September 22nd 1998

Well the show in Sacramento had disaster written all over it from the beginning, but it turned out to be a GREAT show! The venue was a small bar, with a stage area and dancefloor about the size of a 2 car garage. I thought that the PA might not be able to handle the load given the way they've been rocking out, but the sound turned out to be great, better than the somewhat muddy sound in Palo Alto. You could easily hear the differences in the two guitars, and pick out who was playing what.

There were many resons the show could have been a disaster. They apparently didn't get to do a full soundcheck, as there were problems with the electricity, and Marty kept getting shocked by his mike. Steve was also apparently in a bad mood before the show, possibly not too impressed with the venue. I mentioned to Marty before the show that it was not quite the same as the large venue tours of 88 and 90, to which he replied "Well it depends on your definition of success. Is it to be playing to huge crowds or to still be making fantastic music".The electricity problems carried over into the show, where a light show was unavailable, so they played the whole thing under the same light conditions. Steve was not happy about that at all, starting the show by saying "Unfortunately there was no light show because of the electricity. So there's no lights. this is it". After the first song he said "This is fucking hopeless without a lightshow, I tell you. I can't even think of an analogy for how stupid it is."

The second song (whose identity will remain anonymous to protect the innocent future show-goers) was cut short, what looked like accidentally. Marty was still ripping away when the others wound it down, and when they stopped he went to Steve and asked "what happened?". A fan yelled out "Fuck the lights" to which Steve replied "Fuck the lights and fuck the last chorus. It's an abbreviated version".

But despite the conditions, they all seemed to be in a pretty good mood. Steve was being much more talkative and sarcastic with the audience. One exchange with a fan went like this:

FAN: (inaudble request)
SK: No. Why should we do what you tell us to do?
FAN: (inaudible)
SK: You are a nice guy, I will admit that.
FAN: (inaudible)
SK: What's that? you're well groomed? Oh I wouldn't go that far. Where are you from?
FAN: Around here
SK:Around here, right. that's exciting. That's pretty exotic. (to the rest of the crowd) There's a local guy here, you should come and talk to him after the show. You eaten at Frank Fat's? (chinese restaurant across the street) It's really good. you can get the monks delight without the chilli. You know what my fortune cookie said? "You'll meet a man with a Prince Valiant haircut and a funny beard at the show tonight" (describing the fan perfectly).

A bit later in the show he returned to the conversation saying "I can't believe he said I wasn't well groomed".

Steve also said that without the lights it made him feel like he was playing in his mothers living room. Peter then asked for "a cup of tea, mum". There was also a full-wall mirror behind the band, and on a few occasions, Marty would turn around and seemed to be watching himself play, which was kind of funny.

All in all it was a great show, the whole lighting thing and audience banter made it seem much more intimate than some of the larger venues. The sound was also much better than the previous night, and the performance was just as good.

The setlist was the same as the other nights, although they only did one encore, and never did "You Took", which was a major disappointment. I told Steve afterwards that we were holding out for the song, but he said that it wouldn't have been the same without the lightshow. Oh well.

A few other Kilbey banter moments from Sacramento. He mentioned the new album coming out "on a huge label called Thirsty Ear. They printed up two or three copies. You might be able to get one in this town".

He also offered the fan he had been teasing a sip from his can of Sunkist orange soda. when the fan took a sip and handed the can back, Steve said "Not after you've been drinking from it".

Marty's Beer choice:

There was also a bottle of water on top of Marty's effects unit that the guitar tech spilled all over it during the show.

I told Marty before the gig that I thought Bastard Universe was great, and have been listening to it more than the album. He said "Yeah, Steve says that too. He thinks it's better than the album". I asked if there were similar tapes gathering dust from all the other album sessions, he thought for a few seconds, than said "I don't know". He's OBVIOUSLY (grin) trying to hide something, maybe the triple cd of outtakes and jams is in the works.

It's been about 24 hours and it's still sinking in that I finally saw The Church last night, a dream I've had for a dozen years or so. And in Sacramento, of all places. In the month that I've been in California, I've managed to see both The Church and Mark Kozelek, both favorites of mine. And both shows were amazing, in different ways. Unreal - like I died and went to musical heaven. Almost makes living in California tolerable (just kidding!). Anyway, the show last night was great. Paul Webb covered it pretty well already - it was a small club, and Kilbey seemed digusted by the lack of a light show and some occasional mic feedback, but overall the sound was good, the band seemed in good spirits, and the place was packed.

Highlights for me included: -hearing some of the soundcheck they did: parts of "Day of the Dead", "Metropolis", and (I think) "Leaving on a Jet Plane", and some general jamming. Even through the walls, it sounded wonderful.
-shortly after that, Steve came outside, looking weary and not too happy and headed across the street to a Chinese restaurant with Peter. At first, I thought this was a bad sign, though later he was more congenial, and actually joked with the audience quite a bit. Still, it was an ominous moment, suddenly seeing that grim but familiar visage up close. What do you say to someone who's written some of the best songs ever, especially when he looks pissed!
-meeting Marty just before the show and chatting briefly. He seemed really friendly and approchable. Onstage, he was the flashiest and played most of the leads, but he did it with a lot of style and class.
-watching Peter play. Though he is much more understated in performance, I was in awe of the atmospheric effects he created and the occasional leads he whipped off brilliantly but seemingly effortlessly. He truly is a guitarist's guitarist, and a crucial part of the band's sound.
-meeting other Seancers: Paul Webb, Paul Vazquez, Marc Harris, and Dianne Perry. It was nice to meet other folks who understand my obsession. All very nice people, too. Seancers rule!

I guess they played the same set they've been playing so far, but that was fine with me. I would've liked to hear some Bastard Universe-type jamming, but there were plenty of transcendent moments of guitar nirvana. Seeing them onstage, and being enveloped by the glorious wall of sound they create, in person, was like a dream come true. It was also vaguely nostalgic, hearing those songs I know so well, wishing I'd seen the band when they (and I) were younger, though it was also heartwarming to see these 40-something guys still doing what they do so well. Wish I was at the Fillmore right now...

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