THAT was a long day. Hell, it was a pretty trying week, all told. As I’ve said, my car had a massive computer-related infarction. It took the shop four days to track it down….
1. “It’s the ECM. We’ll get you a used one, won’t be too bad. Should be here today.”
2. “Won’t be here today in time to get installed. First thing tomorrow.”
3. “Seems that the instrument cluster is the culprit; it shorted and the resultant signal fried the ECM. We’ll get a used one of those too.”
4. “…has anything else gone wrong lately, related to electronics? Just asking…”
5. “Here’s what happens when I plug it in here. The ECM is freaking out and making everything hell. But when I plug it in HERE, the ECM is OK and the dash cluster is screaming digital gibberish. Short story: still don’t know. But we have many thousands of dollars in diagnostic equipment telling us MANY things we don’t know….”
At this point, since I had a mission critical meeting I needed to get to, they let me borrow their little shop truck. I had rescheduled the meeting from Wednesday 10 AM to 7 AM today, and then needed to catch up in the office until about 1:30 AM, updating drawings and printing plans. 2 Hour stressful meeting, as we are behind schedule, then back to the office to work on the new marching orders….
3:30. Mechanic on the phone “Good News or Bad News?” Shut up. Is my car fixed? “Yes. and ultimately it was NEITHER the car computer NOR the dash cluster.” Turns out it was a wire connector located near the bottom of the fire wall that had some errant salt water work its way in. So although I didn’t have to pay for the electronics, the technician took several hours to track down the short. They billed me for 5; I know they spent way more time than that (over four fucking days), so I’m OK with it; I effed at them a bit over how I kind of needed my car, and that I had spent much Ameros at their shop over the years. Other than, you know, the whole damn week without my car; if it wasn’t for that damn meeting I would have been OK cuz I could have bussed in to the office.
However, I had to pay them with a check, because yesterday my bank card was “compromised” and the bank canceled it to send me a new one. I will be seeing some paperwork to file the fraud claim and get my money back. I may see a replacement card tomorrow. Or not.
AND I have a client that has three months of arrears, to the tune of $30,000. So I got THAT going for me….
So, halfway through the day I got a text from Zorgy reminding me that we were meeting to see some music tonight. At the Riverside Theater, this humble little palace:
to see this band:
[I think they’re from New Zealand]
The opening band, Mini Mansions, features a Lead Bass player from Queens of the Stone Age, but they played a lovely set of 80’s inflected synth pop that channeled a healthy bit of Sniff ‘n The Tears. How 80’s were they? They not only did a dirge-cover of “Heart Of Glass” but they opened with a cover of “Sherlock Holmes” by Sparks.
After the long day and stressful week, I was more than happy to be sitting in the audience watching a couple of great bands, and drinking beers with my friends. I was tired and my feet hurt. But after a bit, Tame Impala and the light show started something, flickered a bit of internal warmth…
That clip up there does not do the band justice. The other live clips are closer, but the sound is mostly borked; and with the exception of the reedy thin vocals (which I still have not decided on) the music was muscular and rich. It was deceptively simple and unassumingly complex the band started and stopped and went into digressions that made you think it was a different song, then brought it back hime before you figured out what they were doing. It was contemporary, with some trip-hop and some EDM flourishes, but there was something naggingly familiar about the whole thing….
The light show encompassed the entire back of the stage, but there were several pole-mounted LED Varis behind the band, and more standard ones mounted on the sides of the stage and above; they kept spinning, arcing beams of light and spinning stars out into the crown and on the sides of the theater. The band was shrouded in mist and shadows, the focus was on the music and the light show. It felt so familiar….
It wasn’t until they added the bass pedals to the mix that it struck me; we were watching spiritual heirs to the mid-period Genesis when they still had Steve Hackett and before they started pursuing pop stardom! All the elements were there; they often used Tony Banks keyboard sounds, the bass pedals made the bottom end shake your rib cage, the light show was splendid and dovetailed the music, and even the drummer, on a small kit, did some Collins-style drum drops. The only thing missing was the occasional twelve string guitar. At one point, I could have sworn they were ready to launch into the organ intro to “Watcher Of The Skies”!
Good Friend Rory, later admitted that he felt let down. He had seen the band a couple of years earlier at one of the other stellar venues in town, and remembered being completely amazed. He allowed that alcohol may have affected the memory. I argued that they were actually pretty awesome, the music was great, the mix near-perfect, and the light show stellar. I had no complaints (other than my sore back and aching feet goddammit doesn’t getting old suck).
But GFR was having a troubled, emotional day; remembering his recently departed parents and also more current troubles. I drove him home, and spent some time in the car listening; I liked his Dad quite a bit, and never actually met his Mom. So I cut him some slack, because his memory of the band was most likely colored, and his memories of his parents were uppermost in his mind. My parting wisdom (such as it was) was to go to bed, get some real sleep, and cuddle with his dogs. I am reminded that for all my angst and distress, I still have much to be thankful for…..
This is normally the point in my music post where I reference the Soul Asylum line (when they were still angry and not polished and before mikey had ever heard of them and this is still one of my favorite lines) but tonight that is not quite right. It’s not so much a ringing in my ears as a vibration in my bones, a rumbling in my soul. No less heaven sent for that….
There is something so vital about seeing live music. It’s less artificial; no overdubs, fewer electronic trickses and no studio carry. 3 or 4 or 5 (or, in the case of the upcoming Mekons shows 7 or 8 or 75) people actually playing instruments and feeding off the audience response to boomerang it back out. It’s a wonderful feedback loop and the best way to experience it is in a small club. Because that is where the amplification factor is most evident.
GFR talked about spending hundreds of dollars to see Jeff Beck, which is perfectly valid. But I compare that to the $25 we spent to see this show tonight; or the $15 I punched out to see Murder By Death, or a similar amount to see World Party. The first concert tickets I ever bought were to see BOC/ UFO at Alpine Valley and they were fifteen bucks and I was a mile away. Decades later, I paid fifteen bucks to see them at a 300 person club and you know what? THEY WERE AWESOME and I was right up in front of them (they are kind of short).
With very few exceptions, I will almost always not spend my money on the “big shows” and spend it on smaller clubs, smaller venues, and younger bands. I was encouraged to see several folks of my age cohort in the venue tonight…But then, I am admittedly atypical. It doesn’t make me wrong….