EDIT: Disclaimer, Laromlab’s music is all stolen. Read here.
The Consoles Afire Spring 08 tour supporting Laromlab.
Jan 17 – Mar 1 2008, 39 shows
A nearly 2 month musical adventure circling the United States! It was the debut of my led mask, live distorted digitar, and a full robotcowboy set using my custom computer music system. I accompanied my friend Laromlab on his cd release tour , who plays ghetto-funk chiptunes ala Atari and GameBoy (… Consoles Afire).
We played all manner of venues: house parties, electro clubs, rock bars, and art galleries.
We electro rock and we electro rolled, bumped and bopped, rang that little bit bell deep inside.
|Download 2 live tour albums
||Browse the tour gallery
You can read my tour blog for more detailed day by day information.
(Yes I kept notes on this stuff …)
Number of days out: 43
Number of shows played: 39
Total number of people we played for: ~1000
Miles driven: 12,214
Averages miles driven per day: 313.18
Odometer on my 1991 Toyota Previa @ tour end: 255,653 (quality vehicle)
Gallons of gas used: 596.22
Money spent on gas: $1816.67
Number of nights spent in the van: 4
3 VJ Dance
As Laromlab plays dance music on a laptop and I play experimental/melodic noise on my mobile performance gear, we decided to combine forces in a “one-two” punch set. We usually setup on the floor in front of the stage so as to be closer to the audience and played back to back. The show usually went like this:
- I played first in order to build up crowd interest, wearing my led mask
- During a small interlude, I would take off my led mask and guitar and switch to my robotcowboy helmet and visual control gamepad to a Commodore 64 Rocky theme song.
- As Laromlab played, I would dance following a special choreography I developed over the course of the first few shows. While dancing, I’d “play” my visual program in realtime with the gamepad. Uber vj.
Here’s what number 3 looked like on Feb 9th in Davis, CA:
So the first punch was my unexpected getup, gear, and sound. The second punch came in my monitor helmet and visuals coupled with Laromlab’s booty shaking chiptunes dance music. We almost always left with someone going crazy!
I also brought a “stage” wireless router to network my wearable and laptop. When we had access to a projector, I would hook the laptop to it and the wearable would forward visual control data so that my helmet and the projection were in sync. Everything first worked at Club TSI in Jacksonville. This setup also, allowed me to download the recorded song from the wearable computer over the network.
This was a big experiment for me and my gear. I moved back to US from Sweden on Dec 17th 07 and spent a month addressing old problems with my system as well as whipping up some new songs. I basically went on tour with untested software and ideas. The visual program, for instance, was built the 2 days before out first date and I finished up sprite definitions on my laptop in the van we drove from Knoxville to North Carolina. Overall, everything worked and I was able to deal with any snafus that appeared. By about halfway, the bugs were smoothed out and everything ran great. I never had to cancel due to equipment problems (mabey 1 or 2 crappy shows though …).
The reception of my “experimental electro dada” was very good overall. Most people were enthusiastic and enjoyed what I had to offer and we put on many good shows. There was one or two “rock and roll” places where our “electronic music” rubbed against the grain … but these places are the type that are booked and run by people who don’t care who is playing. Anyway, this whole experience reinforces my idea that robotcowboy has a unique show to offer that audiences are into.
Technical Problems Encountered
Weak USB Solder Connections!
After the first week, one of the computer’s USB connectors began to lose connection from time to time as the solder points were being stressed. This would cause the USB devices to unmount and remount themselves over and over again, effectively freezing my system for a second or two since it has to reconnect everything in software. This first occurred at the show in Atlanta which was a surprise since the previous show in Jacksonville was nearly perfect in all aspects! I had to limp through that set as the system kept freezing and my joystick mounting audio cues kept cutting in. After that night, I opened the computer and re soldered the connector pins to the pcb and strengthened the plug with tape. Problem solved.
USB Plugs are not made for stomping feet
During the house party in St. Augustine, dancing/stomping feet slammed the cord to my USB gamepad and ripped the plug out of the USB hub, smashing up the hub ports. USB stuff is not made for heavy use and I should have mounted the hub facing downwards so that the plug would have come out more easily. I switched to my Playstation-> USB converter as the Playstation plug on my PS gamepad is much more robust. I mounted the port facing downward.
God damn tiny connectors
Ok, there is a tiny security camera inside the robotcowboy helmet which allows me a limited form of vision (very limited :P). The tiny 4 conductor plug on this camera began fritzing out right at the beginning and I had to try and resolder it several times over the course of the tour. Every now and then I could see, other times I’d have to shake the helmet about a bit to get the signal, and other times I just went blind.
Stuck Arduino reset
The led mask is controlled by an Arduino mini and, for several shows between Seattle and Chicago, it was not working correctly. It was acting very erratic for no reason. Later on, I noticed that the external plastic reset button was stuck down, basically eternally resetting the Atmega chip … whoops.
It’s the little things that always get you!
I spent a lot of time making sure major issues were covered, such as correctly loading of software and internal midi connections, but it was the little things that burned me. See above for examples.
Lots of places have crap PAs
Ok, I’m new to touring as an “electronic” act … I always had a guitar amp before. With my new gear, I am totally reliant on a venues PA system for my sound. This is both good and bad: I don’t have to bring as much stuff but I can sound like crap and can’t do anything about it. This makes we want to buy a 2 4×12 guitar cabs and a monster rack mount stereo PA head to drive them … a wall of robotcowboy power. Hell, it works for Lightining Bolt and looks bad ass.
Recording everything is a good ideal, but not selling it …
My system records all of my songs in realtime to .wav files. After each night, I download these files to my laptop to review them. My original plan was to burn and sell cds of that nights performance, but this did not turn out to be practical. For one I was too tired or busy to do this every night and for another many recordings are just crap. I can’t offer up a crap product to people and expect them to want it. It’s a great idea to “sell the experience” but until I can execute the same songs with near perfection night after night, I’m not going to do it. I ended up making compilation albums of the best version of each song during the first and second halves of the tour. You can get them from here.
People Get What I’m Doing
The audience understands what I’m doing and I got lots of compliments about putting on an awesome, rocking show with a computer. Many were genuinely surprised and enthusiastic. This just gives me more confidence to continue on the project outside of the purely academic realm. Chris from Electronic Cub South posted a review of our show in Gainesville and says:
‘s performance was unlike anything I had ever seen before, ever. I felt a bit embarrassed and ashamed that only a small handfull of us were there to witness it! He was a completely self-contained one-man band, who played and triggered all of his music utilizing methods I had never encountered.
The songs were very structured and melodic, in a complex yet simple listening sense. His name, “robotcowboy”, really fit the type of music he was playing. Performing amongst the limited audience, lengths of plugged-in and taped-together wiring trailed behind him. The pieces varied from short chiptune-rock blasts, to fuzzed-out 8-Bit video game scores, to vocalized / sludge. I truly felt I was witnessing “The Future”. Wow.
When I set out on this tour, I was not sure what was going to happen … if people would be into what I was doing or think that since there are not guitars and drums, it’s not rocking. This was both an experiment for my gear, my conviction, and the audience and I think the results were positive on all counts.
Thanks to Laromlab for rocking with me and setting up most of the tour, thanks to everyone who booked us, thanks to everyone who enjoyed our shows, and thanks to everyone who works on Pure Data, Jack, Ubuntu, Linux, etc …
Tour Poster and T Shirt Design
I made both the poster and t shirt design and screen printed shirts while we were on the road. The poster was built using my custom cellular automata image processing program.
Click on the dates below to read the tour blog entry for that day.
|01/17/08||robotcowboy in Nashville||Springwater||US|
|115 27th Ave N|
|01/18/08||robotcowboy in Knoxville||The Pilot Light||US|
106 W Jackson Ave
|01/19/08||robotcowboy in Greenville||21 Eleven Beer & Wine||US|
|1011-B Charles Blvd|
|01/20/08||robotcowboy in Wilmington||The Juggling Gypsy||US|
|1612 Castle St|
|01/21/08||robotcowboy in Athens||GO BAR||US|
195 Prince Ave.
|01/22/08||robotcowboy in Orlando||The Backbooth||US|
|37 W Pine St|
|01/23/08||robotcowboy in Gainesville||Sidebar||US|
|15 SW 2nd St|
|01/24/08||robotcowboy in St. Augustine||PJ Famicom’s House||US|
|01/25/08||robotcowboy in Jacksonville||Club TSI||US|
333 E. Bay Street
|01/26/08||robotcowboy in Atlanta||The Eyedrum||US|
290 MLK Jr. Drive SE
w/ Laromlab, Ship at Seas, 8 Bit Wonder
|01/28/08||robotcowboy in New Orleans||Dragon’s Den||US|
|01/29/08||robotcowboy in Houston||Super Happy Fun Land||US|
w/ Laromlab, PLID, and Pavmire
|01/30/08||robotcowboy in Austin||The Mohawk||US|
|912 Red River St|
|01/31/08||robotcowboy in Ft. Worth||1919 Hemphill||US|
|02/02/08||robotcowboy in Lubbock||Jake’s Back Room||US|
5025 50th, Suite A
w/ Laromlab, Panda Can Party!, and Right on Red
|02/03/08||robotcowboy in El Paso||Zeppelins Underground||US|
|02/04/08||robotcowboy in Phoenix||Trunk Space||US|
|1506 NW Grand Ave|
|02/05/08||robotcowboy in Los Angeles||The Motion Lounge||US|
|129 East 3rd St|
|02/06/08||robotcowboy in Isla Vista||Biko Garage Co-op||US|
|02/08/08||robotcowboy in San Francisco||House of Shields||US|
|39 New Montgomery|
|02/09/08||robotcowboy in Davis||Delta of Venus||US|
|122 B St|
|02/10/08||robotcowboy in Davis||some place at 12am!||US|
702 Anderson Rd
Robo-themed release afterparty for Laromlab with djs, etc
|02/13/08||robotcowboy in Portland||Holocene||US|
1001 SE Morrison St
w/ Laromlab, E*Rock, and B*Retta
|02/14/08||robotcowboy in Olympia||Le Voyeur||US|
404 4th Ave E
w/ Laromlab and MC Firedrill
|02/15/08||robotcowboy in Seattle||DogPark (house show)||US|
|Alley, 2nd and Bell|
|02/16/08||robotcowboy in Missoula||The Badlander||US|
147 W Broadway
w/ Laromlab, Claude Balzak, Steve-O, and Naj
|02/17/08||robotcowboy in Bismark||Youthworks||US|
217 W Rosser Ave
|02/18/08||robotcowboy in Minneapolis||400 Bar||US|
400 Cedar Avenue S
w/ Laromlab and K-VILLECancelled
|02/19/08||robotcowboy in Ames||The Practice Space||US|
|219 Main St.|
|02/20/08||robotcowboy in Chicago||AV-Aerie||US|
|2000 W Fulton St|
|02/21/08||robotcowboy in Southfield||PORPHYRIA||US|
|2700 Pebblestone St|
|02/22/08||robotcowboy in Toronto||Sneaky Dees||CA|
431 College St
|02/23/08||robotcowboy in Albany||Valentines||US|
|17 New Sctoland Ave|
|02/24/08||robotcowboy in New York||Solas||US|
|232 E 9th St|
|02/25/08||robotcowboy in New York||The Cakeshop||US|
|152 Ludlow Street|
|02/27/08||robotcowboy in Philadelphia||The Fire||US|
|412 W. Girard Ave|
|02/28/08||robotcowboy in Baltimore||Metro Gallery||US|
|1700 N Charles St|