For those of you who don’t really know me, let me offer you this taste of a back story. I have a fairly good memory. I remember back in grade school when my friend Jordan grabbed my keyboard in computer class and said, “Joe, check out this funny video I found on Albinoblacksheep.com.” Low and behold, it was not one, but several, nay, a multitude of Tally Hall sketches from their early days, when Joe (Hawley, guitar and vocals) and Rob (Cantor, also guitar and vocals) enjoyed sitting around and discussing the various toppings of pizzas. What started out as a general curiosity became a full fledged love affair with this Ann Arbor-based band (which also consists of Zubin Sedghi [bass, vocals], Andrew Horowitz [keyboards, vocals], and Ross Federman [drums, voc-not really]). Having loved their sketches, Jordan remembered these good times as well when he bought his copy of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, and promptly shared his joy at how amazing the album was, not only in the cleaned up versions of “Banana Man” and “Ruler of Everything” which we had come to love in the years leading up to this, but reveling in the sheer musical and comedic genius that lay in every song. Rest assured, I own my own copy. These guys deserve every cent we can give them.
The events leading up to the main point of this story are many and varied, but they involve watching Tally Hall’s Internet Show several times over, Enjoying every scrap of Boralogue produced (by Bora Karaca), rolling around Evansville, IN cranking “Greener” from my car stereo, and doing impromptu renditions of “Natural Ketchup” whenever Jordan and I got around each other (different high schools, now different universities).
Flash forward several years. I was drifting asleep one night in my Indiana University dorm room when I received a text from Jordan, well after midnight. “Tally Hall, March 12, Chicago. We’re doing this.” I said, “Oh, hellz yeah,” and the next day took a look for myself. Sure enough, they would be in Chicago on the 12th, the day my spring break started. But what grabbed my attention was the following concert date: March 13th, at the Firebird in St. Louis, MO. Another little piece of my personality, I have a thing for the phoenix. I took this club name as some sort of celestial sign, that this concert was the one I was meant to be at, and immediately told Jordan so. He agreed. With the plans set, it was time to inform my parents…
This was going to be the tricky part. You see, in the summer of 2009, I was given the opportunity by the Catholic Committee on Scouting to venture to the Mecca of Catholic Scouting: Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico, for a two week retreat/backpacking adventure. The catch: Give a brief talk about my experiences at the retreat the following March. As luck would have it, the same weekend as the future concert. On top of this responsibility, my family had gone down in number of drivable vehicles (my 16 year old brother having wrecked two in almost as many months, including my beloved ’96 Chevy Cavalier, named Bronx after the Disney’s Gargoyles Cartoon, but that’s another obsession entirely), leaving us with the van my dad drove to the retreat, and my mothers own vehicle. This was going to be tricky. As luck would have it, my girlfriend, Rachel, who is also a rather big fan of the Hall at this point, as well as her best friend, Megan, was my ride home, either to Evansville or to the retreat in Ferdinand, IN, home to St. Meinrad Archabbey. Her father lives in neighboring Santa Claus. With the new plan of being dropped off at her father’s, being picked up there by my father, going to the retreat, being picked up at the retreat by Rachel, driving to Evansville, meeting up with Megan and her boyfriend Ben, and letting them take me to the concert and back to Evansville, after which I would drive myself back to the retreat with my mother’s car in enough time to get there before I was to give my speech, I was allowed to go, if however hesitantly. Regardless, I was given the green light, and, Oh, Hellz Yeah, we’re doing this.
Meanwhile, I had received a Facebook notification, prompting me to promote Tally Hall around my area, document my actions, bring he proof to the “merch” and I would be compensated fairly and justly. This led me on a poster-posing binge, dragging through the rain and mud in order to spread the Gospel of Tally Hall. More on this later. See the poster on my personal blog!
The weeks dragged on, a combination of anxiously anticipating the concert plus desperately desiring spring break to arrive, and the day finally arrived. The driving was let than eventful, though I did snag a fairly sweet Yoda key chain in my McDonald’s Happy Meal on the way there. After realizing we could park next to Venue, we finally arrived at the Firebrid. I got out of the van (a Town and Country, not a Windstar…sorry fellas) and gave Jordan a manly hug, communicating all the unspeakable emotions we were sharing. We did the introductions, Jordan’s friends to mine, and I was then informed that some Lumberjack had told us we could not pick up our tickets until 7:00 (ETA, 6:30), which I had made the entire group order online as a protective measure (the show in Boston sold out, I was scared!). Standing the rain, forming a queue, catching up, hearing bits of the soundcheck as various band members walked in and out of the remarkably soundproof door, and finally 7 rolled around. I was sent to check on the ticket status, and was told not yet. I did receive a bit of “Good Day” as I walked in, so, not a complete loss, and was sure to hold the door open extra long for my comrades who were waiting patiently for my return.
7:30 finally arrived, and we entered. The backs of my hands were made to look like treasure maps (NOW I understand the 3OH!3 song), and Jordan, Rachel and I decided to hit the merch table now before it got crazy. Our opportunistic impulses paid off, as none other than Legendary Andrew Horowitz was working the table. Jordan chatted with him for several minutes about the advantages of Vinyl, while I looked on and examined the swag with hungry eyes, and then Jordan moved to the side, disappointed by the lack of appropriate shirt sizes, but on cloud nine thanks to the conversation. I stepped up and with trembling fingers held out the printed off pictures of Tally Hall posters adorning the IU campus, and mentioned the promo to Andrew. He said thanks, and said, “Well, here’s what I can give you. It’s the last of its kind…” and began pulling a rather shiny object out of a trash bag. At first, I thought it was a lamp from their “Living room” set, which I had only read about. But, (Here it comes!) to my shock and awe, it was a trophy, which Andrew correctly identified as being from the “Muffin Video.” I took it with shaking hands, said thank you, and then began debating what shirts Rachel and I wanted. She ended up getting the Marvin’s shirt (lucky girl, they had her size), and I got a sticker. But no worries, as I know what my mom is getting me for Easter. When Andrew offered me a shirt instead of the trophy, I almost laughed, but I feared the mythical Joe Hawley (he was not there, so he must be a myth, right? Just kidding, I knew he wasn’t going to be there.) might appear in all his glory and smite me for blaspheming, but I held my tongue, and we moved on. Do you know what it’s like to introduce yourself to someone you have only seen on the internet being amazing and only being able to say, “It’s nice to meet you”? Slightly vindicating, actually. For those who do not have a detailed memory of the Muffin video, you can see a picture of the trophy, on the show in all its glory on my personal blog!
Regardless. Our group posted itself in the front left corner of the stage, and began to wait. A local band, Men Working in Trees, played, which we enjoyed, though it was rather unexpected, and would throw my time estimates, which everyone had given to their parents, rather askew. However, the band did a nice job, and then cleared off for Skybox. The keyboardist was getting really into it, to the point where he was “sweating like a pig” (his words, not mine) so I confirmed Jordan’s desire for our friend Adam to give him a red sweatband I had procured, and much funny stage banter ensued.
Skybox played a great set, including the aptly named “Various Kitchen Utensils” which, as Jordan correctly mentioned me stating, can be heard in Tally Hall’s “Two Wuv” episode of the Internet Show. the finished their fun, lively set, and Jukebox the Ghost came on. By this point, Rachel had been standing around in heels for going on three hours, and she said she could not take it any more. So I gave her my socks, which she stood in the rest of the night, while I went commando in my shoes. But, I digress. Jukebox was amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set, particularly “Good Day” and “Hold It In,” which I had bought on iTunes prior to the weekend, and some song which contained the words “Mother F****r” somewhere, which they played in honor of the drummer’s (?) (correctly referred to as a classier lumberjack) mother, who was in attendance. They cleared the stage, and the moment arrived. Tally Hall was coming on stage.
NOTE: I will admit, I was fearful. Having watched many YouTube videos of Tally Hall in concert, I was fearful they would not live up to the expectations I had created for my friends (and even a little for myself). However, technology being what it is (stupid, sometimes) let me just say that the distortion you hear (and I feared) is purely from the camera’s mic, the house speakers, and YouTube’s tendency to lower the quality of any video you post. On a similar note, I brought my (Rachel’s) Flip Video camera. Noticing that Jordan’s camera was dying, I let him use mine to capture most of the concert for posterity.
We were right in front of Andrew, well, behind a wall of, *ahem*, meanies, who had pushed in front of us throughout the night, slowly but surely. Regardless, we had a spectacular view of everyone, especially Andrew’s hands as they flew up and down the keyboard. As the band moved gracefully from one song to another, beginning with “Out in the Twilight” and moving through songs such as “Greener,” “Good Day,” “Ruler of Everything,” (well done, Casey Shea, filling in for Joe) “You & Me,”(One of my favorites) “Cannibal,” “Never Meant to Know,” “The Trap,” and “Misery Fell,” sprinkling in random comments about children cheering, the pitfalls of starting off “Fine,” and the pregnancy ratio of the room, I could not do anything but listen, watch, and soak in the fact that we, Jordan and Me, and all our friends, had finally got here. We were then treated to the “Rob Recording,” which told us to sit down, and let our hearts protect our butts. The his voice coupled with the music reminded me of the intros to two of the roller coasters (The Raven and the Legend) at Holiday World, also in Santa Claus. It was eerie, yet comforting. The band then set up their Living Room, complete with lamps, and began playing their acoustic set, moving through “The Bidding,” “Taken for a Ride,” “The Whole World and You,” Casey Shea’s “Life in a Cube,” I’m sure another one or two, such as “You Are,” and closed with a ensemble (all the previous bands, with the exception perhaps of Men Working in trees) cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecelia,” complete with fourth grade plastic recorders. It was truly spectacular. Calling it their encore, they turned up the house lights, and began tearing down.
Noticing Rob was doing his best to avoid the work, I quickly cut him off as he left the stage and asked him to sign my copy of Marvin’s, and upon introducing ourselves, I was once again left saying “It’s nice to meet you.” You see, both times, what I meant by that was, “I can’t believe I’m here much less talking to you face to face. Thanks so much dealing another stupid fan, i.e. me.” It was like when Emma introduces herself to Julius in Remember the Titans combined with the worship of Aerosmith in Wayne’s World (II?). Yeah, that’s about how awkward yet meaningful it was to me. Zubin was next, and he also signed the album, as did Andrew (after he finished putting his keyboard safely away) and I thanked him for the trophy. When I found Ross, Jordan popped up, sang his praise, and then disappeared for a few minutes, while I gently ribbed Ross about the band’s ties to Michigan (University of), but conceded that they were at least Big Ten (Athletic Conference), to which he replied, “The Big Ten schools are always very welcoming, to which we both seemed surprised, but knowing that home is home, not surprised at all, but warm in side; he then signed the CD as well. Then, for good measure, in the absence of Joe, I did the next best thing, and asked Casey to sign the Moon on the inside cover of the album.
After waiting for Megan to get a picture with Zubin, buying a shirt from the club themselves (What? I like phoenixes, okay?) and rescuing my swag from Jordan’s car (the trophy and my own vinyl album [we both got one!]) we headed home. We had to deal with Day Light Saving Time on the way back. ETD: 12:00 a.m. ETA: 4:00 a.m. I then finally got to sleep around 5, and then got up and drove some more. In the words of The Office’s Jim Halpert, “Not a bad weekend.”
As I’m sure everyone who ever blogs about these guys says, please, please go see them if they ever come close to you or you have the money for a cross continental road trip. Buy their current album Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (available on CD, Vinyl, and Digital Download), buy their new album Good & Evil when it comes out in a few months, and immerse yourself in the world that Tally Hally has created by watching the Internet Show at their website, and check out the Boralogues, as well as some of their more random work, on YouTube. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for reading! I hope to have more videos up soon. The Youtube name is Hoosier0913. Also, please know that I really did try to insert the pictures I mentioned, and a couple videos, but I am a Blogger.com guy, not a WordPress.com fellow, and could not really figure out how to do it. Check my blog for the goods, or hit up my YouTube page!
Joe Keith (or joepkeith, as Twitter implies)