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Before they set off on their own current tour, Q and Not U were on a short tour supporting hip rockers Interpol. Change for the band hasn't been as drastic as it could be, but it certainly has been noticeable. On the Interpol tour there were less politics, more hair flipping and dancing, and the band seemed to be not nearly as powerful as they usually are in their live shows. I can't say it was disappointing, but drawing my references from the DC trio's standard performances, it wasn't exactly what I would have told someone to expect, either.
John Davis was kind enough to sit down with me for fifteen minutes before they took the stage at the Aragon on March 18th to talk about the band, both present and future.
LAS: So tell me, how did you get on this bill with Interpol?
John: They asked us to play some shows with them. There's no way we would turn that down. It's not that long of a tour, nine or ten shows with them. Big venues. We were a little surprised to have been asked. This is our third stop and the biggest one yet.
LAS: How did the first two go?
John: Kind of weird. We were supposed to have our own show the day before we started to play with Interpol, but a snowstorm made us cancel that show - and it was very odd. We were driving into New York with clear, blue skies up until we could see Manhattan. Once we were there we saw the large dark cloud just covering the island, dumping snow and rain. Seemed like a curse of some sort, so we cancelled the show. It was a little disappointing, but it happens.
LAS: So, how were the shows after that?
John: One was awful and the other was pretty great. It's all the set up of the venue. The show in Boston was at an actual theater, with theater seating and a proscenium stage. People wanted to dance and move around, but couldn't really do it. Plus, I think it was assigned seating - so it didn't really work out for us.
LAS: This is the biggest venue you've guys played in Chicago. How does that feel?
John: I'm excited for this show. My parents are down there [in the crowd] somewhere. We're DJing at a bar or a club [Rodan] on Monday, so we'll be back in town after we play in Minnesota and Michigan. I actually won't be at the DJ set as I've got family to visit, but Chris and Harris will be there.
LAS: You guys were in Europe recently, right? How'd that go?
John: It was probably the best tour we've had yet. We planned it out really well and had very few setbacks. It was two weeks and the schedule wasn't so busy that we felt rushed. Everything worked to the best of our abilities.
LAS: What does the future look like?
John: We've been on the road for a while. Once we're done with Interpol we're going on our own tour for a month or so. We're going to be taking a little time off and eventually start working on new stuff. Nothing too immediate though. We've been enjoying the road so far. I think we'll need a little time off. I'm getting married this summer, which will give me some time. The wedding is going to be here in a few months.
LAS: And how have the boys in Interpol been treating you?
John: Well, their roadies are really nice. We haven't even seen them that much, let alone talked to them. I think Chris talked with Paul at the beginning of the trip, but we haven't spent any time with them so far. It's funny, after shows they have the roadies take their stuff down and they get in their bus. We take all our stuff into our van and hit the road to make it to the next venue in time. They don't have to worry about it; they've got a tour manager and a bus driver to get them to the next venue.
At this point a young girl interrupted the two of us to ask if we knew how after parties work. John was very polite to this underage girl and did his best to help her. The girl was unaware of who she was talking to and, when Q and not U took the stage ten minutes later, had a bit of an embarrassed/shocked look on her face.
John: I should probably check in with the guys. We have to take the stage soon.
LAS: Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with me.
And at two minutes after eight o'clock John, Chris and Harris took the stage with a different sense of confidence. They were an opening band tonight and they wanted to bring a little energy to the crowd. The usual political rant was swept under the rug because Chris Richard "couldn't find anything in the Sun-Times today, so maybe we're winning this war". The war that he was referring to being the war against George W. Bush.
Opening a show at such a large venue was a little different from the shows Q and not U are used to doing in Chicago. The power and enthusiasm they would normally be greeted with was replaced with funked out dancing and smiles. On top of it all the sound quality was a little poor, as the sound board settings for the trio couldn't quite fill the enormous venue. From where I was, people seemed more confused than anything. Whether it was because of the half-political rant and pleas for dancing, or the crowd simply not knowing who Q and not U are is up for debate. I think it's safe to assume the latter.
With the small amount of confusion, the crowd still enjoyed the music. The nine songs Q and not U played spanned all three of their albums, but their set was restrained to the dancier tracks. They wanted to bring the energy; I wanted them to bring their usual Q and not U show. Ultimately neither party was disappointed, and the precedent they have set in the past leaves me knowing that I will certainly be satisfied when I see them come back through town next time, as the headliner.
Post Script: Thanks go out to the older security guard fellow who let me bring my ladyfriend into the VIP area even though she didn't have a pass.
SEE ALSO: www.qandnotu.org
SEE ALSO: www.dischord.com
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he's afraid of really growing up.
See other articles by Bob Ladewig.
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