Sunday, December 18, 2011

Heavy Holidays

A pot full of rainbows and dolphins
Thanksgiving recap: My day started like any other in which I don't have to wake up early to go to work. I woke up early... and made some coffee, did my interwebbing, and worked on music. Thanksgiving is a day, I, like many Americans, eat foodstuffs and be merry with family and friends. However, today things would be different. My lovely wife made an executive decision that I would be making sweet potatoes. Not just any sweet potatoes, Mikey B. Lial's sweet potatoes. Sounds stupid, right? It's not. It's serious business. Mikey had Sarah and I over for a damn fine steak dinner. The steak was AMAZING... but these potatoes... They were like eating mashed up bricks of gold laced with rainbows being ridden by dolphins... Yeah... You're right, that sounds like it'd taste like shit and these were the exact opposite. Back to my point. I'd be making the sweet potatoes from what I consider to be the best sweet potato recipe I've ever had. What's the big deal? I've never attempted to make them. Hell, I don't attempt to cook, because I can't. With disaster waiting in the wings I geared up. Water on high heat,spoons of assorted sizes, potato masher by my side like a gunslinger from the old west of yestertimes; the game was on. Sweet potatoes cubed, guestimates measured, water boiling, Sarah and I took to the mission like a black ops team deep behind enemy lines. Roughly a half hour later, the deed was done.  I felt the potatoes were a pale shadow of those I had had at the B. Lial residence while Sarah was confident in their presentation. Only time would tell whether or not the potatoes would hold true to their legacy... I opened a can of Blatz and waited. Waited for the hungry mouths that were attached to the heads that housed the ears of which I had filled with my tale of the finest sweet potatoes I had ever had in my life. I've always been my biggest critic and I will continue my tradition of being overly analytical towards anything I do for the rest of my life and this was no exception. It was mere minutes until the arrival of the dinner guests. A cold sweat broke out on my forehead. All I could see was that scene from The Goonies where Chunk talks about making the fake vomit at the movies and dumping it over the balcony to unleash a wave of sickness below from the patrons of the theater as they in turn, actually vomited. Would these potatoes unleash disgust and sickness? Maybe I should quickly grab them and "accidentally" drop them on the floor? Or sneak them out to the woods and throw them about, blaming it solely on the troll that inhabits the space under my Grandparents basement stairs... All of this running through my mind at the speed of light and then my mind gave itself a hearty slap. I grabbed up my Blatz and turned the jams up. The moment came in a flash. The potatoes were well received by the hungry mouths. Although I thought they could have been better, it seemed they were very satisfying. Success? Let’s just say they did well, but not well enough for me. Next year... Next year they will enslave their consumers! Friends and family slowly left to commence in their own evening doings. The night was young and it was high time I freed my inner geek. Uno was to be played, bad horror films watched, and Sword Of Mana to be conquered. Mixed Berry Green Tea poured, I reached for the 40th Anniversary Uno cards, a wife versus husband rematch from the night before to be had. Win or lose, I still get to pick the bad horror film we watch. Following which I will destroy Julius and his misuse of Mana. I hope you too had an epic Thanksgiving like I have had. Now I leave you with Chapter Two of the Vindicator Saga thus far.

Chapter Two: The global assault on posers has begun... on a local scale. (September 2005 - April 2006)

Vindicator's first show - October 2005
One month into the rat race Vindicator was ready to take to the street. They had written a half hour set and weren't willing to fuck around. They had the name, the logo, the image, and the music to back it all up... but they did not have the scene. Locally, (Elyria, Lorain), metal (real metal) hadn't been on the radar for nearly twenty years with a few exceptions.  In the U.S. a small handful of metal bands had fought the American social scene of trendsters and modern rock, but the airwaves and the reality shows would be the victor. Vindicator knew it would be an uphill struggle. The first gig the band played was a mixed bill. An excellent venue (that would later succumb to mismanagement) The Spot, was home to a built crowd of Elyria high school students. Prior to Ohio's ban on indoor smoking, it was a fun place for kids to go to smoke their cigarettes... underage kids, that is. Imagine a handful of kids who knew nothing about metal. Not that hard, right? Imagine those kids who only knew scenester, screamo, core oriented music seeing a thrash band. They didn't understand. It was so new to them. And what the fuck was that Vic Stown doing, anyways? Were those solos? (Truth be told they weren't really solos, so much as nonsensical shred.) After we played that night and blew all of the other bands off the stage, those kids went home. They talked to each other and then they talked to their friends at school the following Monday. The next time we played The Spot, that handful of kids who had no idea what real metal was, brought friends, lots of them. It seemed Vindicator's explosive live set coupled with their fast, aggressive riffs were so different for those kids, they couldn't help not love the local thrash revivalists. Their first two shows at the venue proved to be a great success. Riding the high they were on, they're first instance of misfortune would bloom. Wayne Holocaust would leave the band. It caught the remaining three a little off guard. All had been friends for years dating back to grade school for Marshall and Wayne and high school for the Stown’s and Wayne. It seemed the passion and fire Wayne had had in Violent Night had burned out and Vindicator was not something he felt he could pursue. Friendships left intact, the four became the three. Surprisingly this had little effect on the overall feel and sound of the band. And it made travel that much easier

Joel, Vic, Jimmy, Marshall,  & Jesse
So the local onslaught of shows continued with appearances at Peabody's, the Red Parrot, the Hi-Fi Club, the Beachland Tavern and The Spot. The band had released a proper demo named South Amherst Thrash which was recorded by former Violent Night shredder, Mikey B. Lial. (Mikey and Vic had since put their differences behind them.)

Recording back up vox
It featured four original tracks and greatly overshadowed the Rehearsal Demo they had released months before. Although South Amherst Thrash was recorded on a Fostex digital eight track, production value was leaps and bounds better than the Griffin iTalk that had been used to record the rehearsal demo.  The Rehearsal Demo served its purpose, though. Loud and raw, it gave fans an idea of what the band sounded like live without having seen them. With a new demo, some merch, and three sets of steel balls, Vindicator continued their march of domination of the greater half of North East Ohio.

A side note from the Author: Looking back at our strategy I've often times asked myself why we never marched all over Ohio in the same fashion Mantic Ritual (Meltdown at the time) had toured Pennsylvania. A band needs those strong roots in their home state to really further themselves and we seemed to be oblivious to that fact at the time. Our hometown is Cleveland, but Cleveland does not see us as a hometown band. We couldn't get the attention we wanted living in the awesome shadow of the Auburn bands and their iron grip of a legacy on the city. It was probably a battle error to not play southern Ohio and its many cities. Anyone who's reading this now who's in a band trying to do something with themselves, make a mental note of this: before you tour, play your own state thoroughly and build a name for yourself there before trying to "get out there". We were young and new to a game we didn't quite understand. Understanding or not, we still did shit our own way, and if you ask any of us, we wouldn't have it any other way.

As my next blog won't surface until the new year, I'd like to take a moment to wish my fellow Christians a Merry Christmas, my friends who celebrate the African American holiday, a Happy Kwanzaa, my Jewish friends, a Happy Hanukkah, my pagan friends, an Awesome Winter Solstice, and the Hopi friends I wish I had, a Happy Soyaluna. To those I have missed, enjoy whatever Holiday you wish, so long as it means peace on earth towards each other. I don't care what faith you are or if you are faithless, the month of December is more about respect and kindness towards each other, than any particular faith. Have a peaceful and safe Holiday.

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