I'm going to be honest. I've always kind of hated the State of Ohio. Maybe it's just that I haven't given it a chance, but I've had really bad travel experiences there. I've gotten lost; I've had rough nights crammed in a dorm room there; I've had car trouble there -- you name it. Besides, who do they think they are having like five major cities, anyway? Texas??? I don't think so. Either way, everything about the place is kind of tainted for me. Even the music.
But luckily for Youngstown, Ohio-based, cheesy-electro-pop duo Gil Mantera's Party Dream, I have a good story. And it has NOTHING to do whatsoever with the State of Ohio...
Dateline 2006: It was a cold January evening in Champaign, IL. My then-band had booked a show at the Cowboy Monkey, a relatively unassuming but notable rock club on the good ol' Urbana/Champaign circuit. We were eager to give it our best shot, even though it was a Tuesday night. Feeling relatively good because we'd been gigging around that town for awhile, I remember feeling fairly confident that we'd get the place comfortably full and maintain our reputation in town. And besides, we weren't even the headliners that night. Instead, it was a curious band from Ohio that called itself Gil Mantera's Party Dream. Surely they would lend a hand filling the joint. I mean, that's just how it works, right?
Wrong. No one came.
We wrapped our doomed little set and settled in for drinks and cigarettes at one of the tall bar tables, wondering who the fuck this Gil Mantera character was and grumbling that he hadn't packed in the patrons that his headlining spot promised, when two of the drunken ne’er-do-wells who had been sitting at the bar all night rose, donned cowboy hats and panchos, and took to the stage, announcing themselves as Gil Mantera and Ultimate Donny and explaining that this was the first night of a lengthy tour and that, upon realizing that no one was really coming out to their inauspicious tour kick-off for their newest record called Bloodsongs on the Audio Eagle label, they had decided to just get drunk and play some of their favorite songs instead.
And with those remarks (as well as a few choice others), hilarity ensued as those two rubes from Youngstown, Ohio proceeded to stumble about the stage, bicker non-stop with one another between songs about which one of them was really the "talented one," serenade us all with goofy new electro-pop cuts like "Elmo's Wish," strip to their underwear, cover halves of Billy Joel songs, demand more drinks from the bar into the mics, and argue with various members of the audience (i.e., us) about their favorite Van Damme movies. (We thought that Bloodsport was the clear-cut #1. Gil Mantera's Party Dream disagreed.) It ended up being one of the coolest, most memorable shows I've ever been to, despite the fact that I ended up seeing much more near-nudity than I'd bargained for.
There. Now, if that ringing endorsement doesn't make you want to run to your nearest DVD emporium on February 5, 2008 to purchase a copy of the forthcoming comedy-of-errors-documenting live DVD, Gil Mantera's Party Dream: Live Video Archive (Volume 1), which apparently contains most-assuredly outlandish and hilarious footage of two shows (a 2004 set at Chicago's Fireside Bowl and a 2006 show at Chicago's Empty Bottle), then I don't know what will.
Oh, and, uh, just in case you were hoping to see them in person instead, there's a whole mess of live dates coming up this holiday season too. They'll even have copies of the DVD on tour, which will also be on sale for a limited time at their online store. Yeah, some of the tourdates are in Ohio, but it's okay, you can go anyway. But if you DO see those guys, tell them Bloodsport rules.
Dates on which you CAN'T schedule the office x-mas party: