No matter what else might have happened, if you are sitting in a bar that has a blood spattered chainsaw in a glass case, drinking bourbon with people you met on the Internet while “Zombeavers” plays overhead amid fog-machine smoke and laser lights, you know the trip has been successful.
Last time I made this trip, I went to First Avenue to see Soul Asylum and the Figgs. I also got remarkably hammered. This time out, on the opposite side of a Significant Health Event, I didn’t get QUITE as hammered. But I still saw Dave Pirner….
When I saw the ad for a tribute show to play the songs of Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers album featuring a stellar roster of musicians, I zipped off an email to MPLS Imaginary Digital Frenz paleotectonics and Snag to set it up. They both bit, Like bigmouth bass. Our assorted spouses decided to let us sausage our way through it; Unfortunately, Adult life fucked with Snag and he had to miss it.
I got a late start, and MPLS traffic is awful, so I got to Snag’s later than I had hoped. Everyone was gone. I set up camp, got a drink, and Snag’s Lovely Bride and not-so-lovely dog soon showed up; one of them slobbered me. Eventually paleo and his Sweetie showed up to squire (heh) us to the show.
Holy shit. The show. THE SHOW. Chris Stamey and his band opened up, and they did a fine set. But really, it was time for the real thing. Of course, paleo and I put ourselves outside of a few drinks by then; we also talked with Brian Wooldridge for a while. Oh, did I mention? Chris Stamey tapped the Wooldridge Brothers to participate, and Dave Pirner did likewise for the Schoepp Brothers. Milwaukee was well represented on a stage that was wall-to-wall talent.
And the songs. The songs were the best from one of our geniuses. Lovely and raucous and compelling and weird in all the best ways. They filled in the stage with a horn section, and a string section and they even had a bassoon. YES THEY FIRED UP THE BASSOONS!! I was in heaven. I bought another round.
The stage was complex and shifting, singers changing and musicians swapping instruments. Dave Pirner sang the first song; Chris Stamey and Mike Mills spent plenty of time just doing what they do. No egos. This was about Alex Chilton’s songs…
This was better than either paleo or I thought it would be. I introduced him to the Milwaukee musicians, who I know of course, and we had a lovely time. I bought Brian Wooldridge the largest Red Stripe I’ve ever seen. I bought another round.
They also played many Big Star songs not on the Third album. To my great delight, they played “I Am The Cosmos” one of my favorite songs, although it wasn’t technically a Big Star song, it was written by Chris Bell, a Big Star alumnus. To my ecstatic delight, it was sung by Scott Wooldridge and the solo was by Brian Wooldridge and by fucking shit they better be playing this in their sets from now on.
I bought another round.
After they stopped playing music, paleo and I hung out and talked to the musicians I knew and talked to each other and we were wound ALL the way up and paleo was pretty much as hammered as I was last time. We called his Sweetie and she came and retrieved us and was really really patient and their dog Jaxon shared the backseat with me. When we got back to Castle Snag, he poured me a bourbon or two and we talked for a while and he regretted not being able to be there and it was pretty much the best day I’ve ever had that started with a five hour drive.
Oh, we did many other things. I got slobbered on by TWO SEPARATE black dogs. We went to a couple of wonderful art galleries.
We walked around the U of M campus and felt like dirty old men. Snag taught me about bourbon (it’s delicious). We had several great meals. We visited the MinneHaHa Falls. We talked at length with someone who knows almost everything there is to know about police body cams. We disagreed about the architecture of the new Vikings stadium. We rode the light rail (FUCK OFF SCOTT WALKER). We went to a dive bar and argued about Freddie Mercury. We talked about the Clyfford Still museum…We visited the Dragon Lady and saw her tattoo; she gave me her dementia and who knew it was communicable? We said VERY bad things about Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and pretty much all the Republicans. We ate crispy pig ears.
I drank much of Snag’s bourbon. The Lovely Bride gave me advice on my health. I bought new underwear. We laughed and laughed and laughed. Paleo got nearly as hammered as I was on the previous First Ave visit. We walked a remarkable amount. Lucy slobbered on me some more. We laughed and laughed. We pissed off one of Snag’s kids and made him stop watching “How I Met Your Mother”. I wore several zombie-themed shirts. We solved most of the world’s problems….
We spent much time talking about the connections that brought us together. It was all Saying yes, Blue Girl, Circle Jerk, 3 Bulls, Republic of Dogs, Sadly No, Chrome Beach, BBBB, Riddled, Von, Fish, Chuckles, Kathleen, Substance… and some others, I am sure I am too drunk to mention. And there are the current Bad People, who still blog against all odds: paleo, OBS, mikey…. and we laughed and laughed.
I have said this before, but this internet thing has allowed us to meet and befriend people in semi-random ways that would never have been possible before. We talked like long time friends, because of course we are. But some of us are also compelled by music, and this was worth every minute of the drive. So four days with great friends and superlative music in one of the great urban areas? We might laugh and laugh… Sign me the fuck up.
Big ups, thanks and props to the paleo/Sweetie axis as well as the Snag/Lovely Bride consortium for being so fucking goddam nice to me while I sponged rides and crashes. Unlike the last time, I am happy to say I was not so fucking skint and I was able to buy rounds and dinners and just generally not be such a weasel. But really, they were awesome hosts and my gratitude goes out. Thank You, Friends….
Also Snag plied me with bourbon, which stops the tears.
And that damn orange moose was still there; in fact, it seems to have spawned.