Monday, August 31, 2009

Ida + Babe The Blue Ox @ Clifford The Big Red House (Oct. 21, 1996)

So. A long time ago, a band called Ida released a 7" record with a song called "It's Not Alright" that I used to play over and over again on my radio show at WVFI. It was a simple song, repetitive, so unlike most of the math-rock and prog-rock I loved, but it stuck with me. So started a temporary love affair with that band's music, reaching its zenith with the song "Tellings" from I Know About You. I think I put that one on every mixtape (that's right, TAPE) I made in the mid-to-late 90s before CD burners became the norm.

Before that, I was introduced to this crazy little trio called Babe The Blue Ox. I'm pretty sure it was during a marathon here's-some-music-I-think-you'd-like session courtesy of Joe C. right at the end of freshman year. I was hooked from the opening minute of "Home" ("give me a house where/our home can live"). I played "Chicken Head Bone Sucker" on every single one of my radio shows for the next three years. Another song, "Waiting For Water To Boil," became (like Ida's "Tellings" above) a mixtape (yes, TAPE) regular.

Fast forward to the Fall of 1996. Jim M. is excited that he was able to convince Ida and Babe The Blue Ox to play at Notre Dame. For some reason, however, the usual venues for visiting bands (SMC's Dalloways Coffeehouse, the ballroom at LaFortune, let alone Stepan Center) were not available. What was available? Our basement. Max capacity? Oh probably around 50 audience members, plus the band, plus our washer and dryer. A perfect place for a band fresh off its major label (RCA) debut (Babe's People), don't you think?

There seemed to be an unusual amount of excitement leading up to the show. Recent grads who had settled back in Chicago or somewhere in Ohio were coming back into town to see these bands. It was to be this legendary house party event. Actually, it did not disappoint, and remains one of my favorite memories of my time in the South Bend Power Nineties music scene. Some highlights:

- an excellent potluck dinner the afternoon before the show
- talking with Hannah, the Babe drummer, about Notre Dame Football whilst she did her laundry in our basement
- Jim M. worried about Doug's probable reluctance to let us use his PA system for the show
- Doug graciously letting us use said PA, along with running the soundboard that evening
- the Ida singer trying to shush the crowd during a quiet segment of one of their songs

- Karla, the bassist for Beekeeper, playing with Ida
- the incredible Babe stompdown, especially the moment when the Ida drummer began dancing in front of Rose, the bassist
- Mike N., our housemate and grad student, coming home in the middle of the show and wondering what the heck was going on (it was our first show at the house, the first of many)
- talking to Tim, Babe guitarist, about their major label experience, in our kitchen after the show
- Finally, Jim M. paying the bands out of his own pocket, because we did not make enough money at the door, because most people gave lame excuses why they could not pay five bucks, but we're nice and let them in anyway. If you see Jim, and you attended this show, and you didn't pay - you owe him $5, plus, oh, 12 years worth of interest.


P.S. I am very happy to say that Ida is still around and Babe The Blue Ox recently reformed in NYC. Go see them.

Ida on MySpace
Ida on
Babe The Blue Ox on MySpace
Babe The Blue Ox on


doug said...

Sad I missed this show as I was in California for fall break. I did see Ida the other time they came through South Bend, when they played with Retsin and Ruby Falls at the Estate on Angela.

Ryan said...

oh I love Ida. I picked up one of their newer records a couple years ago and it was really great. I still have that first green 7"

Many of you may remember I moved to NYC for a couple of years after I got out of ND. One night I went to the westbeth to see Ida and I remember Dan saying "the last time we played this one was in a basement in South Bend, Indiana." And I smiled.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea any of this was going on, caught up as I was somewhere between just starting to date my girlfriend at the time and my new job schedule. So I came home one evening to find a crowd of people floating around the house and Babe The Blue Ox in my basement. And I just floated in to the back of the crowd on a current of surreality.

The Contrarian said...

Ida is still going strong and has released some fantastic tunes in recent years. I'm glad to see that SB Had a hand in their success.

Mike L. said...

Jim M. played clarinet with Ida when they played at IOTA in Arlington, oh back in 1999 or 2000 or so. Good folks.

isntthiswherewe said...

Wow. I had no idea that there were questions about whether I would let you guys use the PA. That's what it was there for. :-)

My other favorite memory of this show is the BTBO drummer giving me all sorts of shit about the mic stand she was stuck using, and about me doing sound, in general. I don't think she was pleased. But I loved it.

(And that's me in one of those pictures, crouched up on a table near where the soundboard was tucked. It was the only room in the basement. I wish I'd had a camera because it was wall to wall people down there just past where the bands were standing to play.

Chris N. said...

BTW, if you have kids, Elizabeth Mitchell from Ida makes great kids records, esp. "You Are My Little Bird."