words and photos by Michael Todd
Come with me. Let us follow the gentle journey of a pair of sunglasses.
It is July 24, 2010, alongside the mighty Missouri River at Lewis & Clark Landing in Omaha. A young high schooler approaches Chris Klemmensen — besunglassed in white BluBlockers — to ask for an autograph and photo. Check that. A young high schooler nervously approaches Chris Klemmensen.
You see, this request comes after Satchel Grande, the band Klemmensen fronts, played a set at the second annual Maha Music Festival. Klemmensen agrees and insists that the high schooler wear his sunglasses. Of course, this happens.
"He gave them back to me after the picture and high-fived his pal," Klemmensen says. "I then went all '1970s Mean Joe Green Coke commercial' and tossed them to him and told him to keep them. Then they high-10’d and 'WOOOOO!’d.' It was equal parts hilarious and awesome."
Two and a half years later, across town at The Waiting Room on Jan. 4, 2013, Satchel Grande is on stage and besunglassed all over. Except, that is, for drummer Carlos Figueroa. From the growing crowd — an audience that would eventually sell out the venue — comes flying a pair of white BluBlockers that land in Figueroa's hands. These are, Klemmensen says, the very same he wore to Maha.
Decked out, Satchel plays on through a 14-song set. Headliner Orgone would face feedback as they took the stage, but Grande fans heard only a slightly sax-heavy mix early on. What took more attention away from the band was a youngster, and we're talking kindergarten age or so, who threaded through the crowd. No matter. Funky folks danced on.
Breaking from the usual Music Exam format, the Q&A below further examines last Friday night. Andy Kammerer, on keys, vocals and percussion, joins Klemmensen in looking closely at what makes a sold-out show:
(Written as typed on the band's copies.)
1) 113 - SUPERMOON
2) 112 - WORKING TITLE I Segue
3) 81 - WORKING TITLE II Segue
4) 140 - WORKING TITLE III
5) 126 - END OF SUCKER FREE DAYS
6) 106 - GIVE THE DUDES A BREAK
7) 125 - CAN I BORROW YOUR LIGHTER
8) 109 - SHAKE IT LIKE ITS OVERLOAD
9) 123 - ELECTRICAL FETUS
10) 116 - BOB MACADOO
11) 110 - ELECTRIC ALLIGATOR Drums Segue
12) 112 - THE WORLD... Segue
13) 109 - PUT UP A FUSS
14) 118 - DUELING GEMINI
Hear Nebraska: Have you played many sold-out shows, and how do you think the number of concertgoers influences your performance?
Andy Kammerer: We’ve sold out a handful of shows at The Waiting Room over the past few years, and it typically occurs around the holidays. Out-of-towners help with that. But I was a little surprised with Friday, especially with the holiday hangover that sometimes settles in this time of year. But you put Orgone on the bill, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
It’s really a testament of how incredibly supportive our fans are, even after just playing the same room two weeks before. I don’t think it solely has to do with the number of bodies there, but rather the energy the fans bring. They play a huge part in this entire production, and there’s no question that we feed off their energy. We are incredibly lucky to have “rock star” fans who bring it each and every show.
HN: What are your general thoughts on how the night went?
AK: Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson (Waiting Room owners) were ecstatic = so were we. Seriously, though, we love combining forces with badasses like Orgone whose sound complements ours well; and they continue to deliver an incredible product, so it’s easy to get behind this show.
It’s been cool to see Orgone’s evolution in Omaha from starting the basement of Studio Gallery just a few years ago, to a sell-out at TWR. I imagine they recognize that our endorsement has helped connect them to more and more locals.
HN: That was the first time I heard the third part to "Working Title." What's the story behind that?
Chris Klemmensen: That song, lyrically, was born out of the “Ain’t nobody finer than you” line, which appeared in “Working Title I/II” from the Dial M for Moustache album. The chord progression gives a similar feel. Lyrically, all three parts are written either for or about the same woman. The title “Working Title” insinuates that the song isn’t finished. Maybe it still isn’t.
HN: For what reasons do you have tempos listed on the setlist?
AK: Carlos Figueroa (our drummer) is a consummate professional and sets a metronome for each and every song in the set. The reason you do that is that show adrenaline is a powerful thing. It can fool the best of us into thinking we should fly through our songs. The click never lies.
HN: Did you notice the child listening to you play? I'm wondering if that was a band member's son.
AK: No, that was absolutely not one of our sons; the Grande kids come to afternoon and evening shows in the park. Little dude was maybe 4, and was cruising around in a packed bar way after our set was done. I don’t pass judgment on anyone’s parenting approaches, but that made me feel a bit awkward, kind of taking the all-ages show a tad literally.
HN: Do you normally have audience members loan sunglasses to the drummer for performances?
AK: That was actually a first. Most of the time we catch it and have a backup pair ready in the green room. But again, how cool are these fans to come to our rescue? And they were the white BluBlockers, at that. Classy stuff, Grande fans.
CK: Shades were actually the ones I wore when we played Maha. When our set was over and we were loading out, a high school kid came up to me and nervously asked for a pic and an autograph. He was REALLY excited. I told him he should wear my glasses for the pic. He did. He gave them back to me after the picture and high-fived his pal.
I then went all “1970s Mean Joe Green Coke commercial” and tossed them to him and told him to keep them. Then they high-10’d and “WOOOOO!’d.” It was equal parts hilarious and awesome. He still comes to shows, so I guess it worked out full circle. He got them back after the set.
HN: Was Chris referring to a set of lyrics taped to the percussion on "Electric Alligator"?
AK: You weren’t supposed to notice that. Chris just reinvigorated this song that is probably a decade old, added a second part and new supporting lyrics. We used to use a talk box on the original version of the chorus, but those devices are a pain in the ass. We’ve only played it a couple of times, but I believe the lyrics continue to evolve slightly. However, “Put all your stock in gravy…” is always a good rule to live by.
CK: I’m pretty much in my 1990s Sinatra phase… Truthfully, that song is on a new set of lyrics for about the third time. We’d stopped playing it in 2007. People kept giving us the business about bringing it back, said they really liked it. So we wrote a proper ending and gave her a shiny new set of lyrics. Technically, I should have had to buy the whole bar a round for cheating with the lyric sheet. Damn it.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. His first band's singer brought every song's lyrics to every concert and set them on a music stand. He forgives Satchel. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.