One of our basic human needs is to obtain some top 10 list of things at the end of a calendar year. Do not fret, as I will not disappoint you. My spin is to provide 14 memorable moments of 2014. I’m not saying any of these moments are better than others, or are in anyway all the great moments of 2014, these are just 14 awesome things that happened at the Radon Lounge
1. The Saudades. Each year seems to offer a few totally unknown bands that seemingly come from nowhere and become one of those sweet discoveries. A good example of this in 2013 was Filmloom. This year it’s The Saudades. They played the 2014 Horse Show and AudioFeed. I really like the unconventional approach to making music these guys do. It makes me wonder how they managed to put this band together as I haven’t found anything remotely close to them in their scene in Cincinnati. As far as describing their sound, just go and listen to their bandcamp, and figure it out for yourself, I especially enjoy their song “Strange Part”.
2. The Soil & the Sun at the 2014 Horse Show. We already had the pleasure of hosting tSatS in 2013 for one of the best Radon shows to date. Although I have already seen them perform a few times, the barn just really seemed to click. Watching them do their thing with a big crowd in front in the heat, dirt, sweat, and dust was the most primal musical experience I’ve ever had. It’s been a long time since I’ve ever felt moved at such a level. I look forward to the next time our paths cross, as this band continues to be one of favorite bands of all time. Of course it helps a ton when you actually get a glimpse of just how closely connected their music is to their wondrous lives.
3. Weight loss and pinball. I started working on a weight loss plan and by July of 2014 I had met my goal. I lost 61 pounds to get myself to a healthy BMI. As a reward, I was allowed to buy the Jurassic Park pinball machine that now sits in the Radon, which can be played for free during shows. I couldn’t rationalize buying such an expensive toy until I realized how much of an incentive it could be. Now the challenge of course is keeping off the weight…
4. Cover Nights and Open Mics. I once thought Open Mics could be an avenue for people to express themselves and perhaps find out if they want to become a legit musician, or at least get their foothold in the local music scene. My friend Chase has helped compound this idea with Cover Shows, to give folks more of a tangible point to start from. I am very happy to say that today I’m actually booking people for regular shows who first came to Radon to play one of these Open Mics and Cover Nights. I had always hoped that the Radon would start something in Springfield, and now I’m finding perhaps it is.
5. Kansas Bible Company. 2014 also marked the birth of my son Charles Lloyd. We took a couple months off on basement shows to get used to our new lives as parents. I could have booked some singer songwriter for our first show back, just to make sure we were ready to keep doing shows. But I instead booked the most ridiculous band possible. Ridiculous as KBC is a 12 member band, 5 of which play horns. I’ve never had a horn section in the basement, so I wasn’t sure how that would work. So largest band, and horn section, Go! It was a blast, and we had a ton of fun. Hope to have these guys back someday as they make great music and are a ton of fun.
6. First International Band. Early in the year I received a booking request from my first band outside the U.S. The Strumbellas from Canada were interested in playing a show in a Springfield basement. I was pretty shocked as they have been nominated for some serious Canadian music awards. Once I started promoting the show, it even turned out they had fans in town! I’m not sure what to be more shocked about, first international band, or people actually knew who they were! Strumbellas put on a great show and much fun was had by all.
7. Bands from across the pond. Not too long after the Strumbellas stopped by, I got a message from my friends at the Black Sheep Cafe. There were some really cool euro-indie bands from Sweden wanting to play Springfield and BXS wondered if I could host the show. It hadn’t been long since Charles was born, so I agreed to host the show at the Black Sheep Cafe, as I wasn’t ready yet to host a basement show. The show was on a Monday night, which of course is not my favorite, but we still had a decent turnout. I’m still listening to the albums from these guys, Case Conrad, and King Of Prussia. Especially Case Conrad, as they had that certain heavily emotional, yet disconnected indie sound that I think can only seems to come from parts of Europe. This was also my first time hosting a show at the Black Sheep Cafe, which I hope will happen again in 2015.
8. Looming. Looming is a local Springfield band that got started in 2013, but I wasn’t able to finally book a show with them until 2014. I would have to say this is currently my favorite local band. They might have had to fight Lovecow for that spot. But Lovecow called it quits, which may have been the saddest news of the year. Looming feels like 90s nostalgia when you listen to it, but still very fresh. And of course Jessica Knight’s voice definitely makes this band. I’m always on the look out for more great bands in Springfield. There are some major genres represented in this town that really aren’t my thing or the aesthetic I want for the Radon Lounge. I keep looking for those bright spots and I think it’s getting brighter all the time. I’m really excited to watch our Radon house band Brother Phoenix (previously known as Phoenix Sons) grow up and become a real band. Looming, you’re on notice.
9. Radon Tent at AudioFeed. In 2014 I was upgraded from gate attendant to hosting one of the main tent stages of the AudioFeed Music Festival. This was a huge honor and definitely a much larger “show” than anything I had done before. AudioFeed has around 5 stages running multiple days and the Radon stage mainly featured bands you may find at the Radon Lounge, along with other showcases. I was privileged to host quite a few friends on the Radon stage as well as some more widely known performers such as Levi the Poet and Propoganda. Also a talk was given on my stage from one of my favorite author’s Shane Claiborne. One of my favorite moments was to watch a now rare performance of Hushpad featuring Matthew Welchel and his kids as backing band, with many big acts of the festival in the attendance watching the performance, paying homage to one of the biggest music appreciators I know.
10. Radon Garden Party This was one of my crazy ideas to make a theme show. The reason for the theme was to give people something to think about instead of how hot and sweaty they are during an August basement show with no A/C. People were allowed to pick whatever they wanted from our backyard garden. The idea seemed to work as it felt like the hottest/humidest day of the whole summer, the basement was a sweat pool, but lots of people came and stayed the whole night. We had some really great bands as Filmloom was back, along with my first performance in my own basement as a trumpeter in Zaxxson Nation’s short lived funk band. Also we made a new friend with last minute addition Clarke Andrew Andros, who was currently on his way to a Daytrotter recording session. The MVP of the evening was a $30 misting attachment I placed outside on a fan so people could cool off during the show and not combust to death. I’m definitely doing another Garden Party show in 2015!
11. November Show I may remember this show mostly for all of the serious hanging out that occurred after the show. This was quite possibly our quietest show of the year, where we went back to a more stripped down, acoustic-y vibe with some added hip-hop nerd spices. All of the out of town folks were regulars of the AudioFeed Music Fest, and many folks came that are also of the bigger AFeed community. We had a lot of good times during and after this show. Shows are a lot of work, even if they’re in your basement, but it’s all worth it when making great friends like these.
12. Empires. This one was a bit of a shocker. It seems we always get 1 or 2 bands coming by our humble hole each year that make you scratch your head why they want to hang out with us. Empires was probably the most emerging U.S. national act to come by in 2014. They had already performed on David Letterman, Bonnaroo, Onion A.V. and were on their way to Austin City Limits. They seemed to have a great time hanging out with us and definitely rocked the basement. Also on the same show was Sick/Sea from Austin, TX, another great discovery for 2014. Together these bands made an absurdly awesome show.
13. The 2014 Horse Show – 2 stages, 20+ bands. 2014 marked our third Horse Show at Refuge Ranch. Each time we do this, the event gets exponentially bigger. We added a second stage to feature louder bands than our usual barn stage acts. We had bands from all over the country performing, along with many locals to create over 20 bands representing a pretty wide mix of musical genres. Around 300 people came out to enjoy the day with us, even with rain in the afternoon and evening. Dew’s Chili served up some great food and people had fun playing Mondo Croquet and and checking out the horses. We’re already making plans for the 2015 Horse Show.
14. Volunteers. The Radon Lounge has some really awesome volunteers. If it was just me running the show, it would probably die of lameness. Apryl cooks up some really great food for the bands and can accommodate any eating preferences with her vegan and vegetarian dishes. JB joined us this year as the official photographer and has blown me away with what he can do. Mike has been the main man behind the sound board. Chase has taken on organizing and promoting the Cover Nights, which definitely gives me a break. Sarah, Zaxxson, and others have spent time minding the door. Plus my most beautiful Cat wife creates all the artwork to make the Radon look legit. We also have some very generous folks loaning us a house drum set and lots of sound equipment. Of course these are just the main roles, there are all sorts of things going on behind the scenes by lots of people and most importantly we’re very excited that folks still keep coming to shows. Keep spreading the Radon!
It’s been an awesome year for the Radon Lounge, and I’m very excited about what 2015 will bring!