Yesterday was a big day. It was the debut of my freelance horn section, The Anti-Matterhorns. And we played two awesome gigs.
Now, before you start asking too many questions, yes, I play trombone in this group. That's the horn I started playing on in the 4th grade, when my dad convinced me not to become a drummer and to pick up trombone instead. (Thanks, dad.)
Believe it or not, this group is about 7 years in the making. Back in 2010, I lived in Rhode Island as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, and I often talked about playing music with my two roommates who were in bands. It never happened while we were there, probably because we hated each other. (Things got better when we moved out of our tiny house and got to choose when to see one another.)
For Matt's 30th birthday, he wanted to have a big blow-out show. And how do you make a rock band seem even cooler? Add horns, of course.
I gathered up two players from Funkrust — Andrew on trumpet and Melissa on bari sax — and we joined the Matt DeMello Band for a show back in January. But we didn't have a name.
Long story short, Matt invited us back for a show at The Bitter End, and I knew we needed a tack-on name — if only to force Matt to say it. I got stuck on "The Midcentury Modern Horns" and "The Twice Fantastic Horns" for a little while, until a friend suggested The Anti-Matterhorns. I loved the double pun, and when I pitched it to the group, it's the only one anyone reacted to. The name was ours.
So, it was finally time for the show at the Bitter End. It went well! At the end of the first song (an uptempo DeMello original called "Don't Mind If I Do" which they haven't recorded yet), Matt introduced us as The Anti-Matterhorns, and people cheered. I know that's what people do at shows, but it's always exciting.
We finished the set and headed over to Brooklyn for performance #2. This one was slated to start pretty late, so Melissa, who had to lead a high school marching band this morning, bailed to get some rest. We replaced her with another bari player, Ben — another high school band director, who luckily didn't have to be up at an ungodly hour. We did sound check at the venue at 9pm, and went to a nearby bar to wait for our call.
This gig was a Future Old School dance party, an old-school hip-hop DJ party at Friends and Lovers in Crown Heights. Our scheduled hit time was 2am, which was tough. But we were taking the stage right after DJ Maseo, one of the founding members of De La Soul, so we were determined to make it.
We headed over to the venue at about 1:15 to make sure we got there on time — and Maseo was just getting started. It wasn't until 2:40 that we finally got the signal. We'd be on at the end of the next song.
As the song ended, the lights went out. We were standing at the back of the dance floor, and nobody had noticed us as we walked in. We let the silence and darkness linger for a moment before launching into an instrumental version of Kanye's "All of the Lights," which we played as we marched to the stage.
When we got to the stage, the DJ launched into his set. We played along — Ben would hear the key and shout it out, and we'd all improvise over the track. If someone played something cool, we'd all repeat it for a while. If the tune had a distinctive melodic line, we'd play with that. But it was mostly freestyle, and people seemed to love it.
We were only supposed to play for a few minutes, but every DJ who came on after asked us to stay on for a little while longer. We wound up playing until the party wound down at 4am.
Best part of the night? As DJ Maseo walked off stage, he pulled Ben aside and said to him, "You guys are dope. I wish you had been playing for me!"
It was maybe the most fun I've had playing music in a really long time. Can't wait for more excitement with the Anti-Matterhorns!