don't you tell me how i feel.

White Birds Tour: Day 3 by don't you tell me how i feel.
September 27, 2011, 12:41 am
Filed under: white birds tour

In which White Birds record a Daytrotter session, perform in the Windy City and mostly steer clear of weirdos/trouble. Also, photos.

We woke up rested — the beds are quite comfortable at the Clarion hotel in Davenport, Iowa. White Birds had to be at Daytrotter (a.k.a. the recording studio Horseshack, which specializes in sessions with indie bands) by 11 AM, so we all hustled to pack up and hit the hot (and free) breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, sausage, cold cereal, biscuits and gravy, French toast sticks — it was like a Denny’s.

James and I went to get the van. It was rainy and cold in Davenport, and eerily quiet. We drove to the overhang by the lobby and picked up Chris, Farzad and Mike, then drove across the bridge into Rock Island, Illinois. The Daytrotter studios are located downtown (classic old-school America type o’ feel) on the third floor of a quaint, middle-aged building.

After parking, as he took the keys out of the ignition, James turned to look at Chris, Mike and Farzad. “Let’s go in there and fucking be monsters,” he said.

We went upstairs, and the Birds began loading their gear into the famed Horseshack. Daytrotter has the whole third floor, and the set-up is like a wider-than-normal railroad apartment. The large, show poster-bedecked lounge and offices are at the front of the building, the recording studio is in the middle, and the bathroom is at the very back (with great natural light). On the wall behind the toilet, is this advice:

On the wall outside of the recording studio is the Daytrotter chalkboard:

And in the fat selection of vinyl records in the lounge, I found this awesome Philip Glass wax:

I couldn’t be in the studio while the band recorded, but I took some pictures of them setting up.

The band got to work, beginning with “Floating Hands.” The sound waves wafted down the hall to my spot in the lounge. It struck me again how instantly classic these songs were, and how lucky I was to be hearing history happen. Also, being in a room full of people that truly know and love music, I felt like I was among close friends. There be warm vibes at Daytrotter.

While waiting, I recorded a quick interview with Johnnie Cluney (the man responsible for all of the original Horseshack studio art) and goggled at his collection of action figures. I hadn’t seen Ram Man (a fringe He-Man character) since I was 7 or 8.

After that, I wandered back to the studio door and listened. It sounded like White Birds were doing “Veins Lined With Rust,” but it had a beat and far faster tempo. They ended up recording versions of every song on the EP: “Floating Hands,” “Bee Hive,” “Hondora,” and that revamped version of “Rust” (James usually does it solo, but this was a full band version). Chris said later it was the first time they had done it that way.

Mission accomplished (with a bonus song to boot), the Birds began hauling their instruments downstairs and back to the van. They seemed happy, and the sound engineer had dug it too (always a good sign). The rain had ceased, the sun was out again, and it was a three-hour drive to Chicago and Schubas, where they’d be playing that night. If we hustled, there would be time for a proper soundcheck.

The band said their goodbyes and left the Horseshack in high spirits. We had a place to stay in Chicago that night — old friends of White Birds, so there was nothing to worry about on the shelter side of things.

Seeing Schubas for the first time was like completing a lengthy quest in a role-playing game. For years I’ve read that name on blogs and tour itineraries, and wondered what it looked like. I gotta say, it’s a heck of a nice room. Prime real estate too, right on a corner, and crafted of brick.

After loading in, Farzad and Chris went to buy a quarter-inch converter at RadioShack. I hit up an ATM (weep) and met up with James and Mike back at Schubas. We went behind the bar, down a flight of creaky wooden stairs and under exposed pipes into a subterranean green room. It was quite cozy, and I immediately got to work on my radio show. It was going live at noon the next day, and I had a lot of work to do.

Because it was a Sunday, the set times were earlier. White Birds went on at 8:30, and Asobi Seksu were set for 9:30. Sundays always piss me off, in that respect. Even on a Sunday, people don’t show up anywhere until 9/9:30 (especially at music venues). So the crowd was a wee bit sparse when White Birds posted up. But after each song, the applause got a little thicker. And by the end of the set, there was a damn good crowd in the house, all of them Bird-watching (HA).

After the set, I went to my post at the merch table and handed out a good number of download cards for the EP before helping the Birds load up their gear. Usually, you do that at the end of the night, but there wasn’t any room on the Schubas floor, so we packed the van up and retired to the basement oasis.

I got back to work while James and Chris talked with Angie, the friend whose place we would be crashing at that night. Again, there’s nothing better than meeting new people with excellent taste in music. We left soon after, and Angie rode with us back to her house, in what she referred to as “the hipster section of Chicago.” While driving (my turn), I noticed Chicago was one of those cities where some roads have no marked lanes. That always unsettles me.

We parked the van and humped our bags and pillows into the house, where we met Jonathan, Angie’s music-loving husband. Dude had filmed the White Birds set that night (with three cameras) and then filmed a set by Deerhoof (no idea where in Chicago that happened).

Awesome people. We talked until 4 AM, then passed out.

– Lehtola

Tomorrow: Michigannnnn.


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