Thursday, August 15, 2002: Club Dada
It was 1:35 AM Saturday morning at the Lakewood Bar & Grill, and we were out of material. OK, that's not entirely true; after all, we hadn't played "Play Me," "Heartlight," "If You Know What I Mean," or "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" yet. But those songs are not what you want to hear when you're drunk and it's last call; actually, most of you probably prefer not to hear them when you're stone-cold sober either. No, if you're still boozing it up at 1:35 AM, you want something that you can dance to. Or at least shake your ass a little bit, which is about all I will do because of course I do NOT dance. So with crowd screaming for one more, I turned the mic over to Jon for a little bit of Jerry Lee Lewis.
"You shake my nerves and you rattle my brains . . ."
And then the beautiful girls were dancing on the bar and I was singing along like Goose in "Top Gun" and Eric was asking what he should do because he had never played the song on bass before and Jay was drunk (as were we all) and did I mention that the beautiful girls were dancing on the bar and I hear Meg Ryan saying "Goose, you stud, take me to bed or lose me forever!" and then Jon's keyboard collapsed onto the ground in the middle of the song.
So what exactly do you do when your keyboard hits the floor during your big boogie-woogie Jerry Lee solo? If you're Jon, you jump right on top of it and keep playing. I'm telling ya, wherever The Killer was that night, he was smiling. I held the mic up so that Jon could finish singing, and when we were done we collapsed in laughter and the audience roared. I quote Britney Spears via Joan Jett: "I love rock and roll."
You shoulda been there. It was one of those moments that was just too perfect-a potential train wreck that became one of those crazy happenings that you will always remember. It was a perfect closer to what was definitely a madcap night. And it made sense that Jon was the star, because believe me-he WAS the star of the evening. He thrashed, he windmilled, he attacked the guitar-either he was in hard-core training for The Slip Kids, or else he'd eaten one too many Frosted Strawberry Pop Tarts before the gig. I'm not sure what came over him, but I liked it. When Jon plays with that much volume and intensity, Diamondbag becomes a really good band. So if you missed Friday's show, you missed a really good band. Thursday's show, on the other hand, kinda sucked. But more about that in a minute . . .
I arrived at the Lakewood Bar & Grill about 6:30 Friday evening, even though we weren't scheduled to play until about 10:30. We were sharing the stage with Oliver's Army that night, and we were going to use the same drum kit in order to make the changeover as smooth as possible. I promised Mike I'd be there on time to help him load his kit inside. Somehow, I have gained the reputation of being the "cocky lead singer who somehow always manages to avoid the load-in." And I'll admit, somehow I always seem to miss out on the drum hauling. But usually, it's because I'm talking to someone about at the club about the gig or else I'm chatting with a lovely young lady who just can't seem to get enough of the Neil. Or sometimes, I'm just hiding out in the bathroom till it's over. But on this day, I was there on time and was ready to haul drums. It only took a few minutes, but I was already exhausted; after all, we had played the night before at Club Dada and then stayed out until 4 am drinking with our buddy Chris who was visiting from Norman.
By the way, it's 3:44 PM . . . and OU still sucks.
The show at Dada was a bit sloppy (to say the least), as we had not played together in over 40 days. The show got off to a horrible start when the keyboard was completely out-of-tune for "America"- in fact, it was so bad that they turned the stage lights off on us. Honest. It was just like that scene at Bob's Country Bunker in "The Blues Brothers":
"That ain't no Hank Williams song!"
In our defense, they actually just hit a wrong switch. But here we are, playing "America " completely out of tune and in the dark. I would have laughed except that I was too confused. Then the lights came back, but the keyboard didn't. We played all of the guitar songs we knew, took a short break to fix the keys, and then finished off the set. I guess we were OK-Matt said it sounded good and I trust him-but no one in the band was satisfied with how we played. Luckily, we had a chance to make up for it the next night at the Lakewood Bar & Grill. While logic dictates that the second night of the back-to-back gigs would suffer, the opposite seems to be true with Diamondbag. We seem to play better when we're tired and hung over from a show the day before. Honestly, I think we sound better because the first show basically serves as a dress rehearsal since, as you all know, we never practice.Ever.
So now it's 7:15 Friday night and I'm already spent. Mike feels like crap too. He informs me that Jon REALLY feels like crap after getting about 2 hours' sleep and working all day. You know, when you're down in the dumps, and you need something to bring you up-there's only one thing that's gonna do it the way you want it.
Well, I wasn't in the mood for cold gin, but a few pear ciders certainly managed to take the edge off of my pounding head. And as a bonus, one of the truly nice things about the Lakewood Bar & Grill is that any drink you order is delivered to you personally by Kris, truly one of the cutest girls you will ever see in your life. As if I need another reason to order more drinks . . .
After set-up, I had a quick dinner at the swanky El Chico with Mike and Katie (hey, we were in Lakewood-it was either that or Dan's, and I wasn't nearly drunk enough to eat at Dan's). When we got back, the amazing Oliver's Army were already on stage blasting out the many wonderful tunes written by Declan Patrick MacManus (Elvis Costello for the musically challenged). These guys are good. I love them. And damn nice fellows to boot. We certainly hope to play with them again soon. Be sure to check em out if you haven't already.
This was our first time to play at the Lakewood Bar & Grill, so we agreed to play for a free bar tab. Now of course, the amount of money we usually make barely covers our bar tab anyways, but it was nice to know that we could drink for free all night. And although all of us were still exhausted, I started to sense that this was going to be a good show. A lot of friends who had rarely or never seen us were coming in the door, and the place was already packed anyways. We hit the stage about 11:15 with "Kentucky Woman" and we were off and running.
As I mentioned earlier, Jon was simply in a different world this night. Everyone played great, but Jon was in THE ZONE. And despite singing for two hours the night before, my voice felt fantastic as well-it certainly helped that we had a wonderful PA and I could actually hear myself in the monitors for a change. Knowing that it was a Friday night and that the club would likely clear out a bit before the late second set, I put most of the big famous tunes in the first set. Good call. It was one hit after another, and everyone was having a blast. Near the end of the set, we brought Simon up for "The Real Me," and as usual we butchered the arrangement. And as usual, no one noticed because it rocked. We ended the first set with the "Sweet Caroline" sing-along, and I spent most of the break talking to people I'd never met who really liked the band. That always makes me feel good-except when dudes start chatting me up in the bathroom when I'm trying to pee. Don't these guys know that there are rules about talking to a man when he has his %$#@ in his hands? Geez.
The second set was a bit more hit-and-miss; after all, we played all the popular stuff in the first set. "Desiree" sent a few folks scurrying to the exits in terror (note to self: "Desiree" is a sucky song-no matter how well you play it). But we won the crowd back with our usual thrashing of "Holly Holy" and the oft-requested "It's the End of the World As We Know It." Some of the late-night freaks still in attendance actually slow-danced to "Creep," and I am very thankful that Thom Yorke was not in attendance, as someone likely would have left quite bloodied (probably me). We tried to get the heck off the stage after "Brother Love," but they wouldn't let us stop so we played "Love On the Rocks" and the ritual second helping of "Sweet Caroline." And when they still wouldn't let us quit, Jon gave them "Great Balls of Fire"-and the rest, as they say, is history.
I'm not sure who "they" are, but "they" saw one helluva good show. When we were done, we were shocked to find that we still had room on our bar tab. Uh-oh, four more shots of Tuaca for me-thanks a bunch, Keith. Keith is our bartender friend who recently moved to the Lakewood B&G from the Corner Tap. He was absolutely giddy after our show, apparently for three reasons:
Special thanks to Keith and the Lakewood Bar & Grill for having us, and a big thank-you to Kris & Melissa for bringing us drinks all night (and Angela too of course). And for those of you who saw us for the first time or for the first time in a while (Matt, Michelle, Katy, Becca, etc)-we hope you had fun and will come back again. As for the Lakewood B&G, I think you can definitely count on seeing us again there real soon. Of course, Mike has to recover from his back surgery first-everyone be sure to drop him a line and wish him a speedy recovery. After all, he has to be ready to play when Diamondbag takes over the Barley House on Friday, October 11th. That's Texas-OU weekend, and I have no doubt that it will be our craziest show to date. Willie might even make an appearance for "The Eyes of Texas." Trust me, you won't want to miss it. After all . . .
It's 4:27 PM, and OU still sucks.