"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer



Tension is a tough nut to crack. It can destroy anything it touches, leaving the bodies of formerly healthy dynamics in its wake.

I usually avoid it all costs. I hate tension, and I always look for a back door to go around it or escape it. Because once tension is realized, it must resolved someway, because, as a dynamic itself, it is not a static thing. It can release slowly, as though air through a leaky valve, or the pressure will keep building until catastrophe strikes, as with an earthquake.

But tension can also be a useful tool for these same reasons. Because it demands resolution, it can be harnessed to improve the dissonance in the system that is causing it.

"Tension is good!" I said last Wednesday.

"No, it isn't!" was the reply.

There we were at a convergence of musical styles and it had pretty much finally come to a head. There was no more room for either side to move. We had a drummer who couldn't bring himself to lock into a set beat for any length of time for fear of stifling his own creativity, at a cost of not being rock solid for the performance. Two back up singers who could not sounded more different from each other. Both very talented, but one who was far more focused on her own sound, and really just having fun singing in a band. The vocals were a mess, the back up singers fighting with Rudy's lead and making chaos out of everything.

The dissonance was then multiplying across the group, making the sound very cloudy. It got worse when Rudy kept asking me to turn my bass down thinking it was I that was keeping him from hearing vocals clearly. It was the vocals themselves, the contrast in styles, that was causing that that problem, but I had problems of my own.

The drummer had yet to find the fills he wanted for each piece. Not that they shouldn't change, but I am a firm believer of dialing in and locking down that stuff as a performance nears. And there is nothing more frustrating and that will sour a relationship between a drummer and a bass player, which is an almost mythical bond, than when one of the two cannot play in time. I am at my most comfortable when I can feel that beat like a conveyor belt, and can literally see my musical phrase forming ahead, and place each idea, each note, right where it needs to be. But when you are still experimenting with beats and fills, still not sure of what is going to work, of course your time is going to have problems, and I don't think that should be done at all with a performance coming up.

The tension right after that rehearsal was so thick you could've eaten it in an ice cream cone. And there that little line of dialog was found. That tension needed to be resolved. We had finally reached the point of exasperation where trying to ignore or pussyfoot around the problem was pointless. I asked the other backing singer to address my concerns with the girl I thought was the problem. The drummer was another story. He just was not comfortable yet with locking in on a set of fills for each song. Even after ten months. With more simple music this may have been possible, but the songs Rudy writes for The Midnight Shows are pretty tight and require impeccable timing. It was here that we agreed we'd probably need a new drummer. One that will be able to set a beat and not deviate for a some weeks on end while we prepared for an upcoming show.

The gig this weekend was the final release. We played loose and free, thinking we'd not be accepted at The Cubby Bear, with their clueless, Cubs Fan Partier crowd. But, it turned out they were a lot more accepting of us than our supposed "real" audience of the Wicker Park hipster scene. They danced, they were drunk, they clapped, weren't afraid who saw them doing it, and they definitely wanted a LOT more. The sound tech gave us a very strong mix and the girls naturally backed way off.

At the Cubby Bear on Saturday night and me rocking some orange pants:

In rehearsal today we addressed the style differences, and focused hard on listening to one another. In college I myself experienced an epiphany when I realized I had to stop listening to myself and instead focus outward. It is there you will hear when you are not blending in, with either pitch or timbre.

It was pretty much an instant fix. The transparency that appeared made each sound in the band clear and available to everyone's ears and nobody had to fight with each other to be heard. Loren was even more focused on his time and playing with what was familiar in respect to the time.

We'll have to see how much we can keep the newfound dynamic. I know from experience it be tough not sliding back into old habits. But with vigilance, we may make it stick.

I think we just took ourselves to a new level this week.

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