03-16-2002
Dubuque, Iowa, 4-H Community Center
 
We played a show in Dubuque, Iowa last night, in the middle of cornfields and old, old houses & barns. Played at the 4-h hall with first two indie-rock bands, then us, then two buzz-metal bands. We left after the first metal band started, & ate huge slabs of beef & pork at a steakhouse in Galena, & drove home. It was an early show. The remarkable thing about the trip - it was a bizarre show, really, very few people showed up, though the ones who did were attentive - was this band that played just before us, "My Business Failed in Three Weeks." They were a three piece. They go onstage in white shirts and ties, young overly sincere looking guys (Tim's guess was that they'd sound like a jazzy Elvis Costello, but think they sounded like The Jam).

So the bass player introduces the band - he was "from sales & marketing," the guitarist was a "computer programmer," I forget what dept. the drummer was from. They start playing this low-key soul sounding thing... and the bass player starts to sing in this primitive falsetto, sounding like a joke, definitely a joke, but absolutely sincere, and with one line I remember:

"dirty jokes are good because they are risque
and when i tell them i feel alive for the very first time."

I'm pretty sure the song was about coming to work & talking to your workmates about stuff. The first line of the song is something about a TV show that was on the night before - the second line is "ha ha ha ha ha haha." The thing is, these fucking guys had written a rock opera, all about working at a crap job, getting fired, and deciding to start a mail-order business, which proceeds to fail in three weeks. The rock opera is called "My Business Failed in Three Weeks." They have a logo and everything. It was so much fun, Tim laughed until he cried. They were three college kids from Iowa City... the description can never match the show, either, because this bass player/singer kid was just the best, hitting poses & jumping & throwing himself all over the stage, screeching and making these great faces, so funny, so impassioned & consistent & sincer.... It was kind of a dream come true.

Before MBFITW, when we entered the gargantuan 4-H hall, there was a band, I think, over by the stage, four people who I think were getting ready to play a show, or at least trying out some bits of gear or something, or maybe practicing, not sure, not sure... and of course the show had already started. Was this Unhinged? Not sure, not sure. But what an odd thing to see: was it a church group recording an audition tape for a talent show which they themselves were curating? I don't know that I've seen a more fascinatingly disinterested group of people "performing." The singer would walk around, maybe fiddle with the volume on the keyboard player's amp, look at the floor, always end up sitting on the edge of the stage, kicking his feet like a kid. Fascinating. The keyboardist - playing a tiny little Casio or something - kept the keyboard on the stage, standing in front of it & facing the wall. Fascinating! I'm not sure about it, I'm not sure what the story was with this odd little band. They seemed like decent people, I should've asked... but MBFITW hit the stage pretty quickly, & were distracting.

It was a long day, a long day after a late night, but it was a good trip, an educational trip. We spent a little time in Galena, a little bit cheesy but what a beautiful place, gorgeous old brick mansions with copper gables perched on a hill looking over this red brick town, stunning to see coming around the bend from the East, or North or whatever it is. I got to see the sun set, which I never see in this big town; and then the stars came out, so many stars! So nice to see, I forget there are such things as stars & sunsets. It's good to know.


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