Erica Rivera was thrilled to cover Mark Mallman's Marathon III as a guest blogger for City Pages' Gimme Noise. Read Rivera's four hour shift (below) and the rest of the 72-hour live blog on the City Pages website.
MARK MALLMAN MARATHON III LIVE BLOG
Special guest blogger Erica Rivera
2:25 p.m. The mood is mellow but the bass is thumping in the Turf Club this afternoon. A lot of Twin Citians have sacrificed an 80-degree afternoon to join Mallman on his jouney.
The current theme is "repeat" and the tunes are freakishly reminiscent of something I heard at Chuck E. Cheese as a child or at the culmination of a video game.
"The less sleep I get, the more my words mix," Mallman says. "But I know what this is. This is this...Let me tell you something my friends. I'm sorry for what I've done."
2:35 p.m. "Do not start a keyboard war, whatever you do," Mallman warns keyboard player James Tyler O'Neill. O'Neill obeys and sips his drink while Mallman pounds away.
2:46 p.m. Erik Hess and I are bopping along to the beat in the back booth. The "Blood Flow" title of this portion of the marathon seems especially apt right now. The musicians onstage are a collective heart, pumping life into Mallman's mission. It's a shame I can't boogie and blog at the same time, because this is sweet dancing music!
2:59 p.m. A blonde toddler is playing peek-a-boo over the booth as Mallman winds down the current set--by amping up the volume. It's pure funk.
"My brain is split in two. I feel like just ending it," Mallman says. "But this is a carnal calling. The wild, wild, heat and the blood...the lust, the lust in my fingertips...Ecstasy. Ecstasy. Ecstasy."
3:05 p.m. Joe Spencer, the arts director for the City of St. Paul, is in the house with a proclamation. Spencer joins Mallman onstage and reads a framed document verbatim. It includes the statement "Whereas Mark Mallman is totally AWESOME." (Yes, it's written in all caps on the official document.)
A roar of applause echoes through the room when Thursday, October 7th to Sunday, October 10th are declared Mark Mallman Days in the City of St. Paul.
"I don't feel like I should accept this, but I will," Mallman says humbly. "I was just gonna quit! Now I have to keep on rocking."
3:23 p.m. The last changeover made me nervous. Call it experimental...or just noisy. Mallman transitioned from his "Newspaper Man" refrain to a ditty about the pizza man to the Fed Ex man to a roundabout narrative about a Whatchamacallit candy bar. Guitarist Terry Eason to the rescue! Along with Justin Smith on bass and Melvin III on drums, the tunes are back on track. These dudes can jam! As for Mallman? Still on the food theme.
"I'm going to quote Jimi Hendrix," he says, apropos of nothing. "I'm going to eat a salad."
3:46 p.m. Ian Rans of Drinking with Ian fame joins Mallman onstage.
"What's the longest you've stayed awake?" Mallman asks him when Ian finishes chewing whatever edible he's stolen from Mallman's table.
"Twenty-six hours," Ian says.
"And were you playing an instrument?"
"I played bass very poorly."
"Have you ever...um..." Mallman sighs. "I don't know. I just wanted to bring you up here."
4 p.m. We've hit the 48-hour mark! The crowd, which has grown considerably in the last hour, cheers "Mallman! Mallman! Mallman!" Familiar faces from the Twin Cities music scene abound, including Sean Tillman (Har Mar Superstar) and frontman Ryan McNally from Speed's The Name.
4:11 p.m. Casey Call, Joe Gamble, David LeDuc, and Joe Call, also known as Indie rock band Pictures of Then, take the stage. After a chorus or two about corn fields, Mallman turns to the boys, who are wailing away on their instruments, and waxes poetic about a giant pickle. Coincidence? I think not.
LeDuc doesn't either.
"What are you trying to say with that?" LeDuc asks Mallman as he leans into the mic.
Mallman mutters something about a baseball metaphor, then returns to the safer route of barking out chords. Pictures of Then are, per Erik Hess, "tearing it up!"
4:22 p.m. "Do a solo," Mallman instructs Pictures of Then. " 'Cause I've got to do a solo." Mallman couldn't have picked a better set in which to take a bathroom break. These guys can hold down a stage like nobody's business.
When Mallman returns, it's face-melting time. Joe Gamble pulls out all the stops on his guitar; how the strings stay in-tact with his fierce strumming, I don't know. The crowd is hooting, hollering, and whistling. The jam builds, ebbs, and builds again. The blood is really thumping now. To describe the tunes as "aggressive" would be an understatement.
4:31 p.m. Mallman is devouring the energy from Pictures of Then. He's back on his feet--make that on top of his chair, screaming into the mic. It's like he's just woken up from the trance of the last few hours.
4:48 p.m. Suddenly Mallman shifts into role play mode. He's interviewing David LeDuc about an imaginary newspaper job. LeDuc goes along with the skit as well as he can but it's obvious he really wants to get back to what he does best: rocking the roof off.
When Pictures of Then gets back to business ...well, there are no words. At least not ones I'm allowed to use on this blog. It's all I can do not to jump up on the bar and whip off at least one article of clothing.
5:05 p.m. Hello, cello! Dan Zamzow introduces a new instrument to the Saturday lineup. Visually, it looks out of place; aurally, it blends seamlessly into the music.
"And now, a man who needs no introduction," Mallman announces, turning to guitarist Kermit Carter. After a pause (intentional or not, I can't tell), Mallman says "Tell me your name again?"
5:33 p.m. Until today, I eschewed ear plugs. After only two-and-a-half hours of Mallman's marathon, I'm seriously considering running over to CVS to buy a pair. Then again, I wouldn't want to risk missing a moment of music making history while in line at the drug store. If I go deaf before dinnertime tonight, I blame aforementioned Carter and Zamzow, Adam Harness (on drums) and Joe Holland (bass).
5:54 p.m. If you haven't experienced the marathon up-close-and-personal yet, it's time to get down to the Turf. Mallman is riding along on his second wind at breakneck speed, enthusiastic dancers have flocked toward the stage, and the guitars keep getting louder and louder. The latest set ended with Mallman's impromptu rendition of "the captain", gyrating pelvis and all. It's only going to get wilder from here on out...
6:19 p.m. "I'm all right," Mallman reassures guitarist Eric Kassel in a chorus that focuses on transformation. The transformation over the course of the last four hours is mind boggling. Before my eyes, Mallman has morphed from weary traveler to fearless warrior. There's no looking back now; the hardest part of this epic experiment is over and there's no doubt that he's going to finish this marathon stronger than he started.
6:53 p.m. After hitting a fever pitch, Mallman asks Kassel, bassist Matt Johnson and drummer Wendy Lynn Staats to slow down the tempo. Half-singing, half-speaking, Mallman lays the gratitude--to his creative muses, his attentive audience, and his talented musicians--on thick. Between bites of a Pink Lady, Mallman croons about hope, peace, and defeating fear.
The mood has shifted, turning more introspective as the sun goes down outside. I'm ready for a change of pace as well. As jaw-dropping as this afternoon has been, my eyes and ears are aching for a break. Tremendous thanks to Andrea Swensson for letting me man the blog this afternoon. Rock on, Mallman! I'll see you at the finish line!
Published on City Pages' Gimme Noise blog in October 2010