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.