Saturday, April 5
last night: the bad things: i couldn't find my earplugs. i somehow wasn't on list despite brendan's cordial e-mail. it turned out not to be in the sanctuary but in the basement of the church, which has a very low stage, making it hard to see except from right close. and my folk were huddled in the center (under a light for reading) so i didn't really feel like pushing up. and styrofoam's set wasn't as exciting as the stuff i'd heard, though he did play a nice remix of "the postman" (my saddest song.) but all of that's petty and superficial, right?
the notwist are a much better live band than you might guess from their (new) record. only about half their set came from neon golden - the other stuff is noisier, guitarier, clearly more live. but the ng stuff was amped-up too; beds and beats altered, more freakouts, much more danceable. not that many people were dancing in that den of stifling hip. rob thought markus's voice was suffering from a cold, but it could have just been shoddy mixing. i made my way up to the second row for the second encore (i was hoping for "consequence," but "off the rails" is nice too), so i could see their black indie t-shirts (low, ms. john soda, somethin.) the other members are close-cropped blond and thin and germanic, but markus is decidedly not - he looks kinda like james mcnew. and i saw a guy robbie, mariah's friend, who triend to convince that i was mariah's friend. silly.
to-night: good that we left asap after 5, since even though the drive was only an hour an a half, we didn't get there until after 8:30 for a 7:00 show. you see, jen has this curse which prevents her from going to any rock concerts. but i had faith that my widely recognized imdomitable good luck could disarm the curse. as alex says, "the closer you get to a place, the easier it is to get farther away." we ending up coming at it from the north, from the west, from the south, and from the east before we found it, distracted by the search for these mysterious "jug handles" that the directions kept talking about. but we made it.
good thing it took so long, too, because we didn't even miss the second opener but we did miss a lot of standing around waiting in a room full of suburban new jersey high school girls in emo baby-tees. because that's who was at the show. maybe they were confused and meant to see the 'all-american rejects' next door. the tall skinny guy in the sleatter-kinney shirt looked kind of bewildered. i staked out a forward but noncommittal spot, and entertained myself by keeping track of who was mouthing along to which preshow tunes.
they were playing a mix of canonical rock between 2002 and 1966, analogous to my "big stupid guitar" tape from a while back. at first i was like, "wake up." "street-fighting man"? "search and destroy"? could they be a little more obvious? then i remembered - oh yeah, it's rock and roll! the dumb-barrelhouse piano of "hey bulldog"? nice! the organ-tone bridge fake-out of "just"? rock, baby! (r-head's best moment ever? i think so.) and it was great to see everyone rocking out - from the preposterously glammed-out red-tie dude in the front, emphatically emoting all the words to "this charming man," to the teenyboppers bopping their teens to "last nite" - they can all get down like this.
"yoshimi" faded out (hey, that's not r'n'r), and HHH took the stage. hah! clank clank clank clank on the cowbell and "talk to me, dance with me" ripped through the room. the teenagers didn't need an invitation - they got to moshing and crowdsurfing posthaste, energy echoing back and forth from crowd to stage. i was on the near fringes of the pit (enthusiastic, but good-natured) for most of it, finding space to dance and people to smile with, but by the closer "bandages" (on mtv? so that's why they were there?) i was in the thick of it - you had to be really.
the audience i could take or leave (i wonder if all their shows have been like this on the tour, or if it's a suburban jersey thing), but the band were so right on. they played a lot of non-album stuff, but who cares, it was all just as pounding. rock rock wreak. steve bays is fantastic - he actually reminds me a lot of jonathan richman: not nearly so oddball, but very earnest and smiley, and conversational. he bantered ("what? war sucks? oh, we're canadian, we don't care about that") and kept a good face as they suffered a rash of equipment problems (inordinate really - i'm sure it sapped energy for them, but they barely showed it, and it didn't affect the sound much.) i mean, he still rips into it when he sings, but i can imagine him, in a few years, saying "hey, this punk rock's a little stiff for me" and start writing songs about dinosaurs.
another weird thing: the audience didn't clap for an encore. they were totally enthusiastic and into it, but as soon as the band left the stage, they turned and headed for the exits. have they not yet learned about encores? i'm confused. so, we had to leave too ($10 for the vinyl ep? gaah, no thanks), stopping at wendy's ("open late" - if by late you mean 1:00) for BBCs and our final taste of weird new jersey, Xtra Pibb.
zwan is becoming official driving to concerts in other peoples cars music. i hate to say it but the first two tracks are getting to me. only, who says "lah de dah"? c'mon billy.
lah de dah, lah de dah
lah de dah, lah de dah