it's been a hard clay's night

30 November 2014

Two of Us

Salim & Rhett at City Winery Chicago -- the #RhettsAllRequestSet

25 November 2014

Where do I even start with this crazy story? Generous friends hooked up tickets and off we go. I made it there in plenty of time, waited for my friends, saw other friends on top of that, MADE friends on top of THAT.

Salim has been big on the boombox this tour. I wasn't aware of all the hard work it was doing. Salim played backing vocals & backing track on cassette via boombox mic'd onstage. It sounded like a full band! It was better than rock 'n roll, it was ART. Pure performance art. Cool effects microphone, his interaction with the front row, his general entertaining demeanor, such a wonderful package wrapped up in a vintage suit. The producer was on display as a performer and it was magic. Salim is a force unto himself and it's never better than when you see someone having as much fun on stage as you're having in your seat.

Rhett Miller has fun on stage. Everyone knows this. Tonight he grappled with his control issues and his OCD tendencies and let the crowd pick the set list. He left a request tube to be filled with our choices, filtered by himself, and presented with aplomb on stage. He acknowledged how difficult it was not having a prepared set list. To make himself feel better he wrote it down as he went even being nudged by the audience to do so. I think he still might have forgotten some too. But this is what happens when you're making live art. He was in high spirits, very jokey and chatty. He was drinking "Irish wine". This seemed to help things LOL
I requested Guadalajara as I didn't get to hear it over the summer on tour. I requested anything Beatles or anything with Salim as well, and put in an any Replacements request for my friend. I was rewarded with two of those, he played Guadalajara mentioned it requested by me and then also later sang In My Life and Girl by the Beatles. He was in full charm mode and it was a beautiful thing. We are all better people today for having been there last night. I'm still working on cobbling the proper set list together but it was fabulous and I'm so grateful I was able to be there.

Here, There and Everywhere

Most Messed Up Tour Bloomington IL 19 June 2014
Castle Theatre

originally intended to be published 28 June 2014 
and then again on 19 September 2014
maybe today is the day....

The latest tale from the front row brings us to Bloomington IL and the low, low stage of the Castle Theater. Another adventure happening with less of the normal crew. Strange and direct effects of the Mercury retrograde, say what you will. I believe in cards and I believe in signs ;)
(For the unschooled, a Mercury retrograde is expected to gum up the works regarding travel and communication. It usually lasts about a month long and it is generally recommended that precautions are taken for allotting enough time, for backing up/saving computer work, and for keeping up with the car maintenance.)
PLUS, I was actually *missing* the Chicago gig. What apocalyptic symbols were these? So far, we have seemingly survived the aftermath of such.

This time around I borrowed a camera to shoot pics, thanks PW. The Camry's oil was changed, the traffic and even the construction was compliant. Despite some serious humidity, and a late night storm, the weather was also cooperative. My newlywed cousin was ready for another adventure and I was more than willing to enable! We feasted on a delicious summer chicken salad, recipe courtesy of our dear aunt Patsy and then we were ready! We had been invited to a pre-party right near the venue and that was the plan. Our drive was without incident and we even parked in the same spot as last year, (right out front) and proceeded to walk to the party.
Here's where the real fun starts. hahaha Mercury indeed.
I quickly determined which direction we needed to go and the house was roughly a mile away. No biggie, even in the stickiness, the sun was setting and we agreed a walk would be lovely. Well, it got a bit warm walking, and the extra humidity caused my otherwise, comfy, well worn shoes to rub through the backs of my ankles. *sigh*
Truly, I don't normally have number issues, but I jumbled the address. We walked til I thought we would find it, and when we didn't, I surmised I had chosen to go down the street in the wrong direction. (I hadn't.) We turned around about a block short of our actual destination. Some texting occurred and I put in an order for some band-aids, and a ride was generously offered to come grab us. We continued towards the venue and then some weird stranger dude who was NOT our ride, honked and offered to pick us up. ummm no thanks bro. no. thanks. We did not happen to coincide with our ride, but it was fine.
Not too long after that, we made it back to line up. Two separate sets of good ol' boys in trucks heckled the line as they drove by. Hollering some kind of nonsense about the Grateful Dead...Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
So we got our butts in there once they opened the doors and greeted Jeff, the merchiest of all the merch guys who was holding court amongst his well-displayed wares. All those early fogeys ran to all the bar stools while we just trotted up to the front, Kenside.
The friends from the pre-party brought hugs with the band-aids and saved my ankles and my damn life!! Sweet protective relief.
The lights dimmed and the support band took the stage. Madison King was a worthy opener and really brought her 'A' game, band included. 
Rhett joined her on backup at one point and for a band's first tour, I think they did alright.

I was so excited to see them perform the new stuff, on top of everything else. This should come as a surprise to no one that knows me.
This ol' stage at the Castle is barely 3 foot from the ground. The front row area is wayyyy more intimate than what I would call 'normal'. It makes for a great show. And even better photos, with no monitors in the way! By the time they hit the stage, the a/c was all used up. But it was OK. We got ROCKED. Some clown started hollering for Timebomb about three or four songs in. I explained to my cousin that they were either just being assholes, OR they were newb enough not to know that it's a closing song. Pretty much almost always always. Lameness, either way, and they thankfully did not persist in it. Rhett's shirt turned the requisite 5 shades darker and strangely enough, despite his intensity, not a guitar string to be lost. Ken brought an amazing array of guitars and switched it up rather frequently. The new songs were great, of course. But that was obvious upon first listen to the album. I was flooded with dopamine throughout, it was a fine show. Ken was everywhere with every color, Rhett was simply glowing. Philip kept time with the beat of my heart and Murry tied it up all fine with a purty bass line. Near the end of things Madison came back out to join them for 4 Leaf Clover. During Most Messed Up some strange woman that tried to crash our group earlier in the evening, jumped or rather lunged onstage and did her little drunken freedom dance until she was ushered off. That doesn't happen often, it was pretty funny to be honest. We were like three songs from the end of the show, they didn't even bother throwing her out. Then all too soon it is Timebomb, oh my lord it is never enough. And it's raining cats and dogs outside. The staff was laid back enough to let people chill a bit before forcing them out into the lobby and to the outside conditions. Marie and I took our leave and sprinted through the storm to get on the road. It was a fairly serious thunderstorm and normally I'd be craving tranquilizers to cope. But I was riding the adrenaline wave and told Marie to fasten up and I asked her if I could just turn up the music and drive. I had to focus entirely on my driving and she had no argument with that. So I karaoked our asses back to Champaign with nary a moment of hydroplaning. There was an awestriking view of the storm all around us, racing through the farmlands, trying not to get caught behind any other vehicle because the resulting spray was blinding. Lightning streaked sideways and every other way and lit the horizon in daylight. dude.
It had been a warm and humid enough day that I welcomed the cool drops on me as we walked up to the apartment. Marie's newlywed husband had made this amazing Spanish tortilla dish and I was in bliss all over again LOL Our adventure over, we parted ways in the morning. I took a quick drive around campus to view the changes over time. I hadn't been down there since the mid '90's. I was still able to find my way, but things were indeed very different. After a gas up and snack up, I proceeded quickly home to avoid the Friday afternoon log jam. Perfect timing.

18 June 2014

Helter Skelter

Normally I would wait til AFTER a show to write a post, but it's been so long, I figured it didn't matter.
Plus, there's a new album out, and I have been enjoying it for approximately 58 days. It is the first thing I play IN ITS ENTIRETY before playing any other music options.
The title is 'Most Messed Up' and that is pretty much the theme for all of the songs.

Overindulgence, living the road life, mid-life issues maybe only a rock star knows, trying to keep it real and possibly failing...complicated human entanglings. A juicy, F-bomb laden, rambunctious journey through Rhett's less restrained, and perhaps somewhat evil alter-ego. Parental advisory! Explicit language! Drinking & cussing!
Others are calling it a return to form. I am not sure I would say that. Go on call me biased, its not like I am obsessed or anything. (I prefer the term 'highly focused'.)
I say that because I don't think their overall sound has strayed terribly far from the early work; that is to say, something from the first album is not going to be unrecognizable as their own. I will say that their sound has smoothed into something more pop than not, I guess. And this album as a whole was crafted with a thematic concept in mind, which I don't think was consciously attempted thus far.

The standout track for me is 'Guadalajara', a jangly, surf guitar party song about a holiday liaison. Rhett has mastered the skill of telling a sad story (about a girl who gets the guy for an overnighter and that's IT, 'cause he's outta there) while simultaneously compelling us to sing/dance joyfully as it happens. Ken's electric howls over the beginning and bridge, making for excellent ringtones. Mwahahahaaaaa, technology!
I can't wait to physically hold this album.
Another finely produced collection courtesy of Salim Nourallah, the alchemist behind the board.
I thank you again, gentlemen.
I will see you in the front row, she's coming down fast! Yes, she is. Yes. She is.

The album is still streaming here, take advantage!

I am almost done with my granny square afghan!!!!!!!!!!!

03 April 2014

You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

So what's in a name anyway?

It took a long, long, long time before I finally picked the name and theme for this blog. I wanted it to be clay appropriate, yet also belie my great love of music, and more specifically, Beatles music. 
Did you realize it's play on Day Tripper? Ok how about now?-->
Actually, if you squint, it becomes more clear. hehehe
It's a typography play on words. 

It's also an apt description for my working style. I have done the reading and research. But I prefer to fumble through, and make my own discoveries. Hence the tripping. 
I'm quite proud of the name, to be honest. 

31 March 2014

I Don't Want To Spoil The Party

Old 97's - Metro Chicago - 13 November 2013 the end of an era and the start of another...

2 JAN 2014 
I don't really do resolutions, but I made a new year's RULE to create something everyday. This is today's contribution. 
I have put off relaying this particular story due to various circumstances, but my low grade OCD will not let me get away with not covering such a momentous adventure. Also, the tablet, while so very convenient in so many ways, just can't match the feeling of typing on the keyboard.

This was indeed an adventure in the making. Over the course of the newly past year or so, I made a slew of fan friends via the internet. There were discussions and longing for the right time to converge upon the front row as a group. I'd missed an opportunity earlier in the year to road trip and connect with these particular ladies. This time, it was destined! A Chicago show with new elbows to rub up front. How much I was looking forward to this!

And then my dear Granny passed away 5 days before the show. Huge Bummer of all Bummers. We had had a renewed closeness over the recent year, as I'd taken on being her companion and driver for medical appointments. Being her first grandchild, and a kindred spirit to boot, the loss took its toll for sure. It sucked for innumerable reasons, the most relevant being that she knew how much I looked forward to my music events. During our visits, she was always content to sit and listen to my rock & roll tales, complete with iPad pics or videos to illustrate the point. I looked forward to telling her most of all, so I saved stories up for our times together. She was a rapt audience and took great pleasure in my unfiltered storytelling. And by unfiltered, I do mean the vernacular or even the profane, if the word suited. And I took greater pleasure in her enjoyment or questions. We were cool like that. She was always a social creature and back in the day, she enjoyed kicking up her feet and tossing back a drink or two. Plus, in this family, we love our music.

Granny circa 1940's
15 JAN 2014
We buried her 2 days before this show. I'd already missed the Wisconsin show and the chance to see my friends from up there. Things were still a 'go' for the Metro, but wow, I can tell you here, I was less than enthusiastic about having to make a public appearance. To have my most favorite event in life, marred by that which makes life valuable, was a bitter pill to swallow. 

19 JAN 2014
It's her birthday today; I'm quietly celebrating by doing things she liked to do. Law & Order SVU, crossword puzzles, snuggling my dog, sneaking small chocolates...

The only thing that would have kept me from attending, would have been having her services coincide with the date. But we had wrapped it all up and while I knew I was still a bit too raw, this was an evening not to be missed. I could almost hear Granny's bluster about not daring to take the blame for me missing a show!
I think what was most disappointing for me at this point, was that these people didn't really get to meet the "Me" that I had anticipated being. I don't think I was outwardly mournful, but I know there was a cloud over my head til about halfway through the show. 
But, man, is it cool meeting people for the first time. We all probably had at least a good year of interaction via Facebook, so we were all pretty much up to speed on each other's lives. When the girls arrived to pick me up, it was like 'old' times hahha! Well, that was just Wende, I was already familiar with sweet Sheri and Tracy. Downtown, at a small hotel, we would be connecting with Leslie, Bert, Marie and a plethora of others who were all fun-loving, mouthy types. It would appear that we would all get along just fine. A bit of pre-partying at the hotel, led to taxicabbing it just over to Metro, where we passed the dinner hour at some bar whose clever name I cannot recall, but it was literally next to the venue. Suzanne (and her friend Mark?) also showed up, so that was a happy reunion :) 
Once I'd ingested enough pre-show sustenance, (which I always find extremely difficult!) I decided to go out and get in line with some of the girls. I saw Bill! That's when Jenna joined up. We passed the time bitching about the recent drop in temperature, what new songs we might get to hear and we even saw Ken and Jeff head back and forth from the Wrigleyville Dogs. 
Then it was TIME. 
We got in and staked the appropriate claims, we stretched out far and wide. Metro seemed smaller than I remembered, which I found strange. It was awesome. Trapper Schoepp and the Shades opened up the evening, and they rocked righteously! People reunited even further with other show friends and what a joy that always is.

24 MARCH 2014
Boy, it's taking me awhile to get this out. I just haven't had any storytelling motivation. Not that I do now, as much as guilt over not covering the occasion, AND it has been on my mind all week. 
Trapper Schoepp is highly entertaining. The band is tight and the music rocks. He is cute and sweet in person.
I took a sweeping look across the club, and it was like a moment in slo-mo. People, all revved up and applauding. People, sipping and/or swigging drinks. People, gathering closer for the headliners.
My friends, newly made or otherwise, bouncing in anticipation. Me, watching it all from some odd perspective that I was longing to shed. I belonged *here* tonight, why couldn't I just feel like it?
Soon that blah was washed away when the boys trotted out and got things started with 504. As usual, they were on point, crashing and bashing, everyone was screaming and singing. I got my required goosebumps. They played a couple of the new songs and threw in Over the Cliff, a fan favorite with ties to the area ;)
Wende expressed particular glee over hearing this one, and gosh we are spoiled having Jon Langford as a local, we hear that song often. It was the last show of the tour and it ended with a bang. The out of towner's seemed euphoric, job well done.
We tried to commiserate post-show, and we did get an outdoor, all the girls with Murry shot. But then we got scattered and the girl group regrouped elsewhere, hotel, food, etc. Once everyone left, I ran into yet another friend leaving the scene and he gave me his backstage pass. So I ran back in, I had a quick chat here and there, and also got a photo op with Alex Dezen from the Damnwells, who was hiding in plain sight. I may or may not have shaken hands and been introduced to Mr. Langford. hahhaha!
Alex and myself

Then I went back to the pub from earlier in the evening after I called for my ride. I was taking a car from the livery job I'd just quit. The lovely lady on dispatch had been waiting for my call and was sending my friend Tony T.  Sweet. I ordered a cider and figured he wouldn't be more than 30 minutes. Which was pretty much all the time I had to drink this drink and wait outside because the bar closed at 1AM??!! 
Thankfully, Tony was right on the money and he got a chatty earful because I literally had to down that  pint! I had given him full disclosure, though, and he was a sport and dutiful listener. 
We all got home safe and another fine adventure was on the books.

There's a new album afoot, and it's about a month away from release. Chicago and Milwaukee gig dates were just announced, so my heart is skipping beats on the regular! It is almost time to do my thing! 
Til then-----

05 July 2013

Day Tripper

Old 97's at Two Brothers Summer Festival - 21 June 2013

    It was a race against TIME, people. A race I tell you. This fine Aurora IL show was the night following the excellent Milwaukee show. And boy was it slow-going that morning after. A major storm moved in right about check-out time. The daylight could hardly be called that; it was nearly noon and easily looked like 6pm. When the worst of it seemed past us, K-Star and I got on the road back to her homestead. Gloomy drive til we hit our pit stop, gas & Culver's for lunchly re-invigoration. We were getting to that slap-happy point and thoroughly enjoyed the reintroduction of nutrients to our bloodstream. I guess I'm using the term 'nutrients' pretty loosely. 
After our safe arrival, I was out the door again fairly quickly. I made a sweep of any possibly forgotten possessions, and poof! I was hoping to get home in time to take the Metra whose line ended at the venue. Did that happen? On a Friday, on the highway in the Chicago area? Pshhhh, I made it home in time to shower and receive a rollicking welcome home from the dog. Of course, Jon was also excited to see me, but did not dance around in circles, licking my face to express his pleasure. He's subtle like that. I had to all but turn around as soon as arriving, no time to take a train trip. I drove and arrived with plenty of time to get settled. It looked pretty crowded, but I wasn't truly sure because I really only roamed the front of the stage area. I didn't even bother exploring the fest. Lord knows I didn't come to drink beer. The lovely Mr. & Mrs. King held a front row spot for me and soon enough we were all off and running. Goosebumps ensued. Now I rarely let my ears go unprotected at shows, but since we were outdoors, I let it slide this time. (I paid for it, but they weren't the loudest crickets to try to keep me from sleep.)

     The weather was unusually comfortable, especially when the breeze blew. The band's view from the stage was the whole of the fest, and the Aurora Metra station with intermittent train activity off to their right. I know Murry enjoyed that view. The stage was set about 10 feet in front of us, we were behind some flimsy fencing keeping a wide passageway open for the press that were filming and photographing. The setlist was similar to the one the night before, full of fun and powerrrrrrr. (listed below) They seemed to be really feeling it and looked really good doing it. Rhett commented repeatedly on the night's gorgeous  weather, complete with the almost full Super Moon! Maybe it was that moon, because Mr. Miller seemed to really be laying out the provocation. Now the boy is dreamy as hell, but tonight he was damn sexy. Lots of EXTRA swivel-y slinky-ness. I dare say, we in the front row were feeling somewhat violated, but in an extremely consensual manner, emphasis on the 'sensual'. Yowza! Ken, wandering to every edge and corner; Murry, sticking pretty close to his starting point. Rhett got a bit bold and repeatedly came verrrrrry close to the edge of the stage. Every breeze we caught was a moment of perfection. It seemed to me that the crowd was very familiar with the band, and knowing it might be the lone opportunity to see the boys this summer, all who were in the know had attended. There was some amazing give & take happening while the funky stage light effects were dancing about the background.  I may or may not have proposed to Sheri in a moment of weakness during "Question". LOL I mean someone has to do it, right? 

     Just as things exploded in finality, somehow a guitar pick found its way to me. It softly bounced off of my shoulder, to the ground, where I then retrieved it. Good enough for me. And a suitable ending for sure.

Barrier Reef
Won't Be Home No More
Miss Molly
West Texas Teardrops
Lonely Holiday
The One
Can't Get a Line
Let the Whiskey Take the Reins
Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)
Mama Tried 
Busted Afternoon
Rollerskate Skinny
Streets Of Where I'm From
Dance With Me
White Port
Big Brown Eyes
4 Leaf Clover
Wish the Worst
Champaign IL
Time Bomb

24 June 2013

Don't Bother Me

Old 97's - Turner Hall Ballroom - Milwaukee - 20 June 2013

     This night's show in Milwaukee was a reunion of sorts, but truly, most shows are. There are several faces I can count on seeing at a Wisconsin gig. Casey, Colin, Jenna, Courtney, Carey, and actually a few others, whose names I haven't yet learned. The difference this time around was that I was already in Wisconsin when show time rolled around, so there was a minimum of fuss & rush. K-star and I were long overdue for an adventure, and this time, we got some bonus Emily! It had been far too long. We've been to Turner Hall before and it is a great space. A bit too many stairs to traipse up, but we got it done. The openers, Trapper Schoepp & the Shades were impressive, despite my feeling very old watching these sweet young things rock. Thanks to Carey for hepping me to that jive. I enjoyed them thoroughly and look forward to more!  So we waited and mingled, basking in the excitement of what was yet to be. Ken came down to say hello to the contingent on his side of the stage. He watched some of the opener's performance before slipping away through the crowd.
    Again, they prefaced the boys' entrance onstage to Queen's 'Fat-Bottomed Girls' and then the crowd got all wound up. Rhett was a grinning fool and we were off and running. Early on though, there were tiny hints of something strange bubbling under the surface of things. Somewhere from behind us, small projectiles made their way over our heads and onto the stage. Apparently, it was just debris and not a note of request or somesuch nonsense. Hmmm. Then, an empty cup that Rhett actually had to slightly dodge due to it's trajectory. He was not amused. I turned around to look for the offender, but really just saw the regular sea of happy flushed faces, slick with perspiration. I did notice a kerfuffle off to my right somewhere near the front. Minutes later, a burly, inconsiderate forearm shoved between me and my right-hand neighbor-fan. In a millisecond, I discerned that it was not an accidental fall or shove; it did not stem from my friends behind me. It was some fugly troll who barely met my own stature. The lunge made absolutely no sense, as the wild hand was grabbing towards the monitors and not much more. WTF? I harshly shrugged him off my person and I made certain he felt that it was unwelcome. No sooner than that, I got popped in the back. Enough to hurt, but not harm. Are you fucking kidding me, Guy? I spun like a banshee and looked this fucker dead in his eyes and queried, "DID YOU JUST FUCKING HIT ME????!!" To which he actually answered a curt "NO" and before his vowel sound ended, I very loudly and not at all politely, said that I "would knock out all of his fucking teeth if he touched any part of me again." How exactly I would truly go about doing that, is a mystery that we may never solve. It was the closest I've ever come to getting violent, as I tend toward the pacifist sensibilities. But I will not have my show NOR my person be adversely affected because some asshat doesn't know how to conduct himself. A girl behind him, who seemed to be just a show-goer, grabs the jerk by the scruff of his shirt and yelled "you're done!" and dragged him somewhere behind her. It was awesome! After that, I turned back to the stage. Perhaps a song later, during Ken's solo, Rhett hustled over near Ken and bent over, speaking emphatically to someone in the crowd. He returned to center-stage and during the next break, people were gesticulating at this asshole and trying to get Rhett's attention, because the kid wanted to apologize. Rhett leaned over and said very seriously that, fine, he accepted the apology but what the fuck was his problem? He then offered the evidence of the empty cup and assorted crap that had been tossed onstage. Then, thinking better of continuing to engage, he abruptly stood up and marched back to the guitar tech and stage dude, where it looked like he pretty much insisted that the guy be ejected. And so it was. Two or three bouncers came to clean up the mess and we cheered and continued without another thought. Poor Rhett got awful close to having his game rocked, but after having solved things, he seemed to shake it off. This doesn't often happen at a show, it was said the guy, (an alleged dentist, which I thought was funny, re: knocking his teeth out...) seemed to be pharmaceutically motivated. It mattered not to me; he is lucky to have left the premises with un-kneed balls. *sigh*
     The evening continued. An errant guitar cord spilled a drink at one point, but the tech was quick to towel up. Ken and Rhett took turns towering and teetering above us in between the front monitors. The temperature wavered between perfect and only mildly uncomfortable. There was an unfortunate incident of the pedal?/cord?/guitar? not working right before Ken's solo in Every Night is Friday Night (Without You) and he expressed his regret afterwards claiming it's a really fun part to play. Awwwwwwww. I should mention that Rhett had a fancy new guitar, you can see it in the pics. Ken was also rocking a red/orange loaner Landric Custom guitar, along with his own Landric Custom, the glittery green, among his others. Ken changed it up many times that night, K-star called him Cher, hahahaha! The big Timebomb finale was outrageous, with Ken actually on his knees in front of us bashing away on the guitar. Hands from every direction were grabbing at his knees
     We were enveloped in the vibe, you know the one. There were now only cool, considerate people around us.  I did indeed bring the iPad to take photos. It was still a bit too dark, but the pics are OK and for the most part, better than the iPhone. There were the captured moments of some of the boys clearly realizing some silly girl in the front was actually using an iPad to take photographs. Those are definitely my favorites. It was a very similar setlist to Bloomington, a nice mix of things.
     When it was all over, I was resistant to being brought back down to Earth, but there were friendly folks who actually wanted to celebrate that asshole getting the boot, and to say thanks to me for being a considerate show-neighbor. That was awful nice, Milwaukee, thanks. The lady next to me had gotten the nearest setlist and was trying to tell me that another was still stuck to the stage. I think my enthusiasm+ iPad gave me away LOL I told her I was OK, having taken a pic of her setlist (oops, i deleted it) and then the ushers started to shoo us away from the stage.
     I wandered about to see those that hadn't stood within our crowd. It's always nice to catch up with hugs and expressions of joy from what we had just witnessed. I always love to see the others with the same syndrome, we will repeatedly see the same band-itis. This is our group therapy LOL

    Things ended on a high note, and we girls were within walking distance of our hotel. Another successful outing :) Milwaukee was still bustling with nightlife. The almost full moon lit the night sky. Off to bed. "This is the moonlight, the very same moonlight, so how happy can I be?"

14 June 2013

Magical Mystery Tour

Old 97's - Castle Theater - Bloomington, IL - 7 June 2013 ~ Marie & Annie's Excellent Adventure


I had missed a golden opportunity to see them in May in St. Louis with a gaggle of groovy gals and I was hoping desperately this new chance would fall together easily.
K-star, my usual partner in crime, was unable to accompany me. A unique plan would have to be formulated. All things were different this time. Bloomington is far enough away that an overnight stay after the concert would be the logical thing to do. I couldn't find decent accommodations for just overnight, so alternate lodging was the next hurdle. Now as luck or karma would have it, I have a fair amount of cousins in Champaign IL, which is roughly an hour away from Bloomington. I asked my cousin Marie if she was free to attend this and allow for my short visit. Score on both. We were overdue for a good bonding experience as adults, and as she is a diligent grad student, I figured it was always nice to enjoy a break and perhaps something new? Especially great music by handsome rock boys? Oh yes, indeed. It was a done deal.
While I was on a roll, I figured to kill 2 birds with one stone and visit a college friend that works for the University and lives near campus. She was also available for a visit and it made me feel like I was driving somewhere and all the lights turned green as I drove through them. I love it when a quick-draw plan comes together. I gassed up the night before, and kissed my boys adios in the morning. I wanted all the lead time I could get. Singing karaoke to no one as the ipod played backup, I hit town by 1230 and had a few hours' time with my girlfriend. We hadn't seen each other in over 10 years but the social networking since had virtually reunited us some years ago. It was awesome, it's been 21 years since high school thus 20 years from our college freshman year and the following summer. We talked a bit about then, and some about now, mostly regarding Game of Thrones! hahaha
I took my leave and traveled to Marie's. Her and her fiance's place was as sweet and cute as they are. We got prepped, took care of errands and hit the road. It was a quick hour's ride punctuated with our anecdotes and navigation. The venue was easy to find and once there we got sweet, free parking right out front. That's always a good sign. We just stayed in the car chatting til it got closer to doors time. And when we did get in line, we found ourselves at the end of it, already about 50 folks deep. And I've got no room to talk, but the crowd was a tad older than I was used to. Or maybe they just looked older, it seemed like a pretty salty sea of salt and pepper. I'm not sure where we were in proximity to Illinois State U. but I guess I just thought it would be a more college-y crowd.
The doors opened and we secured our clearance. The theatre was a nice enough venue, easy to navigate, clean bathrooms. We made our way to the Kenside of the front and there was plenty of room at the relatively low stage. We chatted with some of the nearby folks, and discovered I knew some of them and that we had mutual friend/musicians. In no time at all, it was time for Robbie Fulks. Ken had been in contact beforehand and had actually come down to watch Robbie's set with us. Pretty awesome, right? He disappeared somewhere just before the last song Robbie and the other Robbie finished up. They were solid as hell and funny to boot. But I didn't drive to Bloomington to see him.
After Robbie Fulks left the stage, the techs scrambled to set up the stage accordingly and then Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" started up and we laughed. And then my boys came out with big smiles and the room just lit up with hoots and hollers. The drum kit and amps appeared to be rentals, which made sense, they were only out on a 2 day jaunt before going on break til the end of the month. I was so excited for my little first timer. Not that it made a difference to her, but the setlist ended up being so choice. Rhett really has his knack for a varied mix from the albums with good flow, down pat. This is a testament to the calibre of their music, you can mix from any of the albums and it still tastes good. It was tasty enough that I've already crafted it as a playlist in the ipod. I think there was a little bit more freedom since these tour dates weren't in support of a new album specifically.
They started out with Barrier Reef, Won't Be Home No More and then Dance with Me. Lotta power real fast!
At one point I raised my arm to show my newbie the goosebumps all over my skin. It just gets in me. I can't explain it and I'm OK with that.
Right off the bat, Ken was everywhere and teetering like a tightrope walker, edging between monitors. He's been known to kick your purse or personal crap off of the edge of the stage, even if it's not really in his way. Just because you're sullying his workspace. He did manage to punt a few stacked up empty beer cups and that got me giggling. No other purses or personal belongings seemed to have been harmed. It was funny, the stage was pretty low. Not low enough to be considered a riser, but low enough that someone of my height could easily just turn around and sit on it without hopping up. So when Ken or even Rhett got close, woo mama, they were right there. Like I could have fiddled with knobs on the guitar-close. Every so often I would turn and make sure Marie was enjoying herself and indeed she and most everyone else were. These boys were on fire, but this is the norm. Rhett sounded fine, even if the vocals were a bit difficult to hear. He seemed fully recovered from his vocal cord issues earlier this year. All was just as it should be.
I guess it'd been 8 months since the last shows for me and boy, that might just be too long in between. I was so stoked to bring my cousin, and the excitement of the drive and visiting my friend kept me a little too jacked up on adrenaline to feel hungry. I didn't eat enough before the show and then had only a coffee, so I sort of crashed near the middle of the show. It didn't help that a fair amount of the stage lights actually shone on us in the front and you really could feel the heat coming off. I happen to sweat like Rhett Miller under the best of conditions, so just before they brought Robbie out to sing I'd be Lonesome, I had to ditch out to refill my water and cool off. My first time EVER leaving the front row. It was a shame to miss one of my favorite songs, but it was unavoidable, I needed fresh air. I don't ever drink alcohol at shows just so I won't have to leave during. But the last thing I wanted was to keel over, I knew I was over-hungry and while I was pounding water, I was just as quickly sweating it out as I danced. It was a rookie mistake. I believe the lesson has been learned.
So I cooled off enough from the lobby to return to the front and just eased off on the dancing. I knew I could make it til the end of the show where I could slam some of the car munchies Marie brought. And we made it through just fine, they rocked our collective asses off. They just fed off of the love and the cycle completed itself.

Ken broke a string, I can't remember when, but it may have shown up in one of the pictures. The drum kit was not really set high enough off to make an impressive jump during the final song, but Rhett did it anyway. When all was sang and done, the techs came out to make quick work of the equipment and then I wasted no time grabbing the setlist. These are moments one mustn't hesitate during. *yoink*
We were properly exhilarated and had a snackfest directly afterwards. This helped matters immensely and I was restored within minutes. We waited a good while for Ken and eventually the other guys to come out. Ken was his normal, chatty, slightly off-color, self. Murry, quiet, seeming sleepy, but down for a few minutes in the social circle before returning to the van. Philip, who I had really wanted to congratulate for a terribly cool iphone photo of Saturn through the telescope. A tiny but majestic image posted on facebook awhile back. And darling Rhett, ever charming, always friendly and game for some fashion chat. The boy loves his Varvatos. Jacket and jeans, I totally called it. But he also loves, ahem, Calvin Klein, and that's all I will say about that.
I would have liked to have taken some pics afterwards but it didn't feel organic, considering how much chat time we were getting.
They all gave Marie her props after I let them know it was her first show, we had some good chats and laughs and then boom, time to haul.
We took off for Champaign and upon arrival, lovely Mike had chicken and pasta from dinner for us. I'm so glad that my cousin had a good time, I did too! I knew it was a no brainer, but it is so nice to have the experience land where you would like it to for someone else.
Bonding experience success!