Saw some old bandmates/friends last night

Last week a keyboardist from my former band invited me to a club they were playing last night to hear her and my old drummer sit in with another prog project. At first I declined as I already had plans, but then things fell through and I went, “Why not?”

I had not seen anyone in my last band since I quit back in 2016, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. After finding the club (somewhere in the black ink unlit pre-Edison backroads of Libertyville, IL), I was delighted to see her and some other friends at the bar, then paid my cover and went to see the rest of my former bandmates and get ready for the show.

After catching up a bit (not much happening here LOL), I learned that they were the second band on the bill that night, and that the first band had a 2 hour set.

oh god. 2 hours.

“Ever hear these guys?”


oh god…2 hours.

Naturally, they were late starting, went way over 2 hours (oh god), and said almost nothing about the next band up (the one I came to see). They had 3 decent vocalists, and absolutely NO harmonies worked out at all. They covered a Queen song (no harmonies there, LOL. To find Queen songs without harmonies is like finding single dads without drinking problems – it can be done but good luck with that) and 2 Beatles songs – “Birthday” and “I’ve Gotta Feeling.” Neither song has any harmony vocals except a bit of octave stuff in “Birthday.” They could have done “Help!” or “Paperback Writer” even – something to showcase the vocals. But nooooo.

And the Queen song? One with minimal harmonies – “Under Pressure” (and the lead vocalist couldn’t hit the insane high notes that Freddie did, so he just yelled the first note for about half a bar then gave up, never holding the note or trying to catch the more insane 2nd high note LOL).

Whatever. There were no three-part harmonies in that song, anyways. They could’ve done “Fat Bottomed Girls,” or literally almost anything in their entire catalog for crying out loud. Nope. So that was disappointing.

The sound could have benefitted from a lower volume and some HPFs. It was so boomy I felt seasick from the subharmonic waves that were only contrasted with a shrill guitarist, and very little musical content in the middle,. That’s hardly the band’s fault, for some reason there are FOH sound engineers who feel that unless the bass frequencies are 19Hz and 247 db at 60 feet, it’s not “rock n roll.” Geez.

When the band I went to see finally took the stage, it was about midnight, and they played a good set, but the vocals were way in the background and the guitar was too loud from the stage (the guitarist, I was told, just picked up an EVH 5150 and I think Eddie could probably hear it from wherever he was last night, too).

Anyhow, they did a good 1-hour set, had vocal harmonies and sounded much better than the first band – the “boom” had been tamed. Of course, the first band fills the club with their families and coworkers, so after 2 hours plus of boom-boom-squeal, there were about 22 people on hand to enjoy the much better part of the night.

But hey, that’s prog.

The best part of the night was seeing my old friends and how little they’d changed in a little more than 3 years. Everyone was gracious and friendly – even encouraging to me about finding a band and working with other artists – so this morning I got up, thanked them for a (mostly) lovely evening on my Facebook page and reposted my Craigslist ad for a band.

So let’s see if I get any hits this time, or if I spend all my time playing “Hungry Hungry Hippos.”

I’ve been practicing all day on “When the Water Breaks” and going over the murderous parts of “Dance of Eternity” to help get my chops up. I just hope it’s so I can join a great band, or find some awesome musicians soon.

Published by Ron Tavalin - Progressive Rock - Progressive Metal Bassist

Hello! I'm Ron Tavalin, a Chicago-based progressive rock/metal bassist and this is my low-end den. Here you'll find music videos, bass guitar information, technique, and whatever else.

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