Friday, January 31, 2003: Lakewood Bar & Grill
Now that's more like it.
It's not that our last gig at Club Dada was bad-it wasn't. It just never felt like it hit the point where it really took off. Now last Friday's show definitely took off—at least 3 or 4 different times. And where it wound up I have no clue, but it was one helluva fun ride. The place was packed, and amazingly it seemed like everyone was there to hear us play. I was even told by the staff that a table of 20 had been reserved by someone named "Tim," and they wanted to know if I knew anyone by that name.
I had no clue. All 20 in the party of "Tim" eventually showed up and seemed to really enjoy the show. One nice girl even asked for "Hello Again," and I had to inform her that we didn't know it yet. (I know, I know—please send set list complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org.) She seemed genuinely sad. So they asked me to play "Sweet Caroline" again in the last set, and we were happy to oblige. Of course, "Sweet Caroline" was probably the only song in the third set that we actually knew how to play. If you were there, you know what I'm talking about. If you weren't, well too bad for you cause it was a crazy good time. But more about that in a minute.
As always, we were looking forward to playing the LBG. The staff are wonderful, the crowds appreciate good music (yet somehow still seem to like us), and we always have a groovy time. As an added bonus, the new sound guy does a wonderful job as well. It was great to actually be able to sing instead of scream for the entire night, something that lots of people noticed as I have never received so many "You sound just like Neil!" comments in one night before. By the end of the night my throat was its usual raspy self, but it still felt good to play an entire show and not worry about the vocal cords.
The first two sets were mostly Neil songs (wow what a shock!), along with the usual "Rock Me Gently" run-through and the return of the beautifully twisted "Creep." We have to record that one someday and get it out on the web—Radiohead fans live for trading MP3s and they would love it. They might not actually GET IT, but they'd love it anyways. One verse always cracks me up when we play "Creep":
What the hell am I doing
It kinda summarizes everything about the band in a way, don't you think? I know it's what Jon & Mike & Eric are thinking half of the time. But the rest of the time, they're having a ball. Take the third set, for example: we played most of the Neil stuff during the first two sets, so the third set was going to be wide open. I planned it this way intentionally, of course; after all, the LBG usually clears out a bit about 1:00 on Friday nights, leaving us on stage to play Sex Pistols and Johnny Mathis covers if we please. And that's precisely what we did. Oh sure, we mixed in a few Neil songs we rarely play, like "Song Sung Blue" and "Shilo"—but we also destroyed "Free Fallin" and raved up "I Can't Explain." Why? Because we like you. And because we can. And because the nice guy who bought us a round of shots asked for some Tom Petty.
Still, the highlight of the set had to be the official Diamondbag premiere of the Neil classic "Red Red Wine." We played around with this one about a year ago and came up with a cool Cowboy Junkies version with Jon on slide guitar, but we realized we would always drop it from the set list because it was simply too slow.
Rule #23: Don't play slow songs to drunk guys who have to talk over you to hit on drunk girls. Also known as the "Play Me" rule.
So last week, I got together with Jon & Jay and we worked up a faster, more rocking "Red Red Wine." In other words, we Who-ized it. We ran through it a couple times, but unfortunately never had a chance to play it with Eric and Mike before the gig. But would a simple matter of half the band not knowing the song stop us from playing it anyway? Not in the third set it won't! So those still lucky enough to be at the LBG late were treated to a raucous impromptu "Red Red Wine," followed immediately by Jon's launching of "I Can't Explain." Something tells me we'll be playing these two back-to-back from now on.
By the time we closed the evening's fun with Mike Napodano's glorious reading of "Sweet Transvestite," it was clear to all involved that this might have been the best Diamondbag show ever. Not the best-performed or the best-sounding, mind you; simply, the best. I know I've never had more fun on stage. Thanks to the usual cast of characters who never seem to miss a gig (you know who you are and we appreciate it), and special thanks to some of the new friends we made. Special kudos to Morgan and Brandye for turning the front of the stage into their own personal disco hall—love to love ya, baby.
I'd also like to note for the record that Jon—that's right, Jon—actually fed me the correct lyric when I accidentally lost my place during "If You Know What I Mean." It was a beautifully touching moment, and one I will never forget. And one Jon may never live down.
See you all at the Barley on February 8th! Get well soon Eric.