Valentiger always seems to feel rejuvenated after a string of live shows - especially after a string of good ones. October brought a few different challenges for the boys. They began with two shows in one night, hopping between Midland and Bay City, Michigan. The band first found themselves playing the annual Fall Walk at Dow Gardens, a thoroughly enjoyable outdoor event. Though a tad on the chilly side this year, Valentiger still managed to hit the mark in 43-degree weather with a good mix of originals and covers for a large crowd sipping hard cider. There were also doughnuts and Shirey revealed Rider’s rap alias, Hot Cider.
From there, they jetted over to Bemo's in Bay City for a stellar bill with Blanca Luz, George Morris and the Gypsy Chorus and Boyteen. For this set, Valentiger took a few requests, played new material and rocked out a few classics in full effect. One of the requests included Pavement's "Summer Babe," which the band had not played in a few years. Still, Shirey managed to slay his guitar into oblivion and entirely out of tune. As a finale, Nick Chevillet of Handgrenades sang "Frozen Dozing" with the band and mic dropped. Oh yeah, and I think there was a shot of rum with a beef stick in it.
After a short night's sleep, Shirey managed to make $5 after Rider bet him he couldn't eat three hard boiled eggs after he had already eaten three one-egg cheese omelets. Check. Next on the list, was unlocking Bill's car with the keys in it. With two teams on both front windows (one with an antenna and the other with a coat hanger), it was a race to complete the task. Ultimately, the door was pried open with two drum sticks and with the coat hanger bent into a hook on the end, the passenger side team was able to snag the lock and pull it up. This was obviously celebrated with football and Frisbee in the parking lot with Handgrenades, who were also there. It may have also involved Saturday afternoon parking lot beers.
After a stop at Kroger, Starbucks, getting some Mexican food and going their separate ways for a bit, Valentiger reconvened at Cadieux Cafe in Detroit where they'd be playing for the night. Bill had some mussels but no one did feather bowling, which they also feature. Regardless, the Michigan game may have killed the shows momentum but the smaller crowd was super attentive and appreciative. Valentiger was surely glad to have shared the bill with Royal Grand who simply had excellent sound and songwriting skills. The boys played the room somewhere in between Dow Gardens scale and full-blown Bemo's rock. T’was a nice atmosphere where there was 'no need to entertain;' Valentiger could simply play their songs and enjoy the music.
While Bill stayed on the east side of the state, Shirey and Rider made the long trek home, returning to Grand Rapids at 4:30AM. With just a few hours of sleep they would turn around and play another 'matinee' show at Creston Brewery. Yet again, they would have to adjust the sound and set list for another version of Valentiger. The two played as a duo consisting of a full drum kit and Shirey with his '77 Fender MusicMaster through a Supro 1600 Supreme. Given the fact the two have been playing music together for 20 years, they decided to have some fun with the two-hour set, choosing some very deep, early cuts and adding in some obscure covers the two only play as a pair. Some of the tunes included the band's cuts from 2000, 'Let Me Know' and 'Golden Moment' as well as The Doors' 'Love Street,' Pink Floyd's 'Wot's Uh the Deal,' and Neil Young's 'Burned.' One curve ball came as they almost finished their set - a request for their own 'In Your Head' from 2005. It was honored on a dare, and from there the boys made it out alive as Shirey coupled it with 'Married to Change' from the same record.
Now, Valentiger got a little rest for three days but were scheduled to appear at the Grand Rapids Public Library for their Music in the Stacks series. Once again, the fellas molded their sound to the room. Shirey and Rider had their same setup from Creston, but now Bill was in the mix with a whole new set of songs. With sound at a pin-drop (as it is a library) the band flowed through selections from their catalog at a volume and intimacy seldom seen and in such a unique setting. With light banter and a connection with the audience, they broke through what might be a potentially awkward situation for another act - except for when they attempted to explain the band name at request. Though there is no good story for it, Shirey did liken it to Tom Arnold; you can think about that for a few days.
And so Valentiger yet again parted ways on a Thursday after a nice string of shows, thankful for everyone who appeared, listened, chatted and imbibed. These guys have always been a band who enjoyed the live show; the other half of making music - sharing and performing it in real time. There really is nothing quite like it on both ends. And if you still want to see Valentiger morph into eight hours of continuous music with no repeats - catch them at the Beer, Wine and Food Festival at DeVos Place November 16 and 17. Should be a barn-burner.