concert memoirs pt. 35 – soft boys, frank black and the catholics & iggy pop

Soft Boys

3/31/01 First Avenue w/Amy & John Ticket Price: Comp. Tickets

This was cool.

The Soft Boys reunited and re-issued ‘Underwater Moonlight’, the first album of theirs I had ever heard. Somewhere around 1985 or so, John and I drove down to Beloit, WI to visit a friend of ours who was going to college there. Because it was before term was to start, there weren’t many students around, so John and I were able to crash in one of the dorms. Our friend, Kelly, took us over to the college radio station.

Remember, in those days, college radio was way into the Indie music. We met a young woman who was on the air and we sat in the studio with her for a few minutes. It was then that she introduced us to ‘Underwater Moonlight’. She told us how great the album was and how great Robyn Hitchcock was and how we should check it out.

John soon picked up a copy of ‘Underwater Moonlight’ and we thought it was brilliant. We then discovered Robyn’s other equally brilliant material. I always thought it a shame the Robyn never quite made it to rock stardom. Perhaps it is better that he didn’t. This way we who know and appreciate his genius have him to ourselves.

That’s a long way round to get to talking about this show.

It was a fun show with great songs. Robyn is always entertaining. He’s one of the few artists that I have seen multiple times and has never delivered a bad show. He and Kimberly Rew play very well together.

Rew was quite a character as well. Looking like a cross between Bjorn Ulvaeus (of ABBA) and Dana Carvey with a little Felicity Kendal thrown in, we could easily tell he was having a wonderful time. He was so happy to be playing. His expressions were terrific. He looked as though he surprised himself at being able to play guitar. Amy and I were very entertained by him.

I’m going to get a little political now…

There was an exceedingly rare low moment in the show, however. In fact it was the only low point of any of the times I’d seen Robyn Hitchcock. Robyn thought it would be a real crowd-pleaser and a deep statement to take a little poke at our new president. He said, “This next song is for President Bush.” And then they played ‘I Wanna Destroy You’, which was probably written as an angry reaction to Prime Minister Thatcher and President Reagan.

Gee whiz! Give the man a chance. He was just elected (yes, elected). And he’s our president, you limey bastard! John expressed as much to Amy and me as we left. In fact, I think those were his very words.

I’m sure most of the folks present thought the Robyn was so right and insightful about our president. I’m telling you, the Left hate so easily for being such a tolerant group of human beings. At least, that’s how I see it.

Frank Black & the Catholics w/House of Large Sizes
4/27/01 First Avenue w/Amy & Mark Ticket Price: Comp. Tickets

I had seen House of Large Sizes once before. It was in the 7th St. Entry and I was with Amy. Amy really liked this band and had seen them several times. I thought they were pretty good and I liked the bass player gal’s gimmick of getting her extremely long braids to twirl about. It looked as though she might take off like a helicopter.

What I remember mostly about Frank’s show is how loud it was. There was one song in particular that had the band playing some nasty notes. They would hold on a note that seemed to drill right into my ear and violently vibrate my ear drum. I know ear drums are supposed to vibrate, but this was doing something weird to me.

The vibration was making me fell ill. I felt as though I might pass out. I’m not kidding! It was so loud and discordant, I had to (gasp!) put my fingers in my ears to keep from collapsing.

But I survived.

Iggy Pop w/The Mighty Mofos
5/16/01 First Avenue w/Amy Ticket Price: Unknown

“Hey! It’s the Mofos!” That was my reaction when the opening band took the stage. I hadn’t seen The Mighty Mofos in years and I was really surprised to see them that night. The Mighty Mofos are a local bar band that kicks out some really rockin’ tunes. They were a good compliment to the headliner.

At one point, Bill Batson the lead singer announced the band would play a cover song next and he wanted the audience to decide which band they should cover: Ramones or The Who. My vote, of course, was for a Who cover. The audience won, the Mofos played a Ramones cover. Which was ok, I like the Ramones, too.

Iggy came out all fired up and half undressed. Not an ounce of body fat, veins bursting out all over, and just a fireball of energy, it was hard to believe Iggy was 54 years-old. He jumped, ran and otherwise hurled himself around the stage, belting out all his classics. His energy level was amazing.

His backing band members were all much younger than the rock icon. I would think they had to be to keep up with Iggy. Hell, I got tired just watching him.

half a miracle on the hudson?

By now most everyone must know about US Airways Flight 1549 being struck by a flock of geese, losing both its engines, the pilot ably landing the craft in the Hudson River, bringing the passengers to safety with no loss of life. By now most everyone has heard (or said) it was a miracle.

I suppose it’s understandable that the events of Thursday, 1/14/09, would be considered by people of a religious mind as a miracle. Not possessing a religious mind myself, I would say, at best, it’s half a miracle.

I don’t mean people should give the divine hand half the credit with the rest going to the pilot, flight crew, ferry boat captains, rescue squads and the passengers themselves. You know, the pilot who managed to control the plane after striking the geese and water land it in one piece, the flight crew who managed to get everyone off the plane and onto the wings to await rescue, the ferry boat captains and rescue crews who managed to get there within minutes and get those people to safety, and the passengers who managed to stay calm and help each other.

I mean half a miracle because people with a religious mind tend to award miracle status at the back end of such an event. They think that God (or Whatever) intervened and saved those people. He made sure that the right pilot, crew and rescuers were in place. He also made sure the river was clear of ice and traffic. BUT! Somehow He forgot to keep the geese from flying into the plane’s path, creating the accident!

I always marvel at people’s ability to credit God (or Whatever) for saving them from a dire situation, while never wondering why God (or Whatever) allowed them to get into the dire situation in the first place. Was He distracted? I thought God (or Whatever) was omnipotent and all knowing.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News said that he was “just happy somebody up there is looking out for those folks.” Well, apparently “somebody” was only looking out for those folks after the accident occurred.

Maybe “somebody” was too busy figuring out how the Arizona Cardinals could beat the Philadelphia Eagles the following Sunday.

concert memoirs pt. 34 – duran duran & elastica

Duran Duran

8/18/00 New World Music Theatre w/Amy, Sarah & Sean Ticket Price: $26.50

Yep, that’s right. Duran Duran. Hard to believe I would see this band, right? Guess what else. The New World Music Theatre is in Joliet, Illinois! Uh huh, we drove all the way to Joliet to see the “wild boys”. If you’re thinking a woman was involved, you’d be right.

I think Duran Duran has a few good songs, but I’d never buy one of their albums or go to their show if it weren’t for Amy. Amy and her friend, Sarah, are lifelong fans of the band and they’d never seen them, so, when Sarah heard they’d get as close as Illinois on that year’s tour, she convinced us to go. It didn’t take much to convince Amy, but they had to suggest making it a weekend in Chicago to convince Sean (Sarah’s boyfriend at the time) and I to go.

Sarah got the tickets to the show and tickets to a Chicago White Sox game (something for the boys), while Amy found lodging. So, off we went, Sean and Sarah in their car, Amy and I in ours to take in the glory of Duran Duran (and the White Sox and whatever else Chicago had to offer).

It turned out to be a pretty good time. We saw the sites in Chicago and were fortunate to be there the weekend of the big air show that takes place there every year. We took in the Museum of Modern Art, the Field Museum, the world-famous fountain, and the Hard Rock Cafe (ok, that last one was rather pedestrian, but still).

So, the big show! Well, we all piled into Sean’s car and headed to the outdoor amphitheater. As we were queued up in the car waiting to get into the parking area, I was treated to one of the more bizarre moments in my life with Amy.

We were waiting there when a long, black limo drove past us heading toward the venue. I spotted it and said, in all innocence, “Maybe that’s them in the limo.”

“SHRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!!!!”

The sound came from the backseat of the car where Amy and Sarah were seated. I slowly turned to look at my girlfriend, “Was that you?”

She was so embarrassed, but, yes, it had been her who had shrieked. I had never before nor since heard her make that sound, even after she had recently been surprised by a mouse in our kitchen. Very interesting.

So, Duran Duran hit the stage and were greeted by a lot of shrieks. There were an awful lot of female types in the crowd. I think it was one of the few shows I’d been to where the women outnumbered the men. I wonder why that would be?

The show was pretty good. I’ve admitted that I do like a few of their tunes. I don’t think Sean was very interested, though. Judging by his mullet and the kind of car he drove (some muscle car, I forget which), I think Sean was more interested in Toby Keith style country music or 80’s hair bands, maybe both.

But, Amy and Sarah were in heaven. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The venue was outdoors and the sun had gone down so the conditions were fairly comfortable. However, I noticed that Amy and Sarah seemed to be glistening. They weren’t sweating profusely, but had this light sheen to their skin. They seemed to glisten more during their favorite songs, as well. Sean and I weren’t glistening.

The show over, we headed back to the car and got in one of the lines of cars heading for the freeway. As we slowly made our way out, I noticed that a jeep we were coming along side of was sporting an intriguing license plate. The personalized plate read “N RAYGUN”. I was so excited to see Naked Raygun fans, I shrieked liked a certain Duran Duran fan…

No, I’m kidding. I didn’t shriek, however, as we came along side them, I called out, “Naked Raygun kicks ass!”

The occupants of the jeep wholeheartedly agreed.

It turned out to be a very good eventful weekend in Joliet and Chicago. And Duran Duran didn’t suck.

Elastica
9/26/00 First Avenue w/Amy & Mark Ticket Price: Unknown

As you can see, the ticket states that this was “the long awaited return of Elastica”. That may have been true, but it was a disappointing return.

They were late in taking the stage. As soon as they had started to play, the drum kit had a malfunction. Something on it had broken. They stopped playing, apologized, and then excused themselves while the crew made repairs. So we had to wait another 15 minutes or so.

Another long awaited return later, they came back to the stage. Their set was rather lackluster. The energy and fun of the last time I’d seen them (First Avenue, 6/4/95) just wasn’t there that night. Partly due to the fact that their second album, ‘Menace’, was also on the lackluster side. Despite the presence of Mark E. Smith, ‘Menace’ didn’t pack the same punch as their debut album.

A couple years after this show, City Pages, a local weekly newspaper, had an article about people’s memories of First Avenue, the famous Minneapolis nightclub. I think the article was prompted by the brief closing of the club at that time. One of the contributors to the article remembered Elastica’s members’ desperate search for heroin. So, that may have been one reason for the poor quality of the show.

There was an additional member to the band’s line-up for the show. A young gal who occasionally played keyboards and shouted a few backing vocals. However, it seemed that the main reason she was there was to dance around and shake her boobies. Boobies barely restrained by a thin t-shirt. (Yes, Amy, I noticed)

Our friend, Mark, commented after the show that Miss Boobies must have been the girlfriend of someone in the band.

concert memoirs pt. 33 – the the, boss hog, bob mould, manplanet & los straitjackets

The The

5/6/00 First Avenue w/Amy Ticket Price: $18.00

This was the second time I had seen The The and the first for Amy. Amy and I were pretty tight by this time. We were close to moving in together at her apartment. One bedroom, shared with a dog and a cat, pretty cramped, but we enjoyed being together.

Anyway, that really has nothing to do with the show. The show we enjoyed, but I don’t recall much from it. A single, bare light bulb dangling over Matt Johnson’s head comes to mind, though I can’t be sure I’m remembering correctly.

Boss Hog w/The Delta 72
5/20/00 First Avenue w/Amy & Mark? Ticket Price: Comp. Tickets

Boy, there’s so little to relate here. In fact, Amy and I had completely forgotten we’d seen Boss Hog. The ticket stub surprised us. “We saw them?!” was our response.

When I examine my memory of this show all that I can picture is Amy and I and, maybe, Mark standing on the upper level right above the left side of the stage. I can picture a woman strutting the stage, but I could be way off.

Bob Mould
5/26/00 First Avenue w/Amy Ticket Price: Unknown

This was a good show. It was just Bob on a stool, center stage, with his acoustic guitar. He played acoustic versions of his solo material. Bob Mould is one of my favorite guitarists and he was playing really well that night.

Amy and I were able to sit at a table on the upper level to the left of the stage. The table was right up at the railing, so we had an excellent, unobstructed view of the performance.

Bob would give background information on some of the songs or tell stories related to them. He would then play his songs with great intensity. So great that we could tell that his hands were hurting.

Manplanet w/The Hot and Tulip Sweet & the Trail of Tears
6/3/00 First Avenue w/Amy & Mark Ticket Price: Comp. Tickets

I mentioned Cold Side before. It’s a struggling t-shirt printing shop in downtown Minneapolis. Well, Amy and I were both working there at this time and several of our co-workers were either in bands or had been in a band or two or three. One such co-worker was Mark. Mark was a member of the band Manplanet, kind of a Devo-type band. They had a pretty good local following and Mark got us tickets to take in their big show at First Avenue.

Amy, Mark (not the Mark in the band) and I arrived after Manplanet had taken the stage. There were several other Cold Side employees (present and former) there as well. The three of us decided to just hang back by the bar and watch the show.

The show was space themed in its stage presentation with lots of space props. The band members wore some sort of spacesuit, each a different color. I think our friend’s was purple.

I remember one of the stage props, suspended above the front of the stage, had fallen onto the crowd. Fortunately, no one was hurt. In fact, it kind of added to the fun of the night.

Los Straitjackets
7/6/00 7th Street Entry w/Amy Ticket Price: $8.00

This was a blast!

A very festive night, spent with Cold Side co-worker, Lee Ann and her then boyfriend, Stefan (Stefan passed away a couple years ago from a drug overdose); a former Cold Side co-worker, Dave, and his wife, Rosemary. We were all gathered at the front of the stage. If you’re not familiar with the Entry, its stage is only about 18″ up from the floor, so you can get very close to the performers. Very intimate.

Los Straitjackets are very fun. They play some damn good guitar driven surf music. I danced as I hadn’t danced in a few years. Great fun.

concert memoirs pt. 32 – rev. horton heat, los straitjackets, yo la tengo & rev. horton heat

Reverend Horton Heat w/Los Straitjackets

12/13/99 First Avenue w/Amy & Mark Ticket Price: Unknown

I had heard of both of these bands before I met Amy, but I hadn’t heard any of their music. Amy introduced me to the Reverend, she had two or three of his albums, and I liked what I heard. So, the time came that the Reverend was making another trip to First Avenue, this time with Los Straitjackets opening. Amy and her longtime friend, Mark, were very excited to see them and to have me see both artists for the first time.

I was very impressed by both bands.

I thought Los Straitjackets were just a little more fun than the Reverend, but just a little. Los Straitjackets are an extremely tight, imaginative, surf guitar instrumental band, in case you didn’t know. I loved their humor displayed in their face gear (wrestling masks) and the faux Spanish announcements of songs. I was so impressed with them that I bought two of their CD’s at the merchandise table right after the show.

The Reverend Horton Heat was quite the crowd pleaser and one hell of a guitarist. His band was also extremely tight and entertaining. They made a lot great noise being just a three piece band.

Our friend, Mark, was way into the show. He especially admired the Reverend’s bass player, Nature Boy Jimbo. I can still hear Mark shouting, “Jimbo! Jimbo! Jimbo!”

Yo La Tengo w/Make up & Quickspace
4/3/00 First Avenue w/Amy Ticket Price: Unknown

And another band introduced to me by Amy. As in the case of Reverend Horton Heat and Los Straitjackets, I had heard of Yo La Tengo, but had never seen them or heard their music until I met Amy.

Yo La Tengo is one of those bands that plays crazy fast and rockin’ and then plays mellow and smooth. A playing style that can be very exciting if done well and Yo La Tengo are very good at it.

We enjoyed the show, but we would have enjoyed it more if not for a particular audience member. Yep, here I go again. Amy and I were really starting to get easily annoyed by audiences. It must our age catching up on us.

This fellow was so listen-to-me loud. No, he wasn’t whooping and cheering loudly. He was just yakking and yakking to his friend through the entire show. He was talking loudly so that everyone could hear how interesting and important he was.

Amy and I weren’t the only ones annoyed with Mr. Important. There were several people standing near him who began to tell him to shut up. Mr. Important may have gotten the message, but, I’m not sure because, as I recall, Amy and I moved away from him and enjoyed the rest of show.

Reverend Horton Heat w/Hank Williams III
4/25/00 First Avenue w/Amy & Mark Ticket Price: Unknown

I don’t remember Hank Williams III. We may have arrived later and/or hung out elsewhere at the club. Too bad though, it would be nice to have some memory of his show, good or bad. He is kind of a big deal.

The Reverend Horton Heat show was good. The Reverend torn up his guitar, Mark cheered for Nature Boy Jimbo and everyone had a good time.

Amy got a little something special from the Reverend after his set. After early evening shows, it wasn’t unusual to have the Reverend come out by the merchandise table and sign stuff. And this night was not unusual for the Reverend did come out to sign stuff.

During the set, my wife, Amy, was fortunate enough to snag a guitar pick that the Reverend had thrown to the crowd. So, Amy plucked up the courage (she’s normally rather shy) and went over to him. He gladly signed the guitar pick.

Amy was able to find the pick, unfortunately, the Reverend’s signature didn’t stick.