June 10, 2011
VALENTIGER had a lot on their plate in the Summer of 2011. While recently releasing Oh, to Know!, their tune, ‘Leaving Town,’ from their previous record was also in rotation on a regional Chevy commercial as a part of the Chevy Drives the Motor City campaign. And it was because of this they were invited to play a pregame show at Comerica Park on a rainy Friday evening. Unbeknownst to most, it would be Kehoe’s last performance with the band and in true Valentiger fashion, it wasn’t without it’s quirks.
The Detroit Tigers had reserved a special section for the band’s friends and family and many came out to witness the spectacle with a baseball game to boot. The weather was cool and misty for June, but the show commenced and was aired live on FSN Detroit. A copy of the events is believed to exist somewhere, literally on tape, but it began with an anchor in the studio setting up the on-location anchor, prefacing VALENTIGER by growling, “They’re gonna melt your face off!” At this point, it cuts live to Shirey, who is being asked about how the band name came about. The interview continues into commercial break and then the boys prepare for the hour-long set.
There is a whole new level that exists for a band, or any performer for that matter, when you add a strange location and sound, live television cameras moving around you, all while knowing the cruel reality of how music comes across and sounds on TV. It’s really a lot to consider and account for, all while simply remembering to do what you would normally do; play the songs correctly, be emotive and remember words to any given tune. Being there, I can tell you that VALENTIGER handled this well, all while playing a great set. It’s hard to picture it when you are only seeing footage the event creates, but there is a lot of action involved in getting interesting shots and capturing the moment. Now, imagine trying to sing or do anything really, with a people zooming around you and shoving cameras in your face. It’s a bit of an art and it surely created some interesting and hilarious shots of the band aired on live TV. One comes to mind of an upward shot on Shirey ‘melting faces’ with a gutiar solo on ‘Oh, to Know!’; what an adventure it was. But the boys also had an unspoken, internal dialog going throughout the set. Every time they began a song, it was the last time they’d play it with Kehoe, who’d just wrapped up the first record he’d wholly been a part of with the band. It was a very grand, over-the-top, bittersweet event for the group. Shirey remembers:
“We played an hour’s worth of material, with commercial breaks going in and out and cameras everywhere. It was just kind of this gray day with misting rain and there was the live audience and the TV audience and…there was just a lot to think about. But somehow you couldn’t even grasp it all; you’re half on auto pilot with some of the music and just trying to manage it all at once. But all that was kind of overshadowed for the band, I think. For the most part, I don’t even remember a lot of what we played, but one moment sticks out in my mind, where we were in between songs and about to start ‘Oh, to Know!’ and it starts with this kind of dissonant, brash introduction that’d we’d all been just owning and smashing out together as a group. So, we were getting ready to do that and I said something like, ‘Let’s do it, boys,’ while looking over at Rider. And then I turn over to Kehoe and we just kind of give each other a nod like, “One last time brother,” and we bash through that tune like it’s never to be played again. It was a real nice moment that’s just stuck.”
VALENTIGER wrapped up their set, loaded out their gear and retreated to section 326 to watch the game. I don’t remember if the Tigers won or lost, but the game was certainly a nice cap on a memorable evening for the band, being with friends and family. And so exits Kehoe, with a big bang. Bill Kahler had already been practicing hard with the band and would enter the group through a string of shows somehow more peculiar.