In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.
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MICROTONES by Scott Gordon, editor-in-chief and publisher
A street in Minneapolis. Laura Larson of the Twin Cities band Kitten Forever stands on the sidewalk holding up a cup of cold brew and calls out “coffee!” The camera pans down the street, where Madison musician Tyler Fassnacht is rounding the corner at a run. Fassnacht gets to Larson, grabs the coffee, and takes a sip. He makes an exaggerated sigh of satisfaction and turns to the camera with a weird grin.
This Instagram video is among the more elaborate installments of “first sip of the day.” It’s literally just a series of short videos where Fassnacht collaborates with his Proud Parents and The Hussy bandmate Heather Sawyer to capture his first sip of coffee most days that he’s on tour with those outfits or his other band, Fire Heads. That’s it. That’s the whole bit. And the two musicians have stuck to it these past couple years with the kind of delirious commitment that life on the road seems to breed.
“It kind of breaks up the monotony of tour,” Sawyer explains. “One time I was touring in Australia with Nobunny and I bought some really really good baklava in Melbourne. It was so effin good that I bought some for Justin [Champlin, aka Nobunny] and I took a picture of the exact moment he bit in because I wanted to see his genuine reaction. It kind of came from that idea. And me and Tyler’s love for coffee.”
Usually the first sip is of cold brew, which Fassnacht prefers year-round (it’s easier on the stomach and a reliable way to caffeinate, people!), though hot coffee shows up every so often. Once, in Cincinnati, Sawyer tricked Fassnacht with decaf. Other installments of “first sip of the day” have involved subway stations, surprise bandmate appearances, and record-store browsing. Sometimes a very patient server gets in on the act as well.
I kind of don’t care if these videos portray Fassnacht’s actual first sip of the day. It’s hard to imagine delaying that first cup of coffee just for the sake of a bit, however delightful it may be, and the appeal of this is more about the performance than about authenticity. That said, Fassnacht insists that he’s pretty disciplined about it.
“I do take it pretty seriously,” Fassnacht says. “I want the sips to be honest and the joy of taking that first sip of coffee for the day to be true.”
Earlier this week, he ended up having to do a “second sip” video in which he confesses that he “got too excited and already took a sip” before the camera was rolling. Well, it happens. The demand for fresh sip content also leads Fassnacht and his tourmates to discover good coffee places on the road. He particularly recommends Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis and Chaparrall Coffee in Lockhart, Texas.
New this week:
Dayna Long reports on Madison socialist groups’ efforts to make an impact in local government.
Henry Solo and Hunter Reed report on the ups and downs of Prism Dance Club’s efforts to shake off the bad old days of Plan B.
The Record Store Dropouts podcast talks with Erin Fein of Psychic Twin.
On a podcast short, we bid farewell to illustrator Rachal Duggan.
Elsewhere on the Madison internet: Fishing with Sid Boyum. Room Of One’s Own co-owner Gretchen Treu talks with the Biblio Happy Hour podcast. Our Livesreports that the Madison Mallards have cut ties with Chick-Fil-A, over the fast-food chain’s support for anti-gay groups. Vocalist Leslie Damaso and Pianist Jason Kutz visit WORT’s Back Porch Serenade. Madison native and journalist David Maraniss talks with Chris Hayes.
This week’s Madison calendar: Charlie Jane Anders and G. Willow Wilson kick off WisCon. Death-metal trio Ossuary celebrates a new EP at Bos Meadery. And more.