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Date: Wed 12 Nov, 2003 at 22:56
Headline: Finally, the Z Report (with a beat!)
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"I am not a fast writer. I am not a slow writer. I am a half-fast writer!"
-Robert Asprin

Greetings & Salutations!

This has to be a record -- going on three weeks out from the gig, I'm finally issuing a report. Well, better late than never, I suppose. So, for the 2.5 of you who actually read this stuff, I proudly present:

10 REASONS THE LAST ZEPHYR SHOW TOTALLY RULED!!!*

*(according to this humble correspondent)


Hangin' @ The Z: (L-R) John Flanders, Matt Meldrum, Tim Hollinger, Juli Mueller
Doran "Fozz" Barton, Thom Bowers, Greg Thomas, Eric Litovsky, Marsha Pabalis

#1: It Truly Was "The Last"

First Flyin Zion, now this. Why is it we always seem to only get in on the tail end of these things? As everyone must know by now, the Zephyr, a hugely popular fixture of the Utah music scene for two decades, no longer exists. I was fortunate to play there in some of my earlier bands, but SoN had only just started headlining shows there this year. Not only am I disappointed as a band member (we've lost what was effectively a house gig in SLC) but also as an audience member (the Z was one of the last great rock clubs in the area drawing mid-sized touring acts -- where the hell am I supposed to go to see the Young Dubliners now?!?) After our gig on Oct 24, there was the big send-off party and the Halloween show, then buh-bye.The knowledge that we were rockin' this joint for the last time definitely added some unique energy to the night, both from us and the crowd.

#2: Draw, Pardner!

...and what a crowd it was! The first time we headlined the Z, we had a large number of comp tickets to give away, which helped the draw. The second time, we had fewer comps but another popular tribute act opening up for us. This time, we had next to no comps and no opening act...and still managed to draw our biggest, loudest, craziest audience to date. Things started a little slow but picked up as the night went on, and by the time we got to our performance of Dark Side Of The Moon, the dance floor was SRO and everywhere we looked from floor to rafters there was a sea of incredibly enthusiastic humanity, lost in the music. Very gratifying to see that the word is seriously getting out and people are digging what we do. Like I said in my ealier note, the cheers were so loud during some of the quiet moments that we actually had trouble hearing ourselves. You folks keep raising the bar, and it will be our pleasure to continue rising to the occasion.

#3: Semi-new Blood

Ever since we started opening for ourselves earlier this year, we've been playing pretty much the same original set at every show. We've been emphasizing tunes from One Left Turn, of course, but even most of those songs had been in the rotation for a long time before we recorded them. And some of the older tunes....hell, I've been playing 'Atmosphere' live in various bands for seven years now! It was time for a change. We're only now just starting to sit down and work on brand new songs, so for this show we decided to change the running order and spruce up some arrangements (especially on 'Do Me' and 'Misery'), and bring 'We Are One' out of the mothballs. Definitely changed the flow of the set, and helped inject some new life into the band. I especially enjoyed Tim's extended acoustic intro to 'Misery' at the top of the show. I think we're gonna keep that for a while.

#4: "Sheep"

Between Tim shooting stuffed animals (proudly emblazoned with the SoN logo...er, such as it is) into the crowd with a compressed air bazooka, a supercharged performance of the tune itself, and everyone finally being able to see Fozz's accompanying film in all its technicolor glory (or should I say gory?), I think we achieved a very cool synthesis of music & theatrics on this one. However, Matt and I having to extend the song's intro out for an additional 3 minutes or so was a bit much. I think perhaps next time we'll fire off our trinkets during 'Dogs' instead...

#5: Techno-rama

In addition to the marvelous "Sheep Gun", we were able to institute a number of other technical improvements and augmentations to this show. Brian Thur was brought in to do lighting, and impressed everyone with both his skill and his upbeat professional attitude. It was our first time working with him, and we definitely hope to do it again. Tim finally realized his ambition of bringing quadrophonic sound back to the show (we hadn't used it since last spring) and Todd the sound engineer seemed to be having fun using it to pan FX and solos around the room. The airplane bit during 'On The Run' didn't work out as planned (as Carl would later remark, "we finally get clearance to use pyrotechnics, and it goes Spinal Tap on us. Classic!") but as I've said before, a great audience can overcome all obstacles. :-). For more on the technical trials and triumphs of the day, check out Fozz's blog .

#6: "Great Gig In The Sky"

Always a show-stopper, this tune definitely hit a new high. From the moment the piano intro started and Juli moved downstage to sing, the crowd went nuts, giving her the loudest cheers of the night. And the way she performed, she deserved them. All this plus Brian's cool red underlighting and the new film Fozz cut together with a tip of the hat to "Dark Side Of The Rainbow" (the wacky notion that Dark Side Of The Moon syncs up well -- too well to be a coincidence -- with the first 45 minutes of The Wizard Of Oz) made this tune a little slice of heaven for everyone present.

#7: Oxygen Shortage

It didn't occur to me until the night of the show, but Matt sure had to expend a lot of lungpower in the first 30 minutes or so. Because of his particular vocal range, he always gets handed the high, histrionic Waters parts, and somehow I managed to stack a bunch of them right next to each other. After belting out 'Shine On' at the top of the FloydShow set, he had to burn through 'Run Like Hell', 'Not Now John' and 'Gunner's Dream' with hardly a pause between them. It wasn't planned that way -- in fact, I usually try to space Matt's vocals out for this very reason -- but it just happened to be the way the material fell together for this show. He deserves a medal for his endurance (the primal scream in 'Gunner' brought on the second loudest cheers of the evening) but for the sake of his health, we'll make sure to give those tunes plenty of breathing room from now on.

#8: "Stolen"

It's such a tricky song to get across live. The sprawling arrangement, the extreme dynamics, the relentless 16th note clip...and that's just the musical aspects of the performance. Juli's soliloquy routinely gets lost in the mix as well, which can blunt the song's overall effectiveness. But at this show, I think the song came completely together for the first time since we recorded it. The mix was good and the band was tight. Tim's intro for the song (describing its connection to the Elizabeth Smart situation, with Dave Smart as a guest speaker that night) made for a very powerful vibe. And as always there was much praise from the crowd for the impact of the onscreen Anime visuals (thanks again, Kurt!) which IMHO brilliantly underscore the song's mood without being pedantic about its subject matter. As Matt would say...er, without the sarcasm..."Chills, man!"

#9: The Friend Factor

I really can't emphasize enough how cool it was to see my friend Krista Perry at this show. We've known each other basically forever, and to say that she was a big influence on me growing up is like....well, I can't think of the appropriate Dennis Miller-esuqe simile right now, but let's just say it's an understatement. We've recently been back in touch after a long time apart and I have been trying for a while now to get her out to see the band. This night she finally made it, with her sister Suzanne in tow. Both seemed in very good spirits, especially considering some of the stress they've been under lately, and having them there seriously made my night. Krista is an author and artist who is smart and talented beyond the telling of it (check out this link for a sample of her recent foray into webcomics) so it was a real treat to be able to share with her this Thing That I Do(tm). After all, she can remember when I used to just pretend to be a musician. ;-)

#10: "Echoes"

Best. Performance. Ever. After a nearly-year-long haitus we finally brought back the Floyd's psychedelic masterpiece for the encore, and played the living hell out of it. The "ping" and the squeals were authentic. The visuals were terrific. The jam section rocked. Flanders added an amazing flute solo to the song's 3rd quarter. Best of all, the vast majority of the crowd stuck around to hear this 20 minute epic, despite the extreme lateness of the hour. 'Echoes' is easily in my Top 5 favorite Floyd songs of all time, and as I was wandering around the club during the spacey middle section while Tim and the sound FX took over for several minutes, I almost wished I could just stay out there instead of having to return to the stage and finish the tune. The screen, the lights, the guitar, the extremely loud quad FX....hypnotic. We've got to get this monster into the rotation more often.

Very Honorable Mentions...

Our friend and former guitarist John Clark dancing like mad to 'The Next Temptation' (with encouragement from Juli); Eric taking on electronic percussion in addition to his keyboard duties and lending some much appreciated extra flavor to 'Run Like Hell' and 'Learning To Fly'; the gentleman from Bosnia who was superhumanly friendly to all of us after the show; and Carl Roehmann's vegetarian lasagne, which was so damned good it even made me forget that I hate pineapple. :-)

Bye for now
-Thom