the fireside bowl. tuesday. november 30, 1999. 10pm.
we had been hankering forever to play in the half bowling alley/half rock venue/half bar that chicago knows so well: the fireside bowl. it's such a legendary place - with the ceiling caving in over the stage (do not, under any circumstances, carry an open drink on stage with you. more on that later), the ancient arcade games, the bowling fresh scent in the air. ahhhh... like a summer's breeze trapped indoors and wafting gently across a sea of sweaty middle-aged back haired bowling leaguers and sweaty indie rock kids until the mood is oh, just right.
that is the fireside bowl, in all it's glory. and like the stuff of legend, it turned out to be a pretty crazy night.
we had finally booked studio time at smart studios in madison wisconsin, and it was our plan to leave right after the show, drive to Nilay's place (of 68's fame, crash, and get up the next morning to make our album. more on that later as well.
we didn't know any of the bands we were to play with that night, but boy were we surprised by their awesomeness. pleyel came first, a very young band who apparently had only had their current lineup for a few weeks but were really great nonetheless. we played last and had ourselves quite a good time. we played magazine for the first time, after much discussion and trepidation. we weren't sure if it was done, and we weren't sure if it was ready, but we decided that if we were planning on recording it tomorrow, we should get a performance under our belt before putting it to tape. it was a little rough, but it rocked way harder than it had in practice, which ruled. i think we managed to make it through the entire show without broken strings, something that almost never happens.
during our set, chris told the most amazing story. one winter he was at a show at the fireside with a friend of his, and at some point during the show, they made an announcement that there was red pontiac car on fire just outside the venue. they went out, and sure enough, her car was in flames. she promptly vomited into a trashcan. apparently she had committed the cardinal sin of chicago winter parking: when parking her car, she had parked in a spot that someone had shoveled out and saved for themselves in front of their apartment (marked with a chair or something), and when that person came home and saw their spot taken, they got nasty with the matches and the gasoline. this is a lesson that you should all learn well. those spots are saved, and the people that do that are crazy. do not, i repeat, do not, take someone's shoveled out and reserved parking spot in winter. your car may not get set on fire, but i've heard of people getting buckets of water dumped on their cars (which freeze into an impenetrable block of ice), and other nasty things. we at millimeters and mercury give this advice to you in hopes that you take it to heart.
anywho... the night's greatest treat came when unique chique played (which was actually before us), and holy goodness, are they great. not only are they a spectacular band, but really, really nice guys. they have since become good friends of ours, and we're looking forward to many shows with them in the future. their music is this beautiful blend of delay guitar effects, spectacular drumming, very clever guitar work and chord changes, and beautiful vocal melodies. just hypnotizing. and yeah, really great guys. speaking of the ceiling, poor joe of unique chique had an open drink on stage, and didn't notice the asbestos-ridden ceiling falling into it throughout their set. he was pretty freaked out about it, and rightfully so. the fireside's got a lot of indie charm, but that shit's crazy unsafe.
then, after the show, we loaded out our gear, took it home, dawdled around, and finally drove to madison at around 2am. we got there around 5 in a ridiculous adrenalin/caffeine infused drive. we took some wrong turns (thanks to a minor error in the directions we got), and when we showed up at nilay's place, it was really late, and we were really, really weird. nilay was so gracious though. mad props to him for putting us up for the 5 days we spent at smart studios, which were, frankly, amazing.