjoying the fruits of your labour then you're going to get scurvy.
As always, if you enjoyed reading this, and especially if you found it via Twitter (please retweet! we are trying to play SXSW next year and we need to GROWWWW) you can follow me here @ALEXEIMARTOV