Around 1980, my cousin Billy often used the word “biffit” to describe “10 pounds of x in a 5 pound y.” 1
Ever since our band broke the 10+ member barrier, The Industrial Jazz Group has had to figure out how to deal with the challenge of playing in smaller places. It’s fun to walk into a venue and do the mental tetris to figure out how we’re all gonna fit. Even though we have trombones and music stands and a keyboard and furiously gesticulating singers and dance moves and such, we always manage to make it work, and also to make it super-fun.
Friday (10/16) we played at The Green Line Café in Philadelphia and despite the teeny space, we ROCKED it. That was most definitely a biffit: 20,000 pounds of awesome crammed into a 5 pound bag… and by “5 pound bag” I mean an 80-square foot slab of floor that required the trombones to stand on the windowsill so they could play over the heads of the trumpets, and 9 tunes crammed into a 40 minute set. And by “20,000 pounds of awesome” I mean that our show contained booty-shakin’, hootin’ and hollerin’, audience-member smoochin’, and a big-time bangover the next morning. Or: to paraphrase Durkin: “On a 40-degree rainy night, we had the place rockin’ so hard that the venue had to turn on the air conditioning.” Oh hells yes!
On Saturday (10/17) we were invited to play at Galerie St. George, which is an old, huge, beautiful home on Staten Island that’s been turned into an art gallery. Despite the lipstick on this (absolutely gorgeous) pig, this show was still at its essence a house concert. You might be thinking, “How on earth can a 17-piece band play a house concert?” The answer is: With awesomeness, baby.
This event was another biffit: We stuffed 17 people, 15 music stands, a PA, a keyboard, and two mic stands into a 120-square foot center room of this house. Only the band could fit in this room, but the the audience sat in the surrounding spaces and they had a great time, goshdarnit. So did we! It was probably the most unusual setup we’ve ever had, and it was cool figuring out ways to engage the audience. I got to resurrect the signs by parading them around the house, which was good fun. I’ve missed those signs, and I plan on using them for most of our other gigs on the tour. Keep your eyes peeled!
Anyhoo, tomorrow (well, technically today as it’s 12:16am EST, despite what the header might say) we’ll be on a big, beautiful stage in Brooklyn at The Bell House. I’m very excited to share a bill yet again with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and to experience for the first time Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra. The show starts at 7:30, and IJG goes on around 9. Can’t wait to see you there!
But now: Sleep. Today was a full day of mystery-gigging and bacon-cookie-making, but I’ll tell you all about those at another time.
1 Where x = dingleberries and y = bag.