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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cornerstone 2002, Day One: The Show Me State Shows Me. Now That's Enough, Show Me State, Put That Away.

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On the night of Sunday, June 30th, 2002, I finished up my shift at KLSU with my two great buddies, (in alphabetical order) Dave the Human Cartoon and Jolly Robker, then headed for the home of my cousin, Adrian, aka Amo, aka The Rabbit, aka I'm not gonna go with nicknames for this travelogue because it gets too confusing, and I generally hate nicknames because I hate when people call me anything other than The Nicsperiment, which actually IS my REAL name. It says it on my birth certificate right over the line that reads:
Sex: Blog
Great, because of that joke, everybody who googles "sexblog" is gonna end up here, but that is fine because a 1984 Datsun with cellophane over the windows, pouring out more smoke from the muffler than a private school restroom in Denver still counts as traffic. Now I really feel like the search hits for this post are gonna be weird.
Anyway, no one is gonna be known by a nickname here, except for the two guys in the first paragraph because I hadn't made the rule yet, and then pretty much every single person mentioned in the rest of this travelogue because this happened twelve years ago and I'm not Bill Clinton. That means I don't have a nameographic memory, and also, I don't smoke cigars. I feel like at some point I was trying to tell a story here. Oh yeah, I went to Adrian's house...
The two of us tried to get to bed early, because we knew our buddy, Jon, was going to be picking us up before sunrise in his mom's mini-van because you can't drive 850 miles to a rock and roll festival where you sleep in a tent, take spigot showers, and get blugeoned and beaten in mosh pits for a week without your mom's minivan. I have no idea how Jon convinced his mom to let two college students and her 17-year old son put 1700 miles on the minivan she used to transport her four kids, as well as the family ferret (and that ferret got really unruly if you didn't give him shotgun) without question, but then again, that was 12 years ago, so I'm not entirely sure. I mean, that sentence started with the phrase "I have no idea," so you should have already known I was not entirely sure about whatever the topic of the sentence was, and I already don't even remember what I'm talking about.
Oh yeah, minivans. Minivans are creatures of the deep past, like dinosaurs, and people who watch Grey's Anatomy. Now everyone drives an SUV (Suburban Utility Vulva). If you're wondering the difference, minivans favored function, while SUV's favor going to war with middle-eastern nations over vulvas.
Jon did indeed come well before sunrise, and this sentence is inappropriate after me saying vulva so much. We loaded up our tent, which we borrowed from someone or other, let's just call them Squirrely Joe or maybe it was Chipmunk Mike. Like I said, 12 years ago. Anyway, we loaded up the van and drove into the sunrise.
That wasn't like, a bunch of fluffy sentimentality in the last sentence or anything. We drove east down I-12, literally into the sunrise. Not literally "into the sunrise" because the would just be silly. I'm sorry if that previous sentence was offensive to everyone who dreams of literally driving into the sun. I'm sure the great minds behind Facebook and Twitter will get right on that when they realize that simply having civilization drive directly into the sun will end it even faster.
We then hooked a North on I-55 because if you keep driving in the same direction forever you just end up going in one big circle, unless your planet is oblong, in which case you just go in one big "funky" circle forever. George Clinton was greatly mistaken. Oblongs got the funk.
The three of us took turns driving, sitting in the passenger seat, and lying down in the back, as we had removed Jon's mom's backseat and either thrown it in the trash or stored it in her garage, not sure because you're more impulsive when you're younger, and 12 years ago. I took the third driving shift, and got stuck behind this green van that kept hovering in front of me, then passing me when I got in the left lane, no matter my speed. We decided the woman simply had bad, yet chromatically perfect gas, as it kicked in like clockwork every time I tried to pass her, launching her forward in a massive blast of methane. I just taught you an incorrect usage of the word "chromatically." Anyway, we thought her car was methane driven because the thing you think about when you are that age when you are not thinking about sex is farts, and also because when my brother eats pickles he farts a lot. Man, I just used the words and phrases "sex" "farts" "pickles" and "my brother" in the same sentence, and now I feel so wrong, things can never be right again. The only thing that can solve this is the best solution for everything: just forget about it.
What was I talking about? St. Louis! St. Louis looks just like New Orleans! Just switch out the arch for street porn! I hate New Orleans!
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River? Tugboats? Ancient bridge that is possibly not up to code? New Orleans!!!
As soon as the three of us entered city limits, we held a short debate, and it is one of the only word-for-word conversations I can remember from the trip.


Should We Go to the Arch?: A Dramatization Based on the Conversation "Should We Go to the Arch?" by The Nicsperiment, Adrian, and Jon

Dramatis Personae (names placed in syllabic order):
Jon: Human, 17
Adrian: Chick Magnet, 19
The Nicsperiment: Blog, 20
St. Louis Arch: Chick Magnet, 37, Single, Looking to Mingle

Setting: A minivan. Adrian drives, as Jon sits in the passenger seat, The Nicsperiment in the back.

The Nicsperiment: Hey, guys, let's go to the St. Louis Arch.

Jon and Adrian: Where is it?

The Nicsperiment: (Points at large arch visible from miles away)There.

Jon and Adrian: Okay.

As we knew that St. Louis looked exactly like New Orleans, we also knew that we did not want to make a wrong turn in St. Louis. Thankfully, we did not, though we did look like this, so it wasn't a total win.
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To the left, Adrian, to the right, Jon, to the far right, The Nicsperiment and his socks.

The arch is majestic, and if you visit St. Louis, you should probably...visit it, but if you do, you probably shouldn't follow our example of leaving your friend's mom's minivan running on the curb while you take pictures of each other.
The rest of the drive was pretty unremarkable except for the fact that southern Illinois is a black hole that somehow sucked in an infinite amount of corn fields and you will drive through them forever and I am still driving through them. Strangely enough, as we began to near Bushnell, we saw all these weird iron cages on the side of the road. Rather by delirium or some other synonym for crazy that I don't feel like looking up right now, we began to propose some kind of logically supported argument that the cages were supposed to be occupied by gay lions, and I have no idea why, and gay lions, I'm sorry, I'm sure you probably thought that this travelogue was finally going to be your shot at exposure and representation, but I can remember neither why you live in mysterious corn field cages in the middle of nowhere Illinois, nor why you are attracted to lions of the same sex, but you weren't even in the cages specifically constructed for you, so really, this is all your fault.
We made it to Cornerstone. We thought we were lost a few times, but not all who wander are lost and all that. I'm gonna go play video games before I write this next part.
Okay, I'm back. I just beat Shadowgate 64. That maze at the end is brutal.
Anyway, as I return, I notice that the title of this post is the state motto of Missouri, and we did drive through Missouri for a very long time, and we did originate from a state that features approximately 30-square feet of exposed rock (Lusiana), and I did take 100 pictures identical to this one.
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But wait, I already got to the part where we...got there? Oh, well, sorry, Missouri, you shouldn't have been so inappropriate and you have made me take so many identical pictures of your bare rock, you dirty pervert state.
Speaking of inappropriate, you may notice that a lot of these photos are...extended. That's because I used a panoramic disposable camera. I don't even know if they still make those, but I used to seek them out when I went on trips because I thought the pictures they took were more cinematic. You're welcome.
So anyway, we got there, realized there were indeed nearly 30,000 other humans vying for camping space, picked a camping spot that combined the best location with the weakest family that we could easily overpower. We brutally, yet silently and stealthily murdered them, wrapped them up in their own tent. While Jon and Adrian put our tent where their now corpse-filled tent once was, I took the bodies out to the middle of one of those remote Illinois corn fields and disposed of the remains. If you enjoy scavenger hunts and are also a huge fan of the incredible film, The Shawshank Redemption, I buried them in a field. It's got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It's like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It's where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic and made love under that oak and I asked and she said yes. Promise me, if you ever get out... find that spot. At the base of that wall, you'll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. Piece of black, volcanic glass. There's something buried under it I want you to have. It's their bodies.
Find the bones.
Release their souls to rest.
The task is in your hands
Once Jon and Adrian got the tent all standy and from 600 hundred pieces to one tent-looking piece, we turned around and saw this horrifying sight:
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That's right...every decent human's worst nightmare: a tent full of Minnesotans.
"How how ya doing?" they asked.
"Do ya need any help with that?" their haunting voices intoned.
"Want any brats?" they offered with hair-raising smiles.
"Hey, we've got a lot of water if you need any," their voices scratched the very surface of our sanity.
"No, really, we brought extra brats, just for neighbors!" they said straight from the blackness in their souls.
"We always keep a guy near the tent, so we'll keep an eye on your stuff, too, neighbors!" sealing our doom.
If you can't see past the joke, people from Minnesota are really nice, except for that one guy looking back making the obnoxious face in the picture, but you can tell that one is a jackass without me pointing it out. He was a bit of a nemesis for me, because every great hero needs a great villain. That previous sentence was full of so much ego and fantasy I threw up in my mouth a little.
Anyway, I should end this entry. We met the Minnesotans, and I'll go into greater detail about them later, when I don't have so much to ramble about. We explored our new Cornerstone digs, which included rolling hills, mysterious forests, a massive lake, thousands of camper tents, dozens of music tents, and approximately 10e+05 port-a-potties. Oh, but we'll get to the port-a-potties later. We'll get to it all later, my vulvas...er, friends.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cornerstone 2002, Prologue: A Travelogue, A Memoir, and Some Jokes About Wieners

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(An important note on this travelogue: This travelogue prologue is just a bunch of serious, not funny stuff. The next post begins the manic, stupid insanity you've come to love or hate or both about The Nicsperiment's travelogues. However, this particular travelogue needs some joke-free background first...well maybe I'll toss in a couple...)

Just shy of my ninth birthday, my uncle started a cult.* My mom joined, and like most cult members, brought her kids along for the ride. Like most reasonable people dragged into unreasonable situations, I kept my head down, stayed out of trouble, and learned to somehow still live the life I wanted to lead, except I was eight. This strategy worked for twelve years, as I somehow miraculously avoided the ire of the powers that be. That streak came to a fiery end. At a certain point, my uncle appointed his son-in-law as both youth and young adult pastor. The son-in-law protested the appointment, perhaps because he knew deep down he would abuse the position, but he eventually took it. The rest is history. My history.
On May 5, 2002, I had a simple, happy plan for the day. Finish moving the rest of my stuff from my sophomore apartment to my parents' house across the bridge, unpack, work on my Apocalypse Now paper for my Literature of Modern War class, and watch Alias season one's penultimate episode.  Those plans would not come to fruition. When attempting to leave church for the day, I was pulled aside by my first cousin's husband, the youth and young adults pastor. As he is Canadian, I figured he wanted to discuss a handful of things: maple-leaf flavored chewing gum, maple-leaf milkshakes, whether or not maple-leaf is supposed to have a hyphen or not, and the obstructionist policies of Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chr├ętien. However, he did not want to discuss any of those things. Instead, he wanted to discuss the sure facts that everything I liked and enjoyed was evil, and that I was possessed by demons. You know, the usual things you tell your wife's 20-year old non-drinking, non-smoking, non-drug-taking, twice-a-week churchgoing, virgin cousin.
We sat in his Canadian-themed office for hours as he countered any argument I tried to make with the word "demons." I checked my watch again and again, sighing as I realized I would be getting home after Alias had already started, sighing again an hour later when I realized I would miss the entire episode, and sighing yet again when I knew the episode was already over, and here I was in this damned room, wondering if I was about to be exorcised. Millions of Americans with normal lives who were not about to be exorcised all now knew Sydney Bristow's fate, while I did not know if Sydney was alive or dead, if her father was okay, and if her friend Will had bit the dust or not. Thank God for DVD.
Anyway, if my story of involvement with that particular establishment contains a nadir, it is the brief second of self-doubt I felt in that awful, awful meeting (which also forced me to go into the following week's Alias season one finale blind. I can forgive a lot, but I'm still working on that one). If I have a regret (and really, being forced to attend a cult as a child should not be a regret--you did not choose to attend, therefore, someone else should be regretting making you go there), it is that I let those rat-bastards get me to doubt myself for that one second and briefly toy with the notion that they knew me better than Jesus. Serious prologue, you guys.
But, hey, everything worked out--the first chance I had to break free, I did, and the only scars I have are neuroses and stigmas I'll likely carry for the rest of my life. No problem, you guys, it's all cool.
With that said, as I had finally tasted the harm I had seen unleashed on others for so long, I began to formulate an escape. While many things crossed my mind, the best option ended up being to schedule an appointment with the Pastors, tell them their ministry was false, and walk out with my head not down, but high. I was vaguely hinting at that upcoming meeting way back here(it happend that very week). And I did.
A BRIEF SERIOUS MOMENT IN A SERIES THAT WILL SOON DE-EVOLVE INTO JOKES ABOUT JOHNSONVILLE BRATS AND WALMART TOILET SEATS: IF YOU ARE STUCK IN A SIMILAR SITUATION, YOU SHOULD DO THE SAME THING I DID. IF YOU FEEL YOU WILL BE PHYSICALLY HARMED FOR DOING SO, WHICH WAS THANKFULLY NEVER A THREAT IN MY SITUATION, CALL THE POLICE. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE POLICE. SERIOUS MOMENT ENDS.
Anyway, while working on my escape route, I wanted to get as far away from anyone who would misconstrue my facial expressions as Beelzebulb attempting to jump out of my eyeballs as possible. I planned as many summer getaways as my paltry college student funds could allow.
I needed to go somewhere where there were like-minded, normal people. I needed to go where the people are, and I needed to see, needed to see them dancing. I needed to go to Bushnell, Illinois.
The Cornerstone Festival, featuring hundreds of live bands, foreign film showcases, lectures, and loads of intellectual stimulation, got its start far before my visit, but by all accounts of those who have been to many, 2002 was quite a good one. The festival, founded in 1984, and typically running for a week every year near July the 4th, reached its end exactly ten years after my visit. It is most likely never coming back. The burgeoning Christian music scene from the turn of the century that fed Cornerstone 2002's rosters is all but dead. The intellectual and spiritual conversations of the time have de-evolved into Youtube arguments that can usually be boiled down to:

Dont b rediculus, god isnt reel.
You are ignant and soood dum, he iz.

TLDR;

Meanwhile, I am getting older every day, with Cornerstone growing smaller and smaller in my rearview.
It is time to recount when two of my lifelong friends and I hopped in a van, drove 835 miles, and altered our consciousness forever.
Oh yeah, and jokes about wieners.

*If anyone would like to counter that that particular organization was not a cult, I counter with the following evidence, which I won't even bother to number:
The words from the pulpit came not from the Bible, but from the minds of the leadership. The Bible itself was held secondary to their words. The exact statement, "I know the Bible says this, but..." was even said in regard to the church's position on corporate speaking of tongues. The church collected a monthly "building fund" from members under the threat of the pastor calling those members who did not contribute. I was included in these threats.
Most members of mainstream Christianity would call the basic practices of my Uncle's church deviant (which is the basic identifier for a Christian cult), including the multiple tithe and offering collections per service, as well as the building fund listed above, which were administered under threat of a curse and negative church communication from leaders, children were asked to "prophesy" the future of adults on a regular basis, leaving for any other church was extremely discouraged, and the reputation of the church itself against all others was generally bolstered by all those in authority, people were routinely "slain in the spirit," invisible swords were swung, people acted literally like animals on the floor before the stage, one prayer service (which I literally (two literally's in the same sentence!) ran out of) featured women having loud orgasms as the lied on the floor, and blah blah blah you see where this is going. I think the basic thing here is that the church milked its followers financially to extreme degrees: one message encouraged members to tithe even if the check would make them overdrawn, some members created credit cards just to tithe from, people sold houses and property to give the church the money, while at the same time being discouraged to never leave church membership under any circumstance, all the while having their fear and emotions stirred so that they would indeed fear to leave, being further isolated in an environment that was harmful, yet feeling an attachment to that environment because of the emotional manipulation. I mean, it was a cult, come on.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

So Much for L

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Hey, L. Get out of here, you weirdo!
I'm just kidding L, you're okay, but you're no J.
Only one letter starts off the name "John Williams," and it's not your fault it's not you.
You did your best, and for that I commend you. And, hey, I had fun writing you! It was good times!
Moving right along, M should begin its stay in early January. Until then, gentle reader, The Nicsperiment will feature the promised eight-part Cornerstone 2002 travelogue (Yes, eight parts! It's going to be insanity! It's going to be...something!), a review of the recently ended Doctor Who Series (or as we say here in the country that's beaten England in not one, but TWO wars, "Season"), and my annual top nine albums of the year list (and maybe its new buddy from last year, the top nine songs of the year list).
Until then...I leave you with five mysterious lines of blank space.





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hannibal -- Season Two (Review)

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Hannibal
2014 NBC
Season Two
Score: 8/10


Hannibal's second season picks up right where season one left off. This review has picked up alarmingly generically.
The Gist: Will Graham has been unjustly imprisoned for the sick crimes committed by the cannibalistic psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham, consumed with hatred for Lecter and a desire to clear his on name, searches for justice. Meanwhile, Lecter slides into Graham's former life, assisting the FBI with the most grotesque murder cases imaginable, and romancing fellow psychiatrist, Dr. Alana Bloom.
The Bad: This show is still disgusting. The creators still do not believe in the Hitchcockian approach. What you do not see is still not scarier than what you do see because you still do not not see anything. The effects of every sick and twisted serial killing are still shown for far more than just a lingering glance: piles of naked bodies chemically bonded together, people vivisected sideways, fed to pigs, gutted and left to bleed out on top of other people gutted and left to bleed out. I still don't know who is coming up with this stuff, but it's still gross, and I still can't believe NBC has allowed these images to be shown on television.
Also, Hannibal makes a rare misstep in style this season. All of the previously mentioned gore is done in the show's usually gorgeous, sensual style (yeah, that made me feel weird, too), but a late-season plot-line overrides the show's usual art-project tone for campy goofiness.
I am talking about the Verger storyline, featuring Michael Pitt as The Penguin and Katherine Isabelle as Poison Ivy. Okay, maybe those aren't their names, but the Verger twins might as well be Batman villains, particularly Pitt, with his wildly stylized hair and over-the-top mannerisms. Before the Vergers, only the show's gore was ridiculous, but Pitt's campiness takes Hannibal into a realm it hadn't previous explored, and probably shouldn't. Pitt's final confusing appearance would be right at home in a Joel Schumacher film, and I hope the show does not go further in that direction in its upcoming season. Showrunner Bryan Fuller's comments that Hannibal is actually "a love story" between Lecter and Graham, two heterosexual characters who hate each other, doesn't give me much hope, but I will still watch because
The Good: Despite everything I just said, Hannibal is still a very good show. Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, and Laurence Fishburne continue to turn in incredible performances as the cat, the mouse, and the guy who owns the mouse. Dancy and Mikkelsen's intense mental battle of good vs evil is incredible to behold, as, for most of the season, the audience is forced to draw their own assumptions as to whether Dancy's Graham has crossed the line into Lecter's world, or is simply stringing Lecter along. This battle is spellbinding to the last bloody end, and no strange detours into the bizarre can derail it. The art department continues to earn whatever NBC is paying it by making the most brutal, disgusting images breathtakingly beautiful.
The Conclusion: So Hannibal's second season is a small step behind the first due to the show getting a bit too zany at points, but great acting, art, and the portrayal of the difficulty of staying good when battling unimaginable evil keep the show in the top tier of broadcast offerings.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Nicsperiment Is Turning Ten!

In just four days, The Nicsperiment will be a decade old! A decade!
That's a long time going for a blog! That's a long time going for any kind of website!
That's 955 posts (closer to a thousand if you count the ones I retrospectively realized were a bit too much, or just plain awful, and put into private status), over 100,000 views, and buckets of dead skin cells from my hands spilled into various keyboards around the state. That is disgusting, but so awesome. You are literally shedding yourself everywhere you go.
In celebration (of The Nicsperiment's tenth birthday, not you spreading your dead skin cells wherever you please, you hussy!), I have been prepping one of the largest, craziest things The Nicsperiment has ever done:
I have been working on a travelogue of my trip to Cornerstone in 2002. I've done plenty of travelogues before, so long time readers should have some bearing on the madness that is to come, but this one, while still as ridiculously stupid as any travelogue I've published, takes a more serious tone at moments, reflecting on religion, the Christian Music Industry, Unicorns, Monkeys, Unicorn Monkeys.
I've a few other noteworthy things in the works for this month, including my annual "Top Nine Albums of the Year List," reviews of the recently ended seasons of Doctor Who, South Park and Hannibal, and the customary "So Much For..." post for the letter "L" (that is coming Friday). "Every Album I Own Reviews" are done for the year, but they should be coming back with a vengeance with the letter "M" in January. Speaking of those, after more than three years, and approximately 500 reviews, "Every Album I Own Reviews" is exactly halfway over! What a magical Nicsperiment month! I'm going to go eat Frosted Flakes and ruminate.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Lymbyc Systym -- Shutter Release

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8/10

Lymbyc Systym's Shutter Release is the sound of a warm room on a cold day, full of future nostalgia. Maybe you're by yourself, reading a book, maybe you're just chilling with your parents, or maybe that girl you have a crush on has somehow ended up in the easy chair your dad usually watches sports from. It might not be the best day you'll ever have, but it's definitely one you'll remember.
Less metaphysically, this is an instrumental album created by two brothers and their friends, full of warm, lovely noises, acoustic waves, and electronic lights. Whoops, metaphysical again. Well, I guess that's as solid as it's gonna get.


Mush 2009
1. Trichromatic 5:25
2. Ghost Clock 3:42
3. Interiors 4:35
4. Bedroom Anthem 2:34
5. Kubrick 4:16
6. Contemporary Art 3:40
7. T-Ball 2:57
8. Shutter Release 3:41
9. Teddy 4:35
10. Late Night Classic 6:16

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

An Autopsy of a College Band: The Life and Death of Lucid Soule

In May of 2001, I completed my freshman year of college. Shortly after the school year ended, my friends and I ventured to a church in Denham Springs, Louisiana to see a heavy metal band called Once Blind. The youth church we visited was called The Back Door, or The Back Gate, or The Back Wall, or The Back Window, or some other house-related, early 00'sesque  name. The place was actually pretty nice. Huge open area, and an upstairs full of pool, ping-pong, and Foosball tables. Do kids still even play  those games? I hope so because they're great.
Not great? Once Blind wasn't actually playing. Or rather, Once Blind was playing, but not the Once Blind we were hoping for. This Once Blind was a Christian Contemporary Music Worship Band. Not my style then, and not my style now. Someone else at The Back Door was as disgruntled as I was. As the smartly dressed band began to play, a guy up front with a large Mohawk shouted "Hey, this isn't the Once Blind we thought it was!"
"Hey, that voice sounds familiar!" I said to no one in particular. After a few seconds, I placed it. The guy with the Mohawk was the host of the Sunday night radio show I listened and called in to every week. The guy's name is David Loti. I would go on to co-host the radio show with him, and I enjoy his friendship to this day. But first I had to hunt for him through the crowd. Dave had the same idea as I did the moment Once Blind did not rip into their first song: leave. I caught him on his way out and introduced myself. Turns out the guy with him was Adam Hebert, Dave's at-the-time co-host on the radio show, and all-around cool guy. That sentence had a lot of dashes.
Anyway, the three of us, at times joined by some of my friends, had an excellent conversation at a picnic table outside the venue. Through that conversation, I learned that Dave and Adam were in a band together called Lucid Soule--like Lucid, as in "expressed clearly, bright or luminous" and Soule as in "the word "Soul" with an "e" at the end." Lucid Soule had a show coming up in a week, and I told Dave and Adam I'd try my best to make it. It was the least I could do for making them play and endure my song requests every week. Man, as I type this out, I realize how serendipitous this whole thing is. Groovy.
Anyway, Dave and Adam left, I went back inside, met a girl, asked her on a date, and this happened. Man, good times. Good thing she wasn't my type.
I kept my promise, attending Lucid Soule's show at the Vineyard Cafe on Tiger Bend Road. I even brought my three friends along with me.
We were blown away.
Lucid Soule was an art-rock band from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They were led by guitarist/songwriter, John Tulley, with vocalist and later also keyboardist, Lindsay Spurlock, David Loti on drums, and Adam Hebert on bass (I just so happened to have picked up the bass guitar months before witnessing my first Lucid Soule show, and afterward, I pushed myself on the instrument, attempting (futilely) to match Hebert's skill and passion). Lucid Soule, in its early years, combined virtuoso instrumental performances with Spurlock's soaring vocals, in a style that melded Tool with classic rock sounds. As much as the band were compared to Tool in their early years, as I listen to Lucid Soule's first album now, I notice it contains a sense of fun absent in Tool's music, as well as experimentation that feels a bit more playful than tortuous (and I say that as someone who somewhat likes Tool). Also, all of Tool's songs aren't ten-minutes long (Lucid Soule's 60-minute set generally featured seven songs at most). But I am getting ahead of myself, and this next sentence will connect this tangent back to where I was. Lucid Soule had something that a lot of bands want: a powerful live performance.
My friends and I sat spellbound for much of that first show, and we immediately found out the date for the next. I'm not sure how many Lucid Soule shows I attended that summer, but the most accurate answer I can give is: all of them.
Late that summer, I moved out of my parent's house (for the first time), to a small apartment on campus, with one of the friends who came to that first Lucid Soule show with me. Moving out was harder than I anticipated. Growing up on a farm in the country spoils one for space. All of a sudden, I had all these loud neighbors who also thought I was loud, a roommate who, while a good friend, was in quite a different place in life than me (and seven years older), and absolutely no money whatsoever. I made $412 dollars a month at my LSU student worker job, my share of rent was $275, then bills, and gas, and no food but salami sandwiches, ramen noodles, Swiss Cake Rolls when I was flush, and a loaf of wheat bread as my meal for the week when I wasn't. Thankfully, my parents found out how flat broke I was (my mom noticed the weight loss pretty quickly) and started helping me out with groceries a little bit. Also, I started working weekends for my dad in the crawfish ponds. With those extra few dollars I could afford my escape: the cover charge at my local bar, where Lucid Soule played a couple times a month.
The bar was Ichabod's, now Northgate Tavern, and my happy place. Admittedly, Ichabod's was a bit of a dive, but it had a Streetfight II: Turbo arcade machine, an outdoor patio, and the TV's over the bar were often set to Adult Swim, meaning that Cowboy Bebop was often the backdrop for my Lucid Soule show experiences. Meanwhile, the band drew decent crowds and garnered great local buzz, with rumblings of a possible breakout always on the horizon. They released their first album, titled I (as in the roman numeral for "one"). Also, Lucid Soule played my friends birthday party, and life seemed as if it could not get anymore awesome.
However, and quite unfortunately, I soon learned that happy places don't last. Some stupid stuff happened with my stupid church (upon which I'll go in depth in my upcoming Cornerstone 2002 retrospective), which negatively affected my personal life. I moved back home, and I don't want to talk about that. Ichabod's shut down. A bunch of other lousy stuff happened, and life sucked for a little while. But Lucid Soule kept playing. As much as I could, I still went to their shows, and eventually, life got awesome again. The band began to pick up a bit of a Radiohead sound, as Spurlock's keyboard-playing became prominent. This evolution served the band well, and their live set seemed to possess even more power. They released a new two song EP, which showcased their changing sound. It is titled III, as I had also been packaged with a 3-song EP called II (which featured mostly guitar experiments from Tulley). The songs seemed to flow faster, even though they still hovered around the eight-minute mark in length. The first, "Entropy," featured lyrics by Loti, in what, along with his drumming on the EP, was his last contribution to the band. In the fall of 2003, Dave moved to Colorado, and the band replaced him with Andy Reed. Almost on cue, I got a migraine for nine straight months. It was insane. EKG's, cat-scan's, X-Ray's, lots and lots and lots of meds, and damn, my life is dramatic. Needless to say, I didn't catch any Lucid Soule shows in 2004. The loud noise and stage lights would have murdered me.
Even though I went into recovery that summer, and even went to some shows out of town, I was completely out of the local scene. My friend in the band was gone, and admittedly, I forgot about Lucid Soule. Meanwhile,  Lucid Soule kept slaving away, writing new material, playing major label showcase shows. For some reason, be it the band's challenging song lengths or artistic uniqueness (by this point, comparisons to Tool were no longer apt--Lucid Soule had no peer in sound), none of the labels bit. But the band didn't quit.
In 2005, at the urging of Loti himself, I went to my first Lucid Soule show in over a year. Loti had moved back to town and was working on a new project (which was to become the award-winning comedy band, A Soup Named Stew), but he had seen some of Lucid Soule's recent shows, and assured me the band was better than ever. He was right.
Though it doesn't always happen, a band is supposed to improve with time. Lucid Soule did. Tulley, always an incredible guitar player, had developed a more relaxed, sophisticated, ethereal (yet at times still aggressive) style all his own. No one was comparing his work to anyone else because, as mentioned in the above parenthetical, he had no peers. Hebert, as the band's sound became more stream-lined, toned down his bass-playing acrobatics, playing a more conservative style that better served the songs. Reed played exceptionally, a great fit, though admittedly, the band began its change in sound before his arrival. Spurlock's vocal tones had become more clear, the lyrics she sang easier to pick up. The chemistry between her keyboard-playing and Tulley's guitar-work had also reached new heights. The band had become a completely better version of themselves. Dave often told me during this period that he must have been holding the band back, but I think this is completely untrue. After six years of writing and performing music as Lucid Soule, Tulley, Spurlock, and Hebert, along with Reed, had simply gotten better than they were before.
By this point, I had graduated from LSU, still lived with my parents, had no job or prospects, and blogged...a lot. 2005 was one of the greatest years of my life, and I spent it once again going to every local show Lucid Soule played. The band just sounded so upbeat and exhilarating, and the sky was the limit, and then they broke up.
After releasing IV, aka A Crack In the Glass, Lucid Soule disbanded. I won't go into why, other than simply stating that being in a band with three other people is hard. During the span I am retrospecting here, I was in two bands, myself. Neither lasted long.
A Crack In the Glass does a very good job of capturing Lucid Soule's final sound. The inclusion of re-recorded versions of the two songs from the III EP saps a little of the album's energy, as the band, obviously a little bored with them, tinker around with them a bit too much. The remaining five songs, however, are still a breath of fresh air to this day. And to this day, I still don't understand why Lucid Soule didn't make it big. To my ears, they are better than 99% of what was and is out there today. Lucid Soule were highly original, highly talented, and highly enjoyable to hear.
Fittingly, Lucid Soule played their final show at Northgate Tarvern, the new bar in the building once occupied by Ichabod's. The place was packed with a bunch of kids the same age I was when I sat awestruck with Cowboy Bebop on the screen behind me. Their enthrallment and excitement matched my own. I hope those kids found another band to latch on to. Someone to reminisce about. As for me, now I'm almost old enough to be President, and my kid jams out to old Lucid Soule albums with me. If he one day decides to go to college, I hope he finds his own local band to rock out to. I'll always have Lucid Soule.
If you're curious to hear what I'm talking about, A Crack In the Glass is available on Amazon for far too low a price. If you just want to hear a few songs, miraculously, Lucid Soule's Myspace and Purevolume websites still exist. I don't trust that those links will always exist, though, so I've uploaded some of the songs below on my own. Hope you enjoy them.