[Echo Chamber (′ek·ō ′chām·bər): noun, 1. a dedicated space for the purposes of transmission and repetition of sound 2. a video segment that features your favorite bands playing your favorite songs 3. a video segment where your favorite bands blow your mind].
Words by Jim
Artist / Good Night, States
Songs / “Ceilings” & “Fog in the Valley”
Location / Eastminster Presbyterian Church (250 N. Highland Avenue)
Time / October 10, 2011
Good Night, States was one of the first local bands we covered when we started this whole thing. I’d heard them a few times on the radio and caught one of their few-and-far-between local shows. They’ve been diligently working on a new album for a long time now and with parts of the band in New Jersey, they’re an elusive bunch. So when Mr. Percussion (Dan Harding) let me know the whole band would be together and ready to play in early October, we made sure to capitalize on the situation.
Dan and the rest of the band had a date picked out and a location prepared. Easiest. Scheduling. Ever. He described the location as a “hallway filled with stained glass” and he wasn’t kidding. I arrived at the church in East Liberty a bit after lunch on an Indian Summer saturday, greeted by opened doors and the smell of paint thinner (some church maintenance must have commenced fair recently). J had already arrived and once again impressed me with his punctuality. Michael was en route, but picked another church in the area by mistake (easy to do). We played phone tag until Dan got him going in the right direction. Meanwhile, I stood gaping down a forever hallway painted with stained glass. Beautiful.
Steve, Trevor, Megan, and Dan had everything set up, but we decided to re-arrange to allow Michael some space to move around. The band was using a big, dusty, piano, so we rolled it around and built everything around it. Rebecca showed up to take pictures and gracefully floated around as we worked. The band had been practicing all morning for our shoot and an evening house show, so they were primed and ready. We launched into “Inside” and got out bearings. Keyboards bounced off the old wooden pews. Steve’s crisp vocals found a home among the cascading colors of stained glass. J was happy with the setup and the mix and Michael felt good about his stocking feet camera work.
The song sounded terrific. After a good take, we took a break and the band heated up leftovers and tea while we marveled at all their little toys. Bags of percussion-ey goodies, a floor tom kick pedal, an old reed piano and a tiny handheld radio. Soon, bellies were full and minds were re-focused. The band launched into the funky piano riff of “Ceilings”.
I’d never seen a glockenspiel handled with such precision and intensity. Damnit. After every take, we could hear the industrial electronic hipster sounds of VIA all the way inside the church. We took a few minutes to grab some water, winding our way through the many anterooms of the church. Other activities were going on in other places that day, but we were sealed and secluded in our mile of stained glass. Rebecca stuck around, grabbing shots of instruments and other awesomeness. Everything felt right. The band was really clicking and everyone was feeling good (maybe from the paint thinner, but we’ll blame it on the music). We decided to do one more and it was called “Fog in the Valley”.
Thank goodness we did. What a song. What a performance. Time stopped as we entered some sort of vacuum. The space in the song was gorgeous, with epic pauses between Megan’s piano chords as big as a valley (pun intended). Dan’s eyes were closed as he crunched a bag of clicking, clinking, randomness. Steve’s vocals floated up and out the bell tower and straight to the heavens. I remember these 5 minutes vividly. I was barely breathing, crouching down behind J’s audio gear, peering through the jungle of cables. Every note and every chord was powerful but delicate. Steve’s restrained vocals were sad, but exuberant. I recall looking over at J standing next to me and without words we communicated “wow”. After the first few takes, I wore my heart on my sleeve and told Dan, Megan, Trevor, and Steve that what they just did was breathtaking and perfect and I wasn’t joking.
After we came to our senses, we pulled the space back to what it was originally – a conduit to other locations within the church – leaving only the memory of Good Night, States’s music behind. We sorted cables. We rotated pianos and shuffled creaking wooden pews back in place. We packed up the cars, discussed upcoming shows and their impending house party, shaking hands and administering hugs. I thought a lot about “Fog in the Valley” days afterwards and how it hit me. That memory’s going to stay with me for quite a while. Thanks you, Good Night, States.
We can’t thank the administration of Eastminster Presbyterian Church enough for letting us rearrange and explore their beautiful stained glass hallway.
See more amazing photos from the shoot here thanks to the talented Rebecca Chiappelli.