February 8th, 2012
I saw Christina Cramer of In Cahoots in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. She was smoking a cigarette and trying to chill before her show. She saw me, stamped out her smoke, “Dave! Hey, hold on. I haven’t put you on the list yet.” I stopped. We shook hands, walked into the building.
“I’m glad you got another guitar player,” I said. I’d seen them once before at the High Dive on a non-writing evening in the fall, and they had only one guitar back then, Christina’s guitar. Given their love of bands like Visqueen and the Foo Fighters, and the thicker guitar sounds therein, my main thought that first night was that their brand of upbeat pop punk needed a second guitar. I introduced myself then but said nothing of the guitar, and yet, here they were mere months later debuting a new lead guitar player in the guise of one Joshua Turner ( who according to some was “found in a van down by the river”), and I was glad. It made me a little eager. I said so. “I’m eager to here the music with two guitars.”
“Yeah, we needed it. It beefs up the sound, and I just don’t go…” She shook her body a little and mimicked playing a fast guitar solo and made the appropriate sounds with her voice. It was very reminiscent of something Jack Black would do. There was laughter.
“Nice.” In my head, I mimicked the same motions and sounds. Jack Black’s face came to view. We headed up to the second floor in the Hard Rock where the bands play. “Thanks, for getting me in, Christina. I’ll just hang here at the bar, of course, but maybe we can catch up after the show.”
“Oh, can I get a set list from you?”
“I can just write it down if you want.” I handed her my notebook, and she began writing when Joshua came over. “Here’s our lead guitar player,” she said. “Dave, Joshua. Joshua, Dave.” We shook hands. Christina did the imaginary Jack Black guitar solo again. Lead guitar players should be animated.
“Good to meet you.”
Later, In Cahoots went on opening with a song called “Got It All”, an uptempo straight ahead punk rocker and the closing track from their debut CD, and my first thought was that I did indeed like the beef of the second guitar, and I noticed Mr. Turner, being the lead guitarist in this type of band, had a hard time standing still on stage, and it gave them an energy they hadn’t had that first time. Sometimes all it takes is the addition of one. It was a good opening number. They got rocking right from the get go and didn’t even say anything to the crowd until a few songs into the set. The third song, “Waiting for You” was another up tempo rocker and carried well to their strength of no frills rock with heavy guitars, a catchy chorus, an animated lead.
They followed this with a mid-tempo number that I had mixed feelings about for two reasons. First, I wanted the rock to keep going, the beat to remain heavy and fast, but also, and I wrote this in my notebook, because the soundman had his head up his ass. There came time for a guitar solo, and it wasn’t a loud number, and Joshua stepped to the center of the stage and let the fingers go fast and furious, but he might as well have been playing air guitar. His fingers flailed, but the only guitar heard was Christina’s rhythm, C# A E B. I’ve done my share of gigs running sound and never quite understoond how this happens, especially in a place where the sound system is set, installed, never changes.
Later in the set, they played another tune from their CD, another mid-tempo number named “Triggerheart” with a mellow verse and a heavy chorus, and there came a lead again, and lo, there it was this time. Joshua moved his fingers, and the notes rang forth through the firmament, but Christina’s rhythm was gone, obliterated by the now too loud lead guitar, and I wrote, “Soundman still has head up his ass.” I wanted to walk up to him over by the mixing board, rap him on the head and say, “Hello, McFly, Hello … anybody home?” It made me wonder how he got the job in the first place.
As for the band, I really dug their vibe when they let loose and rocked it, when they played fast and hard. They were most consistent then, but of course, their best groove was a slower number named “Midnight Showing” and sung by the bass player, Tim Wellman, rather than Christina, and I wondered at that and made note to ask them about it. The groove of the verse reminded me of Jane’s Addiction, I think. Even writing about it now, I still can’t quite place it, but if memory serves me well anymore, and this is certainly a question, it brings to mind “Classic Girl” which is, of course, a wicked beautiful song and, thus, a compliment. I might have my head up my ass, though, just like the soundman, for my lack of ability to pinpoint exactly what the song reminds me of. “Classic Girl”? My Ritual De Lo Habitual CD fell victim to a failed marriage, and I don’t buy MP3s so I can’t do the direct comparison. “Classic Girl”? Hell, here’s the tune. You decide.
Sadly, In Cahoots finished their set only minutes before I had to sprint for the last bus so I didn’t get a chance to hang with them after the show, didn’t find out the reason for the one vocal change. No matter. I’ll be sure to catch them somewhere else soon (perhaps February 18 at the Mix in Georgetown), and hopefully, that somewhere will have a soundman whose head is not encased within a bodily oriface.