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On The Road With The Very Most & Yakuri Cable

Guest post by Kristin Gill
(Thanks so much to Kristin for writing this for us! I was taking for-freakin-ever, she’s a great writer, and I’m sure you guys were sick of hearing from me all the time anyway.)

It has been quite some time now since the excitement of tour has ended. I know Jeremy has been meaning to write something about the time we spent in the UK (and, in his case, Ireland), but I’ve been keeping him preoccupied with our own February Records project(s). So, I thought I’d write up a little account of tour to make up for Jeremy’s preoccupation. Just be forewarned, this may get a little sentimental. I was told it was okay.

For whatever reason, these people let me go on tour with them. I had six weeks off from work and managed to convince Jeremy that it was a good idea. There was an extra space in the van and no one else really seemed opposed to the idea. What were they thinking?

I arrived in Glasgow a day later than everyone else so I unfortunately missed the first rehearsal. I also knew Jeremy spent some time in Dublin and western Ireland, even playing an acoustic gig with Mumblin’ Deaf Ro and Big Monster Love at Dublin’s The Pop Inn before the full band rehearsals began in Scotland. From what Jeremy told me and the pictures I saw, he had a great time! I’m sure he’ll willingly tell you all about his falconing experience if you ask him about it.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects to remember is that none of The Very Most contingent of this tour really knew each other prior to this experience, the Scottish contingent being the only exception. Jeremy had taken previous trips to Scotland and I had met Jeremy at NYC Popfest is 2013, but aside from “knowing” each other on the internet, that was really it. Two people came from Spain, five from Scotland, two from England, one from America, and myself, an American via Sweden. A truly international mix of personalities.

Edinburgh

I suppose it’s important to know who was at the core of this tour. Jeremy rounded up several of his friends to complete a full TVM line up which consisted of himself, Vinnie Ransome (The Mini Skips, My Little Owl Records), Chris Gilles (The Hermit Crabs, Yakuri Cable), Jo Bunyan (The Hermit Crabs, Yakuri Cable, Bodyheat), John Ferguson (The Hermit Crabs, Bodyheat), and Pablo Caballero de Valcárcel (Ion Tides). Of course, The Very Most was playing each bill alongside the Glasgow-based band Yakuri Cable, in which Jo and Chris also played. Ross Donaldson and Andrew Black made up the other half of the band. Besides myself, Mark Wainwright (The Mini Skips, My Little Owl Records) and Marta Tortajada (the artist responsible for countless TVM covers) also joined and shared merch responsibilities over the course of the two weeks.

But I digress a little. Yes, there was a rehearsal before I arrived. I caught a flight from Stockholm and a train from London where I spent a solid six hour staring out the window as the scenery passed me by. I passed some cities I’d like to visit someday – Durham, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed – and got overly excited about our pending trip to Edinburgh the following day as the train approached and passed through Waverley. I arrived sleepily in Glasgow and ventured to Chris and Jo’s beautiful flat. They were lovely enough to host not only myself but Pablo and Marta, as well. Mark and Vinnie, ironically enough, booked a flat on Airbnb right around the corner without even realizing it. Team TVM was, with the exception of Fergie and Jeremy, all within one block of each other. Convenient! Chris and Jo were incredibly sweet and we sat around chatting for a while. Of course I had to ask how the first rehearsal was and there seemed to be mixed reviews. There was still one more to look forward to.

The following day, Thursday, was eventful. All of the Scots had to work so Marta, Pablo, Jeremy, Vinnie, Mark, and I made plans to go to Edinburgh for a few hours. Before we departed there were incidents involving a wasp in the flat and my humane attempts at catching it seemed futile. I do remember that the first time I met Mark and Vinnie I was standing on a chair by the window trying to capture the insect. Hi, nice to meet you! Luckily Pablo came in and scared the wasp away. That was what were began to believe anyway. Or the thing bounced off of me and out of the window. Either way, problem solved.

Edinburgh was spectacular. I can still picture Jeremy’s face when we left the station and saw the old city across the bridge, completely in awe. We got the tough walking up-hill portion of the trip over with as quickly as we could and ventured the Old Town a bit. We really only had a few hours to see all that we could! We had lunch in a nice little place and played “what’s your favourite biscuit?” followed by a rousing game of Horse in the Edinburgh Museum.

JJHorse

This was the turning point for Horse. It took a few members of the tour a little while longer to catch onto the craze, but by the end we were all playing. In fact, I think we’re all still playing it to some extent. You’re probably asking yourself “what’s horse?” As Mark and Vinnie explained it to us, it is basically a game in which you yell “horse” when you spot a horse. It can be an actual horse, a painting, a toy horse, etc. Those Lloyd Bank logos are all over the place! The same horse can’t be called more than once a day. And, if you want to get a little more complicated, you can call “horse” if you see a prefabricated house on the road, a boat on a trailer, or a nun. Don’t ask me why. There was a lot of horsebox controversy on the trip – you can call “horse” if you think a horse is inside, but do so at your own risk.

Basically, Mark, Jeremy, Vinnie, and I ran around this museum like children calling out “horse.” There were a lot of military paintings and soldiers on horseback, so it was quite the game. We didn’t learn anything about Edinburgh at all. We were awful patrons, but we sure had fun!

By the time we got back to Glasgow it was nearly time for rehearsal. Knowing that everyone had been practicing a lot before the first rehearsal and after all of the mixed reviews I heard, I was curious to hear how it was sounding. It should also be noted that this was their last rehearsal before the first gig of tour the following day. Six hours together was all the band had! And I must admit, they sounded pretty good even before rehearsal ended. After rehearsal we headed over to a pub with Ally from Bodyheat. We all sat around talking for quite a while before disembarking.

TVM Rehearsal

We had an easy day on Friday. We all slept in, relaxed, and most of us went for lunch in the Southside. I dyed Jo’s hair with one glove and I can report that the dye did not come off of my hands for 3 ½ weeks. We were off to The Glad Cafe before we knew it! Night one of tour! I was most excited about seeing Duglas T. Stewart and finally hearing more from Bodyheat. There were rumors when we arrived that Norman Blake would be playing with Duglas which was exciting and turned out to be true! So many friendly faces showed up. The venue may have been a bit of a sauna, but we all had a really great time. The bands sounded fantastic and The Very Most’s first set as a band went off without a hitch!

My favourite moment? Patricia (of TVM’s “Patricia” fame) was in attendance. Jeremy played a fun “joke” on the audience (“I like to pick out one member of the audience and make up a song about them. So… you! What’s your name? Patricia? Oh, okay…”). The smile on her face when the band performed that song stretched from ear to ear. It was a wonderful moment. When the gig wrapped up we all went to another pub to celebrate what a great success the night had been.

D+P+J

Saturday

Saturday was the longest drive of tour – Glasgow to Nottingham. We got breakfast at The Glad Cafe before climbing into our maroon home-away-from-home for the week. I think Chris ended up nicknaming the van “Horse” before the end of tour. Ross and Andy were fantastic drivers over the course of the week – we wouldn’t have survived without them!

Horse the Van

We passed the time the best we could. Fergie, Chris, Jeremy, and I played some silly car game concerning road signs and the letters of the alphabet. That game actually lasted at least 2 hours and didn’t end until we were entering Nottingham, so it was time well spent. It was close, but Jeremy was the overall victor. I gave up somewhere around the letter G. Somewhere en route we encountered the only bit of rain of the tour. What fantastic weather we had!

We arrived at The Maze and unloaded the van. Mark, Marta, and I set up the merch table, though it wasn’t entirely needed on this occasion. Witching Waves had, unfortunately, dropped off the bill due to illness earlier that morning, T-Shirt Weather stepped in to fill the gap while Feature ended up headlining the night. Everyone sounded great again! Though the crowd was relatively small, the motorcycle enthusiasts in attendance certainly kept everyone entertained. I think one of those men actually licked poor Vinnie’s face. Andy also tried to ride an amp down the streets of Nottingham though I personally wasn’t present to witness it.

Yakuri-M

Sunday

Off to Liverpool! I was really looking forward to being in the city with my beloved Swapsies again after visiting them in March. The drive was a bit long but not nearly as bad as the drive to Nottingham had been. We played more Horse and Chris briefly subjected us to Gwen Stefani, though we switched over to The Beatles as we arrived in the city (of course). Huw from The Swapsies came to greet us while we had lunch and then headed off to the venue. Before sound check we walked down to the Mersey and over to the Cavern Club – really quick Liverpool tourism! The venue, Maguire’s Pizza Bar, was exactly that – a pizza place that sold beer with a small venue in the back. It was charming and having dinner at our disposal was a real delight!

Cavern Club

The venue was warm but it was a great, friendly atmosphere. So many more friendly faces showed up! Yakuri Cable sounded great in the space – it was perfect for Jo’s vocals. I am obviously biased, but The Swapsies sounded incredible. They just keep getting better! This was also their first gig with their new bassist, Matt, and he definitely fit like he had always been there. The new unreleased songs are so catchy. Despite having spent some time with them in Liverpool before, this was the first time I had ever seen them live. They didn’t disappoint, either.

While the Yakurist, Mark, and Vinnie ventured back off to their hotel, us five misfits went off to the Aigburth area with Elaine, the drummer for The Swapsies. We settled in with drinks at Elaine’s after the show but, feeling incredibly exhausted, I went to sleep early. We actually stayed next door to Elaine’s house in a children’s nursery, on blow-up mattresses and camp beds, which was thoroughly bizarre and hilarious in its own way. I apparently missed a lot of drinking and shenanigans, which I got a full report on the following day.

Monday

While we sat around waiting for the rest of the group to finish their luxurious breakfast (at least three of us are still a little bitter…) we sat around with our cereal and coffee. We read really disheartening children’s books: a boy went to the zoo with his mother and kept asking her if he could adopt whatever animal he saw. His mother continuously said no. The boy keeps asking, even in the petting zoo, but his mother continued to say no. And then the book abruptly ended. So, kids, you don’t always get what you want. Please get used to disappointments in life.

From Liverpool we embarked to Bristol! More Horse was played. While Pablo and Marta were whisked away to stay with the ever-so wonderful Nikki Barr, the other three misfits settled into My Little Owl HQ. Jeremy, Ferg, Vinnie, and I walked down to Cafe Kino a bit later through the steep hills of Bristol. Lonely Tourist was on the bill tonight! I had sadly missed his acoustic set at Copenhagen Popfest but had since been hooked on Staring At Weather so I was excited to see the full band performance. It was a really nice night, including meeting Vinnie’s lovely parents.

Merch

Tuesday

I’m pleased that Swindon is only a short drive from Bristol. Given then we didn’t have a long drive ahead of us, we had a day to enjoy. We spent some time at the Clifton Suspension Bridge where we climbed down through that cave and experienced the camera obscura, as well. Have you ever tried to chase seagulls in a camera obscura? It’s more fun than you think. We sat outside and had ice cream. We cooked and ate a good meal back at MLO HQ before we ventured off to Swindon.

Clifton Bridge

Who knew Swindon, of all places, was going to be one of the best nights of the entire tour? Nikki joined us for the trip which was lovely! We arrived at The Victoria, unloaded the van, and laughed at all the pictures of the hilariously-named cover bands filling up the walls. There was a lot of shandy consumed over the course of the evening. The King in Mirrors were absolutely fantastic, too! The trip home was thoroughly entertaining – there were long chats with Ross, plenty of beer, and a perfectly starry sky.

Wednesday

To London! I abandoned life in the minibus and rode into the city with Vinnie as Mark was at work. We played pub cricket while driving through the city and eventually made it to the Airbnb flat we rented in Shadwell. Unfortunately, it was on the 4th floor. I don’t remember that being advertised anywhere! It was incredibly tacky – decked out with all kinds of ridiculous UK touristy paraphernalia, though it had lovely views of the city’s tallest buildings. It was only a quick stop before we ventured back out into the humid London air and I taught everyone in the van pub cricket on the way to the venue. It was a short drive to the Buffalo Bar where we unloaded, managed to sit down and eat a meal, and actually relaxed a bit before the gig started.

Jo-AirBnB

Yakuri Cable opened up the night. It was their last night on tour and I can honestly say that they sounded better and better every night. Next up were Cosines who I was very excited to see. It was great to see Daniel Chapman, Cosines’ bassist, after missing each other the last time I was in London. Seeing them got me pretty excited about their new album, too. And finally, The Very Most, where I played photographer for a while before heading back to my merch table duties. I missed Mark!

Thursday

Finally, a day off! Ross and Andy were awake incredibly early to pack up the van and head back to Glasgow. Chris and I helped load equipment into Horse the Minibus and Ross and Andy were on the road by 7:30am. Chris, Jo, and I then decided to watch the opening ceremony for The Commonwealth Games that had taken place the night before. I remember really tacky songs, people dressed in giant Tunnock’s costumes, too much Rod Stewart, and those adorable Scottie Dogs and their little legs running around as each country’s team was announced. We all know what my favorite part of that was.

The four of us decided to go out and enjoy some time in London. Fergie met us for lunch and we walked the Thames Path for a while, stopping periodically for drinks. We spent a little time in the Victoria and Albert Museum and had dinner nearby. There were two more pubs involved before Chris, Jo, Jeremy, and I ventured back to Shadwell. It was off to Indietracks in the morning.

London

Friday

There were some ticket mishaps in the morning but we all eventually managed to get on our trains. I left the group in Nottingham and ventured to Alfreton, where I passed the journey with more familiar faces: Lisa Bouvier (The Flatmates), Mattias Lidehäll (The Flatmates), and Silja Haddal Mork (EardrumsPop). Jeremy, Pablo, Marta, and Fergie ventured off to the airport to rent a car before driving to Mansfield. More mishaps ensued, but eventually Chris, Jo, and I settled in to the Premier Inn in Alfreton. We relaxed and had a small dinner before lazily making our way to the festival site. By the time we finally arrived, we had already missed Teen Canteen and Spearmint was finishing their set, but we eventually reconvened with everyone, including Mark, Vinnie, Nikki, and plenty of new faces, for The Chills and Allo Darlin’.

I know that everyone had a different Indietracks experience so it’s hard to report on those last few days. We all crossed paths here and there, but there were certain bands that people were more excited to see. Saturday’s heat got the better of some of us, too. We spent a lot of time near the owls (where Fergie sang the ever-so-popular “Sexual Owl”), drank a lot of beer that resembled ice cream, and many of us never made it to a gig on the train. When The Very Most took the stage on Sunday afternoon, it was nice to see so many friendly faces and supporters of the people in front of us. Mark, Marta, Nikki, and I were, of course, front and center. I know that playing Indietracks has always been a dream for Jeremy, just as NYC Popfest had been, so it was great to be there and witness both of those moments firsthand.

Indietracks

We all had an emotional and heartwarming moment after the set. Despite not having known each other before this tour had started, we all grew quite close. I suppose that’s inevitable when you’re spending so much time with the same people. Saying goodbye to Pablo, Marta, and Jeremy later on that evening was just as emotional, though the rest of us would wait until Monday morning to say our goodbyes.

Funny enough, as I write this, Allo Darlin’s cover of “If You Don’t Pull” just came up on shuffle. I can’t remember how many time I heard this performed or sang myself over the course of Indietracks weekend. At least five! It will always be, at least to me, evocative of Saturday night’s indiepop singalong. I can’t express how thankful I am for being able to take part in this trip, especially with all of the personal issues I had to deal with weeks prior. I saw some great bands, met some lovely people, and saw even more of England. I was able to visit Scotland for the first time. I spotted a lot of horses, listened as songs were created on the spot (“jump off horse, of course, of course…”), lived up to my state’s “Live Free or Die” motto, inherited my very own horse tote bag, and laughed almost constantly. Indeed, I made some wonderful friends who I miss dearly and can’t wait to see again soon. I really respect and admire the kindness, generosity, and friendship of these brilliant people.

Team TVM

Long-Delayed, All-Inclusive NYC Popfest Blog-Post-To-End-All-Blog-Posts

We left for our trip to New York City over a month ago. I know that I should have written this post a long time ago, but I’ve been really busy and I wanted to do it justice. I’ll start out by talking about our show and what it meant to me as the leader of this band and then move on to a day-by-day retelling of our trip. Since we largely went our own ways on this trip, the retelling will be from my perspective, for obvious reasons.

First off, my thoughts on our show. Simply put, NYC Popfest is my favorite show we’ve ever done as a band. I’ve always been of a mind that our recorded output is our true legacy, our mark on the world (such as it is), and I’m still of that mind. However, that show was the most rewarding single personal experience I’ve had as a musician. We set out to play as well as we could for people that, I think, understood what we’re about, many of whom I personally admire. And we did it. We represented ourselves and our city in a way that I feel we can take a little pride in. No, we weren’t flawless, and no, it’s not like we played to hundreds of people (probably around 80 or 90), but it was still a wonderful night that I’ll never forget.

People took video of a couple of our songs, so here those are.

“It’s Not Unusual” featuring Liz Hunt from The School on vocals

“Congratulations Forever”

Before I forget, the band would like to thank everyone that donated to our Indiegogo, Maz Alhadid for inviting us to play, Math and Physics Club and Cassolette for lending us gear, Liz Hunt for singing with us on the Tom Jones cover, all the people who helped us hapless Idahoans get around in NYC (in my case, Kristy Gill, Howard Saltzman of the great Facebook page Indie Pop Saved My Life, and this awesome guy in a Bulls cap that couldn’t have been older than 17), Clint Vickery for driving us around and housing the Lloyds, and Jake and Lisa’s friend who housed them (I’m sorry but I don’t remember their name). I personally would like to thank my bandmates (including Marty Martin who played bass on one song) for making the sacrifice to play this show. I know I’m missing someone obvious here, so I apologize if you were worthy of thanks but weren’t included here.

OK, onto the rest of the trip then. Stop reading now if you’re not interested in a day-to-day retelling of our trip, including my thoughts on the bands that I managed to catch at Popfest.

WEDNESDAY

We all flew into NYC on Wednesday the 29th of May, although, for some reason, we all booked separate flights. Despite that, on the last leg of my flight, I happened to be booked with Lindsey, our keyboard player, and her husband James. They told me that our backing singer Gia’s flight would arrive in the airport in about an hour, so we waited for her. Once we all arrived, our friend Clint, who used to play in the Boise band Spondee, but who has since moved to New York for graduate school, picked us up and took us to where we’d be staying. Thanks so much to him! That taxi ride from Newark to Brooklyn would have killed us. Here’s Gia, Lindsey, and Gia’s boyfriend Marty in the Newark airport waiting for Clint to make it to the airport through a traffic jam.

5

We separated at that point. Gia and Marty went to their own place, Lindsey and James stayed with Clint, and I joined our guitarist Elijah (also my brother) and our bass player Brion at an AirBnb place in Bed-Stuy. On a side note, when I booked our lodging, I figured that it wouldn’t matter where in New York we stayed as long as we were close to the subway. I was dead wrong. There were really no good restaurants within walking distance of where we were (near the Kosciuszko subway stop) and, even though Manhattan was only a twenty minute subway ride, you don’t always want to have to wait for the subway to come, especially on the weekends, where the trains are a lot further and fewer between. I just wish we had some decent eats within walking distance, but there were only deli/convenience stores and fried chicken. That’s not what we wanted to be eating in New York. Anyway, aside from the lack of good food nearby, the place worked fine for our entire trip.

THURSDAY

On Thursday, we went into Manhattan and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which was absolutely gorgeous, and Magnolia Bakery (which, I admit, I had only heard of due to the SNL “Chronicles of Narnia” song). Best cheesecake ever. Also, best food item I had on the trip. I think we got pretty unlucky on this trip, because I wasn’t blown away by any of the food we had with the exception of that cheesecake.

The Popfest show that night was at the Cake Shop in Manhattan, a venue I had heard of before. This was the show I was most looking forward to at Popfest because it was the US debut of The School, one of my favorite bands of recent years. We (Elijah, Brion, and I) got there about half an hour before they opened up the doors to the venue, which is in the basement. While we waited, I had the pleasure to meet the guys in Math and Physics Club as well as Jesse and Ciera from Cassolette, the guys from Swiss Alps, friend/fan/blogger Mike Rosen, and Kristy Gill, who had contacted me about an interview for Candy Twist zine. Kristy, as you’ll see later in this post, was very helpful to me throughout Popfest and I now consider her a friend. Anyway, I also got to see my old buddy Chris Mac from Jigsaw Records again. Yay! So, it was at this time that I heard that Charles, the singer of Math and Physics Club, was dealing with some pretty bad laryngitis. It was only one night before their show and he had no voice at all. I felt horribly for those guys, but this story has a happy ending that I’ll talk about later. In any case, they had previously emailed me about playing keyboard on a few songs with them. I was looking forward to that. They had told me what songs they wanted me to play on so I practiced those and I was ready to go for the show.

Soon thereafter, doors opened and we got to watch four great bands, though I did unfortunately have to miss Grand Resort due to the fact that humans need to eat periodically. (It was great pizza from the place across from Cake Shop.) I’ve since heard really great things about their set. First up were Thee Ahs, who are one of my favorite new young bands, and they did not disappoint. They delivered boundless energy and great songs that somehow combine twee (though I know they hate that word) with jazz-tinged pop. Swiss Alps were great as well. Literature blew the freakin’ roof off the place, and The School, well, I don’t have words for how much I loved their set. They played all of my favorites (“Valentine,” “Where Does Your Heart Belong?,” “That Boy is Mine,” “Baby Won’t You Stay With Me Tonight,” “Never Thought I’d See The Day”) and they played them so well. It’s the absolute best seeing bands I love in little clubs. I love to be that close to the action. Best show of the festival in my opinion. Here’s a clip from the show:

After the show, I got a bit of a chance to visit with Liz from The School (who had sung on a song for our new EP), Mike Perry from the now sadly defunct Manic Pop Records, and some of the guys/gals from Thee Ahs. Great people all.

FRIDAY

On Friday, Elijah, Brion and I started out the day by going to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and it was wonderful. I think anyone who’s been there will attest to that. Van Gogh, Miro, Gauguin, Picasso, Oldenburg, Monet, and countless others. I had a really, really difficult time stepping away from Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” I didn’t bring my camera because I assumed they wouldn’t allow them. However, they do allow them and everyone was snapping photos left and right. You just have to have the flash turned off. D’oh! Anyway, even though I didn’t have any photos from our visit, I can’t recommend MOMA more highly.

After the museum, we had to get ready for our show at the Knitting Factory. It was kind of a pain to get there. The closest we could get to the venue by  subway was about 15 blocks. Fortunately, we were borrowing all of our equipment except for a laptop and a small keyboard. We got everything set up and soundchecked, and then waited for a while. During that time, Math and Physics Club told me that Charles’s voice still had not improved much, but that they were still going to do a short set with various people filling in on vocals. They asked me if I would sing one, so I agreed to do “Darling, Won’t You Come Home?” My other band, Baffin Island, had recorded a cover of that song, and my songwriting partner in that band, Mel Whittle (from The Hermit Crabs), had sung that song with them when they played in Glasgow. Given all that, it seemed pretty fitting for me to sing that song with them.

So, after a bit, we went on. There were probably 60 people when we started and 80 people or so by the end of our set. I’ve already talked about what a great experience it was to play the show, so I won’t go into that again. After us was Cassolette, who were just so much fun and were great show(wo)men. They also had a keytar. Woo-hoo! I particularly enjoyed their cover of The Primitive’s “Crash.” Next up, was Math and Physics Club. After they explained their situation, they did a great job. The crowd was really appreciative and enthusiastic even though the show wasn’t happening under ideal circumstances. It was a really neat thing to see. Here’s a video clip of me filling in on “Darling, Won’t You Come Home?”

Next up was The Monochrome Set, who are a legendary UK band dating back to the late 70s. They were excellent. I was getting a little, OK, a lot, bit tired, and so I didn’t see their whole set, but I did catch at least 40 minutes. It was after their set that I finally got a chance to meet someone I’ve known on the internet for a while, Jed Smith from My Teenage Stride. I had a really nice conversation with him and his bandmates for a while before it was time to head off.

After the show on Friday there was an indiepop dance party at a place called the Loft. Knowing that my chances of going to an indiepop DJ night in Boise were next to zero, I went. Most of The Very Most went. (Thanks to Howard for helping us find the place.) Liz Hunt from the School was spinning. Somewhere around the time she played “Nothing to Be Done” by the Pastels, I couldn’t help myself, and, for the first time in probably a dozen years I actually danced on a dance floor. I’m sure I looked like a gal durned fool, but I still had a great time. Liz’s was my favorite DJ set I’d ever heard (though Maz’s set the next day gave her a run for her money).

SATURDAY

On Saturday, we took full advantage of the fact that we had no where to be, and we slept in until 10 or so. Maybe even 10:30. We (Elijah, Brion, and I) decided to eat lunch at a Thai restaurant in Brooklyn. Little did we know that trying to reach said restaurant would take hours and not minutes. We plotted out a course on the subway map, but found that, on weekends, trains came about one-fifth as often and many of the lines were closed. We left our apartment at around 12:30 and, by 3 I realized that, if I didn’t get to the venue quickly I would miss the Popfest show. So, I left my compadres and walked through Bed-Stuy, got some directions from a nice man, and, hailed the world’s crabbiest cabbie. Seriously. This guy was angry at the world and had no problem using hapless out-of-towners as an outlet for that anger. Either way, I got my first look at the famed Home of Hipsters: Williamsburg. It definitely was a step up the hipster ladder from Bed-Stuy. I remember a lot of really clever business names, atypical (for lack of a better word) restaurants, and shiny, metal-y store fronts. I wish I had had more time to explore around there, but I didn’t want to miss any more of Popfest. The crabby cabbie dropped me off and I made my way in. I saw Howard, Mike, and Kristy. Howard informed me that he, Kristy, and a couple other people were planning on splitting a cab to get to The Bell House for the second Popfest show. I asked if I could get in on that, and they said yes. Huzzah! It’s always nice to avoid a huge ordeal if at all possible.

So, unfortunately, with my transportation difficulties, I missed Silkies and probably about half of Making Marks‘ set. What I did see of Making Marks’ set, though, was really great. Excellent jangly pop, fantastic between song banter, and a really great cover of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” that featured members of The Smittens and Tigercats as a snapping choir. Here’s a clip of that cover:

Next up was a band I truly love, have loved for years, and never thought I’d have a chance to see live: The Smittens. They were so great. Energetic, funny, with great harmonies, and of course, amazing twee tunes. (By the way, I love how they’re one of the few indiepop bands that don’t shy away from the term “twee.”) Here’s a clip from their show:

The last band at Spike Hill that afternoon was The Ballet. Not really my bag, but that’s OK.

After The Ballet finished, the five of us crammed into a cab and went to The Bell House for the second Popfest show. As soon as we arrived there, Howard and I figured we’d get some food. The other three people didn’t want to miss the first band, but I knew that if I didn’t eat something I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the bands anyway. There was a barbecue place nearby that looked decent, so we went there. It was called Fletcher’s, and, although the food was good, it took FOREVER and was really overpriced. Howard, who hails from Dallas, told me that real southern barbecue happens in real time. The food takes hours to cook, but the meat is ready to go before people even get to the restaurant. Furthermore, your order is always ready by the time you get to the end of the line. Not so at this place in Brooklyn. Oh well. It was good to get a chance to hang out with Howard since I don’t make it down to Texas, well, ever.

So, we went back to the venue, and the first band I saw was The Proctors, and they were superb. Beautiful, jangly, powerful stuff. I picked up their Shelflife seven inch immediately after seeing their set. Here’s a song from their set:

Next up were English band The Hobbes Fanclub, who I had gotten a chance to see when I played with Baffin Island at Glasgow Popfest. I’ve also talked a bit with Leon, the band’s songwriter/singer/guitarist, on Facebook, so it was great to see them. Their first four songs were just what I would have expected given that I really enjoy their recordings: fast, poppy, walls of guitar, bass, and drums. Sort of reminiscent of Wedding Present or maybe a bit of Rocketship. Totally up my alley. The fifth song is when things got a little interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. Someone from the venue told them that this would be their last song, and the band got very upset, and understandably so in my opinion. They couldn’t have been playing for more than 15-16 minutes and they were already being asked to stop. It was ridiculous, especially when you consider they had come at great personal expense from thousands of miles away. At that point, both Leon and the dummer told the venue to eff off (but the real word) repeatedly throughout the course of their last song. The sound guy also turned Leon’s amp way up so it was much noisier and fed back a lot more. It was an angry, chaotic finale. The whole situation obviously made them quite upset, but it also made me, and probably every other musician in the room, upset. When a show is running behind, you don’t force one band to cut their set in half to make up the slack! You have every band cut one or two songs. You distribute the pain evenly. Apparently, the stage manager was pretty upset when someone from the band was a little snippy at him when he asked them to hurry up. Wow. What a pro. He can’t handle it when a band gets a little snippy after being badgered to set up in an impossibly fast time frame. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending since Popfest gave them a second set at Sunday’s show.

Next up was Flowers. If Popfest gave an award for “Best New Band” (or any award for that matter) I think they would have won it. Several people told me how blown away they were by Flowers, and, for a lot of those people, myself included, that came as a bit of a surprise since they hadn’t heard much about the band before Popfest. The female vocalist was outstanding. She had such a strong, pure, clean voice that floated over the fuzzy, reverbed-out guitar washes and the propulsive, tom-heavy drums. She played bass for a few songs, and I thought it was pretty clever how she taped over the top three strings to make it easier for her to play and sing at the same time. Anyway, great set. Definitely one of the highlights of a highlight-packed festival.

Tigercats was the next band, and they were tons of fun. Really tight, with elements of maybe afro-pop, just a little? Sort of reminded me of a cross between Allo Darlin’, Vampire Weekend, and Los Campesinos.

Last up was legendary New Zealand indie band The Bats, and let’s just say they are legendary for a reason. Everyone loved it and they played most of my favorite Bats songs. It was so great that they made NYC Popfest a stop on their tour this year.

After the show Maz DJ’d a fantastic indiepop set that nearly reached the level that Liz’s set had reached the night before. Actually, you know what? I think I’d have to say that the two sets were equally great, since Maz was able to play a song by The School (a luxury Liz didn’t have). During Maz’s DJ set I was hanging out with Liz, Ryan, and Harri from The School, and it was great fun. It was also nice to meet Liz after a few years of being in contact on the internet. Here’s a photo of Liz and I.

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After The School took off, I hung out for a while waiting for our cab-splitting group of homies to finish at the after party. While waiting, I spoke for a little while with Matthew from the Skatterbrain blog, Tobias from Azure Blue (who I unfortunately didn’t get to see because of the timing of their set), and Kip Berman from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It was nice to meet people that I’ve only seen/had contact with over the internet. Eventually, Kristy, Dan (from February Records), our friend from Puerto Rico (whose name escapes me because it’s very Spanish. Hey! He was supposed to send me a Facebook friend request. If you’re out there, friend from Puerto Rico, please send me that friend request!), and I got in a cab with the world’s most incompetent cabbie. This was not a good day for cabbies. I’m glad he charged us a flat fee because Kristy confirmed via smartphone map that he was driving in circles. Eventually he got us to within walking distance of our apartments. It was at this time I realized that Kristy, Dan, and friend from Puerto Rico’s AirBnb was only a block from mine. Crazy!

SUNDAY

Sunday was the day that was the most frustrating for me personally. There were two bands in particular that I really, really wanted to see at Popfest that day, Alpaca Sports and My Teenage Stride. Because I heard an address wrong from my bass player (Degraw ≠ Dekalb), I missed not only My Teenage Stride (a band I don’t see coming though Boise any time soon) but also the “second chance” show for The Hobbes Fanclub. A huge bummer. Big thanks to Kristy Gill who texted me to make sure I wasn’t lost and then provided me the correct address for the venue when I told her I was. Unfortunately, in addition to making me miss two bands I really wanted to see, the whole fiasco cost me approximately 40 dollars in cab fare. D’oh! Oh well. I tried not to let it ruin the day for me, but I have to admit that I did manage to share my sob story with most of the people I spoke with at the venue.

I did get to see the tail end of The Orange Peels‘ set. I was a fan of their late 90s-early 00s output, but hadn’t followed much of what they’ve done since then. I only heard two songs of their set, but they sounded good. Next up was Alpaca Sports. I had gotten word that only three of the six members were able to practice together prior to popfest, and that the remaining three members had practiced by themselves to mp3s, sheet music, chord sheets, etc. They didn’t have a chance to do even one full band practice. With that knowledge, I couldn’t help but listen for little mistakes, but I only heard a few small flubs. They were probably tighter than most of the bands at Popfest, and it goes without saying that the music was wonderful. Well done Alpaca Sports! Here’s a video of their song “I’ll Never Win”:

Next up was The Secret History. Really tight, lots of energy and great power pop-ish tunes. Lots of songs with the name “Johnny” in the title. The male singer was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a hip-hop-style hype man in an indiepop band. He contributed brief bursts of backing vocals and danced around a lot. He also provided lots of good between song banter.

French Films was up next. They were loud, fast, super tight, and, unfortunately, not my cup of tea. They were really great at what they did though. The crowd was really, really into them.

The Wolfhounds followed French Films. Since they recently released a single on Manic Pop, we’re labelmates. It’s so cool to be labelmates with a legendary early indie pop band that appeared on the C86 compilation. Anyway, they definitely did not disappoint. A big wall of noisy, poppy sound. No muss, no fuss. (And with that cliched phrase, this is the point where I realize I’m not particularly cut out to be a reviewer of live shows. Oh well.)

Last up was Close Lobsters, a band I’ve been a fan of for close to 20 years (though, oddly enough, I didn’t know they were Scottish until I heard the singer talk). I never thought I’d hear those songs live, especially since they’ve been broken up for nearly as long as I’ve known about them. They totally nailed it and provided the perfect ending for NYC Popfest.

After the show, Kristy, friend from Puerto Rico, and I found our way back to our respective AirBnbs together via subway. It took forever, but oh well. At least I was with nice people. I said goodbye to those guys and got a decent night’s sleep.

MONDAY

Monday was my departure day. My plane left Newark at 5 or 6, I think. Elijah and I decided to take advantage of the Top of the Rock tickets we had bought as part of a package deal with our MOMA ticket. Top of the Rock is the observation deck at Rockefeller Center, and it was pretty amazing to see most of Manhattan and a lot of Brooklyn and Newark (I think) all at once. Here are some photos:

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After the observation deck, there was nothing left to do but start the long journey home. I took the bus to the Newark airport from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The first leg of my flight was delayed, so I missed the connecting flight to Boise and had to spend the night in Salt Lake City. It didn’t bother me much, since that meant I didn’t have to be right into work the next day, which would give me a chance to see my kids a little before work.

Overall, though there were a few frustrating moments (Degraw versus DeKalb being the worst) NYC Popfest was a great experience for us. We played well to an appreciative crowd. We met some really amazing people and got to experience a lot of the kinds of New York things you’d expect. For me, it was well worth the sacrifice of money, time away from family, and vacation time. Thanks so much to everyone that helped make this happen.

Just because: Here’s a list of everyone that’s ever been in The Very Most

Part of my goal with this blog is to document not only where this band is going, but where it’s been. I did an exceptionally crappy job with that kind of thing in the past, and I mean to remedy that. So, in that spirit, here’s a list of everyone that’s ever played in The Very Most, in chronological order, along with some information about each person. I’ve been privileged to work with some of Boise’s best musicians. Here they are:

Rachael Jensen

Joined: 2002(?)
Left: 2004
Info: Rachael Jensen played keyboards and sang in the very first version of The Very Most, which, for much of the time she was in the band, wasn’t called The Very Most, I don’t think. I think it was just called “Jeremy and Rachael Jensen” to the extent that it was called anything. We just played a few house shows, if I remember correctly. We mainly played the songs on Making the Case for Me, though I think we played a couple The Yukon and You songs too. The Yukon and You were my previous band. Rachael is my little sister, by the way, and she lived with my wife and I for maybe nine months when she was in the band. Rachael has sung on a lot of our recordings, most recently on our cover of The Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick.” She’s got such a nice voice. Such a nice voice. She spent several years as a member of Parenthetical Girls after leaving Boise.

Aly McCrink

Joined: 2005
Left: 2006
Info:  Aly sang and played keyboards and guitar in The Very Most for a few months. It was quite similar to the lineup with Rachael in that way. I think we played four or five times, including once opening up for Halo-Benders for their weekend of reunion shows in ’06. We did a cover of the Beach Boys’ “I Do” that I really loved.

Zach House

Joined: 2006
Left: 2010
Info: Zach mostly played bass in the band, but also played some guitar on a song or two, most prominently on “April is the Kindest Month.” Zach was in the band for a decent chunk of time, was always a fun guy to hang out with, and did a superb job. He also deserves a good 2/3 of the songwriting credit on one of our best, if not our best, song “You’re in Love With the Sun.” A great asset to the band, and it was a bummer when he left the band to spend more time with his own project A Seasonal Disguise, though it was understandable.

Allen Ellis

Joined: 2007
Left: 2008
Info: Al is one of my oldest friends. I’ve known him for a little under 30 years. Ever since we were in sixth grade, this guy has eaten, slept, and dreamed percussion. He was the first drummer of The Very Most, and served well and faithfully in that position for around a year, I think. Aside from playing live with us, he recorded drum parts for a couple songs on Congratulations Forever. Such a neat guy. I need to have lunch with him one of these days.

Gia Trotter

Joined: 2008
Left: 2010 (though she’s still a regular collaborator in the studio)
Info: I met Gia because she was briefly in a band with Al, who ended up recording a demo at my studio. Gia is the most recorded TVM vocalist aside from myself. She’s appeared on our split EP with Lions and Eagles, A Year With the Very Most, Patricia, and various singles.  She does an amazing job in the studio and live as well, and is one of the nicest people I know. She writes most of her parts and co-wrote the lyrics on “The Motor-Vu Lights.” She also fronts a country band called Larkspur and contributes to a once yearly cover Boise supergroup called Mostly Muff that puts on probably the most impressively slick live performances of any local band.

Jake Hite

Joined: 2008
Left:
2012 (though he’s still a regular collaborator in the studio)
Info: Jake joined on drums in 2008. He’s a consummate pro, to put it mildly. He can come into the studio and compose and play his part in less time than it takes me to mic the drum kit. He’s gone with me to Ireland twice and Scotland once, and also plays with me in Baffin Island. He’s co-written many TVM songs including “April is the Kindest Month,” “Fireworks,” “It’s the Best Thing,” “Christmas in July Comes Earlier Each Year,” and “There’s Nothing Missing.” He plays electronic music in his band Discoma and currently plays drums in Cerberus Rex with Zach. On top of all that, he’s a standup dude.

Clint Vickery

Joined: 2009
Left: 2010
Info: Clint played guitar, keyboards, and tambourine in the band about half of the time, while he was in the band. He was sort of an optional player, depending on who could make it to a show, but he always added a lot and was always great to have around. He fronts Spondee, a superb band, and is, in my opinion, a genius songwriter. Spondee is the only band to ever play a TVM cover live, as far as I know. Currently, Clint is working on a Masters degree at NYU.

Elijah Jensen

Joined: 2009
Left: N/A
Info: Elijah plays guitar in The Very Most, when we play, and he does an excellent job. He comes up with these snaky, super-catchy parts that I never would be able to come up with myself. I play guitar in his band, With Child. It’s what brothers do. They play guitar in each others bands. He writes about a billion songs a year, and each one is so good. One even made my knees buckle, it was that good. He came up with the amazing guitar bit at the end of “Changed Me” that makes the song.

John McMahon

Joined: 2009 or 2010?
Left: 2010
Info: John is the master of all low-pitched instruments. He played cello on a lot of Built to Spill records (you know, those cellos on There’s Nothing Wrong With Love that melt your heart?) and he played cello and bass on, and produced, Kris Doty’s solo album. He played bass with the band for around nine months I think. He played on “Patricia,” which, IMO, is probably our best post-A Year With The Very Most song. He’s also one of the funniest guys I know. We lost him to a Masters Degree in Art. It’s taken a few years, but I think I’ve finally reached the point where I can forgive art for taking John away.

Holly Johnson Wallace

Joined: 2012
Left: 2012 (though she’s still a collaborator in the studio)
Info: Holly was the first new member to join after I reassembled the band after a pretty long hiatus. Live, she sung and played bass on one song. She sung on our Ununiversalizable Us EP, coming up with some stunningly good parts on “Let Her Dance” and “Changed Me”. Such a joy to have around and such a sweet voice. She does her own music as well.

Lindsey Lloyd

Joined: 2012
Left: 2012 (though she’s still a collaborator in the studio)
Info: Lindsey is a superb percussionist who joined TVM as a vibraphonist. That definitely added a nice new element to the band. Vibraphone is a candidate for my favorite instrument, and she plays it so well. Her part at the end of “Changed Me” is so good. It just goes so well with everything without dominating. She’ll also be on our upcoming EP on Manic Pop! records as well.

Brion Rushton

Joined: 2012
Left: N/A
Info: Brion came out of nowhere from my perspective. I’d known him from mutual friends and because he works at The Record Exchange. I even knew he played bass, but I had no clue how good of a bassist he was until we started playing together. Parts that sit back, don’t dominate, but are still rhythmically and harmonically captivating. I had to re-record “Changing Me” after he wrote such an interesting bass line for it. He also played guitar on a few songs, and it was his idea to do a cover of “Let Her Dance.” He was also our hero when he offered his house for practice after our initial practice space couldn’t be used due to pet allergy issues. A great guy to have on your team.