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  • Writer's pictureMichael Lenzi

(Re)Collection: Former Selves

Today I had the disquieting and surreal feeling of what it might be like to witness my own eulogy. A collection of videos "magically" appeared on YouTube. My old friend and band mate Olias Nil, Seth Kim-Cohen, played eulogist/curator. The videos span our music making lives together. I wanted to share some links so you can check them out if you are so inclined. More links will be added to this post as they appear on YouTube.

Number One Cup:

1. The first clip here is of Number One Cup (with John Przyborowski on bass guitar) playing at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ in 1996. It starts at the end Ease Back Down. I remember no one was there. Maybe a couple of Seth's family members and the sound guy. A normal night out on tour.

2. Here is a very dejected Number One Cup (with Kurt Volk on bass, although he is playing acoustic guitar in this clip) in February of 1999 playing a live radio show on KVRX in Austin, Texas. A week before this taping we had decided to break up in Pensacola, Florida after an abysmal show.

This makes me feel ill at ease. No one is having a good time. But we pulled off some nice covers by T.Rex, Pavement, Hank Williams, Neil Young, Big Star and one of our songs, Astronaut.

3. Our final show was at the Lounge Ax in 1999. It seems like we are having some fun here. We pull off a rollicking cover Hey Hey My My by Neil Young. This show ends with Kurt Volk passing out roses from our funeral wreath as I sing You Are My Sunshine while dismantling and throwing my drum set piece by piece. Nice way to go out.

The Fire Show

1. This first clip is The Antipathetic (off our first record) from a show we did in 2001 at the Abbey Pub in Chicago. Bob Bihlman on drums, Pyx Klos on bass.

I remember those gray pants pretty well and wish I still had them. I don't know what happened to them. I recall ripping them at a show on tour. In fact, that show was at South by Southwest. I launched myself over a railing in a fit of anger and frustration shortly after throwing my guitar through the window. It got stuck halfway out kind of like an arrow stuck in a target. That was pretty cool. I hate guitars. I barely like drums.

2. The next two clips are from our final record called Saint The Fire Show: "fire" and "show." They are a video press/fan kit for the record that was included on the enhanced CD. Tim Rutili from Califone (as well as Perishable Records) conducted the interview. Mike Zandlo shot and edited it. Mike also filmed our whole final tour. The video footage has not yet been edited together. Some day I hope it will happen.

These two made me laugh a little.

Part A: fire

Part B: show

3. Before the Fire Show embarked on our final 8 week tour to support Saint The Fire Show, we played a record release party at the Hideout complete with an epic introduction by Tim Tutten, one of the club's owners.

Seth Kim-Cohen wrote this description for the video on YouTube:

"One audience member at a time is led to the back room at Chicago's Hideout Inn. The Fire Show perform a one-minute private, improvised concert while the audience member's portrait is taken with a large-format Polaroid camera. The audience member leaves with the photograph and a CD of the performance, burned on the spot. With the exception of this video, The Fire Show retains no documentation of the performances. Evidence of the event is dispersed among those who attended."

4. Mike Zandlo captured some really nice footage which is cobbled together in this next video. The song, Magellan Was A Felon, which appears on our final record. Painful introduction by yours truly.

This video is hands down my favorite of all the videos. It captures the best elements of the Fire Show as a two man unit. I broke some guitars. I sure as hell wasn't doing a good job playing them. I was better at breaking them. They deserved it.

5., 6.,7 & 8. While the Fire Show played its penultimate show in 2002 at the Hideout in Chicago, we had our last show up in Minneapolis at the 7th St. Entry.

The band played that show and that tour as a 2 piece: me on vocals and drums, Seth on bass, guitar, keyboard and looping pedals. Right before the band went into the studio to record Saint The Fire Show, both Bob and John quit the group. John did play on the recording but Bob did not.

We figured out how to play our songs using loopers live. Every sound was created on stage, for better or for worse. We ended up pulling it off well considering the circumstances. I believe we had less than a month to get the set together before hitting the road.

Playing our final show in Minneapolis was somehow better than doing it in Chicago. Many of our favorite bands of all time played on that stage. We had lots of good shows up there over the years. As another era in our musical lives ended, we capped it off with a measured yet emotional show. A fan brought a birthday cake up on stage for us. It was another funerary offering at a last show much like the rose wreath from Number One Cup's final show.

Our second to last song was Neil Young's Don't Let It Bring You Down. Finally, F. Pilate. Then we destroyed our gear and collapsed to the floor hugging each other. Catharsis. Our very own funeral pyre. Good memories. Really. It was one of the best musical moments of my life because it seemed to last forever and I remember being very aware of the significance. As we all know, many great moments in our lives pass by so quickly that we do not have the time or the presence of mind to slow them down and savor them.

Long live the Fire Show. I regard it as my musical high water mark.

4 Times Through The Angel

The Rabbit of My Soul Is The King Of His Ghost

Don't Let It Bring You Down

F. Pilate

Many thanks to Seth for doing all the work to put these up on YouTube. Hopefully he will unearth more soon.

Please visit Seth Kim-Cohen's site:

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