Review: The Sam Chase & the Untraditional – I’ve Got Problems

The Sam Chase & the Untraditional dropped their new music video and I’m here trying to work.

Thanks guys, I already have enough trouble with interestingly shaped clouds. Now you give me a visual of Sam, all of the visage of the bust of a roman emperor, being splattered with spaghetti, red wine and some miscellaneous charcuterie.

“I have no arms and I must drink whiskey.”

“I’ve Got Problems” opens with a scene familiar to anybody who has been alive since the 1500s. The band, clothed in white and draped in crimson chaos, is posing in the style of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. A painting that always reminds me of the time my art professor recanted his tale of first seeing the pre-restoration Last Supper while simultaneously having an acid flashback, culminating in him having a nervous breakdown.

This scene holds for a moment, then begins to… reravel. Playing out an epic food fight in reverse. The multitude of decorative and gastronomical carnage begins to reassert their proper origins at the dinner table, band-mates grin and wince as rogue hot-dogs fly whipping in circles amidst floating clouds of spaghetti and aggressively poured wine.

Now, where I grew up, you don’t exactly talk about religious iconography and art history

(that’s a paddlin’)

It just ain’t polite conversation. Yet The Sam Chase proves again they are no stranger to taboo subjects, boldly stepping into a visual political discourse when they dropped the video for “The Great White Noise” (the title track of the same album) in October.

The latest video marks a continuation of what’s rapidly becoming the trademark visual style for The Sam Chase & the Untraditional. Something I would liken to a casually marred minimal aesthetic. Clean, simple, almost traditional, draped with elements to suggest a palimpsest of grime, stains of mustard and ketchup, fish-sauce and whiskey.

The videos are very well produced, their latest ones clog the internet tubes with 4K resolution. They are, in my opinion, some of the most underappreciated music videos to come out of the Bay Area. I’m imagining Sam at a camera store, cowering the clerk with his signature glower until he gets all the damn pixels he damn well needs for his foodfight.

Their music and their music videos complement one another

They fit together so well that it helps me sleep at night.

They got a good vibe man. It’s like finally admitting all of your defeats to a weathered alcoholic while your cathartic tears bead upon an oaken bar. At the moment when his words begin to cascade deep into the infinite prism of your soul, at the very moment of the climax of ephiphany when you aknowledge all at once what you’ve known all long, that same wise old drunk throws up on your shoes.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, then you must. This instant.

I’ve had the good luck to see a live performance

and hopefully you will too

If you want to see Sam’s solo performance, then check out…

To see Sam Chase and the Untraditional then you just gotta be at…

FRI 3 MARCH – Doc’s Lab – San Francisco, CA, US
FRI 10 MARCH – Squaw Valley – Olympic Valley, CA, US
SAT 11 MARCH – Crazy Horse Saloon – Nevada City, CA, US
SUN 12 MARCH – Sam Bond’s Garage – Eugene, OR, US
MON 13 MARCH – Volcanic Theater Pub – Bend, OR, US
FRI 24 MARCH – The Chapel – San Francisco, CA, US
SAT 25 MARCH – Hopmonk Tavern – Sebastopol, CA, US

At the last show I attended, I got to sing along to their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, albeit ironically, since I wasn’t actually born in the USA, and no, you don’t get to see my birth certificate.

Nerds: The Gaff Tape of Festivals

You have to be kind of crazy to have a career in live entertainment.

Working double time, 3 or 4 days in a row. High voltage, high stress, big egos, big money, constant changes… it’s not for the sane and I ended up here pretty much by accident.

I started in Audio/Video club for 4 years in high school. Filming town meetings, documentaries for the city, skate videos for my friends, and other nerdy bored nonsense. I learned to shoot and edit, wire up systems, and get out of class to work on projects. I kind of forgot about those years, until I found myself back in it, working tech in event production, behind the scenes, surrounded by nerds.

There are so many moving parts that the more you know, the more useful you are.

I’m a vocalist, and my first band broke up in 2008. I needed to stay busy, so I started volunteering and interning, smartest thing I did for my career. Street promoting, radio promoting, selling merch… anything I could to stay active and get into shows for free. Through the friends I made, it eventually turned into stage managing, where my years around equipment came in really handy and I got sucked into the audio world. I currently work for Diversified Stage in Santa Rosa, specializing in lighting, audio, video, and staging. Our equipment and wiring is in almost every major music venue in Sonoma County.

Versatility is integral in event production.

There are so many moving parts that the more you know, the more useful you are. When I moved to Sonoma County from New England in 2012, I found that there are jobs here in the entertainment industry if you’re able to adapt and work hard.

Back home In Albany, NY in 2011, half the downtown shops were empty and boarded up. I couldn’t get a job making pizza. But here, on the edge of San Francisco, the economy is healthy, and demand for entertainment is high.

Producing shows is not easy

It’s risky and stressful. Always a gamble even if you’re established. For the first few years a promoter or venue can expect to lose a sizeable chunk of money or break even, if they’re lucky. Every part of this industry is made up of people, and people can be really unpredictable. The need for qualified, solution oriented, team minded, motivated people cannot be understated.

…when done right it’s like magic.

In a smaller community like Sonoma County, word travels fast, and over time people’s real intentions surface. I have three rules that apply to everyone who is employed or seeks employment in the performance industries. One: don’t be a Diva cuz no one person is the most important, without the cooperation of the entire team, all preparation will fall apart; and Two: If you say you will do something – DO IT – or find someone else to cover, cuz everyone is counting on you. And three; communicate. Answer emails, phone calls, and texts. Manage your calendar, and if you can’t stay on top of things, revisit your plans.

From an audience perspective, you would never know the amount of work that goes into some of these shows. It’s absurd sometimes, There must be some kind of masochism we all have in common. Bring an idea to life, even if it means working absurdly long days and being the first and last people on site. Golf carts, rental cars, networking, concert tickets and free travel are a bonus. This career is definitely not for the weak willed. The live entertainment environment has a unique offering of ominous disasters, but when done right it’s like magic. From backstage, it’s a machine of comradery, knowing that only team-work can bring the show to life.

Tech plays a critical role in nearly every aspect of this industry

It has become a necessary tool for sharing ideas and bringing people together all over the world. It allows people to reach huge audiences. For every wide eyed teenager seeing their favorite band for the first time, there’s ten nerds sitting behind cameras, sound boards and computers, making their dreams come true. From office, to planes, stages and semi’s… art, music, dance, theater, sports, politics…It seems like everyone plays a role in this industry. Or maybe it’s that in every industry, there is a place for us nerds, running things behind the scenes. Banded together by some weird compulsion to make magic happen.