In my humble opinion, this was the best Midwest TabCon to date. Despite a few hiccups, it was organized, well-planned & executed, and most of all fun.|
Friday, July 30th was scheduled as a load-in day for gear, after which those interested would travel to a local eatery for food, spirits and revelry. There was a bit of confusion early on as to where we'd be eating, but in the end, everyone wound up on the same page: the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Chi-Town.
Myself and my brother, John Fornalsky, arrived only a few minutes late of our desired destination time of 7:00pm. We were greeted by Brian Morrison, who had gotten there early in Dan Miers stead, as he had contacted Brian and said he would be late and unavailable to greet people. Brian split for a previous engagement, leaving myself and John to explore the studio.
Dan chose, what turned out to be an excellent place for a TabCon jam. It certainly didn't look like much from the outside, and those of us who are suburban dwellers may have found the neighborhood a bit, well, lacking. But the studio was well equipped, with a full PA system and floor monitors, a large drum riser (and we needed every inch and then some, because though the drum riser was spacious to begin with, we still had to pull an extension piece they had over to get all the "things to bang" on to it) and plenty of stage space. An air conditioner abated the horrendous heat wave that gripped the city, and there was even a small refrigerator to store cold soda, and yes, plenty of beer! We weren't allowed to touch the mixing board, but they had competent people to set it up initially, and once the sound was set, we found little need to touch it anyway. The real down side to this was that Sean C. wound up bringing a friend, Mike, who as I recall was a sound engineer of sorts, and it was disappointing that he wasn't able to run the sound for us.
Dan, Sean J. and Elise showed up next. By now the studio manager had informed me that the band who had the room rented for that night was not coming, so we were able to immediately begin setting up gear, shaving off a lot of setup time for the next day. The entire drum kit was set up, and if I'm not mistaken, synths as well. Elise was a suprise arrival to most of us, as only a short time earlier she had discovered the TabCon and e-mailed Sean about performing. It was great to have one more person there, and no doubt Sean was glad for the chance to turn over some of his singing duties.
A huge wait then transpired. Al Kunickis and his fiancee had yet to arrive, even though Al was supposed to be meeting us at the studio. A call to the Hard Rock discovered that Al was already there, waiting for us! The hungry among us were calling for Al to pick up the check! [grin]
Flash to the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was good, the price surprisingly reasonable and the night was a great chance to get reacquainted with old TabCon friends and meet new ones. The singing of "Point of Know Return" was a cool highlight.
Those who know Al know that he's late. Always late. The first performance day of the TabCon was no exception. All gear was set up, everyone that was supposed to be there were already in the studio and set to go. Chris Marquardt had shown up early and set up extra cymbals, percussion and electronic goodies. Amps were warm, keyboard sequences primed, and Sean's amazing triggered samples exposed for the first time [WOW!]. A sound check of "Turn the Page" was spectacular! Perhaps it's just because it was the first Rush song that was heard for the weekend, but there's no doubt that it was tight and on the money. I had my first crack for the day by sound checking "Anthem". It felt good and I was ready. Now the wait began.
Nearly four hours past the stated arrival time of 8am that Al claimed he would appear at, Al and John show up. We were only 10 minutes from starting without them, but their arrival brought Al's much needed synth for click-track purposes, and plenty of cold beer!
One day down and one to go. Another night to talk with fellow TabConners was at hand, a chance to unwind from a day of "hard" jamming. Dan suggested Pizza Uno for grub, which had those of us who know John wondering if we'd ever see a slice of pizza if he got to the pan before us! [grin] A short drive downtown and we discovered it was a two hour wait for a table at Pizza Uno, but Dan, local Chicago boy that he is, knew of another pizza joint right down the street. Pizza Due's wait was only 40 minutes, plus we were allowed to order in advance, so that the food would be ready when we sat down. Better still, we were allowed to order drinks while we waited outside, so we sipped cold beer and pop on stairs next to the resturaunt, talking shop, Rush and countless other topics. Eventually we were admitted, much to the other patrons agony; we were a noisy bunch, but fun was had by all.
A new day, and Al and John late as usual. They opted for a lengthier night of "entertainment", and by their account, didn't return to their hotel room until 5am the next morning. Once again, they turned up around noon. This time, however, we already had the keyboard, and the beer, so we were able to launch immediately into the second day sans their presence.
The last song of the gig was "Closer to the Heart". Everyone came up on stage, performers and spectators alike. The video camera was aimed in the general direction of the stage, and Brian launched us into the song. Everyone sang and gave the farewell song their all.
The Day is Done
Done. By 3pm we were finished. Even with the call-outs and repeats, we finished early. This was a first for the Midwest TabCon, a testiment to the "setlist" concept first proposed by Sean Carroll and later refined by him, Sean Jones and others. Organized and efficient, it kept the performers up on stage longer, minimizing the time it takes for personnel changes between songs. The fact that sets and songs you weren't performing on were kept secret from you also created a sense of excitment when a favorite song began.
With that, it was time to bring another TabCon to an end. Everyone immediately set to breaking down the mountain of gear we all brought. Cars were pulled up to the door and trunks and back-seats filled to capacity. The walls in the entrance foyer of the studio were covered with writings from studio patrons, and Elise quickly found a marker and boldly declared that the 1999 Rush TabCon had taken place there. Everyone signed their name to it.
With so many hands, the studio emptied quickly, and in no time we were shaking hands and saying 'Until next time'. Apart from a few cracked and frozen beer bottles in the studio freezer, a last parting "gift" from John and Al [grin], no damage was done to the studio, and everyone appeared to walk out with what they came in with. I even think, GASP!, everyone got their own patch/guitar/MIDI cables back. A shock indeed!
One by one people left for home, until it was only John, Al, Sean C., Katherine and myself standing outside the studio. One last round of Rush and music talk over one last beer, and in my case cheap cigar, and it was time to go. The first two TabCons left me winded and wanting to go home by their end, but this year I could have gone for another two days. I think everyone felt the same way.