DV Cam: Agent Kula
Digital Photography: Agent Todd
Mission Inspired by: Agent Lee
Featuring: Lee, Kula, Todd, Dippold, Leonard, Ace$Thugg, King, Montague, Marhekifson, Becket, Jester, Lang, Harms, Taylor, Been, Gill, Fite, Collis, V, Rosenthal, Ward, Conner, Tuculescu, Cooper, Wright, Godwin, Nawrocki, Verdugo, Lodwick, White, + more
PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in October 2004. The This American Life episode about this project first aired in April of 2005 and has recently been rerun. While you’re here, please check out our more recent projects.
Agent Lee approached me a few weeks ago with a wonderfully simple idea. “Best gig ever,” he said. “Pick a struggling rock band and turn their small gig into the best show of their lives.” We had already thrown a birthday party for a stranger; why not throw an awesome concert for an unknown band?
Best Gig Ever mastermind, Agent Lee
October 13 , 2004
the band is sounding very tight and getting pretty energetic.
the new songs are in that vein of pop.
(think elvis costello/wilco/elliot smith/george harrison/elephant 6/
apples in stereo/flaming lips/suede/radiohead)
Empty Club. The people on the left would leave moments after this photo.
The crowd starts to form
3 Normal Paying Customers
35 IE Agents
If we hadn’t of been there, GOP would have either cancelled or played a show for 3 people.
Milo Finch – Vocals, Keys, Guitar
Brad Vargo – Bass
Chris Partyka – Guitar
Ezra Oklan – Drums
Two IE Agents boasted “Pasha” temporary tattoos
Agent Montague holds up a lighter during the evening’s first ballad.
(photo taken at a slow shutter speed, of course)
IE Agents groove along
An IE Agent on the shoulders of his friend, chicken fight style!
Agent Jester wore a GOP shirt he made using the logo from their site
Agents Dippold and Montague (also wearing a GOP shirt) rock out!
Agent V hugs lead singer Milo as the gig ends
Agent Montague decorated his forehead with “Pasha”
Partial group photo
The gig began simply enough. IE Agents had been deployed at strategic points throughout the crowd–scratch that, we were the entire crowd–and excitement was in the air. We lustily applauded the band’s entrance, but kept a solid base of reality established. There was whooping between songs, clapping to the beat, the occasional scream of “Pashaaaaa!” But before too long, the intoxicating effects of Hot Rock Action had gone to our heads and things went a little batshit.
After the second number (and hometown fave) “New York, New York,” the crowd had worked itself to a fever pitch. Never mind the music–even the most meager attempts at between-song stage banter received a chorus of raucous roars. And the moment the band began honoring our requests for the two or three songs we knew from their website, the pogoing madness truly began in earnest. Mishmashed dance moves from all genres broke out all around me–moshing, air drumming, hippie shimmying, kung-fu chop-socky, booty-grinding, even a wildly careening round of chicken-fighting. It was like David Lee Roth was fronting The Beatles at Studio 54.
For their part, the band leaders fed off our energy and took their performance to the next level of ROCK. The dimunitive, bearded lead singer especially seemed to bask in the glory, maybe for the first time truly doing his best frontman impression. By the time he was writhing around on the ground with the mic stand while the guitarist ripped out a solo astride his face, I could’ve sworn I was watching David Bowie and Mick Ronson reenact their famously homoerotic moves.
Unfortunately, only half of the band seemed to totally buy into their hero’s welcome. The rhythm section seemed nonplussed if not overtly skeptical. Several times I had to avert my eyes from the suspicious glare of the drummer. To be fair, though, the bass player’s sullen demeanor may have been due to his upholding the traditional Bassist Oath of Stoicism.
No matter. When the band left the stage after their supposed last number, they all gladly returned for an encore as our collective chant of “ONE MORE SONG!” rattled the rafters. Apparently they didn’t even have any uptempo songs left. We didn’t care, though–we just ripped our shirts off and spazzed out to a grungy power ballad. As the last cymbal crashed, one particularly effusive super-fan leapt on stage to hug the lead singer. I couldn’t quite make it out in the rosy haze of the klieg lights, but he seemed to be mouthing, “Thank you, thank you.”
In that moment, I knew. Truly the gods of Rock Valhalla had lifted their golden goblets that night to toast a hearty “Skoal” to these mere mortals, and, with a little help from their IE friends, turned a quiet Sunday night gig into a hot, sweaty, transcendent Big Dumb Rock Show.
As I walked into the venue, I was a little hesitant about the mission. The space was bigger than expected so I was worried about filling up the place. The moment when I knew the night would be a success, was when I couldn’t help but join in the crowd – clapping and dancing to the beat of the drum during their sound check! They all sort of looked at each other, no knowing what exactly was happening.
The lead singer, Milo, took to the stage singing his songs as normal. Between the first and second songs, the crowd started chanting…”PASHA…..PASHA!!!!” to which Milo chanted back in the mic “AUDIENCE….AUDIENCE….!!” followed by a laugh.
By the fourth or fifth song, Milo had his rock star moves down pat – with his two hands on the mic singing his lyrics through the hair in his face. The crowd loved it – moshing and jumping were almost involuntary as the guitarist ripped through the songs.
I think my favorite part of the set was when Milo laid down while the guitarist straddled over him – playing their instruments so passionately.
Milo became a bit more comfortable with the crowd – acting almost as if he was alone in his room, practicing in front of the mirror. I noticed some of his band members, laughing and shaking their heads as he got a bit wild with his singing and movements.
A few shirts came off in the crowd, followed by some interpretive dancing. One crowd member even jumped up on stage and hugged Milo out of pure joy.
At the end of their set, for some reason the guitarist did some sort of stage dive off the stage, into a crowd of like 4 people deep. Nobody caught him, exactly, it was more of a tumble with beer spilling everywhere. The rest of the band members were trying to make a quick exit off to the right, before the crowd stopped them by chanting, “ENCORE ….ENCORE! ONE MORE SONG….ONE MORE SONG!!!”
They looked pleased as they did one last song, to which Milo kneeled down to let the crowd touch his hand.
At the end of the last song, CD’s were handed out, and the crowd started fighting for them. Fists were pumping in a sort of celebration, for those who actually got a CD.
I thought it was awesome to see how the lead singer (and the rest of the band, for the most part) got more and more into their own show based on our loud cheering and applause. The ultimate was getting them to do an encore. They definitely did not have one planned, as one of the guitarist’s foolishly threw his pick into the audience at the end of their last song. Sadly, I do not think they saw my custom made “GOP” t-shirt, but no matter. I’ll hold onto it until its worth millions, and then I’ll sell it on eBay.
I was told that the idea behind this mission was that it should be the best gig ever, so I just approached it with that mindset. I just kept telling myself “This is so awesome! These guys are amazing!” My brain totally bought it and released a bunch of wacky chemicals into my bloodstream that allowed me to thrash around like I was having the time of my life. At one point Agent Lodwick and I executed our signature “guy on another guy’s shoulders” party maneuver, which got things pretty hyped up (at least for me).
There weren’t many secondary targets to see or hear reactions from. It was mainly just the IE squad, but the band really seemed to love the energy we were giving to them. Microphones were thrown, crotch-in-face guitar riffs were played, and it probably was indeed the best gig ever.
Last night was a blast. I really don’t think the band had any inkling that the crowd was staged. From what I saw they REALLY got into the cheering and chanting. At one point some of the people around me started chanting “G.O.P…G.O.P.” and the band leader started chanting back “audience….audience.” That was classic.
I especially enjoyed the part where the lead singer started writhing on the ground and the lead guitarist took the opportunity to straddle him and start soloing over him. That would never have happened without crowd encouragement. Good show!
Everyone was very jazzed from the get-go. By the second song, the whole audience was very Hare Krishna – a lot of repetitive dance movements and loud clapping. I believe it was the 4th song when an IE agent took the close-up photo of lead singer Milo with his camera phone and after that the audience and band seemed to step it up a notch.
I believe it was when the two IE agents where on each other’s shoulders in a chicken-fight pose that Milo and the guitarist got on the ground to rock out -and from that point on- they were fully invested in their performance, which in turn, got us more hyped.
I felt compelled to take off my shirt during the encore. This was only partly due to me being really hot from dancing all night, but mostly to pay homage to the band for doing an encore song…even though we all knew they had no songs left to sing.
I’m still not sure what the band thought of us. There were moments of “This is an awesome crowd!” I remember one moment when Agent King shouted out a request for “Shut In”. One song later, Pasha answered the call. Maybe the lead singer was trying to tell us something with his encore, which repeated over and over again “You’ll never know what you’ve done to me.”
Last night, Ghosts of Pasha played a show of a lifetime.
Lead singer Milo Finch and the rest of the band seemed rather shy as they were warming up. Perhaps a little nervous that they were playing at the world famous Mercury Lounge for the first time. Little did they know that the Improv Everywhere agents, filling about half of the concert space, were dedicated not only to being entertained, but also to entertaining them. Cooperative Dynamics at work!
It took a couple songs for the band to realize that this NYC crowd was a great one. The people were bobbing and dancing to their songs, singing loudly to their lyrics, moshing even a bit. What flattery! But not dishonest flattery–hey, I was enjoying their music, and others were too. It was a great time for all.
Milo loosened up and connected with the audience the more we connected with him and the band. Supportive shouts of “G.O.P.! G.O.P.!” got him to smile. At one time, I started pounding my fist in the air chanting “PASHA! PASHA! PASHA!” and the whole crowd joined in. Milo was absorbing it all. I think the band was a little mesmerized. “Who the hell are we?” must have gone through each of the band member’s heads as they thought about themselves as a band. “We seem to be awesome.” “I’m just a guy, but it seems I’m a god,” must have been in Milo’s head.
Who wasn’t delighted by some of G.O.P.’s displays?! The memorable “Milo lies supine, Chris jams on guitar over top of him” was perhaps the biggest crowd pleaser, but getting to touch Milo’s hand when he approached the lip of the stage was pretty awesome for me, especially with all the other agent-fans swarming around him for their own coveted fondling of the lead singer. I remember the first time Milo got rowdy with his singing, suddenly slamming the mike to the ground. We all were thrilled by that sudden, rebellious emotional display from the seemingly stoic rocker.
After the band’s set was done, I gang rushed the stage to snag a set list. I gloated to a few other people in the crowd that I grabbed it, a rush similar to the times I’d fished They Might Be Giants set lists off the very same Mercury Lounge stage. I sadly learned later that it was the set list for another band that played earlier that night. Foiled!
We succeeded in bringing the band back up to play another song. Who knows whether it was a new song or old; many of us were trying to sing along. Later we had joyous conversations thinking about what must have gone through the drummer’s head when he saw us singing lyrics to songs they may have created only yesterday.
The lights came up and I evacuated, following Agent Todd. A mission that proved more exciting than I imagined. Ghosts of Pasha were great. Go see ’em.
I haven’t been to a concert in ages, so it took me a little while to get into the groove and start to move. Once I relaxed, I found the music really easy to jump around to and there were a lot of natural moments that were begging for some high-pitched “Whooooooo!”-ing, so I quickly relaxed into the role of eager, excited Ghosts of Pasha fan.
The band was pretty good, so I felt my reactions were honest (if a little exaggerated). I pogo-ed during the up-tempo songs and swayed and emoted during the slow ones. I applauded and screamed at the end of every song and went crazy whenever one of the band members said anything directed at the crowd. I was so into it that at one point someone (not an IE agent) asked me if I was going to talk to the band afterwards. I guess he assumed that if I was THAT into their music, I must be a friend. I said, “I don’t know. Why?” He then passed me a note and asked if I could give it to the guys because he had to leave early. I said yes, hoping it would give me a chance to chat up the band after the show. After their last song, G.O.P. quickly bolted from the stage, although the crowd had already begun calling for an encore. As the singer was making his way toward the back, I stopped him to give him the note.
“A friend of yours wanted me to give this to you guys.”
He just stared at me, confused, as the crowd chanted “One more song!”
“It’s a note, from your friend.”
“Huh?” The chanting became louder and more frenzied.
“It’s a note!” “One more song! One more song! One more song!”
“What are you saying?”
“A friend of you guys … he wanted me to give you this NOTE! He had to leave early! It’s from your FRIEND!”
As one of the other dudes pulled him back on stage, he took the note, still looking a little dazed at everything that was going on. They played their impromptu encore and the crowd quickly dispersed. I hope that, even if the band didn’t believe we were genuine G.O.P. fans, they at least appreciated our efforts and took our exuberance and support as something positive. After all, while their “real” friend left early, we stayed and danced and cheered and called for encores. We got nothin’ but love for you, G.O.P. Nothin’ but love.
The band was doing their thing, and I could tell they were feeling the excitement from the crowd, then at about the third song, they started ROCKING OUT!!!!! Mic stand was thrown, sweat flying, hair everywhere, rockstar facial expressions!!!! It was awesome!!!
At one point someone kind of landed on me and I was shoved really hard, when I looked up, the guitar player was climbing back onto the stage; he must have thrown himself off the stage in a fit of Rock `N’ Roll passion!!!
Audience: “G.O.P.! G.O.P.! G.O.P.! G.O.P.! G.O.P.!”
Lead singer: “Yeah, We’re G.O.P., the good kind!!!!”
Audience: “Wooooh!!! YEAH!! Alright!!!!!”
Well, I don’t know if we gave Ghosts Of Pasha their Best Gig Ever, but we certainly gave them their weirdest gig ever…with shirtless moshers and painted faces and over-the-top rawk antics.
Things I noticed:
- Drummer very suspicious of Agent Kula’s filming.
- Guitar player throwing his pic into the crowd and then needing to borrow one from the lead singer for the encore.
- Lead singer totally rocked it out.
I feel we really rocked out with our cocks out. We came, we saw, we moshed. My neck was definitely sore the next day from head banging, which I haven’t done since middle school. The free CD was an exciting bonus. Who knows G.O.P. might be the next band to change the face of rock.
Agent Nawrocki and I went straight to Mercury Lounge, arriving at about 10:15. The place was pretty low key, so we each purchased a beverage and then went into the back room. GOP was just beginning to set up and the scene was pretty dead. Then shortly before the band went on more people started to file in. Agent Nawrocki and I took our places, falling into the role of “girls who are feeling the band’s music so much, that they dance at the front of the stage with their eyes closed.” This being said, I didn’t get to see much of what was going on behind us or, hell, even in front of us. But I did see the confused look that passed between some of the band members when they first saw the group of eager onlookers cheering for them. More of these confused looks were exchanged every time they started a new song–and immediately met joyous yells of approval from their devoted fans. By the time they launched into New York, New York, everyone was energized and dancing.
At one point, a woman with “Pasha” tattooed on her back ran to the front and started rocking out with two other guys who were grooving like madmen. The only part of the night that was a little scary was when an IE Agent next to us took off his shirt and started jumping around, even bumping into me at one point. Having a half-naked, sweating dude smack into me normally would have been annoying. But this night was different, special. This was Pasha. How could I possibly be annoyed by a superfan just rocking out like I was?
At the end of the set I ran to the stage and was rewarded with a free CD. By the time I gathered my coat and bag, the band was off stage and the room had cleared. Agent Nawrocki and I went out to the bar area and heard the woman who collected the money at the door and the bartender talking.
“That was so weird!” the money collector said. “I mean, they all just left.”
“Totally strange. Did they carpool together or something?” the bartender asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t think they knew each other. It’s just so weird. I can’t get over how they all just disappeared.”
Upon hearing this exchange, Agent Nawrocki and I made our exit. As we walked toward the subway, we saw a group of four guys standing outside smoking cigarettes. When we realized that they were no ordinary guys, but instead the members of GOP, we yelled, “Great show!” With looks of confusion and amusement on their faces, they said, “Thanks.” I held up my CD and yelled back, “And thanks for the CD.” On the surface, the guys seemed almost freaked out by my eagerness at seeing them on the street. But deep inside I know they really loved us. Possibly feared us. But loved us.
The members of Ghosts of Pasha sent in their own agent reports a few days after someone forwarded them a link to our site. Read it here: Best Gig Ever – Band Response
The remaining two members of Ghosts of Pasha play the IE 5th Anniversary Show nearly two years after this mission: