The TabCon began, for Katherine and I, with a trip to the Greyhound terminal in downtown Chicago to pick up Jimmy and Adrienne. Meeting new people can be pretty nerve-wracking, but we were at ease in short order, an experience that was to be repeated later at Al's. Friendly, easy-to-get-along-with folks, especially our congenial host, who dared open his new home to this roving band of maniacs - er, I mean, friendly, easy-to-get-along-with folks.|
Unfortunately, through a comedy of errors, we ended up waiting an extra two hours at the Greyhound terminal for a Branden who wasn't showing up. Then it was a couple of hours of Friday rush hour hell to get to the suburbs. Welcome to Chicago, Jimmy and Adrienne! How refreshing, after a 19 hour bus ride...
Anyway, we were some of the first to show, but it wasn't long before all the Friday arrivals had arrived, and the gear-lugging recommenced. I don't recall it being an ordeal, but it must have been, now that I see pictures of the vast mounds of electronics, instruments, and accesories.
I think we went out to eat *before* the sound check, and it was (of course) fun.
Back at Al's, we had decided to sound check by going through enough songs to where every player, particularly the over-represented guitar faction, would get at least one chance to check sounds and levels, not to mention just getting accustomed to one another as players.
My song was Kid Gloves. Not having played publicly in a long time, I was nervous, but it went OK. It helped that Dave was raving about my great sound (hey, it's only a bit of chorus and distortion... or was it my spot-on delay? <bows>).
In general, though, the way things went Friday had me feeling pessimistic by the end of the night. Can't remember exactly why, but I had that this-is-not-going-to-work feeling when we left for home.
We were back at noon Saturday, and it was time to begin in earnest. After that it's a blur of performances, practicing, and spectating - although, in truth, I did more practicing outside and upstairs than I did spectating, which I now regret. But it was going around... people were in and out of the basement, from which the cry often came to "get so-and-so, we're playing such-and-such."
Having the '99 show to compare with at this point, I'd have to say that the chief difference in quality was sound; although the '99 *performances* were on average perhaps slightly better (mine were much better), the struggle for sound overshadowed some acheivements in '98. Guitarists, struggling to hear themselves through amps placed close to the floor, were on a turn it up campaign, and it exacerbated the usual problems of getting appropriate keyboard and vocal sound mixes.
In a word, '98 was... LOUD!!! Considering the proximity of hard, reflective walls, it's a wonder we can still hear. What?
The good: Stellar drumming throughout. Dave and Adrienne picked up all the songs Chris had to drop, and did a great job. Nice performances of tough songs that I often heard at a distance (but take heart - I was still going "wow!"). Watching Seinfeld and South Park Saturday night, and just in general, the relaxed, casual atmosphere throughout the weekend. Mike's cooking. Getting and chance to meet and chat with some fantastic people. '"What's up with that?"' (replaced this year  by '"That's not right."')
The great: The encore performance of Spirit of Radio - for an audience! The impromptu, swan song Limelight - despite my ignorance on the solo, without question the best song of the weekend in terms of energy and feel. Rivendell upstairs with Adrienne - beautiful job, as those few who witnessed it would attest.
The not so good: Sound difficulties. Eons between songs. An audience that came and went (mostly went). Too many guitarists and not enough bassists and drummers (this is RUSH, people!). Not enough singers (understandably enough) - poor Sean Jones.
Still, everyone who took part either came back for '99 or wanted to. Something tells me we're into something good...