Tales from the A.H. Files

Chapter 3: Incest Fest
The Arfhouse benefit show 12/20/08

I’m not sure why we’re a bigger draw now that we’ve been a non-band since the Clinton years, but lo and behold, we re-emerged under the most unlikely circumstances – a show where we didn’t make a fucking dime!!!

It all began over the summer, where two ideas were being kicked around simultaneously. Erik Bocek wanted to do a benefit show for Arfhouse, where he had friends who were committed to a cause we found equally worthy. Second, Erik, Jay Dean, and me sat outside The Cobra Lounge discussing how to get a more “collaborative” spirit out of our mutual commitment to a label (Coachhouse Collective) that had exactly one release in its catalog (the Tongues CD, though they did do a Ronject DVD before that) and a handful of bands that shared members across the board. We coined it then and there – “Incest Fest”. Each Coachhouse band would play, along with any bands connected through this cross-pollination of shared musicians. Erik would secure the venue (which he did with surprising speed – he began his quest July 30th and had settled on the date of December 20th soon after, a date chosen so that more Coachhouse releases could materialize, all plans could be made well in advance, and evidently so we could fuck up Ian’s Party which we had already anticipated would be planned 4-5 months later).

Flash forward a couple weeks to August 9th, where Mexican Cheerleader was playing with Pegboy at the new Bottom Lounge. I spoke with Pete and Karl about MC playing, and suddenly Pete blurts, “Oh, I get it. Incest Fest. You want Oblivion to play”, which of course I hadn’t thought of, because as far as I knew, their drummer Brian lived in Florida. Not so, said Pete (and to prove it, Brian showed up later that night along with all the other old-timers who attend old-timer shows like these). And then the conversation moved to Apocalypse Hoboken. If Mexican Cheerleader is playing, and Tongues is playing, we obviously need Lynyrd’s Innards, Oblivion, and Apocalypse Hoboken to legitimize the Incestual theme. Intriguing, and yet trouble to say the least. I elected to keep it between the three of us, and told only Erik, as he would probably be interested in this sort of thing.

And then I did and said nothing about this show. For months. Come Halloween, I finally broached the subject with Scott. Now, here’s the thing that most people are largely unaware of – reforming A.H. is a MAJOR PAIN IN THE ASS. Getting 5 dudes in one room to play is easy; it’s what happens to the people around us that often brings things crashing down. By November 5th, I had verbal commitments from everyone except Todd. Todd would find out when the world-at-large would. Why? Because Todd has a big mouth. No disrespect - I love him to death, but I would not trust him with a secret like this. Plus, I could not imagine Todd ever saying no to an idea like this. We rehearsed without Todd in my basement on Thanksgiving weekend, ran through 13 songs just once, and then went drinking. Easy peasy.

I had elected to announce our reunion on December 7th. This would give the world 2 weeks to buy tickets, e-mail us incessantly, and ultimately almost crush this whole thing before it even began. Yep, the craze began right on schedule. Hey Erik – I told you so.

For starters, Todd inexplicably sent out the production schedule as a myspace bulletin. I realize that with a dozen bands booked, it’s nice to know who is playing when, but give people specific times and guess what they’ll do – they’ll show up to see the 2-3 bands they know and blow off the rest of the show. The original schedule was scrapped as of December 8th.

Next, we couldn’t rehearse again until December 13th – which ended up being Todd’s daughter’s birthday. Todd did not get to rehearse with us at all, which was cause for concern, but I knew Todd would come through. Though he felt some insecurity, he did his best to prepare without us. It was also learned at this time that Oblivion would not be able to play. Then, Karl (Mexican Cheerleader/Lynyrd’s Innards) had to attend a funeral, thus robbing of us of another band (and MC had to plan an “emergency” rehearsal to create an entirely new set sans Karl).

As we entered December, it did not escape our attention that for a show planned since the early days of August, few of the bands were actually promoting it. It wasn’t until A.H. was added that the graphic started appearing on myspace. First it was the Arfhouse flyer with all the bands listed. Cool. Then it was the Arfhouse flyer with APOCALYPSE HOBOKEN pasted in huge letters over 50% of the flyer. To us, this was akin to having JIMI HENDRIX in bold letters on the classic Woodstock poster (instead of a stately “3 Days of Peace and Music” with a modest listing of performers, which seemed to work just fine, no?). Ironically, Tony Piscia (who runs this site) created this new Arfhouse poster, and quickly took it down at my request, but by this time it was already a myspace virus (prompting me to create my own “Hookers and Cocaine” version which I thought would be a much better draw than Apocalypse Hoboken). Doubly ironic, Tony got snowed in at his Milwaukee home, and couldn’t even make the show. We’ll make it up to you Tony, I promise. Someday.

Last, any phone calls or e-mail correspondence between Erik or I and the outside world had to stop as we were being asked to change the schedule again, move time slots, allow more bands to play, accommodate the vehicular challenged, etc. The final straw came when we learned of a show happening the same night in Elgin, and an insane plan to cancel that show and have the 4-5 bands play our benefit show. When we politely said “no”, it seems that e-mails and phone calls went out in vain search of a “yes”. It’s like when Dad says you can’t go to the carnival, so you ask Mom. Then Grandma. Then Dad again. Fucking hell.

And in the end, the show happened. The people came. About twice as many as we could have hoped for. And the now well-rehearsed Apocalypse Hoboken could barely play because we were doubled over in fits of laughter as Todd proceeded to perform the show with his cock out. Then his pants gone. Ultimately – nude, held prostrate like Christ by a Hulk of a man-child named, I believe, Frank, as he sang “Brett”. I was pelted with beer cans throughout the set, a vocal mike quickly got swallowed up the crowd (along with Todd’s nude self), and our planned encore of “Little Red Riding Hood” was played with half the audience onstage with us. Someone rather brazenly stole the bass drum mic (though I hear Laura Anne Shaw, who ironically was not working Reggie’s that night, recovered it from the little shit). The audience would not clear the stage, so we played “Jerk Lessons” a second time because we hadn’t rehearsed any other songs. And then it was all over. Post-partum depression slowly creeps in.

Overall, it was the show of the year. Hope you didn’t miss it.