One Last Party

In early 2003, Lorenzo Goetz frontman Larry Gates wrote lyrics for “Need Words Now,” a velvety sitar groove on the band’s Allure EP. The ambient bass-laced loop unfolds before the song’s opening
lyrics: “I have to make the most of this/Treat it like a catalyst and hope for balance.” With the recent announcement of Lorenzo Goetz’s last shows ever, Dec. 30 and 31 at Cowboy Monkey, these poetic and prophetic lines have gained special relevance.

Bandmates Larry Gates, Jesse Greenlee, Josh Miethe and Eric Fisher have indeed made the most of Lorenzo Goetz’s six-year existence, touring nationally (75,000 miles in 18 states), winning four CU Local Music Awards, and producing two EPs and one LP. Their songs have drawn frequent comparison to those of the Beatles and of Sublime, presumably because of their juxtaposition of unique instrumentation and infectious melody – a typical Goetz song will simultaneously shuffle feet and sway heads in a sing-along splendor. However, Lorenzo Goetz’s greatest achievement, and arguably their most noteworthy contribution to the Champaign-Urbana music scene, has been their consistent presentation of tight, high-energy concerts, the perfect environments in which to taste their tunes. The band twists, turns, ducks and most of all, jumps all over the stage. They are captivating to watch and hear and their music hits you like a peppery fried beet hits the tongue: it’s a spicy attack on the sensoria.

Lorenzo Goetz’s renowned live show has taken six years of cultivation, beginning in 2000, when former Goody Patch guitarist Larry Gates moved to the Champaign-Urbana area with a three-song acoustic demo in his hands. He soon assembled a cast of musicians to help him perform his songs in
a group setting, and by January of 2001, the first incarnation of Lorenzo Goetz had taken the stage. By the spring of 2004, the line-up of Lorenzo Goetz was finalized. Coupled with their discipline and ceaseless energy on stage, the band’s relentless innovation in marketing and networking helped them to gig all over the Midwest and beyond. The band’s group songwriting evolved from filling in parts over Gates’ acoustic skeletons into a holistic creative process, in which every member was able to provide unique contributions as songs were being written. Thus began Lorenzo Goetz’s eclectic amalgamation.

Greenlee’s bouncy and magnetic rhythms and Fisher’s salty bass lines are the shaky and alluring compliments to the Goetz guitar duo of Miethe and Gates. Miethe’s lead guitar effects span from sax to marimba, while Gates opts for vintage twang. Over the often Latin-tinged and concise compositions, Gates drops creative and busy wordplay. He has learned to be lyrically candid and introspective, while also remaining accessible to listeners. The Lorenzo Goetz blend is incredibly fresh, and with their rocking shows and great attitudes, they have earned a huge amount of respect and credibility in the music world.

Lorenzo Goetz’s musical balance was first called “party music for people who think too much,” in a review of their latest release, The Heavy EP, but Gates has marketed the band with the curious slogan ever since. According to Gates, the quote applies to the band in that “groovy instrumentation accompanies lyrical depth.” The party has shared the stage with such acts as G-Love and Special Sauce and Chuck Berry, musical moments that are among Gates’ proudest, along with taking home the CU Local Music Award for Best Rock Band in 2005 and 2006, Best Overall Band in 2005 and Best Male Performer in 2006.

Intangible, however, are Lorenzo Goetz’s most important effects on the community. Gates takes great pride in having provided an example for other local acts regarding the resilience and integrity it takes to play 300 shows. He has supported many local acts such as Ryan Groff of elsinore, who will support Lorenzo Goetz for both New Year’s Eve shows.

According to Groff, he is “greatly indebted to Larry” and said, “Larry was a big reason I moved to Champaign.” Groff and elsinore have since found great success with their live show and are beginning to tour the Midwest.

Gates classifies the time spent with Lorenzo Goetz as “extremely worthwhile.” True to the lyrics of “Need Words Now,” the band has proven to be catalytic for the careers of each member, evident by their exciting future plans. Larry Gates and Brad Miethe plan on composing with a rhythmic emphasis for licensing purposes. Jesse Greenlee has already moved to New York as the new drummer for American Minor, who will be hitting the road with Lynyrd Skynyrd shortly. As for bassist Eric Fisher, he looks to continue his creative pursuits locally. Has Headlights heard of the joys of adoption?

Lorenzo Goetz’s last stand in Champaign, a New Year’s Eve blowout, is not something to be missed. Expect a comprehensive representation of the Lorenzo Goetz canon, guests on stage, free-flowing merriment for all, and plenty of surprises. Supporting Goetz on the 30th will be Brandon T. Washington and Andy Lund performing acoustically, and neo-psych poppers Santa. Folk rock favorites elsinore will join Lorenzo Goetz for both shows.

Say farewell to Lorenzo Goetz on Dec. 30 and 31 at Cowboy Monkey. The Dec. 30 show starts at 9 p.m. and features elsinore, Santa, Brandon T. Washington and Andy Lund. Tickets are $7. Ring in the New Year with Lorenzo Goetz’s final show on Dec. 31, starting at 9:30 p.m. and featuring elsinore. Tickets are $20.

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